Please allow me to put my thoughts about the season finale of This Is Us into critical terms: AAARRRGGGHHH!
So make yourself a corn sandwich (why, oh, why wouldn’t’ Jack just order pizza?) and settle in. Let’s begin by checking in on our Big Three couples:
Randall and Beth: The crux of their argument was that Beth always had to bend to Randall’s will. And you know what? She has again. The only solution to the problem Randall got the entire family into is for them to uproot their entire lives and move to Philadelphia? Suddenly Randall is right about Beth teaching bored housewives? I hated the comment about the students trying to lose 10 pounds they were never going to lose. Why do these women who are trying to have fun while exercising have to be collateral damage in Beth and Randall’s big fight? Also left unmentioned was what moving their kids, taking them away from their school and their friends, will do to them. Deja and Tess are at particularly vulnerable places in their lives. I’m glad he series is finally admitting the limits of geography, but clearly the writers have written themselves into a corner and took he easy way out. And while I love Deja, no child is poised enough to make the speech she made to Randall.
Kevin and Zoe: The series is doing that thing where it’s assigning characteristics to characters that aren’t necessarily earned. I don’t believe that Kevin and Zoe are so in love that this break-up will be that painful. I’m also not sure I’m convinced that having children is something that’s really important to Kevin. What I do know is that two weeks ago Kevin was drinking vodka out of a water bottle and now he’s totally fine and sober.
Kate and Toby: When my second child was born, my mom came to help out and we came to blows over green beans, so the Kate/Rebecca stuff, to me, was spot on—even if Rebecca’s overbearing tendencies were magnified. A glimpse into the future shows that Jack survived his premature birth. What’s unclear is, where is Kate?
Which leads me to all the lingering questions posed by the third season finale:
1. Where is Kate? Toby mentioned that he talked to Jack and “they’re on their way.” But the “they” could be anyone. Maybe Jack has a younger brother or sister? Maybe Jack is driving with Tess and Deja. Clearly Toby isn’t with Kate anymore: No wedding ring, and Randall was pleasantly surprised to see him. Toby was correcting Kate’s grammar in the last big conversation we saw them have, which sure sounds like grounds for divorce to me. But is Kate dead? Are she and Toby divorced? And what’s with the sidewalk chalk?
2. How far into the future are we? Current Tess is probably around 12 or 13 and future Tess looks to be around 30. So I’m estimating we are 17 years or so into the future. Which would put Rebecca at around 80 and suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s or maybe some other ailment. Mandy Moore’s aging make-up was intense. It’s weird/annoying to me that the series has created a mystery around something that is the natural cycle of life. Our parents get older, become frail, and sadly die.
3. Why is Rebecca living with Kevin? Where is Kevin’s house? I’m assuming the East Coast, since presumably Randall and Beth both came from the Philadelphia area?
4. What happened to Miguel? Look, Miguel is a pain. I don’t think I’m going to miss him. But is he dead? Estranged from Rebecca? Off torturing another family by asking the chocolate or ranch question? Nothing tastes better with ranch, Miguel!
5. Who is the mother of Kevin’s son? I hope not Zoe, because the series should stick to the premise of a woman who has decided she doesn’t want kids. (But Kevin is making the coffee the way Zoe likes it, so who knows?) Is it Sophie? I hope not, because she seemed really happy to be marrying someone else. My vote is for someone totally new—or maybe Kevin adopted on his own?
6. What’s Nicky doing there? All I have to say is, he better not become romantically involved with Rebecca. There’s only so much I can take.
On a scale of that baaaaad hospital waiting room episode to 10, I would put the season finale at about a 6.5. I wish This Is Us would get away from playing up these mysteries. It’s a stronger show without this narrative crutch. Then again, here I am speculating about what it all means, so clearly I’m still hooked.
I will be back next season to discuss all things Pearson. Until then, tweet me @AmyTVGal to let me know what you thought of the season finale.
Read previous installments of “This Is Us Analyzing This Is Us” here.
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and the Assistant TV Editor for Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal) or her blog .