This Is Us, the NBC drama that made fans sob uncontrollably through six seasons, is coming to an end. And to quote the penultimate episode of the series: "What a big, messy, gigantic, spectacular thing."
While viewers said a brutal goodbye to Jack Pearson in the Season 2 episode, "Super Bowl Sunday," the second to last episode of the series, "The Train," bid farewell to the Pearson matriarch, Rebecca.
Before the episode aired on May 17, Mandy Moore, who plays Rebecca, revealed that she threw up after reading "The Train" script. Yeah. She thought it was that distressing. And you know what? She was right.
In addition to ushering in the end of an era and showing a merciless string of emotional scenes, "The Train" features one of the most beautiful, deep, poignant on-screen depictions of transitioning from life to death.
As the site that brought you "15 times I yelled 'NOPE' while Jack died in a fire on This is Us", we thought it was only fitting to cover Rebecca's death the same way. Instead of yelling "NOPE," however, we're recapping all the times I almost threw up (just like Mandy Moore) during the penultimate episode.
Grab your tissues, get your train tickets out, and remember the wise words of William Hill: "If something makes you sad when it ends, it must have been pretty wonderful when it was happening."
The first time I felt like throwing up came seconds into the episode. A random family gets into a car accident and I'm SAD and CONFUSED. The family has major BPE (Big Pearson Energy) and yet we have no idea who the heck are they? We only know one of the kids is named Marcus and he needs to get in his seat!
This Is Us, writers! Really? A life-threatening tragedy in the COLD OPEN? Don't we have enough to be stressed about???
It's crystal clear that this episode is gonna be a ride. "I'm waiting for someone," Rebecca says before explaining that every Sunday her dad had to go into the office, he would take her on the train to the city with him. "I loved those Sundays," she said, before sharing that her dad always wanted to take her on a fancy train like this — one where the passengers drink Vespers.
At first it seems like Rebecca's talking to herself. But she's not. She's talking to William Hill, Randall's deceased biological father. He explains a Vesper is a martini with gin, vodka, and Lillet. "Shaken never stirred. James Bond," he says. William sits with Rebecca and recites the poem that inspired Randall's name. It's clear he's going to be her guide on this train journey, and it's also clear we're all going to throw up. He invites her to the bar car and thus begins their journey.
Everyone is visibly older — except Toby, Sophie, Madison, and Nicky. Well, they have aged. They just look suspiciously great. They're eating Chinese food in true Pearson tradition, and I could vom.com over here just seeing everyone come together to say goodbye.
"We're all just waiting. Laughing. Eating Chinese. Is this even right?" Randall says. "I don't think there are any rules for any of this," Déjà replied. She's giving HIM a Pearson pep talk for once, and she knows exactly what he needs in that moment: A BIG secret. She tells Randall that she's pregnant and he's going to be a grandfather. I'm so happy I could throw up.
He's working in a lab somewhere talking to a mouse while trying to reduce cell inflammation in pancreatic tumors. NBD! But seconds earlier, Déjà described the father of her child as, "Working all the time. You know how he is about work." So is Marcus Déjà's boyfriend? Unclear! What we do know, thanks to a framed photo at his workstation, is that this Marcus is the same Marcus from the random car accident in the cold open.
(Note: While the emotional Marcus-related hospital scenes in this episode would normally make me want to puke, they didn't because I knew he made it out alive from this scene. Thank you, This Is Us for that single shred of relief.)
When Rebecca's nurse says she doesn't see her making it through the night — that her blood pressure is dropping, her legs are cold, and things are happening quickly — I could blown have chunks. We're not even 10 minutes into the episode and where the heck is Kate?!
Beth saves the day once again. She knew the family needed someone to go first, and her speech was the best of the night. "So much of being a mom is faking it, isn't it?" she says at Rebecca's bedside. "We don't know what the hell we're doing. Not when they're young. Not when they're older. So we fake it. We imitate what we think a mom should be. I had a good mom. But, uh...we were complicated. I just want to say, all these years, so many times when I was faking it...I was doing my best impression of you, Rebecca."
