Things may change, but the one thing that remains the same is that This Is Us continues to make us sob every Tuesday.
The story of Randall’s birth mother, Laurel Dubois, was one of season 5’s strongest and most profound episodes due to its impeccable storytelling.
For years, Randall has struggled with his sense of identity, which has caused him pain and anxiety.
Meeting William eased that anxiety a bit, but it still didn’t paint a full picture for Randall as he never truly got to know his mother… until Hai filled in the missing pieces.
And wow, I did not know how badly I needed to know Laurel’s story because it was equally as fascinating as it was tragic. Leave it to This Is Us to pull off dedicating a whole hour to someone we’ve never met and managing to captivate audiences as if we’ve known them forever.
Given the little that we knew about Laurel from William, I went into the episode with certain expectations but was instead, blown away by the experiences in her life.
Laurel came from the most distinguished family in New Orleans, which meant that she was under a lot of pressure to be perfect.
That pressure compounded into her rebellion. The first was her “forbidden” love affair with the Vietnamese fisherman while she was set to be married to a “dud” named Marcel. Surprisingly, their romance was even sweeter than Laurel and William’s. And while it wouldn’t be realistic to call Laurel lucky in life, she was lucky to have found love not once but twice.
I especially loved that Laurel and Hai’s relationship blossomed despite the language barrier proving that love knows no bounds, race, or color. This Is Us excels in writing diverse stories that are touching and relatable.
Her second act of rebellion kickstarted her journey to Pittsburgh and her chapter with William.
While the story definitely gave off The Notebook vibes, Hai warned us that it was far from it. And the second half of the story took quite a heartbreaking turn after Laurel overdosed on drugs while self-medicating after giving birth.
Laurel was a victim of a broken system that we continue to see destroy lives to this day. It also serves as a good argument for decriminalizing minor drug offenses and increasing the need for treatment and recovery services.
Instead of being offered help with her addiction, which falls under the category of mental health issues, she was punished and taken to prison. The nurse’s disgusting comments about her being a junkie and a bad mother were infuriating, but sadly, representative of what everyone else thought of her.
And at her lowest, she was kicked down even further with a five-year sentence despite it being her first offense, which likely had to do with her skin color.
Due to these circumstances, Laurel never had a fighting chance of finding her son or letting William know she was alive.
While hearing Laurel’s story is heartbreaking, it’s also comforting for Randall to learn that his mother loved him and wanted him. She was always such a huge question mark in his life, and when he learned that she died just a few years ago of cancer and not in 1980, he wondered why she never came looking for him.
The devastating answer is that she wanted to, but she couldn’t.
Laurel may not have been able to tell her son her story, but Hai was, and that was the next best thing.
The story came full circle as Randall was able to let go of the pain in the same way Laurel did all those years prior thanks to the guidance of Aunt Mae, one of the only people who ever understood her and accepted her for who she was — imperfections and all.
Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of Randall seeing his mother’s ghost in the water as it seemed like a bit of a stretch for the series. I would have preferred to see him simply go into the lake alone and scream it out at the top of his lungs, though, in retrospect, I can see why it was a poetic moment that offered up some much-needed closure.
Or maybe it was a side-effect of that absinthe?
Also, does NBC stand for Naked Booty Club now? If you know, you know.
With a weight lifted off Randall’s shoulders, This Is Us embraced a more uplifting tone, which can only mean one thing: something bad is around the corner.
And that was underscored by Randall’s statement about life being too short to focus on the bad.
When Randall called him, Kevin was frazzled as he was speeding to be by Madison’s side after she went into (early?) labor with the twins. And while nothing happened in those final moments, the teaser trailer for the upcoming episode reveals our concerns were valid as Kevin’s car ends up totaled on the side of the road.
It was so predictable and that’s slightly disappointing since it’s not what we’ve come to expect from the series. However, I have faith that the writers have a larger plan!
Flash-forwards have revealed that Kevin survives, but this is definitely not the kind of stress Madison needs while she’s in labor!
Is the accident as bad as it seems? How will it impact him? Will it influence his decision to give up his career and be there for Madison and the twins? Will he prioritize family moving forward?
