Saturday, May 29, 2021

What I’m Watching: This Is Us (Season Finale)

This Is Us: Season 5, Episode 16 “The Adirondacks” (B+)

I had the fantastic opportunity to be able to watch this finale in the company of many other eager viewers at a drive-in screening in Los Angeles, and to hear from creator Dan Fogelman and stars Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz immediately after to clarify some of the big reveals that came in the last few minutes of the episode. One thing that this show has consistently done since it began is to give teases to future events that don’t play out exactly as they seem, which can be rewarding but also immensely frustrating. Now we’re at the point where this show is headed towards its end with just one season to go, and its direction should be becoming clearer and clearer with every new episode. It’s devastating to learn that Kate and Toby aren’t meant to be together forever and equally shocking to find out that Philip, played by Chris Geere from “You’re the Worst,” is the man that she’ll soon marry. But Fogelman pointed out that he’s at a point in his life where he’s going to the second weddings of people whose first unions seemed perfect and ideal to him at the time, and this show does a good job of reflecting real life even if not everyone’s family is exactly like this. The same is true for Kevin and Madison, who made some sense as an unlikely couple and obviously get along well enough by the time of Kate’s wedding to be very civil to each other. It also appears that Nicky is married, which suggests happiness might be out there for all. There was some fine work by Sterling K. Brown and Mandy Moore in this episode in the Randall-Rebecca scenes, and it was also sweet to see Jack and Rebecca forced to get married again by their children after Jack nearly blew it by taping over the finale of “Dynasty.” This has been another terrific season, boldly and compellingly incorporating what’s going on in the world in a way that felt natural and appropriate. I’m looking forward to season six.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Justin Hartley as Kevin

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