Every episode of This Is Us Season 2 ranked worst to best

It's hard to believe the second season of This Is Us is over already. Thankfully, fans don't have to wonder if another season will follow — it will. In January 2017, NBC picked up both the second and third seasons. With a show so good, it's no wonder. "There's no doubt it will have a long life on NBC," said Jennifer Salke, President of NBC Entertainment, at the This Is Us TCA panel (via Deadline). "In a world where there are literally hundreds of television dramas, we're proud to have one of the very best that is also one of the highest-rated," Salke added.

According to Harper's Bazaar, Season 3 is likely to premier sometime in the fall of 2018. The third season will bounce between past, present, and future timelines and, as Sterling K. Brown confirmed, fans will get a closer look at Beth and Randall's relationship. Nevertheless, until the third season arrives, there's not much fans can do but wonder about the future, while revisiting past episodes. And, despite how amazing the series is, not all of these episodes were created equal. Here's a look at the best — and, yes, the worst — of season two. 

Proceed with caution: major spoilers ahead.

"This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life"

In the second to last episode of season 2, creator Dan Fogelman made an unusual choice. Instead of focusing on the Big Three, the episode was almost entirely about Deja's return to Beth and Randall's home. Lyric Ross put on a stellar performance as Deja and it's clear this girl has some serious acting chops. 

There are some beautiful moments throughout the episode, even including a Randall-esque speech given by Deja. She tells Randall how she, at first, couldn't see similarities between them but then she started thinking how each and every person around the world goes to sleep at night. No matter who they are or what they're going through, everyone sleeps. It's true — sleep is a great equalizer — and it was also a really touching moment between foster dad and foster daughter. Viewers also got to know Deja's mom, Shauna, to a greater degree in "This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life." It was easy to think of her as the villain, but knowing her backstory made room for compassion.

Although this episode had the impactful, emotional moments fans have come to know and love, it was nevertheless odd to make the penultimate episode of Season 2 a standalone episode. Ratings also suffered with This is Us going down 12 percent, according to Deadline. After the episode aired, Fogelman addressed fans on Twitter, writing, "Anyone writing the obituary for network TV may want to put down their pen for a second."

"Vegas, Baby"

If you're a fan of This Is Us, you expect to go through several boxes of tissues per season. The show is jam-packed with emotion. Usually, that is. When it's not, viewers are less than happy that they aren't sad — it's all very confusing but this is the messy and beautiful world of This Is Us. "Vegas, Baby" is a much lighter episode than fans are used to so, naturally, it wasn't as well-received

Still, the episode had some really adorable moments. Jack and Rebecca decide not to go all out for their anniversary so, instead, the preteen trio take over. Of course, this just means Mom ends up doing most of the work. Still, The Big Three work together to give their parents a great anniversary. 

As the title of the episode highlights, the majority of the show and the present timeline is set in Vegas for Toby's bachelor party and, likewise, Kate's bachelorette party. Toby tries to get closer to his soon-to-be brothers-in-law and Kate strives to foster a deeper connection with Beth. This episode also shows Beth and Randall getting into a marital tiff — no doubt foreshadowing events of the next season — and Kevin's struggle to remain sober in Vegas, of all places. There's a lot this episode does well, but it just doesn't have the same feel as other, stronger episodes.

"The 20's"

As the title implies, "The 20's" is mostly about Kevin, Kate, and Randall in their twenties. This is the first time This Is Us delves into this part of the past, which was fun to see. The Big Three are 28 years old and the year is 2008. Yes, 2008 — did you know it was set in 2008? Of course you did. This Is Us went a little overkill with Obama/Biden stickers everywhere and on everyone in "The 20's." 

Perhaps the creators wanted to make sure audiences knew what time period they were watching. After all, 2008 would be a bit difficult to differentiate from 2017 on television. Or, maybe the show was inserting some innocuous political commentary — it's hard to know. Nevertheless, fans did not miss that the year was, you guessed it, 2008.

In this episode, you also get to see the Pearsons dressed up in their Halloween costumes, which is pretty terrifying and hilarious. The audience also gets to know more about Rebecca and Miguel's relationship. Loving to hate Miguel is part of the fun of This Is Us but, in this episode, fans start to ease up on the Miguel-hatred. Miguel messaged Rebecca on Facebook at least 10 years after Jack passed away. There was no funny business between Rebecca and Miguel, it seems.

"Still There"

"Still There" reminds viewers just how awful the chickenpox are. Seriously, awful. Set in the '90s, preteen Kevin, Kate, and Randall take the spotlight of the episode. A heavy snowstorm has descended upon the Pearson household along with the dreaded chickenpox, so Grandma, Rebecca's mother, decides she'll come over and help. Cue the incredibly awkward mother-daughter tension. This episode tackles racism in a way that's so rarely seen on television. 

