We're in the final stretch of "This Is Us," and if the last two episodes are any indication, they're really starting to pick up speed heading into the series conclusion, giving audiences two things they've been asking for: the return of Kophie and a Miguel solo episode. And thankfully both "The Night Before the Wedding" and Miguel" delivered – one with a happy ending even Kevin-and-Sophie critics couldn't help but crack a smile at, one with a classic "This Is Us" Kleenex decimator of a tear-jerking emotional punch.
There's a lot to get to – double than usual! – so let's dive into the ten biggest takeaways from the last two weeks of "This Is Us" ... just as soon as I finish pepper-spraying Phillip's cousin Oliver.
1. There was never really a Kevin love quadrilateral
The previews and the episode prior teased Kevin trapped in a love quadrilateral of sorts, having to make a big decision in "The Night Before the Wedding." But as it turns out, the previews and episode prior were LIARS because there wasn't really any mystery about Kevin's love life or who had caught his eye. That episode was all about Kevin and Sophie getting back together, with Cassidy and the wedding singer just decoration, never remotely options during the hour. Heck, considering how little the episode bothered with their characters, to call them even red herrings would be an insult to red herrings. They were more like ... I don't know, what's the opposite of a red herring? A regular-shaded trout?
It'd be almost frustrating if it wasn't totally predictable – and totally for the best.
I mean really: Did anyone want Kevin to end up with Cassidy? She's way too wise for him, and the two have too much to work on separately to try joining their turbulent lives together. The episode agreed, so Kevin and Cassidy maybe have a conversation or two – plus one not-even-flirty dress zipper moment – but otherwise she's ushered away pretty quickly.
The wedding singer got even worse treatment, getting one scene utilizing Kevin to avoid Grumblypants McBritish's cousin, Slimeypants, and then one scene at the bar, weirding Kevin out with her people-watching song lyrics – all while Sophie got the rest of the screentime. It was very clear: She wasn't gonna be it. But even if Kevin sparked up immediate chemistry with the wedding singer, who pulled an Edie and instantaneously became a viewer favorite, trying to end Kevin's long-winding story with a woman we met for literally maybe one-third of an episode is a recipe for disappointment, for an audience who has no emotional attachment and doesn't care right when they should care most.
So that leaves ... Kevin ending up alone, right? As he should? Finding inner peace in finding his path, rather than trying to pursue some greater narrative or story? Yes!?
2. Kophie wins ...
Nooooooope. Within seconds of the first Kevin and Sophie scene, the two making awkward but winsome eyes at one another, the world swooning around them, it was clear: "This Is Us" was giving Kophie fans exactly what they wanted, reality be damned.
Or time, because the show really trucked through fixing a couple with actual decades of messy baggage. Thanks to the romantic power of terrible air travel service, Sophie loses her luggage, and because Oliver's been launched into space (one can hope), Kevin is conveniently the only guy around who can help her recombobulate for Kate's wedding – and in the wedding vehicle at that. "This Is Us": always a full-stop romantic. The task turns out harder than expected for Kevin and Sophie, though, because apparently everywhere in Napa Valley closes around what looks like 2 p.m. But the two manage to stop off at a roadside grocery dive for some makeup and toiletries, a dry cleaners for an abandoned dress and even a stroll through a vineyard – each step of the way coming with a new set of yearning eyes. Again, the show didn't even bother pretending the other two had a chance – why bother with the "mystery"?
Oh, AND Sophie just happens to be secretly divorced now – something you'd think her new bestie Kate would've known and passed along, but whatever. (*sighs*) It's gonna happen, isn't it?
OR IS IT!? After their adventures through Vino Land and approximately 47 more pining glances, Kevin and Sophie head to his room for some business time – but it gets cut short after he makes some offhand remark about her shampoo smelling the same as he remembered, throwing Sophie off who suddenly remembers that they have piles of scar tissue from their past relationship attempts and that maybe living in the past is a bad idea. KEVIN BEING CONTENTEDLY SINGLE IS BACK ON THE BOARD, EVERYONE!
