The penultimate season of This Is Us went out with a bang.
Our TV Fanatics Christine Orlando, Sarah Little, Carissa Pavlica, and Jack Ori had a lot to say about the surprise flash-forward at the end of This Is Us Season 5 Episode 16, as well as Madison's decision and whether Rebecca's discussion with Randall was appropriate considering whose day this was supposed to be.
Read on for our thoughts.
Were you surprised that Madison backed out of the wedding? Do you think she made the right decision?
Christine: Yes and yes.
I was so looking forward to their wedding. Kevin seems happier and more grounded than I’ve ever seen him, but if he’s not truly in love with Madison, then they shouldn’t get married.
Madison has spent a lifetime being told to settle for what she can get, and she’s right; she deserves to be loved.
I was proud of her for doing the difficult thing and standing up for herself even though the outcome crushed me.
Sarah: I am surprised because they really played off Kevin’s jitters just as cold feet on the last episode, so I thought it would be the same thing with Madison.
But she definitely made the right decision, even though I have grown to love Kevin and Madison’s relationship. Both of them deserve an epic love story, and, unfortunately, that’s not with one another.
Carissa: I think Madison was traumatized enough to make the wrong decision.
On This Is Us Season 5 Episode 15, Kevin learned about two different kinds of love stories, those like Jack and Rebecca had, and those like Miguel has with Rebecca. Some have immediate sparks, and others grow over time.
I sincerely think they're in the latter category.
I also think that Kevin failed to adequately express himself in a stressful situation. He's considered all-flash with his career, but he's got a giant heart in his personal life. He doesn't fully understand love.
Madison's father disregarded the magic in her life, and she accepted anything she could get as a result. I understand that with all that I am.
However, I am also older and know that those immediate sparks usually fade, and if there's not a more significant relationship underlying, it won't stand the test of time.
Jack: I'm with Carissa on this one. I'm glad that Madison wants true love, but I also thought that she was reacting more to her awful history than anything that was going on between her and Kevin.
Given that the flash-forward at the end suggests that Kate ends up married to Philip, what do you think happens between Kate/Toby to end things between them finally?
Christine: OMG! What was that? I was totally blown away.
Kate and Toby seem so solid at the end of this episode that if we hadn’t seen Toby in a previous flash-forward, I would have assumed he died!
But long-distance relationships are a lot of stress, especially with two young children.
Add in Toby’s battle with depression, and there must be some dark times ahead for these two.
We've seen them both turn to other people to communicate their feelings when things have gotten difficult between them. My guess is, this must lead to at least one of them having an affair.
I was thrilled when Phillip wouldn’t accept Kate’s resignation, but I didn’t see this coming. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.
Sarah: It’s amazing how This Is Us still manages to genuinely surprise us after all these years.
Kate and Toby’s relationship in the future has been a big question mark for some time now, and we now sort of have our answer.
We have no idea what leads to the end of their marriage or how Kate and Phillip come together. I don’t know if cheating is involved, but I think the distance will be the final straw for them.
It’s all very heartbreaking, but at the same time, I’m happy if Kate’s happy.
Carissa: Kate and Toby bonded over their weight. When Toby lost weight, it put a strain on their relationship.
Now they have a family and believe that their issues are solved, but they fail to see that they were happy together because they were happy individually.
They'll be unhappy apart although happy individually, and that will end their marriage.
At the same time, Kate will bond with Philip over something more meaningful and uplifting than their weight journeys, and that will be Kate's forever love.
Jack: I was shocked by that flash-forward. I thought it would turn out that Kevin had dreamed the whole disaster of a non-wedding because of his anxiety about the day being perfect!
Kate and Toby have been growing apart for a while, and I don't think Toby being in San Francisco while Kate is in Los Angeles will do their relationship any favors.
It's all the more heartbreaking because they seemed like they were in such a good place after talking about their job situations.
Was Rebecca right to push Randall to talk about Laurel during what was supposed to be Kevin's wedding day?
Christine: Yes. Randall was leaving the next day.
This was her one chance, and I’m glad she pushed. Between Covid, her neurological issues, and them living on opposite coasts, there’s no guarantee when they’ll come face to face again.
Rebecca is a woman who knows she may be running out of time to make things right.
These were things that Rebecca needed to say, and Randall needed to hear, and it’s taken years to get to this place. I think this conversation was healing for both of them.
Sarah: Yeah, I definitely don’t blame Rebecca for pushing Randall.
This conversation is something they needed to have, and they don’t know how much time they have left with everything going on.
It’s an awkward topic, but this is a bridge they needed to cross if they wanted to move forward with no regrets or things left unsaid.
Carissa: A definitive no. Absolutely not.
That was wildly inappropriate, but it's par for the course in that family.
I was so sad that Rebecca has the nerve to use that day to tell Randall that he was her world and is her favorite person.
I don't care that she has dementia. It was Kevin's day, and he still got the short end of the relationship stick. It's aggravating.
Also highly inappropriate but par for the family course was Tess' behavior about the dress.
No, people are not trying to force you into a person you are not, you ungrateful and selfish little girl. Your family asked that you wear something appropriate to THEIR day to help them celebrate.
I hated everything about that scene, and I question how Randall and Beth raised Tess.
It wasn't her day any more than it was Rebecca's or Randall's. It was Kevin and Madison's day, and family operates within their universe. How hard is that to understand?
Jack: I also thought it was inappropriate. Yes, Rebecca has limited time, but Kevin's wedding should be about Kevin and Madison!
As for Tess, I had mixed feelings about that. As a transgender person, I totally get the discomfort with wearing a dress.