Sound off in the comments and let us know what you thought about the episode!
This Is Us Series Finale Review – The End (6×18)
If you feel sad that it’s over, well, that’s how you know it was incredible when it was happening. Truer words have never been spoken.
This Is Us aired its final episode ever — I’m still letting the fact sink in that there will never be any new episodes.
Dan Fogelman and the team teased that the series finale would be a “big hug” to fans, but I’m going to need Jack Pearson to hold me a little bit longer and a bit tighter after that episode.
The finale was centered around a depressing day — Rebecca’s funeral — and while it was definitely a sad moment with the series coming to an end, there was also an uplifting spirit throughout the hour as the series tapped into those flashbacks that resonated so deeply with fans. The flashbacks to when the Big Three were kids were reminiscent of the vibe in season one where we were just beginning to understand the complexities of the family dynamic.
Some might say the episode was uneventful after the penultimate episode on the train, but there was beauty in the simplicity because it was filled with so much love from start to finish.
As the adult Big Three said goodbye to their mother, the feelings they felt mirrored what fans were feeling after six wonderful years of getting to know the Pearson clan inch by inch.
And at the end of the day, with both Jack and Rebecca gone, the siblings only had each other.
Kate questioned whether they would “drift,” but it’s almost comical that she even thinks that’s a possibility at this point in time. Those three as so very much intertwined that they could never drift too far without throwing each other a life raft.
Kate’s quote “as long as I know where you are, I always know where I’m going” described their relationship to a tee. They have all carved different paths for themselves, but their childhood continues to play such a big role in their lives.
As Randall reveals, when he thinks about his family, he sees his parents and his siblings instead of his wife and children. Their connection is so profound that it can survive anything.
The penultimate episode was so epic and emotional that it could’ve served as the series finale, but though Rebecca was the matriarch, it was always about the Big Three and the generations to come, which is why I’m glad that despite being the setting of the episode, Rebecca’s funeral wasn’t the sole focus.
The dialogue at her funeral, including Kate’s song and Randall’s eulogy, was inaudible because we didn’t need to hear what they had to say — we’ve been on this journey with them, and we carry Rebecca in our hearts.
If you took anything away from this episode, it’s the gentle reminder to live in the moment and embrace the present because it’s all too fleeting.
The flashback scenes to Rebecca’s carefree Saturday underscored just how quickly time passes by, and just how much we all yearn to grow up and worry about the future.
Time is a thief, and you end up reaching a certain point in life where you’d love to just slow it down.
This Is Us has always delivered the lessons we never knew we needed, and we saw Jack teaching his children those valuable lessons even before they were ready to hear or process them.
— Whitney Devlin (@whitneydevlin) May 25, 2022
He urged young Kevin and Randall not to rush the growing-up process as he taught them to shave for the first time, and while they were just too jazzed about being “grown,” on some level, they definitely understood what he meant at some point.
It was Kate who had it all figured out and basked in the joys of being a kid. She wanted to spend time with the family, play games, and watch movies. Kate may have had plenty of issues with herself, and though she may have been a late bloomer, she was always the most aware. She knew these were the good days that she could never get back, so she helped facilitate so many of those key memories for the boys.
I sometimes wonder how she would’ve turned out if Jack was alive for her formative teenage years since he was her biggest supporter and cheerleader.
Also, someone should really tell these kids adult life isn’t all it’s cracked out to be.
But adult life isn’t without the good moments either. Even on a terrible day, Randall couldn’t contain his excitement about becoming a grandfather.
When Deja told him it was going to be a boy, Randall, who has only been surrounded by women throughout his life, even did a happy dance.
And then Deja hit us in the feels when she revealed that she and Malik wanted to name the boy William. She may not have known her grandfather, but he made a huge impact on her life. The moment was only made sweeter with a scene featuring William, right before his death, as he raves about the unconditional love he feels for his granddaughters and wonders what kind of impact he’ll have on them in the short time he’s a part of their lives.
Oh, William, if you only knew.
