This Is Us Season 6 Episode 15 Review: Miguel
It’s really almost over.
This Is Us Season 6 Episode 15 promised to give us Miguel’s backstory, and it did.
But it also jumped to the end of his story, depicting in painful, realistic strokes how taking care of Rebecca took a toll on Miguel’s health and how he eventually predeceased her.
This Is Us has never shied away from talking about mortality or sadness. Much of the Big Three’s adult lives have revolved around the tragic loss of their father way before his time, and jumping back and forth from past to present makes that loss more poignant.
The same is true of Miguel, although he was always a bit of an outsider, and the way his story was presented didn’t change that.
Miguel’s son: What are you doing here?
Kevin: Look, man, I don’t pretend to know about your relationship with Miguel. I assume he wasn’t the greatest father growing up. I don’t know. I don’t talk to him about it, or about him, really. But Miguel might not have much time left. The doctors are concerned about heart failure. Take it from me, man, you don’t want him to die with things unfinished between you.
As Kevin told Miguel’s son, Kevin never talked to Miguel about Miguel’s life. This story gave viewers more bits and pieces of that life, but there wasn’t time to fully develop Miguel’s story, and maybe that was purposeful.
Unlike Jack, Miguel wasn’t an integral part of the family until he remarried Rebecca, and even after that, he was somewhat on the outside.
And so he got one episode that told his story, from childhood to death, while Jack’s story unfolded over the first three seasons, and then we got more of him after learning how he died.
Throughout the hour, we got fragments of his life.
We learned that Miguel moved to Pennsylvania from Puerto Rico as a young child, that he lost his accent but not his ability to speak Spanish as he grew older, and that he never felt he fit in anywhere.
We got bits and pieces of why that might be: how his father disapproved of Miguel’s financial success, how he achieved that success by Anglicizing his name on a resume so that he could get his foot in the door, how he lost his family to the long hours he worked to try to provide for them.
We got just enough to understand what shaped his relationship with Rebecca.
In some ways, this episode was disappointing. I would have liked to know more about Miguel and Rebecca’s courtship rather than just the bits and pieces we got of them communicating on Facebook and then getting together.
But time is not a luxury that This Is Us has during this final season. The series will soon end, and Rebecca’s light will go out too by the final episode, so we don’t have an entire season or even more than one episode to deal with side stories such as Miguel and Rebecca’s courtship or Kate and Philip’s.
From the beginning, This Is Us’ playing with time drove home the point that people change over a lifetime and that the end isn’t pretty. This episode made that point painfully clear.
By the end of the hour, Miguel was gone. The scenes that took place five years from now were painful and poignant, and they took up the majority of the time, as they should have.
This episode was more or less about how Rebecca’s illness took a toll on both of them, likely contributing to Miguel’s eventual death.
It took Miguel falling in the snow for the Big Three to insist that he hire a full-time aide, but his health problems began before that.
His doctor was concerned about his high blood pressure, but when he initially brought up the possibility of other tests, Miguel didn’t want to do it because he felt he needed to spend all his time taking care of Rebecca.
Even after the fall, he didn’t want to let go, and his explanation for why not was as heartbreaking as it was beautiful.
Miguel: I have failed at everything else in my life. My parents. Shelley. I haven’t seen my son in five years. But I made a vow.
Kate: We’re not doubting your love for her –
Miguel: She wakes up every morning at 6:45 and I am the first thing she sees. It grounds her. It grounds me. I won’t leave her side.
Miguel felt he had failed everyone in his life, and he took his wedding vows to Rebecca seriously, so seriously it was killing him. It took Randall’s empathetic response to get Miguel to agree to get help, and after that, Miguel began working with his doctor on his heart issues.
By then, it was probably too late.
Rebecca’s condition was equally heartbreaking, especially when juxtaposed with the young, vibrant woman who sparred with Miguel in that bar or the older but still with it Rebecca who kissed him when he said he was homesick for her.
By the time of Miguel’s fall, she’d deteriorated to the point where she was dancing in the snow without a coat on and was oblivious to his pain when he fell, and that was so different than who she had been before dementia set in.
While I’d have liked there to have been time for Rebecca and Miguel’s relationship to breathe, I’m glad for the time jump.
The glimpses we get of Rebecca’s dementia toward its end stages are painful enough. It would have been too heartbreaking to deal with if we had lived through this whole disease with her in real-time.
Over to you, This Is Us fanatics. Did Miguel’s long-awaited story satisfy you, or did it leave you with more questions than answers?
Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know your thoughts.
You can watch This Is Us online right here on TV Fanatic if you missed the episode.
This Is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST.