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'This Is Us' recap: The last day of Jack's life, and more clues about his death

Hey, look, it’s the 13th episode of this season of “This Is Us.”

I swear, they planned it this way.

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Yes, folks, we’re finally here. Hinted at in this season’s premiere, foreshadowed throughout, and set up in last week’s “we forgot to get batteries for the smoke detector” episode, this week’s episode is all about the first part of the last day of Jack Pearson’s life.

I can’t put it off any longer. Let’s rip off the Band-Aid together.

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If you haven’t seen it yet, avoid the spoilers below. If you have, well, come join us in a circle, grab your iced football cookies and whatever stiff drink you prefer (OJ or whiskey, I won’t judge), and let’s all have a good cry over “That’ll Be the Day.”

Present Day...

Randall is telling his brother he can’t participate in a “K-adventure.” He’s gotta go start work on William’s apartment building. (It will always be William’s apartment building, don’t @ me.)

As Randall lets himself get carried away with plans and energy, Beth tries to put on the brakes. Randall knows he has to slow his roll. He just wants to do good! Beth adds “don’t go broke.” And just like that, we have the motto for R & B Properties: “Do good, don’t go broke.”

Randall picks up a lovely bagel tray for the meeting with the residents. But it still goes off the rails pretty quickly when Lloyd heckles them (not unkindly) and the other residents begin shouting out their individual repair needs.

They’re not unreasonable requests. Doors that don’t lock and heaters that don’t work … Randall writes them ALL down and promises to get to them “right now.” Beth’s Brakes (patent pending) are wholly insufficient to stop the Randall train, which has picked up speed and is whistling down the tracks, and yeah, I think I’ve stretched that metaphor as far as it’ll go.

But hey! Kevin shows up! He’s at the “making amends” stage of his addiction recovery, so he’s there to help. And to my surprise, he actually steps up. He grabs Rosemary to go fix her door so it’ll shut, lock, and stay that way. Well, all right, Kevin, look at you showing up and being not a selfish jerk for once!

He actually fixes the door but then decides to go a step further and knock down the wall Rosemary’s ex-husband put up. Rosemary needs her light, y’all! She tries to tell Kevin she wasn’t serious but he’s already bolting to go grab his sledgehammer.

We get a brief, fun montage of the two Pearson hunks knocking down walls (while the women of the apartment complex gather to watch — ladies, same!) and ripping out heaters for repair and then …

Cockroaches.

Pouring out of the wall.

As they wait for the exterminator, the brothers talk about Kevin’s amends-making. He admits he can’t do anything for a few people on his list, so he’s knocking down walls.

But what about Randall? He’s doing this whole project with very little help. Kevin wins a few more points by being self-deprecating with Randall: “You’ve got actor help but that’s, like, no help at all.”

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Talk turns to their contractor father. Randall realizes Jack’s been dead longer than they had him alive. That’s … a depressing thought.

And you know who pulls it out? Kevin. I KNOW! I’m surprised, too. He tells Randall he’s going to be a great old man — “like your other dad.”

Nothing could make Randall smile more than that comparison, and rightfully so.

At the hotel, R & B Properties has a little board meeting where Beth cuts to the chase. Randall’s partner has worked with underserved communities and building projects her entire professional life. Randall gets the point, as one does when Beth is making it.

Kevin is waiting for Sophie outside her apartment. He tells her she’s not just a name on his list. She’s THE name. She begs him to just leave her alone with her memories of the past.

A promo video from NBC teases the upcoming This Is Us episode scheduled for after the Super Bowl as 'The Moment You've Been Waiting For,' shows some clips of the fire in the Pearson home.

In Kate and Toby news: Kate realizes Toby really wants to adopt a dog from a shelter, but he knows she’s resistant — “sensitive,” he says sensitively — to the notion.

So Kate steps into her true birthright and Jack Pearson-s the hell out of this dog situation. Off to the shelter she goes, and is immediately charmed by Audio. This is some excellent dog casting work here!

But later, Kate decides she can’t do this. Despite some top-notch eye-acting from Audio — I mean, I’m ready to go get him NOW, guys, and we already have a demon cat from The Bad Place living here — she bolts.

Later, Kate comes home and recaps her day for Toby, and let’s just cut to the chase: SHE BROUGHT HOME AUDIO!

Back at Rebecca and Miguel’s, Kevin opens up a package. Inside, he finds his dad’s necklace with a note from Charlotte saying she got his letter. She found the pendant, and she’s glad he’s sober.

As he pulls out his “amends” list, Kevin looks at the last unchecked name: Dad.

… Back in the Day

Wait — where are we? With an old couple I don’t know and have never seen before, George and Sally, debating decluttering a very cramped garage full of junk — sorry, George — I mean, the stuff of their lives.