There were some stellar scenes, including the back-to-back montage of multiple generations swinging their children in a swing. It may be a simple activity, but it’s a tether connecting all of them through fond memories that they will all cherish for years to come.
I’m not entirely content with the fact that the future remains slightly abstract for the Big Three and their families. It’s almost like a fill in the blanks for audiences, which feels strange considering how invested we are in their stories. Sure, we’ve gotten glimpses of adult Jack, Kate and Toby’s son, but why haven’t we seen Haley as an adult again?
Why can’t we get a peek into Randall’s life as a grandfather? Or anything with Kevin and Sophie?
Or maybe even some big family Thanksgiving down the line that assures us that the Big Three never drifted and remained closer than ever following their mother’s death? I’d like to see Kate, Kevin, and Randall in their 60s or 70s!
I know they revealed how they will be living their lives fearlessly to honor their mother, but it just feels like we were slightly robbed of seeing it come to fruition.
There was even a brief mention of Randall considering a run for president, but we’ll never know what came of it.
Much of the focus remained on the Big Three in the finale, but there were some stellar final scenes between some beloved characters.
KaToby had a whirlwind relationship, but their final words to each other included an “I love you” and an acknowledgment that they had a really great thing going for a while. Despite being divorced, there was nothing awkward about their interaction because their relationship was so real and raw through the years.
Beth also proved that she’s the MVP with a final game of “worst-case scenario” where she envisioned Randall renting an RV to visit his parent’s graves across the U.S. It was absolutely hilarious — she never misses a beat, even ahead of a funeral.
The series has a sweet spot for full-circle moments, and there’s nothing more moving than the whole family playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey, a game the Big Three played as children, following Rebecca’s funeral.
Rebecca and Jack did good — his words, not mine — as they raised three very incredible children who now have incredible families of their own.
I didn’t expect to see Jack and Rebecca in the “afterlife” of sorts, but I’m glad we got a little more from them following the reunion on the train.
She clued him into her fears about passing and leaving the children, but he assured her that she wouldn’t. He was speaking metaphorically because the family game proved that Rebecca left an indelible mark on them; They will carry her, the memories, and the lessons she taught them until their very last breaths.
And it seems as though Jack is acknowledging that he’s been with them this entire time watching over them, which is beautiful and reassuring.
It’s also reassuring that Bec wasn’t alone in her final moments — Jack was there to hold her and guide her into a new phase in her life.
The cherry on top was the final moment of Jack looking at his adopted son, a young Randall, while adult Randall looks at his adopted daughter, Deja.
It’s rare that you get a full picture spanning multiple generations, but it provided audiences with so many touching moments that always, in some shape or form, relate to their own lives.
We’ve been blessed to have a front-row seat to the Pearson’s story, and what a journey about life, love, and loss it has been.
There wasn’t a grand exit because life isn’t like that. It’s a collection of little moments (like teaching your sons to shave) that make us, us. And it has been the small, intimate moments that have made this show so relatable and heartfelt. It’s quite a thing, isn’t it?
Thank you to everyone that made this show possible. Thank you for reading my reviews weekly for six years.
And if you ever need some inspiration, you’ll always have the re-runs to help you through it.
Remember to appreciate everything that’s happening in real time instead of worrying about when it will end. Every song ends, but it’s no reason not to enjoy the music.
What did you think of the This Is Us Series Finale? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
This Is Us Review – The Train (6×17)
There are some shows, some characters, and some families that come into your life and change everything.
Since its premiere, This Is Us has always been that show with those life-changing characters and families. Each episode has been an emotional tsunami that opened the flood gates and assured fans that it was okay — more than okay, actually — to feel all the feels and let out the tears.
The series sent waves when it introduced three timelines that all connected with each other, so the expectations have been high for the final few episodes, especially the penultimate episode that said goodbye to the matriarch, Rebecca Pearson.
Everyone always raves about what a great guy Jack Pearson is — and he was a terrific father albeit a flawed man — but no one ever gives Rebecca the credit she deserves.
