When This Is Us started flash-forwarding about 25 years into the future to baby Jack’s adulthood, one might have imagined a slightly more futuristic United States with a sci-fi bent. Watching the future scenes in last night’s season finale, however, it was hard not to think that our present feels more like science fiction than the show’s future. Baby Jack — who turns one in the present on the season finale — also grows up, gets married, and in the future, has his own baby, Hope. I had a weird mix of unintended emotions that vacillated between 1) oh, how nice it is to believe that we return to a sense of normalcy in the future! and 2) this is completely unrealistic and the future will never look so serene again. In some ways, This Is Us already feels like it belongs to an era in the distant past, which is ironically how I felt about watching the futuristic Arrival right after the election of Donald Trump.
But enough about reality (ugh!), let’s talk about the idealized world of This Is Us, where Kevin and Randall said cruel things to each other that were completely out of character for this series, but in an appropriate way. It’s Baby Jack’s first birthday party, and early in the episode, the Big Three were getting along famously, cracking jokes at each other’s expense, etc., but that was before Kevin finds out why Rebecca decided to enroll in the clinical trials in St. Louis. Kevin finds out that Randall manipulated her into it (and boy, did he), and the two men completely unload on each other, needling the sorest spots available. Kevin blamed Randall for Jack’s death; Randall told Kevin that Jack died ashamed of him; Randall told Kevin that he wasn’t even chasing his father’s shadow, that he has been chasing Randall’s shadow all of his life, and then he calls him a hacky actor; then Kevin drops the anchor on Randall’s foot: “I used to think the worst thing to happen to me was the day that Dad died. No. It’s the day they brought you home. Hand to God, it was the day they brought you home.”
Ouch. It’s a brutal sequence, but it is the kind of things that siblings say to each other when they’re trying to hurt each other, because when you are siblings, “You’re an asshole,” or “You suck!” aren’t effective enough. You have to dig deep. And dig deep they did. The upside is that, in the flash-forward to Rebecca’s deathbed, Randall and Kevin’s relationship initially seems chilly but I think it’s ultimately OK, which is good because Kevin and Randall being estranged in the present for the duration of This Is Us would be supremely annoying. Also, Rebecca lives for another 13-15 years or so (based on the ages of Kevin’s twins), although we don’t know what the quality of her life is. Hopefully, the clinical trial is effective.
In the meantime, we also discover in both the present and the future that Kevin will have twins, and we also know who the mother will be, because bookending Kevin’s blow-out argument with Randall is a conversation between Kevin and Kate’s friend, Madison, who Kevin slept with during a moment of weakness for them both, and who reveals to Kevin that she’s pregnant. With twins. And because of her history with bulimia, she didn’t think she’d ever be able to have a baby. So, she’s decided to keep the babies. After his argument with Randall, Kevin also decides that he’s “all in.” That does not necessarily mean that Kevin will end up marrying Madison, however, because the show also teases that Sophie and Cassidy may still be in the picture (in other words, Kevin may have children with Madison, but may be engaged to either Sophie or Cassidy. Kevin is messy).
The flashback to young Jack and Rebecca on the first birthday of their kids is very sweet. While they obviously love Randall, Kevin, and Kate, they are still mourning the loss of Kyle, so they pay a visit to the doctor who delivered their children (Gerald McRaney). He sings a song. He tells a bittersweet story. Everyone cries! In the present, Uncle Nicky also makes a couple of appearances to congratulate Kevin on a year of sobriety (he’s still hanging with Cassidy, too).
There were a lot babies in this episode. In addition to the Big Three’s first birthday; baby Jack’s first birthday; the birth of Baby Jack’s baby, Hope; and Kevin’s twins; Kate and Toby also decide to adopt a baby, and we meet her in the future, too. She’s an art curator, and she’s there to greet Jack’s new baby. Her name is Hailey. She seems nice.
Header Image Source: NBC