[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 6, Episode 16 of This Is Us, “Family Meeting.”]
The emotional installment mirrors moments from their past where Rebecca was taking care of them and compares it to moments set in their present as they care for their ailing mother. Below, we’re breaking down some of the key moments from the episode, so beware of spoilers ahead.
Glimpses of the Past
Throughout the episode, there are moments from the past sprinkled in between scenes from the continuing storyline post-Miguel’s death. It begins with Rebecca waking up to crying kids and trying to get Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) to respond to them. When she realizes he’s not going to budge, she goes to check on the Big 3 in their cribs. Another occasion is Jack waking Rebecca to help him with a dirty diaper emergency. A jump in time brings viewers back to Jack and Rebecca’s bed where the young Big 3 wakes up their mother because Kate had a bad dream and they want waffles.
Another jump brings teen Randall (Niles Fitch) to Rebecca’s bedside in the middle of the night to get a permission slip signature. Further in the future, months after Jack’s death, Rebecca receives a call in the middle of the night from a fellow mom who informs her that the Big 3 are at a party and things have gotten out of control. She goes to pick up the kids, and Randall reveals he got into a fight when a guy made comments about Kate.
Cooking some eggs for the kids, Rebecca delivers a batch to Kate and asks her about what happened at the party, noting that she’s wearing a lot of makeup. Rebecca tells her that she has so much to offer and in response to that, Kate calls herself the dud sibling. But when Rebecca goes to Kevin’s room, she gets upset, noting that he’s going down a bad path with drinking and partying and that he shouldn’t drag his siblings with him. All of these challenges are made slightly funny in a flashback before the Big 3 were born when Rebecca and Jack discovered that they were pregnant. He mentions that they’ll be fine since it’s two of them and one baby, unaware that three would be on the way.
In another past sequence the Big 3 deal with losing their teeth with Kevin and Randall each having baby teeth to leave for the Tooth Fairy. Kate hasn’t lost any teeth and feels inadequate because of it. Meanwhile, Kevin plans to catch the Tooth Fairy when she comes to visit and Randall is nervous about the visit, telling his mom that the Tooth Fairy is a stranger.
Knowing what they all need, Rebecca tells Randall the secret that she’s the Tooth Fairy, and waits till Kevin falls asleep to give them money for their baby teeth. Following the visit, Rebecca takes a moment to sit with Kate and paint their nails, asking what’s bothering her daughter. Kate says that Kevin and Randall are always ahead of her and Rebecca tells her girl that she’s a late bloomer and that one day everything will fall into place.
Late Night Worries
On another evening early in Kate’s life, Rebecca tries comforting Kate who is crying. Unable to return her infant to the crib and without Jack around as he’s on business, Rebecca takes Kate to her room and sits watching TV. She talks to Kate as if she’s an adult, explaining storylines, characters, and more. But when Rebecca wakes up to find Kate crying on the floor, she realizes she’s dropped the baby. Worrying that something might be wrong, she rings Dr. K (who is usually played by Gerald McRaney). Unfortunately, it’s only his answering machine, but she explains that she needs his advice after Kate’s fall. Sitting by her daughter’s crib throughout the night, Kate ends up being fine and Rebecca is thrilled.
What to Do with Rebecca?
In the Pearson family compound, Rebecca wakes and calls for Miguel and is alarmed when her nurse and children enter the room. It’s been days since Miguel’s death and she hasn’t grasped that he’s no longer here. As Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), Philip (Chris Geere), and Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) grab coffee and bagels, Madison (Caitlin Thompson), Elijah (Adam Korson), their kids, Nicky (Griffin Dunne), and Edie (Vanessa Bell Calloway) head off to the Poconos, giving the Big 3 time to talk and think.
Life returns to normal the Monday following this group gathering and the Big 3 have quite a conundrum as they decide what they’re going to do with Rebecca. As Kate (Chrissy Metz) looks forward to seeing Jack and Hailey, Kevin (Justin Hartley) is preparing to film the series finale of The Manny when he gets back to Los Angeles.
