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This is Us 1×18 “Moonshadow”

Big Three Moments of the Week

I’m pleasantly surprised with the fact that the finale was nothing as I’d expected. And although it didn’t end in the happily ever after I would have preferred, from beginning to end, it did a remarkable job of leaving me mesmerized. This is a series about unity. It’s a series that focuses on raw, complex emotions without glossing over them. It forces us to feel beyond what we can understand. And whether the emotions are positive or negative, its success comes from the profoundly layered characters that tirelessly tug on our heartstrings.

I was under the impression that this separation was meant to leave us heartbroken, but instead, I was left with melancholic hope. A feeling that may not exactly be ideal, but it’s real. And I’m okay with it.

Scene I: Jack tells Rebecca why he’s still in love with her.

This moment may be the very reason as to why the episode didn’t break me beyond repair. It’s the moment that reminds viewers of the fact that though love is extraordinary, it’s also incredibly messy. It’s ugly. It’s dark. It’s unkind at times. As human beings, we’re never going to be immaculate. We’re never going to be without sin. And in the same way that we’ll never be, we must remember that our partner won’t be either. However, where there’s love, there’s always hope. And that’s where the untainted beauty comes from in this moment. Jack and Rebecca said a lot of things they can’t go back from, but this moment stood on its own as an acute reminder of the fact that though things have changed, feelings have remained the same. In spite of every dark shadow in their road, the they don’t resent one another. And though Jack did most of the talking, Rebecca’s silence said a thousand words, too. Mandy Moore’s gentle expressiveness in that moment illuminated adoration beautifully. She may love the stage, she may struggle, she may feel trapped, but she loves her husband and kids more than anything. And that love, though broken, it still has the power to heal their relationship.

The profound and pure sincerity in Jack’s words were a gorgeously cathartic representation of love after war, and this was the first time in a while where the two finally spoke to each other with undivided attention. It’s the first time they really listened. And they spoke even in their silence. Milo Ventimiglia’s delivery of that scene was heart crushing. He and Moore have never been more extraordinary as scene partners. In spite of the heartbreaking ending, you could feel the adoration encompass the room. It’s easy to understand that all big breaks and great love stories come with a little rain.

Scene II: Randall wants to adopt a baby.

This was another scene I wasn’t expecting, but I could not love it more if I tried. Randall’s parents have had a huge impact on him. His siblings had a huge impact on him. And his birth father had a huge impact on him. This desire to adopt another baby as opposed to having one isn’t surprising coming from him and that’s what makes it beautiful. It feels right. And while it was such a small, brief moment, what’ll come from it in season two will undoubtedly be an incredible treat us for viewers.

This is how Randall gets his life back. This is how he takes things slow. This is how he honors both his fathers’ legacies. This is how he spends more time with his family. This is how he heals himself.

Scene III: The big fight.

This may not be the happiest moment or the easiest to discuss, but I can’t deny how powerful Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia were in their performances. I had to hold my breath the entire time they yelled at one another because each spoken word was filled with so much anger cobbled with adoration, it was impossible not to feel punched every time. I can’t remember the last time a fight felt so real on TV. And I can’t remember the last time two performers brought their all in such a chaotic wormhole of the ugliest parts of human communication. Words can bite. Words can break. Words can taint. Words can tarnish. And in this moment, their words did a great amount of damage.

But for the first time in a long time, they held nothing back. They may not have said things in the way they should’ve, but as Rebecca states the next morning, they meant everything. And that’s the part that stings most — the truth behind every word isn’t something either of them were ready  to hear. I don’t want to sit here and point fingers as to who was wrong and who was right because that’s not what this fight was about. It was about two people who’d somehow broken themselves while breaking each other. It was about two people who are undeniably in love with each other but they’re also human beings who struggle with their own demons.

“Moonshadow” wasn’t without its flaws. I found myself frustrated with the fact that the promos made us believe we’d be seeing Jack’s death, but instead we were faced with something entirely different. And while I’m okay with that because I know promos can be deceiving, it didn’t feel right to tease it this early on. Nevertheless, it was a solid episode that showcased exactly why this series is special — it’s real. Sometimes sour lemons turn into extraordinary lemonade, other times they don’t even come close. This is Us has a long, emotional season ahead of it and while I wish it were happier, I’m all for the stories these writers want to tell.


Further Thoughts:

  • I’m really excited to see Kate explore her music career and see how it plays out with the relationship she has with her mother. And whether or not things will be different for her and Toby.
  • I really wish the series didn’t spend as much time on the poker scene as they did. We would’ve understood the gist of it without dedicating what felt like a never-ending scene to it.
  • I desperately want Kevin and Sophie to work things out this time because it’s clear how much they actually care about one another.
  • I loved the storytelling this week because of how gorgeously it painted it Jack and Rebecca’s past. Sometimes, all we need is right in front of us and I loved the fact that Jack saw something in Rebecca from the very beginning. I also appreciated how the series made us think they’d be the ones getting set up, but in reality, they had two separate blind dates. And for Jack to bring that up this week felt right. He never wondered about who he was to meet. It’s sad that she was essentially stood up, but who knows, she may not have even gone to meet him.
  • I also appreciated Rebecca calling Jack after realizing he’s right. And that’s not something many people would’ve done because of shame, but admitting to it was a wise choice.
  • I was also surprised with the fact that Rebecca never believed he was an alcoholic. The fact that he only drank heavily for an entire year was a pleasant surprise. Still unfortunate, but better than what I was imagining.
  • I don’t want to sit here trying to guess how Jack died because that’s not only gonna leave me frustrated, but it’ll leave us all with too much sadness to ponder. And we’ll essentially be going around in circles. But nevertheless, if you have theories, I’m a fan of hearing them. The reality is that Jack and Rebecca clearly love one another, and they haven’t left things in an ugly place. I don’t know why Kate blames herself, but I hope that’s a puzzle that’s broken down piece by piece in season two.

What are your thoughts on the season finale? What was your favorite part of the episode? Remember, if there’s anything you’d like us to discuss, let us know in the comments below. And have a happy hiatus! Thank you all so much for joining us this season, it’s been a lot of fun writing about this show, and I can’t wait to come back in the fall.

By: Gissane Sophia
Check us out on Twitter: @MGcircles


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