It happened. The This Is Us finale aired, we all lived to tell the tale, and though it wasn't quite as soul-destroying as had been feared, there were definitely a few gut punches in there. Jack and Rebecca's relationship started out as almost ridiculously idyllic, and over the latter half of the season Dan Fogelman and his writing team have gradually exposed the cracks in that illusion–as well as the once-hidden flaws in Jack and Rebecca themselves.
Here are nine things we're still struggling to process from 'Moonshadow'.
1. Hot young Jack and his hot car mechanic skills.
What. A. Babe. And I'm not gonna lie–a big part of my brain just decided in this moment that I was in fact watching a 28-year-old Jess Mariano. Because c'mon, Jess ended up in Philly and This Is Us takes place in Pittsburgh, IT JUST MAKES GEOGRAPHICAL SENSE. Jack even has a mean deadbeat dad just like Jess! (Sure, the timeline is all wrong, but that's a minor detail.)
2. The fact that Rebecca was once a career woman.
Of all the things I expected to hear from a young Rebecca, "There's nothing wrong with me focusing on my career!" was not on the list. And that's deliberate. One of the things 'Moonshadow' did most effectively was show just how much Rebecca has changed from the career-focused woman she was, when she first met Jack in her late twenties. The flashback where Rebecca's having brunch with her smug, engaged friends, and defensively talking about her singing career, really helped to contextualize why she was so eager to go on tour with Ben's band.
3. Ben's general existence.
Does this guy have any purpose in life other than to be the worst? You dated this woman 21 years ago and now you're gonna try and break up her marriage? Get a hobby, bro. (Apologies to Sam Trammell, who is very hot and also probably not the worst.)
4. Jack and Rebecca's vicious fight
We knew this was coming, but that didn't make it any less brutal or uncomfortable to watch. After Rebecca drives a wasted Jack home from her aborted gig, they have a no-holds-barred fight that makes their conflict a few weeks back in 'Jack Pearson's Son' look like nothing. You can always tell a well-written fight if both people involved are making legitimate points, and yet are both also wrong.
Rebecca has every right to be angry with Jack for drinking, and for the way he behaved at the bar, and her fury at being turned into a housewife with no identity of her own–"a friggin' ghost"–is valid. But she's wrong to make his alcoholism all about her: "I do find it convenient that this alcoholism of yours has suddenly re-materialized at the exact same moment that I finally have something happening for myself."
Jack has every right to be angry with Rebecca for her absence and her lack of empathy, but he's also ignoring her needs, even when she's stating them clearly, and slaps her down in the cruelest way possible: "You are a 40-year-old woman singing covers in pubs. That is not a career, Rebecca, that is ridiculous."
By the end of their fight, it's unclear for the first time whether Jack and Rebecca's marriage will outlive Jack.
5. The fact that Jack was almost a petty criminal
So much for all those "Jack is too perfect!" sentiments that were flying around earlier in the season. After a risky gambling scheme that doesn't pay off–or more accurately ends with him being forcibly stripped of his winnings–Jack plots to steal back his money from the bar that hosted the poker game. And he would have done it, if it weren't for…
6. The way Rebecca and Jack actually met
We're meant to believe that Mrs. Peabody was setting up Jack with Rebecca–and that we'd see their first date in the '70s juxtaposed against their ugly fight in the '90s, 500 Days of Summer style. Instead, both Jack and Rebecca were meant to be on dates with other people that night. Rebecca ran out on Ethan, a finance guy who talks passionately about mergers, because she realizes she should be singing.
At the open mic night where she ends up, Rebecca catches Jack's eye right as he's about to steal the money from the register. And the sight of her up there, singing her heart out, is enough to make him reconsider the kind of man he wants to be.
7. Randall's big decision
So… Did not see this coming. Randall already made such a big move last week in quitting his job that I wasn't necessarily expecting any major developments for him this week. But all three of the Pearson kids got a little something–Kate wants to pursue a singing career, Kevin is going to audition for Ron Howard, and Randall wants to adopt a baby.
I would say this is not the kind of decision you should be making on a whim, or when you're already emotional, or when you're grieving. But all of those three things applied when Jack and Rebecca decided to adopt Randall, and that turned out pretty great. I still suspect Beth is going to have some things to say about this plan.
8. The fact that we STILL DON'T KNOW how Jack died
I get it–the suspense really is compelling, and they've gotta save some twists for next season. But uggggh this is going to be such a long hiatus.
9. Jack's beautiful speech to Rebecca
Milo Ventimiglia acted the hell out of this stunning monologue, which was so cathartic after seeing Jack and Rebecca at each other's throats for so long:
"I love the mother that you are. I love that you are still the most beautiful woman in any room, and that you laugh with your entire face. I love that you dance funny, and not sexy, which makes it even sexier. Most of all I love you're still the same woman who, all those years ago, ran out of a blind date because she had to sing. You're not just my great love story, Rebecca, you were my big break. And our love story, I know that it might not feel like it right now, but I promise you, it's just getting started."
Given what we do know about Jack's death–that it happens when the kids are teenagers, i.e. right around this point in the timeline–I am not okay even a little bit with that last part.
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