In what is arguably the best show on television right now, Jewish writer and creator Dan Fogelman makes us sob uncontrollably with every episode of “This Is Us.” However, the season finale, which aired Tuesday, March 14, took on a different tone. If you haven’t watched yet, stop reading, because spoilers are ahead.
For weeks, we’ve wondered how Jack died. Was it cancer? A heart attack? A freak accident? The final episode didn’t include the kids at all; it was all about Jack and Rebecca. As always, the show split between the past and present, showing in the past how Jack and Rebecca met and in the “present” (the present here being the 1990s) dealing with Jack’s drinking as he tries to make it to Rebecca’s first big gig.
During the first half of the show, we see that Jack and Rebecca are set up by Rebecca’s grandmother, whose car Jack was fixing. In the past, we are shown that both were struggling with their careers, Jack trying to make money to get himself and his mother out of his father’s house and Rebecca trying to make it as a singer. Rebecca is rejected by a record label, and Jack is beat up by a group of men who believe he cheated them for $1,500 at a poker game.
In the present, Jack takes Kate’s advice from last week’s episode and goes to see Rebecca at her show. Unfortunately, they don’t find each other until it’s too late. He’s drunk, and she has just avoided an unwanted advance from bandmate Ben. Though it is a small venue, it is a classic “just-missed-each-other” situation, where they turn away just as they pass one another. Jack has enough and goes to find her but instead finds Ben and punches him for trying to make a pass at his wife. Rebecca sees this and drives him home, missing her show, and they end up in a screaming match.
Back in the past, it turns out that Jack is not the one Rebecca was set up with; it is some businessman, while Jack is planning to rob a bar with a friend of his. At this point, it has been 50 minutes, and I have not shed one tear, which has never happened in the history of this show. Rebecca ends up leaving her date to go sing at an open mic night at a bar, the same bar Jack is trying to steal money from. He decides not to, because of course he didn’t steal from anyone, and as he is leaving he hears Rebecca sing. And that is how they met: Cue the “awwws.”
The morning after their fight in the present, Jack is getting ready to move in with He-Whom-Everyone-Hates (Miguel), but just before he leaves, he tells Rebecca all the things he loves about her. I finally teared up, but not even close to how much I normally do. The last episode of the season ends with shots of the kids. Kate is ready to move on with Toby, Kevin is saying goodbye to Sophie to audition for a new movie with Ron Howard, and Randall wants to adopt a baby.
At the end of all this, we still don’t know how Jack dies, because this show is the master of torturing us and making us wonder. Even though we now must wait even more for the soul-crushing episode of how Jack meets his end, I’m still excited for next season. Bring on the feels, Dan.