Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Tuesday’s penultimate episode of “This Is Us”.
The end is almost here. As “This Is Us” prepares to sign off for good, the series’ penultimate episode on Tuesday put the spotlight on Rebecca and her final hours. Titled “The Train,” the episode revolved around goodbyes. As Rebecca was on her last breaths in the future present, a younger her — glowing in a glamourous red gown — was transported to the metaphorical train in her comatose dream, where she was reunited with several familiar faces as she ventured closer and closer to the light.
One of the first of the dearly departed she saw when she boarded the train was Randall’s late birth father, William (guest star Ron Cephas Jones), who acted as a sort of a guide for her as she weaved in and out of the train cars, which housed different important people in her life and family. Of course, the train acted as a mirror to what is going on in real life as members of the extended Pearson clan — who have all gathered to pay their respects to the Pearson matriarch — went in one by one to say goodbye to Rebecca.
Beth was the first one to visit Rebecca’s bedside, crediting her for taking care of her from the time she was a teenager until now in a touching speech. “All these years, so many times I was faking it. I was doing my best impression of you Rebecca,” she said, expressing her gratitude for Rebecca showing her the way for being a loving mother. She promised she’d take care of Randall from now on. “I’ll take him the rest of the way. Thank you for helping me with that complicated, incredible, beautiful boy that you raised. But I got him now.”
Kevin’s wife, Sophie, made her way next to say her final words to Rebecca, followed by other members of the extended family, including Toby and a grown-up Annie. As the night wore on and the evening got late, Kevin and Randall were the only ones left by Rebecca’s side as they stayed with her in case she passed overnight. Kate, meanwhile, raced against the clock to make it to her mother in time as she boarded a flight home that wouldn’t arrive until morning.
On the train (aka Rebecca’s dream world), after reuniting with Dr. K (guest star Gerald McRaney) who praised her for being strong-willed even after all the loss she’s experienced (her baby, then her husband) and told her she earned a rest, she was once again face to face with Miguel, who reaffirmed that she was “his favorite person.”
In a powerful showing, Rebecca beat the odds and made it through the night — just in time for Kate to race in and be by her dying mother’s side. On the train, Rebecca held out for as long as she could, telling William that she was waiting for someone as he kindly showed her down to the final train car. But when Kate finally arrived, Rebecca felt relief and stepped inside the final train car — the final step as her story came to a natural end.
While Randall, Kevin and Kate all said their tear-filled goodbyes to their mother, Rebecca turned to William on the train and sought clarity on what this all meant as she headed toward her own ending.
“This is quite sad isn’t it? The end,” she asked William.
“Oh I don’t know. The way I see it if something makes you sad when it ends, it must’ve been pretty wonderful when it was happening,” William answered. “Truth be told, I’ve always felt it a bit lazy to think of the world as sad because so much of it is. Because everything ends, everything dies. But if you step back, if you step back and look at the whole picture. If you’re brave enough to allow yourself the gift of a really wide perspective, if you do that you’ll see that the end is not sad. It’s just the start of the next incredibly beautiful thing.”
Back at Rebecca’s bedside, Randall had one simple request for his mom: “You tell him, ‘Hey.'” The “him” in this case being Jack.
After William left Rebecca on the train, she took her strides to the bed, sat down for a moment and then laid down — that rest Dr. K said she’d earned was coming. When she turned over, someone was waiting for her: Jack.
“Hey,” she simply said with a smile.
“Hey,” Jack replied.
They were reunited once again.
And William’s speech about endings being only the sign of beautiful beginnings rang true for several side stories, as the penultimate episode conveyed: Deja was revealed to be pregnant, news she shared with an ecstatic Randall, and the father was none other than Malik — her first love/ex from years and years ago.
And Marcus Brooks, the ambitious scientist who suffered a leg injury during a traumatic car accident when he was a child, ended up developing medicine to help with Alzheimer’s. (It also happened that Jack had bumped into Marcus’ father at the hospital just hours before he’d die on the night their family home burned down. But he must’ve instilled some words of wisdom to Marcus’ father, the same motto about making lemonade out of lemons Dr. K shared with him and Rebecca, became the Brooks’ family motto as well.)
With only one episode left of “This Is Us”, we’re not quite prepared to say goodbye to the Pearsons just yet.
The series finale of “This Is Us” airs Tuesday, May 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
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