Welp, it is for five minutes or so, at least. After a offkilter Rebecca tells Sophie that Kevin will be a great partner sometime once he grows up and Randall gives Kevin a pep talk about ... how there's a bunch of people in poor countries who think the Buffalo Bills are the best football team in the world (it makes sense in the moment, I swear), the two have a chat in the corner about how the timing might actually be finally right for them. And apparently all their years of relationship torment and trauma only needed one night – and a dramatically convenient childhood Valentine that we see in spare flashbacks that Kevin's been holding onto all these years – to fix, because the two kiss and decide to give it another go. And considering we see the two being cutesy together in the near future during Miguel's episode, it must stick.
So congrats, Kophie fans: You got what you wanted. And you know what else?
3. ... and fine, I don't hate it
I submit, I submit! I admit that I smiled and was happy to see Kevin and Sophie together – and not just because of Stockholm Syndrome and the show's just brainwashed me over time into thinking it's a good arrangement. I still think Kevin's best ending was alone, and I think that trying to repair their immense broken bridges in a single episode – all while half-heartedly surrounding it with a who(Kevin)dunnit(with) mystery – doesn't feel entirely earned. (And I DEFINITELY think the entire wedding applauding Kevin and Sophie's kiss was a bit much.)
But the reality is that, of the options left on the table – and "This Is Us" is way too romantic and bordering on saccharine to have "Kevin ends up alone" on the table – this was the best choice. Cassidy would've been unearned, the wedding singer even more so, and Justin Hartley and Alexandra Breckenridge have really strong on-screen chemistry together. And while the final step in their relationship was perhaps rushed, I can't say that the show didn't lay down the groundwork over the seasons for this to happen, going back to Sophie looking warmly at Kevin's old trinket in her memory box several years ago.
It may not have been the cleanest landing, but it got the job done – and between the two new Big Three relationships to emerge this season, Kophie definitely is perferred over KaGrumblypants McBritish.
4. Justice for Katie Lowes
"This Is Us" fans all did their best impressions of the "Leo DiCaprio pointing at the screen in 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'" meme when they suddenly recognized who was playing the wedding singer at Kate and Mr. Grumblypants McBritish's big day: Katie Lowes, most famous as Quinn from "Scandal" or, more recently, Rachel from Netflix's "Inventing Anna." Surely the show wouldn't cast somebody this capable and noteworthy for essentially a glorified cameo, right? Considering this choice, maybe there's something more to her character?
(*Remembers that a barely recognizable Joshua Malina played the random guy Kevin saved from a fiery car crash*) Welp, never mind.
Yes, with the highly-anticipated Kevin love quadrilateral instead turning out to be just a Kevin-and-Sophie reunion special in disguise, Lowes' Arielle ended up being mostly a non-factor. Early on, she used Kevin to escape Mr. Slimeypants McBritish's advances and then had a brief conversation at the bar where Kevin was mostly distracted by Sophie going from 60-to-zero on their love affair as well as by Arielle's somewhat unusual habit of people-watching and turning her peeping into song lyrics. And ... that was about it! Again, much like Cassidy, Arielle was never a factor here, basically just a palate cleanser in between scenes of "This Is Us" rekindling Kevin and Sophie's romance.
This was not a high-quality use of your Lowes – and coming off "Inventing Anna," which was a breakout performance but also one that weirdly framed her character as strangely one of the REAL villains of the story or at least someone deserving of getting conned and scammed, she and her characters deserve better! Here's to hoping things are going better on ... the CBS sitcom "How We Roll" that I just heard about right now? (*nervously tugs at shirt collar*)
5. The future is ... weird, right?
For a show that, across five and a half seasons, made juggling multiple timelines look easy while maintaining remarkable chemistry and coherence amongst its entire cast, this final chunk of episodes has felt ... different, right?
