No stranger to dramatic moments, “This Is Us” delivered yet again on Tuesday’s episode when Rebecca gave an impassioned directive to her children as she comes to grips with her own mortality while continuing to deal with her Alzheimer’s.
The episode focused on three Thanksgivings — one when Jack and Rebecca are engaged, one after Jack has died and one in the present day, which featured the whole Pearson clan (minus Nicky) converging on the family cabin.
Rebecca summons Kevin, Randall and Kate to a meeting one evening in which she says she has a last request that is actually more of a demand. She says her disease will feature a lot of “ugly twists and turns” and she’s afraid it will be harder on her kids than it will be on her.
“I need you all to hear my voice right now, your mother’s voice with all of her faculties. You will not make your lives smaller because of me,” she said.
She then implored them to be bold.
“This thing that’s happening to me will not be the thing that holds you back,” she continued. “So, take risks. Make the big moves, even if they’re small moves. Forge ahead with your lives in any and every direction that moves you. I’m your mother and I’m sick. And I’m asking you to be fearless. And if that seems like a tall order, well, guess what? It is, but the only acceptable response is a resounding, ‘Yes, ma’am.’”
“Yes, ma’am,” each child replied.
Viewers have been teased about Rebecca’s fate, with images of her appearing to be on her death bed in flash-forward scenes. Her speech is a powerful scene and show creator Dan Fogelman said it serves a distinct purpose as the show winds down its six-season run.
“It is very much the setup for the back half of the season,” he told reporters during a special cast panel that was part of NBC’s Scripted Press Day in February. “It was one of those scenes that we knew was going to take seven minutes of our 42 minutes and 30 seconds of screen time we’re allotted every week and felt worthwhile.”
Moore said she appreciated getting to be center stage in a moment like this on a show that has many of them.
“I mean, those kind of scenes, I think we all can speak to it,” she said. “We’ve all had those moments on this show. It’s such a gift to be a part of the show. It’s such a gift to go to work every day and tell these stories and get to recite these words. It’s never lost on us. And it’s especially not lost on me like as we sort of start to close out the show.”
Stirling K. Brown was blown away by Moore’s effort in the scene.
“We were all sitting around the table watching Mandy do her thing,” he said. “And my first reaction was to just applaud. I clapped in my seat, like not super loud, not trying to distract my actor.”
“She’s a killer and that scene really, really touched me,” he added.
Justin Hartley said the monologue is just the latest example of seeing one of his co-stars get to shine.
“One of the things that happens on the show that happened with me for that scene when I read it is, you know the cast and you know the caliber of actor that you’re going to be dealing with, whether it’s Sterling or Milo (Ventimiglia) or Mandy or John (Huertas) or Chrissy (Metz) or Chris (Sullivan) or whoever it might be,” he said. “And when you read something like that, you look forward to, you read it and go, ‘I cannot wait to see what she does with this.’”
Moore said working with her co-stars on “This Is Us” has been a true blessing.
“I get to look in the eyes of these extraordinary people, like Justin and Chrissy and John and Sterling and I get the honor and privilege of seeing these words and I have this relationship with everyone,” she said. “We’re truly a family. And so, in that sense, it’s like there’s such an ease to it of just being able to look at each of them and tell them the truth of what these words really are.”