We thought it would be those old Jack dream sequences that got us the most in tonight's This Is Us finale, but there was actually another scene that hit us harder.
In the midst of her wedding, Kate was really struggling to fully come to terms with the fact that her dad wouldn't be there, hence her dreams of what should have been. But there was one thing Kate was finally not struggling with tonight, and that was her often tumultuous relationship with her mom.
After Kate had been running around trying to find something of her dad's to help celebrate her big day, Rebecca expressed to Kate that she was trying to stay out of her way during the wedding prep because she knows how she can make Kate upset. Kate, who had just finally found the strength to spread her dad's ashes at a special spot near the family cabin, quickly shut Rebecca's fears down.
"Mom, I know that our stuff can be complicated sometimes, but it's because all that I've ever wanted was to be like you. I want to be a singer like you. I want to be a mom like you. I want to have a marriage like yours. Mom, you are not in my way, you are my way."
Somehow, we managed to watch the rest of the episode through those messy sobs, and things didn't get much better for us. Wedding planners Randall and Kevin (a spinoff we need to see immediately) not only planned a beautiful wedding, but they also brought the house down with speeches on grief and love and the future. It was the perfect setting for a montage of three very important flash forwards.
First, we saw Kevin sitting on a plane about to land in Vietnam, gazing at a picture of his dad and his uncle, and with someone quite unexpected leaning on his shoulder.
Earlier in the night, we met Beth's cousin Zoe, who grew up as her sister. We later saw her compliment Kevin's speech, right after we saw that she would be accompanying Kevin to Vietnam.
We also saw Kate and Toby in the future, but it wasn't a happy scene. Earlier in the night, Toby's parents warned him about marrying Kate because they knew how depressed he had gotten after his divorce, and they were worried about him falling into that again. In the flash forward, Toby was curled up in bed, unresponsive, as Kate came in and told him the doctor wanted to change his medication.
We also watched Deja, who had been perked up by Beth's cousin, take Jack's baseball bat to the windshield of Randall's car. Many years in the future, older Randall told older (and just incredibly well cast) Tess that it was time to go see "her." Tess said she wasn't ready, and Randall said he wasn't either.
Whether they were talking about Deja, Beth, or some other "her," we'll have to wait until September (or likely longer) to find out. In fact, creator Dan Fogelman told fans at SXSW this weekend that we'll have a general sense of where this is going by the end of the season, which means we're in for a bit of a mystery.
It actually says a lot about that finale that the dream sequences in which Jack and Rebecca got to renew their vows after 40 years were not the parts that had the most lasting impact. Seeing them together in old age was nice, but it was also really, really nice to see Kate let herself off the hook, and to see older Rebecca and her adult children happy together for once.
It also sure was nice to not end a season of This Is Us on an angry argument, a la season one, so we'll take these mysteries in exchange for happy family times, thank you very much.
This Is Us returns to NBC in September. In the meantime, be sure to check out Milo Ventimiglia's message to the fans.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBC Universal family.)