Much of that is because we're oddly watching a show now wholly taking place in the future. Ever since Toby and Kate's divorce, there hasn't been a "present day" storyline on "This Is Us"; the near-future has been our present day, which I think we're all still trying to wrap our minds around. That's especially a problem for "This Is Us," a show that's always had a pretty firm footing in verified reality. This was, after all, a show that built the COVID-19 pandemic into its plot and almost always dropped pop culture references to ground the show in a particular reality or place in time. Obviously, however, the future doesn't have those landmarks, so the current reality on "This Is Us" suddenly feels untethered from time – a new sensation that was always pretty hyper-aware about it.
But perhaps most jarring of all is how the jump in time has jostled the usually tight chemistry on the show – and yes, this is just leading to me complaining about Mr. Grumblypants McBritish again. I don't even hate the character – but the show seems to think that we're all chummy and happy with him, and that it's not totally strange to see him interacting with Randall, Kevin and company like they've known each other forever when we, as the audience, haven't really bonded with him at all. It's like when a show or movie recasts a character and pretends like nothing changed while the audience is like, "WHO ARE YOU?!" Remember: It took a few seasons for "This Is Us" to figure out how to get Toby right. Grumblypants had maybe a few episodes – so seeing him just ... a part of the family just feels funky.
Even Kevin and Sophie, which went about as well as it could've, felt a little off because there was a sense it had to be rushed into existence, going from two people with major baggage who hadn't chatted in quite a while – one with a husband – to perfect happy dream couple in just about literally one night.
They're all symptoms of a show hurrying to hit all of its marks and major points before its final bow, all symptoms with the same potential cure: Season six should've started at the wedding. Would that possibly have axed a beautiful episode like the Jack solo episode at his mom's funeral? Potentially – though I think the show could've found a way to wedge that in. And it would've been worth it to give the audience more episodes to acclimate to the time jump, give these later plot points and resolutions more time to build and develop, and give the overall season a more clear narrative throughline. Because right now, in retrospect, it's kind of wild that we spent three episodes on Kate and Toby's divorce but just a single episode on Kevin and Sophie getting back together – and less than that for Kate's new husband that everyone's totally fine with after getting a complete one-scene character renovation.
Anyways, none of this has fatally harmed the show – after all, again, it still pulled off the miracle of bringing Kevin and Sophie back together without me wanting to drop my television screen into Lake Michigan. But I am getting some "Parks and Rec" final season vibes, feeling more discombobulated from these characters than I expected near the end.
6. It's not too late for Miguel
It took almost to the very end of the show, but "This Is Us" finally gave Miguel his due – and, in the process, gave my tearducts a proper workout.
The first half of Miguel's story is a struggle to find somewhere to belong – even within his own family. As a young Roberto Clemente-loving kid, Miguel's life got upended when his parents moved the family from Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania in the hopes of finding better work and a better life. There they did, landscaping for an old, wealthy, baseball-loving man – but as he grows up, Miguel can't quite find where he fits.
In the business world, he has to submit resumes under a different name – Mike Rivers – in the hopes of merely scoring an interview with biased business owners. He doesn't feel like his truest self belongs there – but even back home with his family, he's not sure how well he fits in either, his father resenting how much he's attempting to assimilate and people-please his way into American culture, most notably straightening his once-curly hair in the hopes of fitting in. If they didn't want him to feel comfortable in America, Miguel wonders, why'd they bring him to the country in the first place – a question his father doesn't have an answer for. And even if he did, Miguel wouldn't have heard it, bailing from his family's Christmas.
That eagerness to please, to find where he belongs and where he can give of himself wholly, rubs someone else the wrong way too: Rebecca. Yes, as we see, when Jack and Rebecca were first dating and getting serious, Miguel and her did not see eye-to-eye, with the future Mrs. Pearson/Rivas bristling at Miguel's somewhat aggressive friendliness. Obviously that early iciness wore off, everyone becoming friends throughout all their various marital and personal woes. But when Miguel said he was leaving town for Houston after that messy Pearson Thankgiving (I know – gonna have to be more specific), to let Rebecca live her life and let him live his, he found himself back where he was before: alone, not knowing where he belonged, wanting to give but not sure he'd ever find the place or person to do it.