Agreeing that they need to have a family meeting, Kevin, Kate, and Randall can’t seem to see eye-to-eye. Randall says aids aren’t enough to help with Rebecca anymore and Kate agrees. When Beth, Philip, and Sophie walk in, Beth senses the tone of the room and says that they’ll give the Big 3 some space and relegate themselves to the old cabin behind the compound.
Sitting with some Chinese food the Big 3 come to an agreement that whoever is holding Rebecca’s therapy cat can talk, while the others listen. Randall tells the siblings that Miguel was their guy, but without him, he thinks the best option is to have Rebecca move in with him and Beth. Kevin disagrees, arguing that Randall is in Washington D.C. half the time with Senator responsibilities. But Randall says he can cut down on meetings to spend more time with Rebecca. Kevin complains that this is exactly what Rebecca didn’t want, he’s making his life smaller for her.
Kevin wants Rebecca in the house he built because it was his one good thing, and Kate doesn’t agree with either of them but remains mostly quiet. When Rebecca’s nurse goes to take her on a walk, Kate intercedes and goes with her mom alone. As they exit the house, Randall and Kevin agree that she’s not the mom they knew anymore, but they want to do right by her.
Meanwhile, at the cabin, Philip wants to go back to the big house and help, but Sophie and Beth reassure him that there’s nothing to be done. As they take in their “time capsule” setting, Beth and Sophie imagine the conversation that Randall and Kevin are having, mimicking the brothers to a tee.
As Philip glances out the window, he sees Kate walking with Rebecca and voices his annoyances with Beth and Sophie, wondering why they seem to be joking when Rebecca and her kids are having a hard time. Beth tells him that being part of this family has been a blessing and a burden, something that he’ll understand in time as she’s seen it all.
When Kate returns to the house and puts Rebecca into bed, she sits by her side and reads. Before heading back to the main living space where Randall and Kevin are, Kate calls Toby (Chris Sullivan). She asks about the kids and he asks about Rebecca. She mentions how she’s still confused about Miguel’s death and that Kate and her siblings need to make a decision. Toby tells his ex that she’s a baller but that she shrinks in the presence of her brothers, he tells Kate to stay strong and hold her ground.
Giving Rebecca one last peek, Kate goes to speak with her brothers. Meanwhile, Randall catches Beth trying to steal Chinese food and he brings up how he thinks Rebecca should live with them. Beth tries telling Randall that he’s thinking of his siblings as their former selves and not their current stable adult selves. As for Kevin, he talks with Sophie about how Rebecca loved lazy Saturdays and how he wanted to give Rebecca that by building this home. When Kate enters the room, she asks to talk to Randall and Kevin privately, telling them that they need to look at Rebecca because they don’t currently see her for who she is now.
And so, the siblings care for Rebecca by brushing her hair and putting lotion on her hands. Afterward, the whole family, apart from Rebecca, gathers to talk about the future. Kate says she will be taking Rebecca back to Los Angeles where she’ll either live with her and Philip or move into a facility. But Kevin interjects, saying that he and Sophie will move to the house on the east coast so Rebecca can stay in a familiar environment. He explains that The Manny is ending and Sophie likes it better out east anyways. Kate appreciates the sacrifice, but worries about Kevin’s relationship with his kids.
It’s then that Madison reveals she and Elijah are also planning to move out east since Kevin was the main reason they stayed in Los Angeles and Elijah has family in New Jersey. When Kate wonders about needing extra help with Rebecca, Edie and Nicky step up, informing the group that they’ll be available as needed. Kate allows it since she’s the final word in Rebecca’s care. Kevin reassures Randall that he’s up to the task and his brother shakes his hand in acknowledgment. Kate then says, “maybe this is why there are three of us” because it truly takes a village to care for someone.
What follows is a montage of the Big 3 gathering at the home over the years caring for Rebecca in different ways that mirror the ways she once took care of them. Between tying shoelaces, reading, and feeding, there are quick moments of tenderness from the Big 3 for their mother. The episode concludes with Kevin calling Randall to tell him it won’t be long now as Rebecca’s now on her death bed.
Tune in next week to find out what happens when This Is Us‘ penultimate episode airs on NBC.
This Is Us, Season 6, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC