This Is Us: Moonshadow Season Finale (Recap/Review)
By: Tyler Carlos (@tylos624)
In recent years, there are few shows that have reached the stars as quickly as This Is Us. The Dan Fogelman-led dramedy is without a doubt the breakout hit of the 2016-2017 season, topping out at over 11 million viewers ahead of its season finale. And with its season finale came some of the strong heartfelt moments, rounding out a dynamite year for the freshman series and making me ache oh-so-badly at the thought that I have to wait until September 19 to continue the story of the Pearson’s.
**WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD**
So, where did we leave off?
Last episode, Rebecca had left to go on tour with her band, which includes Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend. Jack was NOT about it, but let her go because he knew that it was important to her. However, they left things in a terrible place relationship-wise. Later that evening, young Kate convinced Jack to drive to Rebecca’s show, which is only two hours away. After having a few drinks, Jack decides to follow Kate’s advice and go see Rebecca…even while drunk.
That’s where we left Jack and Rebecca. Quick, quick recap of the present day kids: Kate (adult) had decided to tell Toby why she feels responsible for her father’s death. Kevin’s play successfully opened on Broadway, and Ron Howard called him saying that he wanted Kevin to audition for his next film. Randall had the funeral for William, made up with his mother, and quit his soul-sucking job at the…firm? Agency? Honestly, I still don’t know what he did.
So, where are we now?
In the past, back when Jack and Rebecca were young and hadn’t even met yet, things were very different. For one, Jack didn’t have facial hair…but that’s beside the point. Jack, after fixing up a car for a nice old lady, is set up by said lady on a blind date. Rebecca, on the other hand, is out with her rich, snooty friends who want her to bring a date to a wedding. But she wants to focus on her singing career. She had just recorded a demo and a record company had gotten their hands on it. However, her friends still think she needs to “diversify.”
Jack still lives with his parents with seemingly no way out. In an attempt to have his big break, he and a friend decide to go to a poker game with some not-so-good guys. At the game, Jack ends up winning big money, only to be laid out in the street and have all his money stolen. Upon returning to his parents’ house, Jack has had enough. Being the good guy has gotten him nowhere, and now he might be ready to be the bad guy to get his break.
Rebecca gets a rejection letter from the record company. Having her hopes crushed, she decides to take up an offer to go on a blind date. On the night of the dates, Rebecca shows up for her blind date, though her date isn’t Jack. Jack is at a bar with his friend to rob the register and get his money back.
But as Rebecca is sitting with her date, she realizes that she just needs to sing. She bails on her date, and goes to an open mic night. Jack is still at the bar, but just as he is about to finally rob the register, he looks on stage and sings Rebecca singing. She stops him in his tracks. It’s love at first sight.
When Jack shows up at the club to see Rebecca’s band, he heads straight for the bar. Rebecca is getting ready to go on stage, but she’s terrified. Then the ex-boyfriend who clearly still has feelings for her walks in. As Rebecca starts to freak out, he starts to calm her down. But just as she is getting calm, he goes in for a kiss. Rebecca backs away, and, realizing that Jack has been right all along about the guy, she slams the door in his face.
Rebecca tries calling Jack at home, leaving a message saying that she loves and misses him. But Jack is still at the bar getting wasted. Tired of waiting, he goes to find Rebecca backstage, only to meet the ex-boyfriend. When the ex accidentally lets it slip that he crossed a line with Rebecca, Jack lays him out. Rebecca stops it and decides to drive Jack home, ending her time with the band.
Jack and Rebecca return home. Becca is pissed and Jack is embarrassed. And then, something snaps between them. They descend into an all out outrageous shouting match. They have just had it and say everything that has been building up inside. Then Rebecca asks a question: “What do you love about me?” And Jack can’t answer.
Becca wakes up the next morning. Both she and Jack look terrible. They know meant what they said the night before, and Becca tells Jack to go stay with Miguel for a while.
When Jack is packed up and about to leave for Miguel’s, Rebecca asks what they tell the kids. Jack says the truth. They’ve shown what it’s like to be a good parent. This is just a “blip on the radar,” and how they can’t control who they’ll eventually become.