But thanks to the power of Facebook, Miguel and Rebecca do finally reconnect, having VERY Boomer-y conversations about their stance on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" hosts. Those chats evolve into more regular – and more flirty – occurances, going from FB chat to phone calls to finally an in-person dinner back in Pennsylvania. There, Rebecca takes very little time to let Miguel know how she feels about him, basically hopping the table to kiss him after he apologizes for bailing on her so long ago. Cut to some very cozy nights in bed and one VERY un-cozy Thanksgiving with the Big Three – this is going to shock you, but a Turkey Day went bad in the Pearson house – Miguel and Rebecca are a confirmed item. Miguel finally found somewhere he felt he belonged and he could give of himself wholly.
And boy does he. In the present day – which is to say the future – Miguel's doing his best to keep Rebecca at her best, giving her a routine in mornings, preparing her medications and always being there for her, all while his own health suffers. His twitching hand from the wine tasting with Randall wasn't such a red herring after all as a doctor eventually tells him he's got blood pressure issues plus a new hip to manage – a task that certainly gets a lot harder after taking a rough fall trying to wrangle a snowflake-chasing Rebecca back into the house on an icy night. The Big Three try to convince him to get professional help, to take the burden off himself and to more confidently care for a quickly collapsing Rebecca, but Miguel can't and won't hear it. He found his place, his person that he can give of himself entirely – something he won't give up.
And he doesn't. With particularly Kevin's help – a sweet touch, considering Kevin was the one most reluctant to Miguel for so long – Miguel continues to keep Rebecca going, watching their family grow until, eventually, Miguel gives all that he has, passing away before Rebecca with everyone (and I mean everyone – we'll get into it) paying loving homage to him at the end.
The location of that final homage? Yes, part in Puerto Rico – but also part at the blooming tree he and Rebecca planted by the cabin years ago. It's a fitting visual motif considering how much Miguel's story plays like "The Giving Tree" – a classic childhood tale of love and unconditional giving, told here via a man who never thought he'd ever find that emotional experience. The result is a loving and moving tribute to a character that normally got the fandom's side eye, this time leaving them watery-eyed.
7. Man, these people are terrible at Thanksgiving
I'd say yet another meal ruined on "This Is Us," but Miguel's solo episode didn't even make it to the damn Thanksgiving meal! No, because Miguel and Rebecca were too dang horny, they ruined Turkey Day in the Pearson household – which would be tragic if it wasn't hilariously tradition.
Indeed, after dating for quite a while, Rebecca and Miguel decide they're going to reveal their relationship to the Big Three. Why they would do this on a holiday, I do not know – this family just absolutely hates family gatherings, I guess. Between these miserable Thanksgivings, the Big Green Egg slander and the Slow Cooker of Death, this show WILL NOT STOP until we've canceled all food and exclusively eat those nutritional shakes and pills. But anyways, after prepping all the turkey and the trimmings, Rebecca and Miguel brace themselves for the kids' arrival with a quick post-cooking makeout session. NOT QUICK ENOUGH, though, as while the two are lip-locked in loving embrace, the Big Three trundle in and catch their mom making out with their dead dad's best friend. And that's a situation no amount of "Police Academy III" and Pilgrim Rick can fix.
Amazingly Kevin, Kate and Randall handle the news well – or at least could've handled it a lot worse, especially considering how clumsy Rebecca is with the reveal later on, getting WAAAAY too descriptive about their "hooking up" timeline. Kevin handles the reveal the worst, calling the situation ridiculous before canceling Thanksgiving and barging out with the Pilgrim Rick hat – not entirely surprising since Kevin, even as recently as the cabin construction project, was a little standoffish with Miguel. Slightly more surprising is how well Kate takes it in stride, considering her profound adoration for Jack – but then again, as we saw, she dealt with these feelings a lot earlier during her teen years when Rebecca went out with Matt. Plus, back at the time of the Miguel reveal – about 15-20 years ago, during the Clean-Shaven Randall Era – Kate's personality was much more likely to repress her feelings.
