Hate Is a Strong Word | This Is Us: S1 Finale


Like most of America, I too, was caught up in NBC’s hit drama after the pilot’s jaw-dropping last five minutes. The reveal of the Pearsons then, being the same family now, was touching, bold and smart. Since then Tuesday’s at 9 p.m. have been a new version of the network’s “must-see TV.” Not only is the writing brilliant, but the performances are good, almost each and every episode. And the same way Scandal gathers Twitter viewers every night with an “OMG” moment, Us has gathered faithfuls with the simple complexity of human experiences. Tears of joy or sadness are shed as these characters hit real-life peaks and lows without jerk-move antics or over-the-top outcomes.

That was until last night. 

The pivotal season finale aired. We were teased this episode would finally explain how Jack Pearson — the bighearted patriarch of our Big Three — perished. Kate explains to Toby how it’s her fault he’s no longer living. Just last week we saw Jack’s disdain for Rebecca’s second-chance at music bubble up. Kate’s plea for Jack to patch things up with her mom sends him racing two hours away to her band’s first gig. Between his displaced anger and the fact Becca is touring with an ex, Jack thinks it cool to accompany the trip with a six-pack.

Like many viewers, I assume he never makes it to the venue. His life is cut short after a drunken car crash. Wrong.  Ok, so if he makes it there, maybe he never sees Becca. Not being able to apologize sends him spiraling further down the bottle, and the incident occurs on the way home. Negative. After a fight with her ex, Jack and Becca meet as she has to cancel her dreams to drive them home. Granted, Jack was right about her ex’s intentions,  he nonetheless made a complete fool of himself and embarrassed her. So THEN, it hits me. They both are in the incident, with Rebecca surviving. Wrong. Again.

They make it home alone as the children are staying the night at a friend’s house. The climax of the episode. Jack and Rebecca hurl harsh truths about their situation: Jack feels Rebecca’s “career” is nothing more than pipe dreams, and it’s not worth abandoning their family. Rebecca feels like a ghost in their house, taking care of home, kids and husband without any outlet for her to exist outside of the titles of mother and wife. Hurt, raw, Rebecca ends the argument and goes to bed, alone.

It’s morning and Rebecca awakens teary-eyed. Jack never came to bed. YES, I think. Finally! What we’ve been waiting for — Jack left during the night or wee-early dawn to gather his thoughts and BOOM — perishes in a fiery incident.


Jack slept on the couch, teary-eyed. Exhausted. Rebecca acknowledges the things they said cannot be unsaid, and recommends some space between them for awhile. Jack will reside at Miguel’s until further notice. It ends with them not at peace, but at an understanding. They’re at a place — mid-marriage — where the real work begins. No death. No slow-singing, flower bringing montage. I guess they figured since we just lost William, we wouldn’t be able to handle losing Jack. So I’m thinking Kate blames herself for this mild separation, which may have resulted in a divorce? For her, being as close as she was to her father, may have felt like a death before he actually left this earth. I guess we’ll have to find out when it returns this fall.

Apart from this minuscule disappointment, the episode did brilliantly show how Jack and Rebecca met. Missing out on a chance to get signed, Rebecca winds up leaving a bad first date and singing at a local bar. Jack, on the cusp of robbing a register full of cash after losing everything he had, refrains from the act upon seeing Rebecca on stage. They were each other’s big breaks. In the present day, Kate is opening up to Toby, Kevin leaves Sophie to chase Ron Howard’s offer and Randall wants to adopt.

Yes, I’ll be there next fall for season two; but I won’t like it.

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