It’s been about two and a half weeks since the “This Is Us” cast has seen each other and when they reunited over the weekend, they were preparing to say goodbye to their beloved show.
After six seasons, many tears, laughs, twists and turns, the NBC drama is airing its final episode on Tuesday. Simply titled “Us,” the episode will see the Big Three — Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Kate (Chrissy Metz) — and their families mourning Rebecca’s death at her funeral.
“I don’t know if anything surprised me,” Mandy Moore told TODAY at Sunday’s “This Is Us” finale screening in Los Angeles. “I think that people will be very satisfied with the way that things are wrapped up. It will be with a tearful smile on their face.”
The penultimate episode, “The Train,” focused on Moore’s character losing her battle to Alzheimer’s disease, as her children and loved one expressed how she’s made an impact on their lives. All the while, a youthful Rebecca — guided by William (Ron Cephas Jones) — pictured herself on a train as she reunited with the most important people in her life. As she made her way to the caboose, she laid down on a bed and reunited with the love of her life, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia).
“This last episode on the train was the most fulfilling because it felt like this all-encompassing experience of seeing all of these different characters from every different chapter of Rebecca’s life,” Moore said. “And being able to acknowledge them and say goodbye, and it just doesn’t get any more beautiful than that.”
Heading into the ending, Ventimiglia shared that “everything in the finale” surprised him. The actor credited creator Dan Fogelman and “his way to architect a TV show” for “really giving the audience a full, complete picture of this family and ending it with a lot of hope.”
Chris Sullivan, who portrays Toby, also added that the finale is “not a big gotcha, twisty, turny (episode).”
“It is a nice, introspective, peaceful, soft landing that encapsulates everything we’ve been trying to talk about for the last six seasons,” Sullivan said.
After its third season in 2019, “This Is Us” was renewed for three additional seasons. This gave Fogelman enough time to fully flesh out the show and craft how he wanted it to end.
He told TODAY that he and his team of writers had penned much of the final episode “years ago.”
“I always knew what the final words in the show would be, what the final shot would be ... Years ago we had this plan,” he shared. “What I like to say is we had the big picture plan.”
“We knew Rebecca would die at the end of the second to last episode, and what the final episode would be,” he continued. “That it would be a slice of life from this TV show.”
For Ventimiglia, while his character appeared in flashbacks after his tragic death, he was so grateful to portray Jack in different moments of his life, including dealing with alcoholism, being a soldier in the Vietnam War and becoming a husband and father.
“I think toward the end, Jack taking a very secondary role, very supporting role to his children and letting those storylines be in the forefront of everything, that was a really wonderful thing as writers and storytellers to do for the character,” he said. “And then also the audience, to give them Jack all the way at the very end. I think people have been wanting to have more Jack and I think they’ll get it.”
Like most “This Is Us” episodes, the finale will be an emotional one for the Pearsons and viewers. As the credits roll and the show is over, Fogelman shared that he hopes people “feel full.”
“I hope they (feel) like they want to call their mom and dad and sister and brother and talk. I wanted people to feel good and not just sad because a character had died recently,” he said. “I wanted a lot of things that I think our guys delivered. But yeah, I was hoping that people would feel full.”
The finale of “This Is Us” airs on NBC Tuesday, May 24 at 9 p.m. ET.