Level-headed Randall handles it the best of the bunch – actually no, Beth handles it the best of the bunch, giddily bragging about how she saw this coming thanks to her impressive investigative abilities. (DETECTIVE BETH SPIN-OFF WHEN, NBC!? We already know Madison is her partner – GREENLIGHT IT NOW!) But in the end, as we especially see by the end of Miguel's solo episode, everybody grows to accept Miguel into the family and love him as Rebecca's partner. It's an important lesson, key to "This Is Us" over the years: Time can heal all and family can change, making room for plenty. Also a valuable important lesson key to this show? Never, under any circumstances, attend a Pearson Thanksgiving. Or Pearson meal, period. Matt's lonely Hungry Man dinners seem warm and cozy by comparison – which speak of the milquetoast devil ...
8. Oh, that's what happened to Matt
We finally got the answer to the question we were all puzzling ... or, realistically, none of us were puzzling: What happened to Nice Guy Matt from speed dating?
Poor Matt. From his awkward sad Thanksgiving meals of Hungry Man to not knowing his vino, he never stood chance. And indeed, amongst Miguel's whole life story told on Tuesday night, we found out during one of their cute long-distance phone call dates that Rebecca broke up with him after hanging out for a few months because ... well, because he was Matt and he was really boring. Maybe he and Arielle can meet up at a bar and comisserate together about being the forgotten unwanted Pearson family side characters who are doomed to be the hardest question in "This Is Us" trivia.
9. I don't like the new cabin
No offense to Kevin, Cassidy, Uncle Nicky and all of the fine people at Big Three Homes ... but now that we spent a lot more time inside the future Pearson estate cabin, I have to say that I am not a fan.
I know we're in the future – but why the frigid modern Soviet concrete look? All that gray, all those sharp angles and all that hard exposed concrete – this place does not look lived in. I should not be wondering if "This Is Us" overlaps with the "Minority Report" universe – but that's the aesthetic of this compound! Why would you escape the cold concrete city for a cabin that's just more concrete? I question the taste – and I know this all sounds like a super petty complaint (and that's because, yes, it is) but if this is where the show is calling home for the big final run of episodes, where the mammoth family emotions will erupt one last time, it's an oddly frosty setting that's more chilling than warm, more darkly "Ozark" than cozily mellow "This Is Us."
10. The Pearson family adds an unexpected member
Even with less than a month left in the show's existence, "This Is Us" is still adding more and more members to the extended Pearson family – now including Miguel's estranged son, Andy.
You may remember Andy's brief appearance all the way back in season when it was a different family's turn to have an awkward Thanksgiving meal – this time Miguel's clan, mainly his now-adult children who did not think he put in a particularly solid effort as a father post-divorce. Andy spent most of that episode segment sniping his father across the table and snarking about how he seemed to latch onto another family instead of re-focusing on his own – a point Miguel refutes strongly by the end of the episode, saying that they should take nothing out on Rebecca and, while he certainly wasn't perfect, he tried. And that was seemingly that!
Not so much, as late in Tuesday night's episode, Kevin goes to visit a still-harrumphy Andy, telling him that his father is not doing well. Andy's not particularly interested at first, but Kevin tells him that it's better that he knows about his father's condition now rather than too late – and, as Kevin knows all too well, you don't want to regret the things you didn't say and didn't attempt to solve with your family before time runs out and the Great All-knowing Crockpot in the Sky says it's time.
Cut to a future Pearson family gathering at the new cabin, and amongst all the bustling kids and significant others, there's Andy, sharing a sweet smile across the room with his once-distant father. He sticks around as well, in the background while the Pearsons comfort Rebecca by the tree, clearly after Miguel's funeral. Later, he journeys with Kevin to their father's childhood home to pour some of his ashes out on the field where he once played baseball – a touching moment, made even more so by the fact that it's the two sons who were often the most vehement against Miguel, who needed to be won over the most. And here they are, paying his moving final tribute.
Anyways, welcome to the family, Andy – if you have any ideas on how to brighten up the cabin, feel free to share.
One final note: I would rewatch the final few minutes to track how many kids are in that future montage and if there are any new ones running around we didn't previously know about ... but I know I'd just start messy crying and full-face sobbing again, so we'll just have to find that out in another episode.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.