This includes a jukebox that figured heavily in their meet-cute years ago, to the sounds of the song “That’ll be the day…”

And anyone who’s ever heard that song knows how it ends, right?

“... that I die.”

Screw you, Buddy Holly.

In the Pearson house, Jack notes that “it’s the last Super Bowl Sunday with the kids” before they go off to college. They wanna make it count.

Kevin, still on crutches, gives his dad grief about the entertainment center he built. He says, “It’s just a bunch of wood, Dad, nobody cares.” Jack takes a deep breath. I roll my eyes.

In the Pearson kitchen, Randall and his date, Allison, are icing cookies to look like footballs, which is about the cutest thing I’ve seen on this show outside Beth and Randall’s daughters (close second: the little boy feeding Clooney last week). Kevin is applying to community college and feeling very sorry for himself.

Hoo boys, guys. Did you, too, get suckered in by the deceptively lighter tone of this “This Is Us” episode? I feel your pain.

Since Kate is refusing to open her letter from Berklee College of Music, Jack does the honors: she’s moved on to the final round of applicants, and they want another audition tape. Jack offers to videotape her singing an original song, but Kate is horrified by the suggestion.

So Jack does it sneakily, and, predictably, Kate explodes. She doesn’t see herself the way he does.

And Randall? Yeah, he wants to take Allison to see “Titanic” for the seventh time instead of watching the Super Bowl.

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Yes, Jack, your kids are abandoning you on the greatest day of your life. Also, as it happens, the last day of your life.

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Even Kevin, who finds out Sophie was accepted into NYU. He limp-stomps off on his crutches, complaining that “my life sucks so hard and Mom won’t shut up about community college.” When he gets called out on his terrible behavior, he snarks back “Kevin’s the worst again. Order restored to the universe.” Off he goes to Sophie’s.

As Jack and Rebecca get ready for the Super Bowl, sans kids, Kate comes in with her dad’s videotape. She saw it. Kate tells her dad not to stop trying to help her see herself the way he sees her.

Kevin's stint in rehab prompts a family therapy session with the Big Three and Rebecca, and emotions run high to say the least.

Then she begs off, too — party at a friend’s house — so it’s just Mom and Pop Pearson with a ton of food. Rebecca hands Jack a classified ad for a house that he can flip. She’s already called the agent.

And Jack has the sweetest impulse: He wants his wife to be his partner in the new business. After all, she handled half the renovation work on their house — the design, the finance.

As they make plans for their new business — a partner’s desk for Rebecca, a view of her for Jack, be still my heart — there is much kissing, and Jack decides they cannot possibly have sex in their new home office so he takes her upstairs.

Later, Kevin calls home and talks to his mom. He apologizes for his bad behavior and asks about his dad. She says Jack isn’t mad, but his feelings are hurt. She asks him to come home to watch the end of the game with them, but he wants to stay at Sophie’s. (That’s weird to me, but let’s move on.)

Randall comes home from his movie date with Allison. He tells his dad it went great. They kissed! Jack says he’s sure his son was a gentleman. Of course he was. He’s Jack Pearson’s son. Randall goes to bed as Jack cleans up.

There’s this heartbreaking montage of all the things the Pearsons are about to lose in the fire: the videotape, a note to Kevin saying Jack loves him and that Kevin owes his parents an apology, the kids’ height charts on the wall. Jack pets the dog, turns off the slow cooker, and turns out the light.

George and Sally. THESE TWO. Sally tells George to cheer up, they’ll get new stuff! And they’ve already got a nibble on the house, yay! And this little fakeout — I think we’re supposed to believe this is the house Rebecca found for Jack to flip — quickly turns on its ear as George grabs a box and carts it over to …

A young Jack and (pregnant) Rebecca, who are thrilled to hear the good news and receive the slow cooker.

Seventeen years later, that slow cooker — the one Jack just turned off, STILL off — sparks and catches fire.

The fire grows and consumes everything in turn. The pictures on the wall, the height charts, the note, the curtains …

The stairs.

After that, the bedroom.

For the second week in a row, I cannot handle “fun Twitter facts.” I will, however, drop this excellent tweet here.

The trailer for the next episode is rough, you guys. As voiceover guy tells us all our questions will be answered, Jack gets his family out of a raging inferno that is so freaking scary I literally held my breath, worried for the actors’ safety. Voiceover guy also helpfully reminds us that the episode follows the Super Bowl so if you’re recording it, add plenty of buffer time in case the game runs long.

I promise to be here for y’all on Feb. 5 IF you’ll promise to do one thing for me ...

Please go check the batteries in all your smoke detectors.

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