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'This Is Us’ sends a love letter to family on emotional series finale

The NBC drama that was known for making viewers cry was at it again in its finale as the Pearson family began life without Rebecca.
/ Source: TODAY

“This Is Us” wrapped up its six-season run Tuesday with an episode focusing on the aftermath of Rebecca’s death and how the bonds of family remain strong, even in the smallest moments that people learn to savor over time.

In true “This Is Us” fashion, the finale see-sawed between time periods, with the Pearson family coming together at Rebecca’s funeral and Jack and Rebecca enjoying a lazy Saturday with their kids.

In the past, Jack and Rebecca were excited to have a totally free Saturday with no commitments to spend with their children, who were about 13, after learning Randall's mathletes competition was called off. Kate was very interested in playing foursquare, watching old home movies and playing pin the tail on the donkey, but Kevin and Randall were bored by all of that.

Kevin was in a bad mood because classmates teased him for his inability to do a pullup, so Rebecca put his mind at ease and reminded him he may have to work hard for some things. He said she was good at finding the right thing to say.

Randall, meanwhile, came clean about his mathletes competition, saying he was suspended from the team for a week after he acted out when another boy teased him about having hair on his upper lip. Randall felt awful and Jack said he can’t punish someone who already felt so badly, so he offered to teach him to shave and Kevin soon joined in.

The brothers said Kate was too interested in doing baby stuff, but Jack said she was wiser than they realized.

This Is Us
Randall talked to Beth about how he struggled to find the right words to say at his mother's eulogy.NBC

“Don’t underestimate your sister, gentlemen. She gets it. At a very young age, she gets it,” Jack told them, adding how when you’re young you always want to be older, but when you’re old, you always want to go back.

“That’s what we’re doing, collecting these moments. We don’t recognize them when we’re in them because we’re too busy looking forward. But we spend the rest of our lives looking back, trying to remember them. Trying to be back inside them. Strange, the things you remember,” Jack said.

The boys said he was being really weird.

“One day you’ll get it,” he said.

This Is Us - Season 6
Toby and Kate shared one final, sweet moment together.NBC

They played pin the tail on the donkey and there was a flashback to them buying the game because the box had a white boy, a white girl and a Black boy on it.

“When the world puts something this obvious in front of you, you don’t just walk away from it,” Rebecca said.

Meanwhile, on the day of Rebecca's funeral, Randall struggled with what he wanted to say, while Toby told Kate that Rebecca was “extraordinarily proud” of her. He said, “I love you,” and, even though their marriage didn’t work out, he’d still go back in time to the weight loss support group and make stupid faces at her.

Nicky joked with Kevin how he had it good before he found him in his trailer.

This Is Us - Season 6
Nicky proved to be the comic relief while making a point to Kevin about how he changed his life.NBC

“The good thing about not caring about anything is that you don’t care when it’s gone. You really effed up my life, kid, and your mother and father would be ashamed if they knew what you did to a sweet and sensitive old man like me,” Nicky said.

The funeral did not prove to be a central moment in this episode, as only quick glimpses of it were shown. After the funeral, Randall’s kids checked in on him. He was very pensive and morose, saying the birds were chirping, he was hungry and thought about work.

“It just all feels so pointless,” he said.

In a flashback with William and Randall just before they went to Memphis, William told Randall how weird it is that he’s a grandfather, saying it’s “easy, pure love.”

This Is Us - Season 6
The Big Three vowed to stay together after Rebecca's death.NBC

“What an unusual thing to love someone so unconditionally when you know time probably won’t allow you to be a big part of their story,” he said. He said he didn’t remember his grandparents, but realized how much they must’ve loved him. He wondered what his granddaughters would remember about him.

After that flashback, Deja reminded Randall he was going to be a grandfather, informing him she’s having a boy and they want to name him William.

“Your grandson is going to be named after a man I never met. But I know him because I know you. It’s not pointless,” she said.

Kate and Kevin showed up and Kevin pondered what they’ll do now.

This Is Us - Season 6
The Big Three tried to come to terms with losing Rebecca and what's next for them.NBC

“We’re going to do what she wanted us to do. We’re going to live fearlessly,” Kate said.

Kate wanted to open up music schools for the visually impaired. Kevin planned to focus on his nonprofit and be home more. Randall said he may go to the Iowa state fair and mingle with the people to see about furthering his political future, alluding to a presidential run.

Kate said she worried she and her brothers would drift apart.

“If you drifted, we’d drift right after you,” Kevin said.

This Is Us - Season 6
Kevin's son, Nicky, consoled his dad after Rebecca's funeral.NBC

Randall said Rebecca grabbed his hand and squeezed it just before she died and he wondered what that meant.

Back on the train from last week's episode where Rebecca died, Jack was in bed with her.

“Babe? We did good,” Jack told her. “You did so good.”

“There was so much left I wanted to do with them,” she said. 

The episode went back to that Saturday where they’re doing nothing, the family kidding around.

“It’s hard to explain, but you’ll do all those things with them,” Jack said on the train to Rebecca.

This Is Us - Season 6
In the midst of his grief, Randall was overcome when Deja told him she and Malik want to name their baby after his birth father, William.NBC

He said she’ll be there for them and she said it’s amazing they found each other in the bar where they met.

“When the world puts something that obvious in front of you, you don’t just walk away,” he said, referencing the line she said about buying pin the tail on the donkey.

After the funeral, Kate, Kevin and Randall’s kids played pin the tail on the donkey with Nicky and the episode closed with Randall and Deja smiling at each other, as well as younger Randall smiling at Jack on that Saturday as Jack looked on watching his family.

"Older Randall's indicative of, obviously, the grown children or a child who has fully grown. And Milo (Ventimiglia, who plays Jack), in that moment, is representing a parent who's taking in his entire family," "This Is Us" creator Dan Fogelman told reporters during a conference call Tuesday.

"And I just wanted the simplicity of the shot of the child taking in the parent at a moment when the parent is taking in something bigger, and knowing that that child will carry it forward in their own lives."

This Is Us - Season 6
"This Is Us" creator Dan Fogelman said his own experience losing his mother shaped how the funeral scene was shot and why we viewers didn't hear from Kate, Randall or Kevin.NBC

Fogelman also said the conversation between Jack and Rebecca when he told her "You did good" was a poignant moment for him.

"The idea that moves me that at the end of the day, you get to sit down, potentially, and be told 'job well done' by somebody can be so hard," he said.

Fans may also be wondering why the eulogies from the Big Three were not featured. Fogelman said he doesn't remember the eulogy he delivered for his own mother when she died and how he "floated through space and time" that day.

"I remember locking eyes with my best friend, who was sitting in the audience, and crying, but I don't remember anything. And I wanted to visually capture that," he said.

And as for the possibility that this isn't necessarily the end of the Pearsons on the small screen? Fogelman says he understands there are ideas that can be explored, but fans shouldn't expect anything.

"There's always going to be another part of the story, if you continue to go further, which is the whole theme of our show," he said. "But my well is pretty dry right now and I think we wanted to end the show when we felt we were at our creative, strong point before it got too tiring, too hard for us to come up with ways to keep it special and interesting."