Review: This Is Us (Season 1, Episode 18)

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80%
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Beautiful

The NBC and Channel 4 drama reaches a bittersweet ending.

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And so, the first season of This Is Us – and the first chapter in the life of the Pearson family – has drawn to a close. In just eighteen episodes, we’ve fallen in love with this big hearted yet slightly dysfunctional family, each of which we’ve seen undergo a separate yet equally endearing emotional journey.

The finale focuses on Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) imploding marriage, which reaches breaking point on the first night of Rebecca’s band’s tour. Having relapsed into alcoholism, Jack makes the two-hour journey to see Rebecca perform, a seemingly touching gesture; that is, until he floors Rebecca’s bandmate-cum-ex-boyfriend, the sleazy Ben (Sam Trammell), and ruins the night. Intercut with the explosive row that follows are scenes of their very first meeting, many years earlier, as Jack is stopped in his tracks when he hears Rebecca perform at an open-mic night.

This Is Us once again taps into symmetry of storylines to endear us to its troubled characters. As we watch Jack and Rebecca’s marriage at breaking point, we also see its conception, a blend that makes us desperate for them to work things out. But all this is in the knowledge of a tragic eventuality, with Jack’s previously mentioned death surely looming. Kate, Kevin and Randall were all shown as teens at his funeral in a previous episode’s flashback. With the passing of their father still casting a dark shadow in the present day lives of the Pearson children, the audience are constantly on edge of their seats, questioning whether this could be the episode where we finally get to see Jack’s death.

Despite everyone’s expectations, this was not that episode. Instead, Season 1 of This Is Us ends on a far more bittersweet moment, as Jack packs his bags for Miguel’s, but reminds Rebecca of everything he loves about her. Intercut with this are brief scenes of present day This Is Us, in which all three next generation Pearsons make big decisions. Things seem to be coming full circle, as Kevin (Justin Hartley) leaves his partner and ex-wife Sophie for the second time in twenty years; Kate (Chrissy Metz) decides she wants to pursue Rebecca’s failed dream of becoming a singer; and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) announces he wants to adopt a baby into his own family, like the Pearsons did him all those years ago.

The first season of This Is Us has been an emotional rollercoaster, and it’s almost heartbreaking to think that we have a six month wait on our hands until we see the Pearsons again. Fear not though, as the show’s been recommissioned for second and third seasons, so there’s a lot more of their story still to be told.

This Is Us airs on Channel 4 in the UK. You can catch up via the on-demand service All4. Read the reviews of its premiere and mid-season episodes

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Editor of The Edge. Previously Culture Editor (2016-17). Sporadic writer for the Wessex Scene, DJ on Surge, known photobomber of SUSUtv's videos. Bad habits include Netflix, not doing my work and drinking too much tea.

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