So, who is Miguel, really?
“This Is Us” fans got the answer to that question and so many more on Tuesday’s episode, which focused on how Jack’s best friend evolved to become the man who would eventually marry his widow, while trying to make peace with his own fractured family.
The episode chronicled how Miguel moved with his family to the America area when he was a little boy. The old world values of his father conflicted with his desire to be successful and, as Miguel forged a new life as he got older, he argued with his father during Christmas one year.
“Why is it so hard for you to watch me make something of myself?” he asked.
The episode also explored how Miguel and Rebecca didn’t hit it off after they first met, so Jack forced them to get to know each other at a bar one night. They eventually became friendly and Miguel would go on to meet his own wife, Shelly, and have two kids. The marriage went sour, though, and they argued, with her bringing up Jack at one point.
“I am not Jack,” Miguel said.
“You certainly are not,” she fired back.
After Jack died and his bond with Rebecca grew, Miguel moved to Houston in the hopes of patching things up with his kids, to no avail. After his own father died, he went to see his family and marveled at how his mother took care of his aunt, who had a stroke years earlier. He said he saw the “thankless work” she put in.
“There is no thankless. Love is giving your heart without expectation,” she told him.
“I don’t know if I have that in me,” he replied, while adding he’s lost at this point in his life. She told him she knows he’ll find his way and find someone else to love.
Miguel would later connect with Rebecca online and they began a dialogue that led to phone calls and eventually a dinner when he was in her area on business. He told her he replayed over and over in his head if he should’ve left for Houston and felt he had to do it, while opening up about his own problems.
“I’ve never felt at home anywhere. And if I’m being honest, the first time I ever felt homesick in my life was when I left you on that porch,” he said, referencing the time he told her he was moving.
She got out of her seat, walked over to him and kissed him on the lips.
Later, when they were in bed, Rebecca asked him to move near her when he said he was thinking about retiring. He brought up Jack and says he wondered what Jack would think of them being together.
“I think he would want what’s best for us. For both of us,” she said.
Kevin, Randall and Kate found out about the relationship and were rattled by it, with Kevin especially upset, but they came around. Miguel, whose fierce devotion to Rebecca as she aged turned him from being viewed as something of an interloper in the family to a respected character, continued to help her as her condition worsened.
A nurse who had been helping with Rebecca told Kevin, Randall and Kate that Miguel puts on a brave face, even after he fell in the snow when he found her outside in her nightgown. The kids told Miguel they want to get Rebecca full-time help, but he said he's failed at everything in his life and needed to see this through.
“I am not leaving her side,” he said. Randall and Kate said they love him and he finally agreed to let someone help.
Miguel’s health declined, so and Kevin went to see Miguel’s son to say he may not live much longer and that doctors are worried about heart failure. As the episode wound down, Miguel and his son joined the Pearsons for Christmas.
Miguel eventually died and the Pearsons, with his kids, congregated under a tree he planted with Rebecca. Kate, Randall and his daughter spread ashes under it and Kevin and Miguel’s son spread ashes in a field, presumably the same one where he played baseball as a little boy when the episode opened.
While Miguel died, "This Is Us" viewers may still see him over series' final three episodes.
"I’ve said the whole time I’ve been on this show, Miguel is a time traveler," Jon Huertas, who plays Miguel, told Variety. "He’s the one that goes from the ’50s to present day. So you can never count Miguel out. He might make an appearance."
Huertas also says this episode ties together everything for fans about what we've previously known about Miguel.
"But if they go back and think of all the great moments and great little tidbits that Miguel was able to inject into certain episodes and certain situations with the Pearson family, they’ll realize, 'Oh, all of this makes sense. The story they told us in this episode makes so much sense to who Miguel is and how he played into the dynamic of the Pearson family,' he said.
"And I think they’ll walk away feeling very full, very satisfied. But I don’t think they’ll be ready for the end, for Miguel to be gone. I really don’t think they’re going to be ready for that."