Rebecca's mom is somehow overtly and passive-aggressively racist all at the same time, and it's easy to dislike her right away. Rebecca takes a stance against her mother's behavior and, once it stops snowing, tells her she needs to go. Sadly, young Randall overhears the conversation and Jack and Rebecca explain the nuances of racism. It's heartbreaking to watch Randall take it all in.

During the present-day timeline of the show, Randall and Beth attempt to be great foster parents in spite of the challenges. Lyric Ross' performance as Deja continues to be amazing. Although, from this episode alone, it's hard to know if this storyline will crowd out the others. Additionally, viewers see Kevin take some painkillers for his knee injury, but likely also to dull some of his internal pain. Kate also discovers she is pregnant in this episode. All three of the present-day storylines have been done — and, quite frankly, overdone — in other shows. That doesn't necessarily mean it won't work in This Is Us, but it is enough to make you question.

"A Manny-Splendored Thing"

Sounding like a pun Randall would use, "A Manny-Splendored Thing" was a mostly solid episode with a wide look into each of The Big Three. Viewers got a taste of the mother-daughter dynamic between Rebecca and Kate, which is complicated to say the least. Kevin and Beth have a sweet bonding moment within the episode. 

Of course, there are some very heavy moments. There are scenes showing Jack's attempts to stop drinking and attending AA meetings. Jack also confides in his young daughter: "Katey girl, I have a drinking problem, and my father, he had a drinking problem, and I've kept that hidden from you guys because I didn't want you to know that about me. I really didn't want you to know that about me. But you have to know." Kate holds her dad's face in her hands just as Jack would do to his children when they were younger. This moment brings all the feels.

One part of the episode, however, didn't flow as expected. As a recap of the episode written by Vulture pointed out, viewers expected to see some tension between Kevin's love interest, Sophie, and the Pearsons — especially Kate — because of the direction the show was headed last season. However, everyone got along just fine in this episode. Whether it was a purposeful plot change or not, the episode became a bit disjointed from the rest of the series.

"Deja Vu"

"Deja Vu" introduces fans to Deja, a very reserved 12-year-old girl whose mother was just arrested, and who was in need of immediate placement. Never having had a foster child before, Beth and Randall prepared as best they could but all that preparation goes out the window when Deja arrives. Beth sees Deja unpack cigarettes and drama ensues. Deja calls her a b*tch when Randall steps into to help. Deja recoils in fear and viewers' hearts sink, knowing Deja must have been through some unthinkable things to be so scared of Randall.

While Deja is a main focus of the episode, it unfortunately doesn't feel that way. As Entertainment Weekly explained, "Deja Vu" was also the show's first foray into having a "real guest star." Sylvester Stallone, who plays himself, stars opposite Kevin in the making of an action movie. With Kevin being an actor, it's not exactly far-fetched to bring big names on as guests — but it is distracting. Still, Stallone and Kevin share a tearjerking moment about Jack's passing and the episode manages to recover.

"Brothers"

It's amazing that This Is Us can perfectly execute so many timelines in a one-hour show. A lot happens in "Brothers," but it doesn't feel overly rushed. In the present-day timeline, Kevin's addiction to his pain medication is more-or-less controlling him at this point. Meanwhile, Kate is starting to become excited over her pregnancy, but she is also very worried about miscarrying due to her weight and age. 

In the one cringe-worthy scene of "Brothers," Toby takes it upon himself to announce Kate's pregnancy in a restaurant full of people. He puts on some music, pours water on himself, and starts dancing. No thanks, Toby! Lastly, we see Randall, already at a disadvantage with Deja because she has trust issues with men, attempt to bond with her. In the '90s flashbacks, Jack takes the boys camping, while Rebecca and Kate plan a mother-daughter day. We get to see young Kevin's mistreatment of Randall — poor Randall! — while Dad just wants the two of them to get along.

This episode also highlights Jack's dying father and shows Rebecca visiting him in the hospital. Jack chooses not to end his camping trip early to visit his father. "That man's been dead to me for a long time," he tells Rebecca. At the very end of the episode, we learn even more about Jack's family. He has a brother! It's interesting to see what will become of this new arc in the show. 

"Clooney"

By episode 12 of the second season, This Is Us has definitely found it's groove. "This show has really improved for me in recent episodes … which maybe is more about me than the show," one anonymous viewer commented on Vulture's recap of "Clooney." In this episode, Kevin decides to stay with his mom (and Miguel, lest you forget) after he gets out of rehab. Those two need to repair their relationship and Kevin needs some time away from Hollywood, so that scenario makes perfect sense. 

In this episode, Kevin also asks Miguel the question of all questions (that we've all been wondering): "Were you in love with my mom when my dad was alive?" Well done, Kevin. Of course, Miguel says no. As the episode continues, we also get a glimpse into Rebecca and Miguel's home life, which is stable, healthy, and quiet.