I'm going to hurl!!!
"I'll take him the rest of the way, mama," Beth continues. "Thank you for helping me with that complicated, incredible, beautiful boy that you raised. But I got him now."
That speech combined with EVERYTHING THAT'S HAPPENING ON THE TRAIN and William saying, "The train is moving fast. We have to keep going, dear." Absolutely not! 🥺
I almost barfed again when Randall and Kevin FaceTimed with Kate and said "Mom's taken a turn; we don't think she's gonna make it through the night." Kate starts crying on the plane, says she's 12 hours away, and asks her brothers to tell Rebecca that she's on her way.
Dr. K, the man who delivered Kate and Kevin and gave Jack one hell of a pep talk in the hospital, is on board the train. And he's got a bowl of lemons with him. He asks Rebecca if it'd be too on the nose to serve her Limoncello, a nod to the wise advice he gave Jack on delivery night: "There's no lemon so sour that you can't make something resembling lemonade."
She asks for a Vesper before he gives her another doozy of a speech. Oh, and did I mention the bar decor is all old Pearson family treasures? From a dad mug with Jack's face on it to a TV playing a Steeler's game. It even looks like Dr. K is drying glasses with a Terrible Towel. Help me!
When Rebecca looks around the bar car, she sees the three actors who played Randall hanging out next to the three actors who played Kevin at different stages of their lives. Because of time jumps, we obviously assumed we'd never see these actors —who played the same characters separately for years — share a scene together. But leave it to This Is Us to find a way. It was a lovely moment, until Rebecca said, "Kate's not here." UGHHHHH!
My eyes are projectile vomiting tears like a sprinkler system. (Also, sorry, but I wanted to see an Uncle Nicky goodbye!!!)
Oh my GOD, I can't do this???
When sharing some of their favorite childhood memories, Kevin says Jack Pearson was "Strangely ripped for a dad in the 90's, wasn't he?" Randall adds that he "did a lot of push-ups." And Kevin says, "[He] loved them. Couldn't get enough." I'm almost puking from laughter. A nice change!
They keep talking and Randall says, "I wonder if any of this is getting through to her." We cut to Rebecca walking through a train car filled with the memories they just described, including the famous tear-jerker Jack/Randall push-up scene. Now, I'm almost puking from sadness again!
Did you clock that Kevin's famous life painting is hanging in Rebecca's room!? This Is US.
Malik, we missed you. The way he keeps saying "Dej!" The "I've loved you since we were 16. I want to marry you. I want to have this baby with you." The flashback to them as teens. PRECIOUS. But wait, who the heck is Marcus now?
The two dads had a heart-to-heart over the hospital coffee pot and Jack passed along Dr. K's words of wisdom. Later that night Jack died, and Marcus lived. Years later, Marcus and his siblings are chatting about the "family motto" that their dad always told them: "There's no lemon so sour that you can't make something resembling lemonade." Jack did that. :') It's all connected.
Was one dark Super Bowl Sunday not enough??? Not the Mars bar!!!
Nope. NOPE. The nerve of this show! I'm not ready and neither is she.
"I told you, I'm waiting for someone," Rebecca repeats. And it's finally clear who that someone is...
I have no tissues left in this house. I'm about to use a blanket to sop up my tears. Kate says goodbye and Rebecca makes her way into the caboose car, where she sees young Kate sitting. Have mercy!! The Big Three say their final farewells while I think of ways to sue everyone involved with this show for emotional distress.
Then William says, "Oh, I don't know. The way I see it if something makes you sad when it ends it must have been pretty wonderful when it was happening."
I am a puddle.
Right after Randall said, "You tell him, 'Hey.'"
Rebecca says, "Hey." Jack says it back. The screen fades to black.