And then Jack embarks on the most heart-wrenching speech of the episode. He answers Rebecca’s question from the night before. And as he goes, he just pours his heart into it, telling her that she was his big break. And their love story, though it has been rocky, is just getting started. And then he winks, and walks out the door. Becca is left crying, smiling, and holding the necklace he gave her.
The REAL Present
Kate is back in LA with Toby, unpacking in a new apartment, and announces she wants to be a singer. Kevin, still in NY, kisses Sophie goodbye as he leaves for a meeting with Ron Howard. Randall, after looking through photo albums and reliving memories, tells Beth that he wants to adopt a baby.
This was a decently solid way to round out the amazing first season of This Is Us. Everything has come full circle for all the Pearson’s in Season 1, giving the audience plenty to look forward to in Season 2. Though it was not, perhaps, the most impactful or most tear-worthy episode of the season (that honor belongs to episode 16), it still had its emotional moments (i.e., Jack’s ending speech) and set up the future of the show as a good finale should.
First, I want to bring up something that happened immediately following the finale. There was a small uproar about the fact that we did not learn how Jack died in this episode, which was what the season seemed to be building toward. I’ll admit that I too believed we would be seeing that in this episode, and was a bit surprised that we did not.
But then I got to thinking. Maybe it’s a good thing, not a bad thing, we haven’t learned what happened yet. We’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these characters. If the writers had told us how Jack died in this episode, it may have taken away some of the punch from Jack’s future scenes. We still don’t know all the events that led to his death. There is still a mystery to be learned in the upcoming seasons, and I for one am eagerly anticipating, and also immensely dreading, what actually led to Jack’s death.
One last note on that subject. Rebecca said it perfectly during their fight. If Jack had died while driving drunk…what a way to leave them. There had to be more to it than that.
It was cool seeing how Jack and Rebecca first met back in the 70’s, though I think Jack’s situation was more impactful than Rebecca’s. Just when Jack was about to give up on life, he got his big break by meeting the girl of his dreams. Rebecca, though, didn’t seem to be getting her dreams, so it felt like she settled. But she got a new dream, and I guess that’s what matters.
Also, the way that they met was somewhat predictable. I figured Jack and Rebecca hadn’t been set up on the same date, because that’s just not the way that This Is Us goes. There’s always a little twist, and it would’ve been too easy for them to meet on a blind date. But it’s nice that Rebecca kind of saved Jack from himself. It added a little something extra to Jack’s speech at the end.
I did find it strange, however, that they didn’t feature the adult kids more in the REAL present day (sorry, there are just a lot of timelines on this show). I mean, this is the season finale, and we only got a couple minutes of them. It is true that episode 17 rounded off their season arcs and that the writers did set them up for next season, but in the season finale I figured they’d feature the full cast instead of focusing mainly on just 2 of them.
The present day scenes, with Jack and Rebecca in their 40’s, were the best of the episode. Jack in the bar and laying out that jackass band member that nobody likes. Rebecca backing away, quitting the band and standing up for herself. The big fight. The makeup speech. Those were the most impactful scenes of the episode and gave a much-needed boost to the 1970’s scenes.
Now, let’s talk about the big, blowout fight. The present day scenes were building and building, and the resulting fight was satisfying. Things were just exploding, and both Milo and Mandy really put all they had into that fight. I had to turn down the volume to make sure the neighbors didn’t think there was a real fight. Definitely an episode highlight.
Can we please give it up for the episode MVP, Milo Ventimiglia? His acting was quite outstanding in this episode. From playing drunk to heartbroken husband to down-on-his-luck bachelor, he really brought it home – particularly in the fight scene and speech at the end. He brought it home with that speech. There was a lot of range, and he was able to pull it off well.
Overall, this was a good cap to the freshman season. It wasn’t great, but it brought a few decent punches and set up This Is Us fans with a lot to look forward to in the next season. September 19 can’t come soon enough, y’all. Until next season, fellow nerds!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5