Super Bowl Sunday (This Is Us)
|"Super Bowl Sunday"|
|This Is Us episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Written by||Dan Fogelman|
|Featured music||Siddhartha Khosla|
|Original air date||February 4, 2018|
"Super Bowl Sunday" is the fourteenth episode of the second season of the American television drama series This Is Us, and the thirty-second overall. It was written by showrunner Dan Fogelman, and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. It was broadcast on February 4, 2018, on NBC in the United States. In the episode, on Super Bowl Sunday of 1998, the Pearsons' house catches fire. The Pearson family manages to escape, but Jack ultimately dies. In present day, the children and Rebecca watch the Super Bowl game remembering Jack.
The episode originally aired immediately following the broadcast of Super Bowl LII. "Super Bowl Sunday" was seen by 26.97 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, making it the most watched episode of This Is Us so far. It became the highest-rated scripted entertainment telecast on television since the 2008 post-Super Bowl episode of House.
In 1998, late at night after the Super Bowl, noises wake Jack, who discovers the house is on fire. He wakes Rebecca and calls out to Randall and Kate; Kevin is at Sophie's house. Jack retrieves the children from their bedrooms, using his mattress as a heat shield. Kate, Randall, and Rebecca descend to the ground via a bedsheet rope. Kate's dog, Louie, barks; seeing Kate's desperation, Jack re-enters and emerges with Louie and some family mementos. Leaving Kate and Randall at Miguel's house, Rebecca takes Jack to the hospital for smoke inhalation. While Rebecca is away from the hospital room to handle logistics, Jack suffers a sudden, fatal "widow maker" heart attack. The doctor informs Rebecca, who goes into shock until seeing Jack's body. She tells Miguel, Kate, and Randall, then screams alone in the car; Kate finds and tells Kevin.
In 2018, on the 20th anniversary of Jack's death, Kate cathartically watches the audition tape Jack recorded, which he saved from the fire; the VCR damages it, but Toby gets it repaired and uploaded to the cloud; Kate tells Toby he strengthens her, and Jack would have loved him. Kevin, who usually drinks away his pain on the anniversary, visits the tree where Jack's ashes were scattered; he acknowledges failing to fulfill Jack's legacy, but hopes to make him proud. Rebecca makes and eats Jack's favorite lasagna, and bonds with Kevin; she believes their reunion is a gift from Jack. Randall commemorates Jack with a Super Bowl party for his daughters and their friends. The family's new pet lizard dies suddenly; Randall's eulogy is overly intense and emotional. Tess tells Randall that she has deliberately left the phone off the hook to prevent social workers from calling, fearing Randall's interest in William, Deja, and his new job means he wants "a new life." Randall tells Tess that her birth changed his life; he will always be devoted to her, and plans to have dinner with her every week, even when she's a working adult. Tess thinks the family's participation in fostering is "cool." Deja calls from the house's front door; Randall and Beth bring her inside and comfort her, which Tess happily observes.
Jordan, the boy shown previously in an Essex County social worker's office, is placed with a couple. An older Randall arrives to have dinner with the social worker, who is the adult Tess.
The episode was written by series creator Dan Fogelman. The decision to air an episode of This Is Us after the Super Bowl was announced on May 14, 2017. Fogelman envisioned Jack's death as a consequence of the fire since the pilot script. He wanted the moment to take place towards the end of the second season and asked for the slot upon knowing NBC would air the Super Bowl.
The fire sequence was filmed in December 2017 in Newhall Ranch, California. The episode was edited moments before airing to integrate footage of the Super Bowl LII, including the pregame show and the actual game featuring the Philadelphia Eagles against the New England Patriots.
"Super Bowl Sunday" was originally broadcast on Sunday, February 4, 2018, in the United States on NBC. The episode was watched in the United States by a total of 26.97 million people. It is the most-watched entertainment telecast since 2012 and the most-watched TV drama episode since 2008's House's Super Bowl episode, which attracted 29 million viewers.
Upon airing, the episode drew positive reactions. Kimberley Roots of TVLine deemed the installment "a good episode". Brian Lowry of CNN called the episode "emotional", explaining it had "strong individual moments for each of the key characters" and that it "managed to play with expectations". Caroline Siede of The A.V. Club praised Mandy Moore's performance as Rebecca, saying she has become the "MVP of season 2". She thought the fire sequence was "compelling, well-staged action". She appreciated that the series didn't "go too over-the-top" with Jack's death so as it doesn't become "emotional porn". To her, the present-day scenes served as introduction for new viewers, establishing the show's world, and the flash-forward was a surprise.
Kelly lawler of USA Today wrote: "Although This Is Us is known for its big twists and fake-outs, at its core the show (like most) is about its characters. 'Super Bowl Sunday' succeeded by focusing on Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) in the present and past. By not drawing out Jack's death even further, the episode managed to be more about the different ways Jack's family members experienced their grief, and not about tricking the audience. It was the right way for the often-frustrating mystery to end."
Conversely, Laura Prudom of IGN described the episode as "a cry-fest, to be sure, because this show is used to wringing our tear ducts dry with surgical precision, but there's no denying that the whole exercise also felt unashamedly manipulative, which is a trap This Is Us often falls into -- especially when it's trying to hide things from the audience to show us how clever it is. For viewers who tuned in for the first time after the big game [...], it probably made the regular This Is Us audience seem like complete masochists." Time writer Daniel D'Addario gave a negative review disapproving the fact that Jack's death, though "movingly depicted", was used for entertainment purposes. "The sort of show This Is Us is in its strongest moments—one in which family members have frank and honest conversations about their hopes and fears—isn’t one that stages a ritual death on Super Bowl Sunday, after deploying cast members to brag about how it will make you cry."
- Andreeva, Nellie (May 14, 2017). "'This Is Us' To Air After the Super Bowl, Mulls Christmas Episode As It Faces Pre-emptions On New Night". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
- Andreeva, Nellie (February 5, 2018). "'This Is Us' Creator Dan Fogelman On Emotional Super Bowl Episode, New Timeline, Jack's Funeral & More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
- Villarreal, Yvonne (February 5, 2018). "'This Is Us' finally told us how Jack died — Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore help us cope". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
- "Technicolor Adds Live Super Bowl Shots Into Post-game Episode of This Is Us". Technicolor SA. February 5, 2018. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
- Levin, Gary (February 5, 2018). "'This Is Us' nabs 27 million viewers behind thrilling (but declining) Super Bowl". USA Today. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
- Roots, Kimberly (February 4, 2018). "This Is Us Post-Super Bowl Ep Recap: Were All Your Jack Qs Answered?". TVLine. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
- Lowry, Brian (February 5, 2018). "'This Is Us' shines with moving Super Bowl showcase". CNN. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
- Siede, Caroline (February 5, 2018). "This Is Us offers an answer about its past and a twist about its future". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
- Lawler, Kelly (February 5, 2018). "Review: 'This Is Us' (thankfully) resists overdoing Jack's death". USA Today. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
- Prudom, Laura (February 5, 2018). "This Is Us Reveals How Jack Died in 'Super Bowl Sunday'". IGN. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
- D'Addario, Daniel (February 5, 2018). "Jack Deserved Better Than His Super Bowl Sunday Death on This Is Us". Time. Retrieved February 8, 2018.