At the very end of the episode, we see a smoke detector with the battery missing. No! But also, yes! Viewers know Jack is going to die — and soon — but no one watching was privy to know how it would play out. The smoke detector is a big piece of the puzzle. Having Jack's death looming over the audience could be distracting, but the writers execute it so well that it's actually one of the best parts of the show.

"Number Two"

"Number Two" is all about Kate. It's one of a three-part series, with each episode focusing on one Pearson child at a time. The episode picks up with Kate dealing with the aftermath of her miscarriage. This episode definitely tugs on the heartstrings and gives viewers a realistic snapshot of what it's like to lose a child. The audience also gets to see how Toby is holding up, which is not great. Regardless, he puts Kate first and tries to make this all easier to bear. 

In addition to seeing present-day Kate, we also get a better insight into the life of teenage Kate. She's applying to Berklee College of Music, but is keeping it a secret. Kate has two bonding moments with her mom in this episode, one in the past and one in present day. Hopefully season three will have even more of these touching moments.

Although this episode focuses almost entirely on Kate, some feel she's still misunderstood. A review by Vox explains that her episode just proves "how little This Is Us understands Kate beyond her most obvious character traits," and the depth of her character is outweighed by Randall.

"Number Three"

Despite the criticism, Kate's episode was received by audiences about as well as Randall's episode, "Number Three." That is, both were incredibly well-liked. Although "Number Three" is centered on Randall, much of it is about Deja. Just as she and Randall are starting to bond, Deja is reunited with her mother. Watching Randall say goodbye to his 12-year-old foster daughter is a tear-inducing experience, to be sure. Viewers also get to see teenage Randall bonding and joking with his dad when taking a road trip to visit perspective colleges.

This episode also shows us a touching moment between Jack and Kevin, when he passes on his necklace to his son. While this scene may seem out of place, the writing makes it work. Jack explains to Randall how hard it is to have three kids because one's always in your "blindspot." Kevin being the one in the blindspot, this time.

"The Most Disappointed Man"

"The Most Disappointed Man" was certainly not the most disappointing episode in the season. Far from it, this episode is subtle yet strong. Although Entertainment Weekly considered it to be a bit "drab," viewers found it exciting

It's in this episode that viewers see the end, or the perceived end, of Deja's story. We get to meet Deja's fierce imprisoned mama, Shauna, and watch Randall's compassion for his foster daughter unfold — all in the same scene. Not to mention, Randall dubs Beth "a black queen" when speaking with Deja's mom, and it was all kinds of amazing. Details about Randall's adoption were also revealed in this episode. 

Lastly, in present-day, Kevin's drug abuse also hit an all-time high in this episode. He looks horrible, which is a pretty amazing feat since, after all, this is Justin Hartley we're talking about. Throughout this episode, you can't help but hope his siblings step up and help their brother. 

"Number One"

"Number One," a Kevin-centric episode, was the series' first time exploring one character at a time. This wasn't a risk-free decision on Fogelman's part. The episode trio debuted in the middle of the second season and hadn't been utilized in any way during the first season. Thankfully, viewers loved the idea and the episodes were some of the best of the season. Kevin's episode was arguable the best of the three, which says a lot, as he's not generally a fan-favorite. 

Present-day Kevin is a mess in this episode and audiences really get a feel for Hartley's ability to portray a complex character. Kevin loses the only tangible memory he has of his father — his necklace — and struggles to get it back. He ends up weeping on the lawn outside of the home of a one-night-stand. It's not pretty. Kevin cries out, "I just need somebody to help me." Ugh, Kevin. This hurts us too!

As if that wasn't enough sadness for one episode, there's a huge reveal at the very, very end: Kate had a miscarriage. This Is Us probably had millions of people crying themselves to sleep after this episode.

"A Father's Advice"

Things are looking up for the Big Three in "A Father's Advice." In present day, Randall is thinking of adopting a baby. Kate is chasing her dreams as a singer — go, Kate! — and Kevin was offered a spot in a movie directed by Ron Howard. Of course, this is This Is Us so there are some not-so-good things, too. 

In the past timeline, Jack is staying with Miguel while he and Rebecca are working out their issues. They decide to take the kids to dinner and explain what's going on. Obviously, they don't take it very well. In the end, the couple decides they will work it out — thank goodness! Up until this point, Jack and Rebecca have been total relationship goals, and we weren't ready to give up on them. 

This episode also provides a refreshing look into Kevin and Kate's twin dynamic, and how it makes Toby feel like a third wheel. This episode also explores the slightly dysfunctional side of the relationship between the siblings. Kate is the mother hen to Kevin, and Kevin is very dependent on Kate. Kevin admits to Toby that he needs to loosen the reigns now that she's getting hitched. It's a great moment between future brothers-in-law, Toby and Kevin.

