This Is Us Finale Recap: Every Day a Little Death

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I know that we haven’t covered This Is Us at all this season, but, after watching last night’s finale, I felt compelled to word vomit my feelings.

If you have not yet seen “Moonshadow”, STOP READING and go watch it NOW. The only thing that will make you cry more than this episode is knowing what happens before you watch it.

Pluses, or Is It Weird That I’m Not Mad?

-Well, let’s not waste anytime getting to the huge elephant in the room…Milo Ventimiglia’s bootylicious ass. Dayuuuummmm, ammirite?! His bare ass hasn’t seen the light of day on the show since the pilot, but that fact hasn’t eclipsed the shine of his glorious full moon since then. Last night, the costume designer gifted us with another pair of skin-tight pants that might have put someone’s eye out if this show aired in 3D. I’m going to miss this show over its hiatus, and Milo has two of the biggest reasons why. Plus 200,000 points.

-Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system… Let’s dish about the aspect of Jack’s character that less thirsty people will want to talk about: He did not die in the finale like the show set us up to assume he would. In typical TIU fashion, this epic fake out has generated more questions than answers. If not by drunk driving, how will Jack ultimately be taken from his family? What did Kate mean when she told Toby that her dad’s death was her fault? How much facial hair will he be rocking on his deathbed? Time should tell, but will it? Plus 40,000 points.

-I’m probably in the vast minority, but I am grateful for the lack of Toby’s grating presence here. I know this trend won’t last, so I’m relishing it while I can. Plus 800 points.

-Crime doesn’t pay. Participating in shady poker games with mobsters will get you beat up. You’ll always succeed if you work hard rather than stealing from absentminded, elderly bartenders. You might even meet the love of your life in the process. The life lessons from This Is Us are universal and oddly specific. Plus 3,000 points.

-As far as I’m concerned, Sterling K. Brown and Ron Cephas Jones are guaranteed Emmy nominations for that tear-inducing tour de force “Memphis” episode. If Milo and Mandy Moore don’t join them on the award ballots for their standout performances in this episode, I’m going to flip a table. We’ve all fought with people we love the way Jack and Rebecca did, haven’t we? Screaming because you’re desperate to be heard. Wildly waving your hands because words alone don’t communicate your pain. Crying because you’re so exhausted and heartbroken. Director Ken Olin’s fluid and dizzying camerawork beautifully depicts the fugue state that these kinds of drawn out arguments can take on. As Jack, Milo is as sweet, vulnerable, and genuine as he is sexy. Mandy’s incredible sensitivity and toughness prove she’s perfect to play a wife/mother from any era. It’s difficult to swallow, but the resolution of the Pearson’s separation is a welcome one if it means that they can possibly rebuild their relationship before Jack dies for reals. Plus 13,000 point.

-Any time Mandy Moore sings, it deserves a shout out.”Candy” 4Eva! Plus 1,000 points

Total: 257,800 points/1 prop photo album with realistic photos that weren’t just screen grabs taken from the show

Minuses, or Cliffhangers Need Love Too

-Jack’s dad is a mega douche. It’s amazing that Jack evolved into being such a supportive force in his children’s lives when his own dad was anything but in his. Good character development, but it pains me when anyone makes Milo frown. Minus 300 points.

-Nice try, writers. Just so we don’t spend all summer agonizing over Jack’s fate, they decided tack on some tantalizing plot lines for the adult Big Three right at the end of the episode. Randall wants to adopt a baby. Kate wants to sing. Kevin is on his way to a meeting with the Academy Award-winning narrator of Arrested Development, Ron Howard. As usual, I’m most interested in Randall’s story because Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson’s chemistry is electric. It doesn’t seem right that Kevin is already receiving a second chance at Hollywood stardom after only struggling in New York to find a new place to deposit his dick rather than working there to gain the credibility he craved post his meltdown on the set of The Manny. Kate’s newest dream is definitely the most random after-thought of them all. Try harder, peeps. Minus 37,000 points.

-Booze brings out the worst in alcoholics. Sadly, knowing that didn’t make Jack’s violent outburst at the club any less terrifying or disappointing. Worse was Rebecca’s appraisal of his addiction as something he could simply turn on and off and use as a weapon against her. Not cool, Bec. Minus 2,650 points.

-We’ve known Miguel all season and he’s had little more character development than clean-shaven Jack’s dopey sidekick we met this episode. I’m sure there’s lot of Miguel stuff to come in season two, but I’m taking points now to remind myself later that, when it came to Miguel, I cared enough to. Minus 400 points.

-Seeing Sam Trammell here makes me sad that True Blood is over, even if that show ended stupidly and its last two or three seasons were dumb and bad. Minus 700 points.

Total: 41,050 points/The 70,000 ads that played during This Is Us for NBC’s new comedy Trial and Error 

What a finale. What a season! This Is Us is truly one of the most entertaining network family dramas I’ve seen in years. It’s no surprise the ratings juggernaut was renewed through its third season.

Until the show returns in the fall, I’ll be saving money to buy stock in Kleenex.

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