After six seasons on the air, the series finale for “This Is Us” aired in late May. Following the ups and downs of the Pearson family, the episode, fittingly titled “Us,” offered a sense of closure for its fans.
The finale focuses on Rebecca’s life with her husband, Jack, and their three kids — Randall, Kate and Kevin, nicknamed “The Big Three” by Jack. Though the drama often jumps ahead and flashes back through time, the final episode opens with a quote from present-day Rebecca: “I’m not worried about forgetting about the big stuff. It’s the regular Saturday when the kids were little, a day when nothing big really happens, and we’re laughing and playing pin the tail on the donkey. That’s the stuff I’m not ready to let go of yet.”
In a scene set in the early ’90s, Jack and Rebecca Pearson lie in bed. It’s morning, and Jack notices a small scar near Rebecca’s eyebrow. She tells him that when she was little, her dad was pushing her on a swing, and his watch clocked her above her eye. Going to the park with her dad was her favorite thing, and her scar serves as a beautiful reminder of those cherished memories that often go forgotten. She tells Jack: “I really wish I had spent more time appreciating it when it was happening instead of worrying about when it would end”; we can always count on “This Is Us” to give us great life advice.
Jack and Rebecca realize that, for once, they have a Saturday with the kids with nothing planned. The episode then flashes back to a younger Jack and Rebecca pushing the youngest of the Big Three on the swings, which is juxtaposed by the next scene, where the Big Three are pushing their own children. Though Rebecca thinks that she did not treasure these moments with her dad enough, she seems to honor them in the best way possible — by passing them down to her own kids and creating more little moments for generations to come.
In the following scene, Randall and his wife, Beth, are in bed, and she sleeps while Randall struggles to write a eulogy. Then, we see a flashback of young Randall, who is again awake contemplating something as Kevin sleeps. Young Kate wakes up in bed and looks at a family photo, then there’s a quick shot of Kate looking at a photo of herself and Rebecca on her wedding day to Phillip.
The show then flash-forwards to roughly the year 2035, and as Randall struggles to write his eulogy, Beth suggests that they discuss a worst-case scenario. “After burying your fourth and final parent, you lose it,” she says. “No parents left to bury, you spend the rest of your days going to other people’s parent’s funerals, crying single tears of parents you don’t even know.” Randall says he’s looking forward to the next quiet chapter of his life with his wife, kids and soon-to-be grandchild. But, as we know with “This Is Us,” something chaotic is always happening within their family. Beth asks Randall, “Have you made a decision about deep-fried Oreos?” He says, “Musing. You?” She says, “Same.” We find out later why they had this conversation.
Kate and Toby, her ex-husband, talk, and he says he is proud of her and knows that Rebecca is too. Toby says: “I love you, kid. I love you. And even though our marriage didn’t go the distance, if Doc Brown showed up right now and offered me a ride in the DeLorean, I would go right back to that weight loss support group and make stupid faces at you. That was a ‘Back to the Future’ reference.” Kate laughs and says, “I know, I was married to you.” “Yes, you were,” he says. “Yes, I was,” Kate says.
The scene switches, and as the rain pours outside, Kate watches her chalk art get washed away. Jack tells Kate that he wants to slow things down, and after she agrees, they decide to go watch home videos with the family. It’s fitting: An article from Glamour states that “‘This Is Us’ is like taking all your home videos and mixing them up, so the moment is a nice nod to that vision.”
The family watches home videos from the mid-1980s, where Jack is taping Rebecca as the Big Three do their first Big Three chant. Kevin and Randall are upset, and both storm out of the room. In another clip, Randall tells Rebecca that his mathletes contest got canceled, but we find out that he lied and actually got suspended for pulling the chair out from under the kid who was bullying him for having a mustache. Kevin is upset because he got made fun of in gym class for not being able to do a pull-up. Jack suggests teaching the boys how to shave. Then, the show flashes forward and it’s Rebecca’s funeral, where Randall is consoling his family. We see Kevin speaking at a podium, but we don’t hear his words. Then, Kate sings for everyone.
Back in the ’90s, Jack is teaching the boys to shave, and Kate wants to play pin the tail on the donkey. She wins, and when Rebecca asks her how she knew where to put the tail, Kate answers: “As long as I know where you are, I always know where I’m going.” We can see how this quote really fits Kate’s character in “This Is Us” because she values family.
Flash forward to the present day, and Randall’s daughter Deja tells him that she is pregnant with a son whom she wants to name after her grandfather, William. Then, we see a flashback of Randall’s dad, William, before he passed from lung cancer, and he is talking about being a grandfather to Annie and Tess. William discusses how unconditional the love is between a grandfather and grandchild and how he wishes that he could have had more time with them.
Back to the present day, Kate, Kevin and Randall are sitting on the steps of the family cabin. Randall says he got good news on a sad day but doesn’t tell them that Deja is pregnant. Kevin says they don’t have parents anymore, but Kate says they still do. Kevin asks what they are going to do now, and Kate responds, “Live fearlessly.”
The last scene cuts back to the train — a representation of Rebecca’s mind as she lies on her deathbed — and Jack and Rebecca are lying in bed. She says she’s scared to leave everyone, but he tells her not to be. Jack says, “Hey babe. We did good. You did so good.” The scene cuts to Uncle Nicky playing pin the tail on the donkey with everyone. Then it cuts back, and Jack says, “It’s hard to explain, but you’ll do all those things with them.” The show’s ending is bittersweet for fans and the actors alike, and it appropriately closes with a hopeful quote in trying times. In the words of Fogelman himself while reflecting on the ending of his show: “Somebody can pass away, somebody can die, but they don’t stop becoming part of the family’s storybook, past and future.”