Entertainment Weekly explained that this episode was not exactly as "heart-wrenching" as marketed and "surprisingly muted" for a season premiere. Still, this episode provided a great way to jump back into the series.

"The Car"

Were you worried when you saw the promo for "The Car"? As Elle explained in their recap, the episode was presented as if the story would be "told through the car." This episode had the potential to fail, but it definitely did not. The car is a central theme, but the writers were not so committed to it that it became tiring. 

Less than two days prior to the airing of this episode, fans discovered how Jack died in the special Super Bowl episode. That means we were all still wholly devastated when watching "The Car." Nevertheless, this episode was astounding, realistically portraying what little moments in life are like after someone passes away. 

The episode opens with the Pearsons getting stuck in traffic on a bridge on their way to a Weird Al Yankovic concert. Rebecca has some major bridge-anxiety and keeps her eyes closed, while Jack drives. Jack and The Big Three all work together to comfort their mom until they make it across. In true This Is Us fashion, viewers see Rebecca having to drive her kids across the same bridge at the end of the episode now that Jack is gone. It's a powerful and subtle moment, which is what this episode — and this show — is all about.

"The Fifth Wheel"

"The Fifth Wheel," much like "Number One," gave viewers even more reason to appreciate Kevin's character. After a one month break in episodes, this episode was the kind of dramatic return fans love to tune in and watch. Kevin is in rehab, which involves therapy, and has invited his family members to sit in on a session. Boy, oh, boy, does stuff hit the fan in this episode. 

Kevin's therapist brings up Jack's alcoholism and uses the term "addict." Naturally, that doesn't sit too well with Rebecca. Kevin points out that they are a "family of addicts" — and he's right. Kevin finally opens up to his family about how he feels like the "fifth wheel," while his family grapples to understand how on earth that could be true. This dynamic can be common in families, which may be why this episode was both so relatable and so well-received. 

"The Fifth Wheel" also gives viewers a look into what its like to be not a Pearson and how it's not always easy, or fair, to be Miguel, Toby, or Beth.

"That'll Be the Day"

"That'll Be the Day" is the episode that bears the same name as the Buddy Holly song. You know, the song with the lyrics "'Cause that'll be the day when I die." The title alone could bring This Is Us fans to tears. Making the episode even more dramatic, Elle reported what NBC told journalists prior to airing the episode: They would not be sending out advance screeners. Uh oh, that could only mean something big was going to happen — and that it did.

Audiences soon learned how the Pearson's house fire starts — a faulty crockpot given to them years ago by an elderly couple. We also learned that teenage Kevin and Jack weren't on the best of terms at this point. After fighting with his parents, Kevin decided to spend the night with Sophie. Although Kevin called his mom and made amends with her, he never did work things out with his dad. Unfortunately, he would never get the chance.

"Super Bowl Sunday"

How many of you cancelled your Super Bowl plans to stay home and watch This Is Us as it aired? "Super Bowl Sunday" was essentially the 2018 Super Bowl, anyway. According to Deadline, this episode had its best "regular slot demo performance" since the fall finale. It also ranked in at 9.8 on IMDB and was as good as everyone said it was.

Viewers finally got to find out exactly how Jack dies, why Kate blames herself for his death, and how the dog is somehow involved in all of this. Mandy Moore's performance as Rebecca was especially stellar in this episode. In the most heartbreaking scene of perhaps the entire series, Rebecca does not believe her husband is really gone and so she goes into his room to see him. "I didn't know he was going to be there, so it was all the more jarring and upsetting and just indescribably sad," Moore said in a behind-the-scenes interview. Indescribably sad — just the way we This Is Us fans like it!

"The Wedding"

Season 2 ends on a high note with "The Wedding." In many ways, this episode is about letting go of the painful past while still honoring it. Viewers get to see Kate scatter the rest of her father's ashes that she'd been holding onto — metaphorically and literally — and recognizes the need to make more room for Toby. Set at the old Pearson family cabin, the wedding is beautiful. Kate looks stunning and even shares a touching moment with Rebecca while she's getting ready for the impending nuptials. 

At the reception, both brothers give a toast. While Kevin's, at first, seems like it's going to go sour, it ends up being just what all of us need to hear. He quotes Kate's advice, saying not grieving can be likened to taking a big breath in and just holding in. Together, Kevin, Randall, Kate, and Rebecca take a breath and let it out. Let's be honest, fans did too. It was cathartic. Randall's speech comes next and it's all about choosing the right people. Meanwhile, viewers get a peek into the future and the future is wild. Kevin appears to be dating Beth's cousin and flying to Vietnam, Toby is in bed with what seems like depression, and, even further in the future, viewers see an aged Randall talking to Tess — about who, we don't know. Regardless, neither one wants to "see" the person in question. What? With that, the episode ends and the wait for Season 3 begins.