Now that I've given you a day to watch the Super Bowl episode of "This Is Us" and a new episode arrives tonight, it is time for my Top 10 takeaways.
Spoiler alert: If you haven't seen Sunday's episode yet, better stop reading now.
Mystery solved: The song "You Can Call Me Al" is the ringtone on my cellphone even though I hate being called Al. So naturally I was amused by the moment in Sunday's episode when Rebecca (Mandy Moore) told her son Kevin (Justin Hartley) that she gets a laugh from her deceased husband Jack (Mile Ventimiglia) annually on the anniversary of his death and that one year it was hearing the Paul Simon song on two separate radio stations. I didn't understand the reference or why it was funny. A Google search by my girlfriend reminded us that young Randall listened to the song while cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the family in the first season of the program.
Kevin has best moments: Kevin has replaced Randall (Sterling K. Brown) as my favorite character and not just because I met Hartley on an airplane trip from Burbank, Calif., to Las Vegas. Kevin's self-deprecating attitude during his recovery from drugs while staying with his mom in New Jersey is one reason. The other reason is his sense of humor. One of my favorite moments in Sunday's episode was Kevin's promise to be a better man in a one-way conversation with his late father at his dad's favorite tree. Kevin also gave me a much-needed laugh later when he told his mother he wasn't sure he was at the right tree.
Randall in the future: The program has generally stayed in the present and the past during flashbacks. Sunday's episode ended with a flash forward as a slightly older Randall met his adult daughter Tess, now a social worker, for lunch. It wasn't the first time the adult Tess has been on the show. We just didn't know it was her. I assume there will be many more flash forwards down the road. Give the casting department credit. The adult Tess sure resembled an older version of the young Tess.
The fiery opening: Viewers knew from the previous episode that the house fire was coming. It was incredibly tense and realistic as Jack went around the house and cleverly and heroically saved his family, their dog and some mementos.
Doctor, doctor: Jack initially survived the fire after saving the dog and died later in the hospital after a doctor seemed to think he was out of the woods. The storyline was in keeping with narrative structure, which builds suspense by delaying what viewers expect to happen. However, I did wonder if the doctor might be in a little trouble, possibly for misdiagnosis. Perhaps that's because I've watched too many medical shows.
The candy bar: Rebecca was in denial about her husband's death as evidenced by her biting into a candy bar as the doctor told her that Jack had died after moments earlier telling her he seemed OK. I didn't really like that touch, until later in the episode when Rebecca talked about the candy bar herself. Then it became a nice touch.
Rebecca rules: In death, Jack has become the symbol of the perfect father. At times, that seems unfair to Rebecca, who is pretty close to the perfect mother and wife. So I was glad to see Kevin finally compliment his mother about how strong she was for him and his siblings when their father died. Another great Kevin moment of redemption.
Welcome back, Deja: Near episode's end, viewers saw that Deja (Lyric Ross), the foster child who briefly lived with Randall and his wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) until her mother regained custody, is back. Presumably, we will find out in tonight's episode how long that will be.
"Tonight Show" appearance a dud: NBC heavily promoted the appearance of the cast on the live edition of "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," but anyone who stayed up for it after Channel 2's late news had to be wishing they had gone to bed. The cast didn’t appear until late in the hour, Fallon didn't ask them anything about the details of the episode because the Minneapolis audience hadn't seen it, and the actors barely did or said anything but "A Big Three" cheer.
The funeral: NBC's preview of tonight's episode included snippets of Jack's funeral. Keep Kleenex nearby. And perhaps a candy bar.