This Is Us fans, it appears we’ve arrived at our heartbreakingly final destination.
This week’s episode brings the show’s present-day action right up to the Rebecca-centric flash-forward that got underway in Season 2. And while the Pearson-family matriarch is still alive by the end of the hour, as Kevin warns Randall as he summons him to their mother’s side, “They’re saying it won’t be long now.”
Read on for the highlights of “Family Meeting.”
TIME TO MAKE A DECISION | After a brief flashback montage of moments from The Big Three’s childhood in which Rebecca had to wake up and attend to her children while Jack snored on, we cut to present-day, elderly Rebecca as she wakes up and calls for Miguel. Her confusion at his absence is heartbreaking, as is her agitation when she doesn’t recognize the nurse that comes to help her. Kate eventually is able to calm her mother, but Rebecca’s sadness over Miguel’s not being there doesn’t go away.
It’s been about a week since Miguel died, and Randall and Kate, as well as their significant others, are still in town. Madison and Eli arrive at the house with the twins, and Nicky and Edie — who live in the old cabin — squire them away for some fun. As Kate, Kevin and Randall chat, we learn that the Manny reboot’s series finale table read is coming up, and that Kate’s kids are staying in California with Toby and his wife, Laura. Randall finally says what they’re all, on some level, thinking: They need come up with a plan for Rebecca’s care in the aftermath of Miguel’s death.
“I built this house. That was the plan,” Kevin says, immediately leaping to the defensive posture he’ll stay in for most of the episode. Randall points out that Rebecca should have family around, and that each of the siblings visiting for a couple of days a month — which is realistically what their schedules will allow — won’t cut it.
In the middle of everything, Sophie, Beth and Philip — who’d gone into town to get food — return and realize “They’re finally having the ‘what’s next with our mother’ chat,” Beth says knowingly. (Side note: Susan Kelechi Watson, who is always so good and funny, is on absolute FIRE in this scene and the later one at the cabin. TV-show creators of the world: Please build a series around this woman! I will happily watch!) So Randall’s better half announces that she, Sophie and Philip are going to hang out at Nicky’s cabin while The Big Three do their tough, contentious, probably tear-inducing thing. And it turns out to be a very smart move.
REBECCA THROUGH THE YEARS | Let’s break this heavy and sad storyline with a heavy and sad flashback, cool? We go back to the month after Jack died, when another mom summons Rebecca to pick the kids up at a party that just got busted. Randall got into a fight defending Kate’s honor. Then a clearly-not-doing-well Kate tells her mom not to worry about it because she’s the throwaway sibling, “two winners, one dud, kinda like Hanson.” And Kevin drunkenly refused to see the big deal, which caused Rebecca to yell at him, “Don’t bring your brother and sister down with you. Get it together, Kevin.” (And you all know how much I love it when Rebecca actually speaks sternly to her kiddos.)
Other snapshots from Rebecca’s early motherhood include: accidentally falling asleep on a night when Jack was away and baby Kate wouldn’t go to bed, and then fearing that she’d damaged her child irrevocably when Kate fell off the bed in Rebecca and Jack’s bedroom. She even left a teary voicemail for Dr. K! (Sadly, we didn’t get a Gerald McRaney cameo, though)… letting Randall in on the truth about the Tooth Fairy — and swearing him to secrecy —when he was too freaked out to go to sleep… and the night when Jack and Rebecca realized she pregnant, during which they consoled themselves by saying, “It’s just one tiny little baby, two of us.” (Heh.)
‘THAT’S NOT OUR MOM’ | In the present-day, The Big Three get Chinese food and have their meeting. Randall believes that Rebecca should move in with him and Beth in Philadelphia. Kevin, who admits that he feels a need to pay Rebecca back for being “a pain in her ass her entire life,” wants to keep her where she is, because building the house she requested “was the one good thing I did.”
Even though Rebecca wanted Kate to make the decisions for her in Miguel’s absence, the female third of The Big Three is pretty silent during this discussion, particularly as Kevin and Randall keep making each other angrier as they dig harder into their stances. When Laila, the nurse, brings Rebecca in to announce they’re going for a walk, all three kids are slightly taken aback: Their mom wanted to do her makeup, and she looks like a little girl who’s gotten into her mother’s toiletries kit. As Kate tells Laila that she’ll take Rebecca for a stroll, instead, Kevin and Randall are taken aback. “That’s not our mom, Kev,” Randall says, and Kevin agrees. Still, they’re no closer to a compromise: “It’s a beautiful house man, but I’m not going to leave her in it alone,” Randall tells him. “And nothing you can say will change my mind.”
TOBY HELPS AT A CRUCIAL MOMENT | At Nicky’s, Philip wonders if maybe they should be up at the big house, offering assistance in some way. “Dear, sweet, naïve Philip,” Beth says. “We can’t help those three. Nobody can.” Then she and Sophie launch into a pitch-perfect (and highly accurate) rundown of what’s happening at the family meeting, complete with dead-on Randall and Kevin impressions from Beth and Sophie, respectively. It’s hilarious, but Philip doesn’t think so. He shames his sisters-in-law for joking about “the miserable happenings that are taking place as they debate her care. What a hoot.” Uh, Philip, who essentially showed up five minutes ago? KNOW YOUR PLACE.
Meanwhile, after returning from her walk with Mom, Kate calls Toby and fills him in. He reminds her that Rebecca appointed her guardian, and then — after asking permission to overstep, a subtlety that seems to indicate he’s grown a bit since they split — he reminds her that she’s amazing “but when you get around your brothers, you become this unsteady version of yourself.” Back at the big house, Beth sneaks in to get some food but gets caught by Randall. As they chat, she gently reminds him that the versions of Kate and Kevin in his head (irresponsible and overwhelmed, respectively) are “versions of them that no longer exist.”
Then, a bucked-up Kate gathers her brothers and says she will make the decision, but first, she wants them to actually look at and be close with Rebecca — something they’ve been avoiding as her illness advances. So Randall brushes Rebecca’s hair, and Kevin rubs lotion into his mom’s dry hands, and it seems to shift something among the siblings.
‘MAYBE THIS WAS THE REASON ALL ALONG’ | The next morning, all of the adults — including the spouses — gather at the big house and eat Chinese for breakfast as the kids play outside. Kate says she’s decided that she and Philip are going to move Rebecca to Los Angeles and figure out the best way to care for her there, either in home or at a facility. Kevin tells her he respects her decision, but that he has another option: He and Sophie, as well as Madison and Eli, are going to move to the East Coast full-time, and he and Sophie will live with Rebecca in the big house. “To be honest, Kevin was pretty much the only thing keeping us in L.A.,” Madison says. Randall is on board, and he genuinely thanks his brother for stepping up. “Maybe this was the reason all along… that there are three of us,” Kate muses.
Then we get a montage of time passing under the new arrangement. Kevin cares for his mom. Randall and Kate visit. Madison, Eli, Nicky, Edie and the twins are around. As the years pass, Kevin’s hair grows grayer, and Rebecca’s hair gets longer. Finally, one night after tucking Rebecca into bed, Kevin calls Randall and asks him to bring Beth and the girls to the house as soon as possible: “They’re saying it won’t be long now.”
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Can you believe there are only two more This Is Us episodes ever? Sound off in the comments!