By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jan 24, 2018 at 3:06 AM

So I guess Green Bay Packers fans weren't the only ones having a bad night after their loss in Super Bowl XXXII in 1998. 

Indeed, Monday night's episode of "This Is Us" finally got to the moment you've been waiting for, with Hank Williams Jr. belting the question: Are you ready for some fire? A Super Bowl inferno? Of course, the answer's yes; we've been ready for a LONG time, and a part of me wonders how much more effective "That'll Be The Day" could've been if the audience's patience in waiting for a beloved character to burn to death was stretched to its breaking point. That being said, it was still a heartbreakingly effective start to Jack's end – even while the rest of the episode around it was solid if unspectacular. (That being said: PUPPERS!)

In the spirit of "This Is Us," however, let's delay Jack's death and talk about the modern day stories.

Randall is still flailing – even after finding his new calling in William's old apartment complex, which needs A LOT of work. The courtyard, for instance, smells like pee – probably because somebody peed back there, hypothesizes Randall. Guess we know where "The Bachelor" went on its next group date! R&B Properties (OBVIOUSLY a perfect name) is on the case, but while Beth starts with a clear, calm plan for rehabilitating the dilapidated building, Randall (with Kevin's surprise help) immediately wants to fix every tenant's problems as soon as possible, from busted fridges to random walls and plugged toilets.

Unfortunately it ends with a cockroach infestation, a full-building field trip to the local hotel and a big, greasy, satisfying "I told you so" from Beth – who has been an angel of patience these last two episodes. 

I'm still not sure I'm in love with Randall's storyline since the season's return, as his character sort of just ambles aimlessly around through a midlife crisis that's appeared very suddenly and played out very repetitively. But the snappy yet real flirty banter between Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson is always welcome, more lived in than it has any right to be, and the big conversation between the two brothers Randall and Kevin, realizing how long it'd been since their father's death and how they're beginning to outlive him, was quite nice. 

Speaking of Kevin, The Manny had a busy episode this week. When he wasn't tearing down a wall at Randall's new complex (much to the lady tenant's eager entertainment), he was cranking his way through making amends with those he'd wronged – including Sophie. Remember Sophie? Kevin and the show kind of did her dirty, but at least she gets to officially go out (at least so it would seem) with a bang, delivering a killer speech to Kevin about how she needs him out of her life so she can remember the few remaining good memories she has from their relationship.

That subplot never seemed to be one the show was in love with, so I'm glad to see Sophie free – and to see her subplot end on such a perfect bittersweet moment. And as a bonus for Kevin, he even gets his father's charm necklace back from poor Charlotte.

Overall, Kevin's episode was a lot of big moments crammed into 44 minutes, but they all hit – him flipping the list over to reveal the final name left to make amends, his dad, was a good, mild gut-punch of a moment. And I like the little details mixed in with the big moments, like Kevin using his hands to distract himself from his demons – just like Jack did with the wooden entertainment console in the past. 

Meanwhile, Kate's subplot was likely the least necessary of them all – dogs didn't tie in as much with the past as some might have expected, at least in last night's episode – but it definitely was the most adorable!

After walking in on Toby skimming some dog adoption websites (not porn), Kate heads down to the shelter where she finds Denise from "Master of None" as well as THE CUTEST DOG EVER. I don't know if dog casting is a Hollywood profession, but whoever did that for "This Is Us" absolutely crushed his or her job this week.

There's a part where Kate delivers a big speech to the poor pupper about having to abandon it at the shelter at the last minute, and THE DOG LOOKS LIKE HE'S ACTUALLY LISTENING AND ACTING. And then the dog's all sitting adorable and wonderful on the floor for the big reveal that Kate followed through, overcame her past and bought the dog for Toby?! I hope that dog joined the rest of the cast when they won the SAG Award for drama Sunday night.

Sure, this subplot wasn't the most essential, but if you're going to kill off a beloved main character, I'm fine with distracting us with the dog equivalent of Jacob Tremblay. 

So I guess that finally brings us to the moment we've all been waiting for: the fire. But first, it's Super Bowl Sunday at the Pearson household – and it's going nowhere near how Jack wanted it. It's the final Super Bowl before the kids head off to college, but the Big Three are already going their separate ways.

Instead of watching the game with the family, Randall wants to take his girlfriend to see "Titanic" for her seventh time (which means she's almost spent a LITERAL DAY in theaters watching that movie. Spoiler alert: Jack dies ... oh).

Meanwhile Kevin sulks his way out of the house because his college plans went all wrong thanks to his injury, and even Kate clashes with Jack, as she harrumphs at him for trying to video tape her latest college audition. They eventually reconnect ... but then there's a party she'd rather attend. So Jack and Rebecca are left alone to watch the game ... which they don't watch anyway, instead creating some sparks of their own in the bedroom. 

The whole sequence is a tender bummer, not only because everyone watching knows where this is going and sees the looming shadow taking over the frame, but because we all recognize that moment of when we started to build our own lives, pulling away ever so slightly for the first time to choose new traditions and friends rather than the family that's always been there. It's sad – but it's also life. 

But enough life, it's time for death – served up in a GOD DAMN CROCK-POT! Boy, let me tell you what company definitely did not and will never buy ad time on this program! After speculating that perhaps the fire happened because of the bad fuse from a few episodes back or maybe the dog did it or that it didn't even happen at the Pearson household but somewhere else – like the first home they're flipping – it turns out the culprit was just two old people moving out across the street, needing to clear out some stuff.

And that includes a crock-pot that shorts out, burns through Rebecca's scarf and then the rest of the house because the smoke detector doesn't have batteries. And that's why you always leave a note!

It's a heartbreaking scene, one the show's pretty much built toward its entire existence, but I do wonder if it could've been even more effective if it hadn't felt so dragged out like this. The teasing, most notably last week's ominous smoke detector final shot, got tiresome half a season ago and just got in the way of moving characters forward. But hey, it still managed to do the impossible: It made the Packers losing to the Broncos in the Super Bowl only the second saddest thing to happen this episode. 

This Is Sadness rankings

I actually felt the eye rain coming more during Sophie's big speech to Kevin than I did during the wildfire. That being said, if you want to summon a duct deluge, just play The Cinematic Orchestra's "To Build A Home."

Busting out that song plus puppies in the same hour of TV should be a crime.

So I'll give this episode a Tennessee From "Zombieland" Drying His Tears With Money: 

So like an eight out of 10. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.