'This Is Us' Series Finale Marks the End With Bittersweet Send-Off
‘This Is Us’ Finale: Everything We Know So Far
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Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Tuesday's series finale of This Is Us.
This is it. This is the end. This Is Us said goodbye to the Pearsons (and us) on the emotional series finale -- and the tears were definitely flowing.
The very last episode of NBC's award-winning drama had the tall task of closing the loop on the TV family we've all come to adore, while celebrating Rebecca's life and looking ahead to the future. Simply titled "Us," the final hour was split among two periods of the Pearsons' lives -- a lazy weekend with Jack, Rebecca and a young Big Three and the day of Rebecca's memorial service.
There were no twists and turns this time around, just a simple ending to a family's story as a young Randall gazed lovingly at his father, Jack, who was taking in the laughter and joy of his family on that indiscriminate lazy day, and Jack and Rebecca reunited on the train to take the leap together into the great beyond. These poignant moments, many of which were filmed years ago, fittingly capped off the series forever.
"I always felt that that was the ending of the show. With all the talk of twists and turns and death and house fires and appliances that cause house fires, where the show really lived was just with a family," creator Dan Fogelman told a handful of reporters, including ET, of the series' last episodes. "I always felt that the boldest and most confident step and ending for the show would be pulling out one final magic trick in the end and then one big emotional, sad ending and death. And then allowing the final episode to be a simple reflection on family and time."
"And in some ways, that's the most challenging stuff. The most ambitious stuff and the most challenging stuff has always been the simple stuff, and that's the most rewarding. Even though there aren't a lot of bells and whistles in the final episode, it's probably the proudest I've ever been of an episode," he said in part.
As the Big Three eulogized their mother at her funeral (the events of which flew by in a literal blur, "scripted that way" by Fogelman), they had a quiet moment of reflection as they sat on the front steps of the family cabin, coming to terms with Rebecca's death and where their own stories were going now.
One of them asked what they do now that both Jack and Rebecca are no longer there. "We're going to do what she wanted us to do. We're going to live fearlessly," Kate said with conviction to her brothers, sharing her future endeavors of opening numerous schools for the visually impaired.
Kevin, meanwhile, acknowledged that he'd focus on the nonprofit and embrace being with his family. "Be home more," he promised. "I like my home. Took me a long time to get it."
But Randall, sorry Senator Randall, whose political career has accelerated in intervening years and who was about to become a granddaddy (to a boy named William, after his late birth father), may have a larger plan in mind. He shared with his siblings that there may be a larger opportunity for him, should he choose to go down that path. (He'd have to consult with Beth of course.) "DNC wants me to go to the Iowa State Fair, shake some hands, eat some junk food, deep-fried Oreos and whatnot. And if the folks that deep-fry your food like you, then maybe...," he drifted off, possibly alluding to that bigger picture being a potential presidency though those words are never uttered.
Kate, though, shared her greatest fear after her mom's death, admitting that she's afraid they'll all drift apart without her there to keep them together. But Randall assured her it wasn't going to happen, reiterating to her, "We're not going to drift." This time, we believe his promise.
"Secret: Someone asked me to close my eyes and picture my family. It's not Beth and the girls I see first. My first picture is Mom and Dad and the two of you," Randall revealed to Kevin and Kate. "Younger and cuter versions of you two but still."
Then, for the very last time on This Is Us but surely not their last time as the trio's lives continue on, Kevin, Kate and Randall do their signature Big Three chant -- only it was filled with a cornucopia of emotions.
Afterward, Randall reflected on Rebecca's last seconds before she died, remembering that she held onto his hand tightly and squeezed hard "right before." "I wonder what that was," he said aloud.
The scene then switched to Rebecca reuniting with Jack on the train as they had one last conversation together. "I'm scared," she confessed.
"I know, but don't be," Jack reassured her, telling her everything any parent wants to hear: "We did good. You did so good."
Rebecca expressed her regrets about all the things she still wanted to do with her kids, but ran out of time to do.
"You will. It's hard to explain but you'll do all the things with them," he said.
Jack told her she'll still "be there" for the important and seemingly insignificant moments that their family enjoys and endures as the years pass, as he has during all this time. But, it was time for Rebecca to go even though she wasn't ready to.
"I don't want to leave them," she pleaded with Jack as a tear rolled down her face.
"You don't. You'll see," Jack said, before they exchanged the series' final words. "I love you."
"I love you," Rebecca smiled.
Finally content, Rebecca squeezed Jack's hand -- the exact moment she tightly held Randall's hand before she passed over -- as they took their much-earned long rest together.
But that wasn't the final shot of the series.
In the final seconds of the series, the scene went back to that lazy Saturday as the family enjoyed a carefree, no-plan day playing "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" with the Pearson family home filled with love and laughter. But Jack didn't take part in the festivities. Instead, he sat down on the couch and looked lovingly at his happy family as he took the inconsequential scene in. But someone else was watching him.
The camera panned out to reveal young Randall with a smile on his face as he peered over at his dad during a small, but significant moment, in their family's history. In the end, it was all about savoring the small and big moments equally.
"Being a part of impactful arts, I think, is probably what has meant the most to me. Being part of a show that strikes conversation that hits all of our differences and makes them the same," Milo Ventimiglia told ET on Sunday of the impact This Is Us has had on him. "We all understand family -- the family we're born into, the family we create, our own personal successes and failures, supporting one another, trying to understand one another. It's meant a lot. And I think the most is the impact the arts can have on a community of human beings that are so wildly different but at the same time it’s all the same human experience that we go through. It’s just different shades."
Mandy Moore called the finale "poetic" and more uplifting than one might expect -- and we'd have to agree with her. "It's a bit more of a hug. There’s some joy and levity that maybe haven’t been as present for the last couple of episodes," she said of the swan song. "I hope it makes [viewers] feel good. I hope that it inspires them to be the best version of themselves and I think that’s what our show always inspired to be -- a template for how to live life to the fullest."
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