The episode, which detailed Rebecca’s journey to the end, highlighted that Rebecca was really the glue that held it all together in the face of loss, heartache, and trauma. She endured so much so that, in their individual ways, her children could thrive. And she made sure that — until her very last breath — her children were taken care of in a way that only a mother can.
She held on for so long for them, and wow, she really deserved that rest.
When you think of death, you typically think of pain and suffering, which makes all the sense in the world. It’s hard not to. But This Is Us once again challenged those surface-level emotions by showcasing Rebecca’s death as a beautiful and natural process in this journey we call life.
The end doesn’t always have to be sad. It can be a celebration of a full life lived. Rebecca’s sure was.
Dan Fogelman and team brilliantly brought to life the quote: “It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die.”
For Rebecca, that life was weaved in seamlessly through her journey to the caboose car on the train. Ever since she was a little child, Rebecca absolutely loved riding on the train with her father, so it was fitting that she took one last ride with a final destination in mind.
I mean, the writing was exceptional as it hit on every major and minor moment that meant anything to the series and these characters.
It was also a creative way to incorporate and celebrate all the people that shaped the show and made an impact on Rebecca’s life along the way.
William guided Rebecca on the journey with all of the wisdom that he collected throughout the years. Their stories have been connected since the moment he left Randall at the firehouse. He gave Rebecca the third child that completed her family, and so, it was fitting that he was the one to escort her in her final moments.
Dr. K made an appearance to commend Rebecca on truly living his advice about taking lemons and making lemonade to the fullest — she took everything that was thrown her way and she made the sweetest damn lemonade. She turned her life into this big, messy, gigantic, and spectacular thing.
And when her life flashed before her eyes, the pain was overshadowed by the love and the light.
Obviously, at the forefront were her three children, the Big Three — Randall, Kevin, and Kate — but there was also the incredible family that they all built. There were grandchildren, great grandchildren (well, in the making), wives, husbands, ex-husbands, baby mommas, everyone together as one unit. The love that Rebecca gave her children was extended to every single new “Pearson.”
The house wasn’t empty in her final days — it was filled with people who loved and cared for Rebecca in many different ways, including people who learned from her over the years and found her to be a role model and source of inspiration.
As all those loved ones said their final goodbyes, it was acknowledged that Rebecca heard everything they were saying deep in her subconscious as she saw flashes of memorabilia that meant something to her throughout the years along with visions of characters in various moments in time.
When Beth thanked Rebecca for being a guiding force and showing her what it was like to be a mother, Rebecca saw her as both a teenager and a grown woman.
When Sophie said goodbye and mentioned that her love story with Kevin was a once-in-a-lifetime love much like Rebecca and Jack’s, Rebecca saw Kevin and Sophie when they were toddlers, teens, and adults.
Rebecca was lucky enough to be part of every single moment — the good and the bad. She was the bedrock of the family and had a fierce love and loyalty for her kids.
As she made her way through the train, there was also a sweet moment with Miguel, though, admittedly, it felt very brief particularly when you think about how much Rebecca meant to him. The man dedicated his whole life to taking care of her. She was his whole life, and while I know that he wasn’t her one true love, he was such an important person to her, so I wish there was a little bit more love for him.
However, Mandy Moore also sold that chapter in her character’s life as she displayed the emotions that come along with confusion, excitement, and fear all wrapped up into one.
Rebecca knew that her time was running out, and she was trying to make sense of it all while absorbing all that was being thrown her way. She was proud of what she accomplished yet sad that she was leaving it all behind.
There were a few side stories, including Deja’s pregnancy, and even one final mystery that magnificently tied it all together.
Deja informed Randall that he was going to be a “grandpappy,” and the magnitude of life vs. death of it all could be felt. They always say, as one life ends, another begins.
It was revealed that Deja was pregnant with Malik’s child, which allows their relationship to come full circle. I’m happy for those crazy-in-love kids.
However, the idea of one life ends, another begins was also underscored with the introduction of Marcus and his family.
We met Marcus and his family during a traumatic moment in their lives when a car crash landed him in the hospital.
It wasn’t immediately clear how Marcus’s story fit into the grand scheme of things but isn’t that always the case with This Is Us?
Eventually, we learned that Marcus’s father had a heart-to-heart with Jack Pearson on the night of the house fire — and as we know — moments prior to his death.
And even then, Jack had it in him to pass on some sound piece of advice — a motto about lemons that Marcus’s family lived by for all these years.
Two families going through absolute hell that were unknowingly connected on a cosmic level.
They weren’t much different from the Pearsons, except that Marcus survived while Jack died that night. A real “one lives while the other dies” kind of moment.
Another life quote also comes to mind at this moment: “everything happens for a reason.”
Jack’s death was a pivotal moment for the Pearson clan as it changed everything and shaped them into the people that we know today, but if the scales tipped and Marcus died instead of Jack, then the world would’ve never gotten groundbreaking research about Alzheimer’s disease.
Marcus, again unknowingly, went on to make great strides in eliminating and treating the disease that killed Rebecca.
Not everyone’s bad day is a bad day. There is balance and order. As William explained — if you look at the whole picture, you’ll see the beauty even in the sad moments.
And, of course, if we were to get really technical, Jack would’ve never wanted the doctor to save him over a young boy.
Rebecca’s subconscious kept telling William that she was “waiting for someone” throughout the episode, and it soon became clear that it wasn’t Jack. She knew, just like we did, that she would see her husband again. She was, however, waiting for Kate, who was on a 12-hour flight back from London after taking her music program for the blind international.
A mother just knows (kind of like Beth knew that Deja was pregnant before she even said anything), call it motherly intuition, so Rebecca held on until all three of her children were by her side.
As they said their final goodbyes, she acknowledged that she heard everything with one last hand squeeze.
Now, naturally, you were already balling your eyes out this whole time. And if you know anything about This Is Us, you knew that Rebecca’s reunion with Jack was going to be the final moment. When she finally saw her beloved husband, it would indicate her passing.
You braced yourself and it still hit so hard.
When Rebecca laid down and turned to face Jack in bed, I looooost it.
Then, she simply said “hey,” which is what the children told her to say when she finally saw him, and I was in shambles.
It was so pure, simple, and perfect because it’s what we all envision our final moments being. We’re all staring down that barrel hoping that our end will be as comforting as Rebecca’s.
We want to see the people that have passed on and we want them to guide us since they’ve already crossed over. And we want to reunite with our one true love.
Rebecca gets to rest easy knowing that she did everything she could for her kids and left them as capable adults with their own families to raise.
It was a beautiful end to a beautiful story.
And we’re not done. We have one final episode to say goodbye to the Pearson clan, so get your tissues ready!
- How nice is it to see all the kids now? Like Kevin’s children as preteens!
- Why did Kevin look older than everyone else? Sophie barely aged. Nicky still looked the same!
- Toby continues to be the show’s comedic relief by asking Rebecca, on her deathbed, if she liked him better than Phillip.
- There were so many good moments, but Joni Mitchell? Flawless touch. It was the soundtrack to Rebecca’s life because it led her to Jack.
What did you think of the episode?
This Is Us Review – Family Meeting (6×16)
I don’t know how I thought that I was going to hold it together watching the final episodes of This Is Us, but the storytelling does not allow for there to be a single dry eye in the room.
This Is Us Season 6 Episode 16 leaned heavily into the emotional aspect of a mother’s love.
A mother’s love knows no bounds, especially when that mother is Rebecca Pearson.
Rebecca poured her heart and soul into raising the Big Three. She was a devoted mother who sacrificed everything, even when she didn’t exactly know what she was doing or how to do it.
As Randall put it, she was magic, so watching that magic fade away was uncomfortable and difficult.
It forced the Big Three to look at their mother in a different way; she was no longer the caregiver, she was now in need of their care.
The series has always been really great at showing parallels between then and now, but the plot device was especially useful in “Family Meeting” to underscore that the roles between a mother and her children were reversed.
In the same way that she fed them, clothed them, bathed them, and put them to sleep, they were now pitching it to feed her, clothe her, bathe her, and put her to sleep.
