This is my first and ultimately last review for this season of This Is Us, as last night was season two’s finale. However, I thought the episode that seemed to be the start of quite a long arc for the show deserved its own Rush BrushUp.
Before we delve into the various fast forwardings that made this episode exciting, here’s a quick summary:
Last night’s This Is Us’ plot was focused on Kate and Toby’s (aka Ka-Toby, apparently) wedding day, and how important and present Jack Pearson is in their lives. The episode starts with what ends up being Kate daydreaming about the day being to celebrate Rebecca and Jack’s 40th wedding anniversary in which they renew their vows, instead of what is really Kate’s wedding day. This is when “special guest” Old Man Jack pops up to give an adorable speech to Rebecca, as a Jack Pearson would do. These visions happen a couple times throughout the episode, but Kate spends most of the episode herself searching for something to replace her “something old” of her dad’s, which was going to be Jack’s Daytona Beach shirt until Toby allegedly forgot to pack it. Eventually she has to settle for what appears to be one of Jack’s tools left at their family cabin, which she is coincidentally getting married at.
Here’s Old Man Jack and Rebecca, because everyone needs to see Milo Ventimiglia in pounds of makeup.
And… she actually does get married! But not without Rebecca thinking she will somehow ruin the day for Kate. They have a touching mother-daughter moment in which Kate tells her mom that she is everything she has always wanted to be, and I’m glad they bring the character development of these two to this episode. But the real drama and suspense occurs, in my opinion, at the end of the episode. Kevin and Randall give their respective toasts at the reception, and while Randall speaks, a montage of a mixture of the future and present plays on the screen. Here’s what we know from these last couple minutes of the show, and some unpacking of them:
- Deja, whose mother has officially given up her legal rights to her, smashes Randall’s fancy car with the kid’s old baseball bat while the reception is happening.
- Unpacking: Deja appeared to get out of her bad mood when Beth’s cool cousin Zoe, who was raised as her sister when she essentially went through the same thing as Deja, gave her a good talking to about not being mad at the Pearson’s because of her mother. However, this seemed to be reversed once Toby’s mother unknowingly said Deja looked like “her father” (Randall), instead of Beth like their other two children. This led Deja, apparently, to lose her mind and beat the crap out of Randall’s car.
- Toby’s depression that his parents talk about in the episode comes back, and it proves that it was not just a side effect of his first marriage ending in failure. Kate comes to comfort him at his bedside in the future (not sure how far, but it looks relatively soon), and remarks that their doctor can change up his meds.
- Unpacking: I especially liked this touch. Not that I love Toby being depressed- although he’s not my favorite character by far. But it showed that people don’t need a specific reason to be depressed. He can have a great marriage with Kate, which is what it seems like for the future, and still have depression, despite what his parents said.
- Kevin is probably dating cool sister-cousin Zoe, and they are going to Vietnam for something Jack Pearson/maybe his brother related!
- Unpacking: I also enjoyed this, and it was nice to see Zoe come up to talk to Kevin at the end of the episode about his ~very weird toast~ so we can see how this exactly begins. Not quite sure what they are going for, but Zoe’s photography skills might have something to do with it? I’m sure this will lead us to more answers about Jack’s mysterious brother Nicky.
- And the arguably biggest one… Old Man Randall makes another appearance with Grown Up Tess.
- Randall: “It’s time to go see her, Tess.”
- Tess: “I’m not ready.”
- Randall: “Me neither.”
- Unpacking: Clearly this is supposed to make us think that Beth dies relatively young in the future. Perhaps it sets it up to make Randall and his two daughters the new Big Three. But, it would not be the first time This Is Us pulled a fake out—they could be talking about Rebecca, or even Deja or Annie. Maybe it’s even a character we haven’t met yet! But whoever it is, I can tell season three will explore this future arc further. I’m open to theories.
But here’s what else you need to know:
This episode was always one that was going to happen, as Kate and Toby have been engaged for about a season now. But thankfully, the writers found a way to make it interesting without Jack’s Death looming in the corner. Since we already know what happened to him, I was afraid This Is Us would lose part of the reason millions keep watching – the suspense. But as this episode begins to show, the show itself is headed for a more future based storyline. However, this could be dangerous. By focusing on the future, we neglect how the characters are feeling in the moment, and we lose sight of what’s important – how the characters got there in the first place. If done right, this might not happen. But, we should still be aware of this.
Another thing I noticed was how Jack-centric everything in this episode was. Everything from the location to everyone’s speeches had something to do with Jack. This would be a problem if the future arcs had everything to do with Jack as well. Also, they essentially adressed this during Kevin’s reception toast, in which the writers themselves seem to say through him that they are trying to let go and move past Jack’s death, instead of focusing on it. And as far as I can tell, we are going to go above and beyond the Jack Storyline for the most part for the next season. Another thing to note is the Deja storyline. I’m glad that she didn’t just ease back into the Pearson family, since that would just not be realistic. I’m excited to see what will happen to her in light of her vandalizing Randall’s car, and hope that things don’t end up like Randall and Beth’s freaking adorable game, Worst Case Scenario, in which Deja AND Tess end up “on the pole” later in life. Side note: does anyone else notice that basically no one ever mentions Annie, the other daughter? I had to look up her name just for this review.
- Kevin and Randall’s intense dedication to planning Kate’s wedding because Jack would’ve done the same is adorable.
- Kevin’s, “Please don’t let me sleep with her”, about Kate’s random blonde friend from her support group who is apparently her only friend?
- Beth and cool sister-cousin Zoe are the kind of duo I want to see ALWAYS.
- Beth and Randall’s Worst Case Senario game deserves it’s own separate side note.
- “Deja kills both us in our sleep”… “Deja kills both of us NOT in our sleep”, among others.
- Beth trying to get Deja to talk to her, “Can you imagine me NOT being the cool one in my family… ha?”
This Is Us has never really done a dramatic and suspenseful finale (last year’s Moonshine only essentially ruled out one instance of drunk driving as the cause of Jack’s death), and this was no exception. It left us feeling hopeful, and not heartbreakingly sad as is typical for the show. It did its job in showing us what’s to come, and insured their audience would return in the fall with their future gimmick. I’m not sure how the next season will pan out, but if it has the hilarious dynamics that we all love between Randall and Kevin, Beth and Randall, and everyone else returning, so will I. Even though the Great Jack Mystery has been resolved, I think we may still have reasons to come back to the Pearsons. The forecast for season three is looking good, especially if it is anything like the last couple seasons.