One of my sisters-in-law wore a pants suit when she was an attendant for my brother's bride at their wedding a few years ago for similar reasons too. I thought that was where this was going, though it turned out not to be, and I have no idea what Tess' actual problem with the dress was.
That said, an hour before the wedding is NOT the time to first bring up discomfort with clothing choices.
I will cut Tess and Beth some slack because it seemed like they had never seen the dress before (maybe it was purchased online because of COVID.) But sheesh!
Do you think Madison and Kevin will eventually marry, or is this the end of the road for them?
Christine: I hope so.
I’m still rooting for Madison and Kevin, and I was happy to see her in the flash-forward, even though that could mean she and Kevin are great co-parents and not a couple. Still, I’m holding out hope that Kevin falls madly in love with her and fights for them.
Sarah: I think this is the end of the road for them.
It would just be too much back and forth for their relationship, and I doubt the fans would be happy about that.
I do believe that they will be amazing co-parents and that they will each find their soulmates. And I would put good money on Kevin reconnecting with Sophie.
Carissa: I was beginning to get the impression that Kevin may not marry at all.
But then I read an interview with Dan Fogelberg, which said that next season would explore the four-to-five year jump we saw in the finale and the later time period that we've seen when everyone gathers for Rebecca's ill health.
Kevin has a young son in that flash-forward, but it didn't seem like he was 10 or 15 years down the line when their twins are older.
I hope Kevin eventually marries, and he'll have more children.
I hope he and Madison realize they had something deeper and pursue it further. I think Sophie was Kevin's sparks relationship, and Madison will be his lasting love. At least, I hope so.
Jack: I wasn't originally team Madison and Kevin, but I am now, and I'm hoping they marry down the road.
I will be beyond aggravated if Kevin ends up with Sophie at the end. It's so cliche, plus they've had way more back and forth than Kevin and Madison.
I'm not a fan of recycling relationships with exes, so if it's not Madison, Kevin better end up with someone totally new!
Discuss anything not covered above.
Christine: It's Alvin, Simon, and Theodore! I can’t believe Madison and Kate both forgot Theodore. He is the most adorable chipmunk.
Also, I loved that Tess and Beth finally reconnected. It’s been a tough year for them, but it was great to see Beth making it possible for Tess to feel comfortable being herself.
Sarah: I absolutely loved the small moments between Beth and Tess. Their relationship has gone through it this season, and we needed this closure between the two of them.
They both owned up to their mistakes, and they can now go forward without any tension.
Also, I love how Rebecca loves her TV shows as much as all of us do! I do not blame her at all for being mad at Jack.
Carissa: Even though I take issue with the women in Kevin's life on his wedding day, Miguel, Uncle Nicky, and Randall really stepped up for him.
I'm thrilled that Kevin and Randall are so close now and laughed out loud when he ran up to Kevin with an umbrella to keep him from getting flushed on his big day.
Kevin didn't wind up with Madison as of yet, but he and Randall are in a good place, and I appreciate it.
Jack: Christine, I wanted to yell at the TV that the third chipmunk was Theodore! I was ridiculously relieved when they remembered at the end of the scene.
I also loved the moment between Tess and Beth. I shed a few tears at their reconciliation after this tough year.
What was your favorite scene, quote, or storyline from This Is Us Season 5 Episode 16?
Christine: Oddly enough, my favorites were Madison’s looks back at her life.
Why wouldn’t Madison’s mother take her when she left? That she wouldn’t fight for her own daughter’s well-being makes me ache for Madison.
And remember when we all laughed at Madison being at Kate’s over-eaters anonymous meeting?
Madison was used as comic relief for so long and accepted emotional scraps from the Pearson family. Now those scenes hurt to watch.
It made me all the more proud that she stood up for herself in the end and was strong enough to demand more.
Sarah: My favorite scene was the one between Rebecca and her kids at Kevin’s called-off wedding.
It was quite touching how they were there for Kevin and how they talked about what Jack would do at that moment.
Their family has been through so much, but it’s admirable that they’re all still there for one another, no matter what.
Carissa: The flash forward. Everyone seems so happy in that period that all of this angst is worth it.
Jack: I'm with Sarah on this. I loved the Pearsons all being there for Kevin!
Also, I enjoyed the "second marriage" that Jack and Rebecca had in front of the kids.
It tied in nicely with everyone supporting Kevin as an adult, plus for once in one of these flashbacks, Randall seemed like a happy, engaged, participating member of the family instead of brooding or freaking out.
What questions do you most want to be answered during the final season of This Is Us?
Christine: Does Kevin leave his acting career behind to start Big Three Construction? Was that flash-forward before or after the previous flash-forward?
Was Madison at the wedding as Kate’s friend, the twin’s mom, or Kevin’s wife? And what happened to Toby?
I have so many questions that I have no idea how they’ll cram all of the answers into just one more season.
Sarah: I agree, there are so many questions that they need to answer!
My biggest one is probably who Kevin ends up with because I’m very invested in his love life. I also want to know where Miguel is in the flash-forward.
Carissa: Dan Fogelman also said that all questions would be answered, even if everyone doesn't like the answers.
He's got a plan, and he's sticking to it.
I have faith that we'll get all the answers we need in a season that will span many more time periods than we've come to expect.
Jack: I also read Dan Fogelman's interview.
One of the big questions for me is whether we will get more of Rebecca and Miguel's relationship. I'm looking forward to the answer to that and everything else!
Your turn, This Is Us Fanatics! Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know your answers to our Round Table questions.
Want to refresh your memory first?
Just watch This Is Us online right here on TV Fanatic.
This Is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST.
It will return for its final season in January 2022.