This Is Us Season 6 Episode 16 Review: Family Meeting
Now that Miguel’s gone, it’s the beginning of the end for Rebecca and for This Is Us.
This Is Us Season 6 Episode 16 could have been depressing. Rebecca’s deterioration was heartbreaking, especially juxtaposed with so many sweet scenes of the younger Rebecca taking care of the Big Three throughout their childhoods.
Instead, it was a beautiful tribute to the woman Rebecca once was and to the legacy she will soon be leaving behind.
We all knew that Rebecca was once vibrant and full of life, but it hurt to relive her better years alongside her last ones.
She was the mother who was there to sign permission slips and comfort children after nightmares. She might have complained sometimes about being woken up at ungodly hours, but she always got up and did what the kids needed her to do.
And now, her children were the ones taking care of her. She was often confused, and there was no spark of life in her eyes when they interacted with her.
This is not our mom. She always knew exactly what each one of us needed. I understand her shutting us down and what her wishes were. But she couldn’t have imagined what this would have felt like, how deep the need would be to do what is right by what’s left of her.
Randall was right when he said that this was not their mother.
Anyone who has been through losing a family member to Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia knew exactly what he meant when he said that.
One of the most crappy things about dementia is that the person is, technically, still alive, but in reality, they died a long time ago.
By the time the person dies, you feel this profound sense of relief that they’re not suffering, but your grief is the pent-up grief from when they became too sick to take care of themselves or even remember who you are.
Rebecca’s at that point now. There are no more flashes of lucidity; she’s gone and has been replaced by this frail, old woman who doesn’t remember that her husband passed away.
When Rebecca came out to say hello to the Big Three, I wasn’t sure she knew who any of them were. I half expected her to refuse to walk with Kate and be afraid of her because she thought Kate was a stranger.
Thank goodness there’s enough of Rebecca left that she still accepts the Big Three’s presence in her life even if she doesn’t fully remember who they are.
But this story wasn’t just about grief. It was about legacy.
Kevin: Mom was very clear what she wanted. She said build me that house and that is what I’ve done.
Randall: Kev –
Kevin: Don’t ‘Kev’ me. I’ve been a pain in her ass my entire life… building this house is the one good thing I’ve done in my entire life and I will honor her wishes if it kills me.
Kevin and Kate both believed in different ways that their legacy had been to be less than. Kevin still carried around his childhood feelings of being an eternal screwup, while being around her brothers triggered Kate’s girlhood beliefs that she was always behind the curve and that she was the one kid who was a dud.
They were both wrong, and through their struggle to decide what to do about Rebecca’s care, each of the Big Three discovered what they were made of.
Randall was ready to do what Randall always does: override everyone else and take care of Rebecca his way.
Beth predicted it, and a lot of viewers did too. That’s always been Randall’s role in the family, but he had to learn to relinquish it.
I loved when Beth told him he was seeing outdated versions of his siblings. She was right; Kate and Kevin had both grown up significantly.
Kate needed a push from Toby to take ownership of the role that Rebecca had bequeathed her. These two are so much better off as friends than as spouses.
Toby: Permission to overstep as your ex-husband and the co-parent of our children?
Kate: Permission granted.
Toby: You are what the kids call a ‘baller’ in every sense of the word. You are creating the arts curriculum for the freaking state of California, for God’s sake, all while being a mother. But when you get around your brothers, you get unsteady. I don’t get it.
Kate: Yeah. Neither do I.
Toby: Your mother chose you for a reason.
The old Kate, who was married to Toby, never would have accepted his advice, and the old Toby never asked permission to give it. But the new KaToby, who are co-parents and friends, can support each other without the pressure of trying to be married.
Toby’s grown, too, now being able to joke about getting back together instead of clinging to Kate. And I was thrilled that he and Laura are now either married or living together. Kate mentioning that they were both watching the kids while she was at the cabin was a nice touch.
The only loose end here was Philip.
Philip wanted to support Kate, which was admirable, but he also didn’t understand how the Pearson family worked. I was concerned that he might have felt like he was sidelined or be upset that Kate leaned on Toby.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
The Pearson spouses gave us the clearest look yet at what it’s like to join this family from the outside. Beth summed it up perfectly.
Sophie: Oh wow, this place really is a time capsule, isn’t it?
Beth: Tell me about it. I found some of my Tommy Girl perfume in the cabinet.
Philip: Maybe we should go back to the house. Perhaps we could be of service?
Beth: Oh, poor sweet naive Philip. You can’t help those three. Nobody can. It’s been seven days since Miguel died, so that means seven days for my husband’s mind to spin out while he’s trying to decide what’s best for his mother.
The Pearsons are a lot because of their closeness and the drama between the Big Three. Toby and Miguel only ever had limited success in breaking into this family, which was part of what killed Kate and Toby’s marriage.
Beth and Sophie both knew the family well enough to know when to take a step back, and Philip is getting to know what he has married into.
It’s a shame that he and Kate began their relationship just as Rebecca started taking a turn for the worse, but it might also give him a more objective view of what’s going on as the disease progresses.
He’s the only one who hasn’t known Rebecca for half a lifetime, after all.
As for the Big Three themselves, the fact that they had these arguments over Rebecca’s care demonstrated the impact she had on their lives.
Her children are her legacy, and that will live on once Rebecca leaves this Earth.
That’s the biggest lesson This Is Us has taught us over the years: families grow and change, sometimes in tragic ways, but long after the original people are gone, the family survives and passes down love and strength throughout the generations.
Over to you, This Is Us fanatics. Once you’ve dried your eyes, hit that big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you thought about how This Is Us is handling the end of Rebecca’s life as we head toward the series finale.
If you need more Pearson time, watch This Is Us online on TV Fanatic. And if you’re not quite ready for the series to end (who is?), check out our list of 9 ways you can prepare to say goodbye to This Is Us.
This Is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST. The series finale airs on May 24, 2022.