The story about the beloved Pearson family didn’t end with grand speeches or a stunning wedding of grandeur. The series “This Is Us” concluded with an episode of flashbacks to simple moments — teaching a son to shave and playing pin the tail on the donkey.
The show centers around a family of five. Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) have a set of biological twins, Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley).
When the babies were first delivered, Rebecca was pregnant with triplets, but the third triplet passed away. The couple adopted Randall (Sterling K. Brown), who was found at a fire station the same day the other two were born, and were still able to take three babies home from the hospital.
During the show’s run, the series has attempted to tackle issues like racism, adoption, the foster care system and the effects of alcoholism.
The following contains spoilers about the final season and series finale.
Viewers have watched the characters face heartbreaking obstacles and deal with insurmountable grief, providing a cathartic and emotional ride for fans of the show.
In the last season, the core storyline centered around mother Rebecca’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease and followed how the disease affects her and the lives of her family.
The last episode before the finale showed Rebecca passing away. The central theme of the finale is Rebecca’s funeral, but the episode doesn’t show the service, instead focusing on glimpses of simple moments.
“We wanted to make this show about the continuation of life and not the end of life — and kind of hug the audience a little bit and try and capture something that’s more about family and the simplicity of family,” series creator Dan Fogelman told Entertainment Weekly.
Earlier in the season when Rebecca was starting to show more signs of Alzheimer’s advancing, she challenged her children to “live fearlessly” and refuse to “make their lives smaller” because of her condition.
At the end of the finale, each of the adult children make plans for how they are going to meet that challenge. Kevin vows to do more with his nonprofit for veterans and be home with his family more. Kate plans to create more music schools for blind children. And Randall proposes the idea of taking his senatorial ambitions higher, possibly to the White House.
The final scene shows Rebecca and Jack talking on a train, which represents the afterlife. Mandy Moore told Variety that ending the show was really emotional for her, especially filming that final scene.
“Sweet Milo had a tissue ball underneath the pillow for me,” she explained to Variety. “Each take, Milo would very gingerly help me flip the pillow over so you didn’t see the tear stains.”
In that final scene, Rebecca expresses hesitancy to leave the children and says that there are still moments she wants to have with them. Jack passed away when the kids were teenagers and he tells Rebecca, “You’re still there with them.”
“The show was ending literally and structurally with what happens after somebody dies, which is very much what the theme of the whole show is: Somebody can pass away, somebody can die, but they don’t stop becoming part of the family’s storybook, past and future,” Fogelman told The Hollywood Reporter.
The “This Is Us” finale premiered on NBC on Tuesday, and can be streamed on Hulu.