And it hit audiences in the feels not only because we’ve all come to love the Pearson clan and feel like we’re extended family members, but also because it’s a reality for each and every one of us because it’s life. And Dan Fogelman, the cast, and the crew have effortlessly, beautifully, and heartbreakingly captured it all through the lens of a single family.
As Randall, Kevin, and Kate debated what they should do with their mother now that Miguel was gone and her disease was worsening, it forced them to dig deep into themselves and into their childhood.
They couldn’t see eye-to-eye, which Rebecca anticipated when she appointed Kate as her guardian. And it’s a good thing she did.
Kevin and Randall both meant well, but they both had tunnel vision. They weren’t actually seeing the situation, and therefore, they weren’t seeing Rebecca — the person she is now.
Kate was silent throughout much of the meeting. She took a step back to reflect. She connected with her mother. She reminded them to actually look at their mother, see her in this fragile state, and be with her.
Admittedly, the scene of Randall and Kevin brushing their mother’s hair and lotioning her hands gutted me. There is such a pure love between all of them that just makes up for all the bad moments.
It was also such a raw moment that brought things full circle and reminded just how fleeting time is.
Eventually, Kevin presented the only logical solution to their dilemma that allowed Rebecca’s wishes to be fulfilled. She would live out her days in the cabin surrounded by family and none of her children would be forced to make their lives “smaller” because of it.
Kevin may have been a troublemaker for much of his life, and it took him a while to figure things out, but he was definitely on the right path by wanting to give Rebecca those “lazy Sundays.”
What made Rebecca such a great mother is that she loved her family — every single member of it.
What was supposed to be “one baby” ended up being three, and eventually, a whole clan of Pearson’s waiting to lend a hand to take care of the matriarch. It was, as the title noted, an actual “family meeting.”
When Kevin presented his plan for Rebecca, it was a definite moment where he was proving that he had finally grown up.
He wasn’t doing it alone either because Sophie, a nurse, was on-board, along with Madison, Elijah, and the twins, who would move to the East Coast to be closer to their families. And Nicky and Edie lived at the cabin as well, which meant that Rebecca would be surrounded by the family she created with Jack. A family that stemmed from one moment at the bathroom in Froggy’s.
Rebecca was always at the center of the family, so it was fitting that taking care of her seemed to be what brought everyone together for years to come.
Mandy Moore has done an outstanding job as Rebecca in every phase of her life; someone needs to give that woman an Emmy for her work.
The supporting cast, however, are the Big Three’s better halves. It’s not just a saying, it’s fact.
Beth has been part of the family for so long that she knows exactly when to make a break for it. She knows that she doesn’t meddle with Big Three business. She knows her husband so well, she knows exactly what he’s thinking and what he’s saying.
Sophie has been around for nearly as long — with some gaps in between — so she was perfect at channeling her inner-Kevin in the situation.
And while Phillip made a good point that they were making jokes while the Big Three dealt with the weight of making a decision about their mother’s soul-crushing disease, he also hasn’t experienced the ups-and-downs that come with being a Pearson so he doesn’t quite get that lightening the mood is absolutely necessary.
Sophie and Beth were the comedic relief in what would have otherwise been a very dark and depressing episode. They symbolize the people in your life who cope with bad situations by cracking jokes.
Toby was also a light in the darkness when he cracked a joke about getting back together after reminding Kate to stay confident while dealing with her brothers and their big personalities.
I love that Kate turned to both Toby and Phillip to get advice about her decision. She may have been a “late bloomer,” but she’s truly bloomed into her own and has some really great people in her life.
As the train heads towards the final two episodes of This Is Us, there’s no delaying the inevitable — Rebecca’s death.
I always thought that Jack’s death was going to be the one that hit the hardest, and while Miguel’s was a close second, it’s Rebecca’s passing that is going to have us all picking up the pieces for a very long time.
What did you think of the episode?
Did you like that The Big Three showed a level of maturity when making this big decision about their mother’s future? Were you glad to see the rest of the family equally involved in the decision-making process?
And how are you preparing for the final episodes?
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