“This Is Us” just wrapped its second season, so you probably need to hydrate after 18 episodes of crying.
The NBC drama aired its season finale Tuesday night, leaving us with plenty of cliffhangers. We could spend the next several months agonizing over those dangling plot twists (can someone just please promise me that Beth is OK?). But why not distract ourselves instead by reliving the second season’s weepiest moments?
Here’s a rundown of the scenes from Season 2 that made us cry the hardest, in chronological order:
Present-day Rebecca (Mandy Moore) ‘fessed up to Randall (Sterling K. Brown) that Jack immediately knew Randall was theirs after the loss of one of their triplets. She wasn’t so sure.
“Sometimes in marriage, someone has to be the one who pushes to make the big moves. Oftentimes in our marriage, yes, it was your father. Our marriage wasn’t perfect, it’s true. But none are. Your father wasn’t perfect either, but he was pretty damn close. As close as they come. He pushed a stranger on me, and that stranger became my child, and that child became my life. He became you.”
“The 20s” (Season 2, Episode 6)
The Big 3 are in their big 20s, and Randall is Randalling-out at the prospect of becoming a dad. So, naturally, he lays out all his anxieties on the hardware store salesperson. As one does.
“Babies come with the answers. They come out, they look up at you. They tell you who you are,” the salesperson says. “Tomorrow, you’ll have all the answers you need.”
“The Most Disappointed Man” (Season 2, Episode 7)
The whole dual judge story line got me good. And while the letter Rebecca wrote about never giving up on her family was emotional, young William’s (Jermel Nakia) courtroom speech about being “the most disappointed man” and turning to drugs after losing everything in life—his mother, his love, his son—ravaged my heart, and the ball kept rolling when his judge made William promise to stay clean, and to picture the judge’s old, wrinkly white face anytime William was tempted.
“Number One” (Season 2, Episode 8)
Kevin (Justin Hartley) finally breaks down, and it breaks us in the process. His front lawn meltdown and literal cry for help (“I just need somebody to help me”) reveals why losing his necklace in a rush to get more painkillers is such a wake-up call.
“That necklace is the only thing I have left in my life from my dad,” he cries out. “It’s the only thing I have.”
Then he adds: “Can’t you see I’m in pain?” Yes, yes we can.
“Number Two” (Season 2, Episode 9)
This entire episode was brutal for the tear ducts. I mean, it’s about Kate’s miscarriage so there was no way around it.
When Toby (Chris Sullivan) tells Kate (Chrissy Metz) the miscarriage happened to him, too? Or how about when Rebecca shows up on Kate’s doorstep, and her daughter falls into her arms? We were a bit of a mess after this hour of network TV.
“Number Three” (Season 2, Episode 10)
God bless Sterling K. Brown’s single-tear-rolling-down-the-cheek move, which he employed to great effect while playing Randall saying goodbye to Deja.
Also, William alert! And bonus, it’s young and old William (Ron Cephas Jones. Every time this man comes on the screen, I get ready to weep). The heartbreaking montage showing what could have been if William had knocked on the Pearson family door—Randall’s biological father being present for “the big stuff”—ruined me.
“The Fifth Wheel” (Season 2, Episode 11)
Oooh, the answer to the juiciest question of all: Mom, which of us do you love most? For Rebecca, her confession that Randall was just easier to love than Kevin got us good.
“That’ll Be the Day” (Season 2, Episode 13)
We were a bit on edge this entire episode because we get the sense this is the last day on earth for Jack (Milo Ventimiglia). But the whole bit about him secretly recording teenage Kate singing? Oof. She gets mad when she catches him, telling him no one else sees her like he does. But after watching the tape and seeing the beaming pride on her dad’s face, she tells him to never stop looking at her that way.
That, and he says “Katie girl” and that wrecks us each time.
“Super Bowl Sunday” (Season 2, Episode 14)
This is the big one, folks. The moment when Rebecca finds out Jack has died. Hope you called out sick from work after this one.
Two other scenes that stand out in this gut-wrenching episode: Rebecca telling Miguel he needs to stay strong or take a walk because she has to go ruin her kids’ lives (telling them Jack died), and adult Kevin’s heart-to-heart with Jack by Jack’s tree.
“The Car” (Season 2, Episode 15)
I may be in the minority here, but the aftermath of Jack’s death ruined me way more than the moment itself. This entire episode was chock full of tears: the funeral, seeing the teenage Pearsons fight and cry, Rebecca being all out of sorts. Shall I invest in Kleenex stock?
But let’s highlight two moments: The visit between Dr. K (Gerald McRaney) and Rebecca at Jack’s funeral gave us more insight into Jack’s fears over fatherhood, and allowed us to revisit the lemon analogy (which, wow, has lasted decades for the Pearsons. Man, that’s some bit!)
The second big tear-jerker came when Rebecca took her kids to Jack’s favorite tree (and we got the sweet backstory on that one). She tells her boys their jobs are to be teenagers, not men of the house, and that no matter what Kate thinks, Jack’s death wasn’t her fault. Rebecca will spend her entire life trying to make her see that.
“This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life” (Season 2, Episode 17)
This look into Deja’s life was much-needed and beautifully done. So by the time we get to the end when Deja tells Randall, “I’m really tired,” it carries enough weight to make us break down.
“The Wedding” (Season 2 episode 18)
Old Jack was sweet to see, and may have caused a few drops to fall for you. But one of the biggest gut-punches came when Rebecca and Kate have a heart-to-heart just before the wedding ceremony.
“Mom, you’re not in my way,” Kate reassures. “You are my way.”
As if that wasn’t intense enough, we immediately cut to the wedding ceremony itself. We don’t get to hear the vows (and honestly, thank you). Instead, we get a flashback voiceover from Jack—“That’s gonna be one lucky guy, the guy who gets to marry you, Katie-girl”—and his promise to walk her down the aisle.
And we couldn’t get out without another emotional Kevin and Randall moment. Three cheers for their toasts. Now let’s drown our sorrows in our clinking glasses.