Was that the finale you had in mind for such a brilliant freshman season?
It's not easy to say, but This Is Us Season 1 Episode 18 failed to deliver on its promises. There were no tears, not a lot of emotion and the bottle episode focusing on a failing relationship wasn't nearly as effective as it should have been.
I'm not left wondering what's next for Jack and Rebecca, but why I don't really care.
Theirs is supposed to be a love affair for the ages, and I believe Jack thinks that it is. He feels a lot of love for Rebecca and his family.
By witnessing everything that happened to the couple just prior to their meeting, why he fell so hard for her makes more sense than ever before. She was not only beautiful and talented (and whatever else he discovered soon after meeting her), but she quite literally saved him from going down a very dark path.
Before Jack met Rebecca, he was a good guy. There's no denying that.
Jack had been to Viet Nam and returned relatively unscathed. He considered himself lucky having taken the mechanic's route through the war because guys like him must have had it easier.
Back home, though, he was still struggling to find work. At 28, he was living with his parents and barely scraping by. He wanted more out of life but didn't know how to get it.
Making money as a handyman/contractor introduced him to a lot of people, not all of them savory. He tried gambling in the hopes of getting his big score, but that failed to work.
Next week, we're going back to that bar and we're going to get our money back. One way or another. I'm going to take the life I was supposed to have instead of waiting for it to come and find me.Jack
When Jack got to the point he was willing to do anything to take the life he believed he was due, even if it meant a life of crime, it was obvious he was in trouble.
He never shared with Rebecca just how close he came to doing the wrong thing, to possibly becoming more like his father than he'd wish.
Jack: You know I was supposed to have another date the night that we met? Did I ever tell you that?
Jack: The woman that sold me the Chevelle. She set me up. But then I saw you, and I stood the other girl up.
Rebecca: I wonder who she was.
Jack: I never have.
Rebecca, on the other hand, has shown throughout This Is Us Season 1 that she falls into situations rather than makes definitive decisions.
We saw her do that early on when she and Jack fought at the Super Bowl the night the kids were created. She didn't want kids. Her future looked nothing like what she's living now. As it turns out, that goes back much further into the past.
Just like Jack, Rebecca was struggling to find her place in the world before they got together. She had visions of becoming a professional singer in her head.
Her friends, though, weren't as supportive as she probably would have liked them to be. Would she really be the next Carole King, or should she diversify her future portfolio a little bit?
It wasn't until she was being rejected by her future that she considered said diversification, which showed her once again not making a decision to find a man and bring him into her life, but falling into it because her plans weren't working out.
A pattern of behavior that was clear to me earlier this season was given extra legs to stand on in the finale.
But fate drove Rebecca and Jack into each other's arms, not any decisions on their part. While they were both pawns in the eyes of their friends and neighbors, they both steered clear of the need to tell the kids they came together by way of a blind date.
They found each other naturally, but making eye contact and discovering a real connection with one another.
Still, looking back at the events that built their relationship during the season, far more often than not the burden of their love seems weighted toward Jack.
That's why when Rebecca wanted to leave the family to sing, it was difficult to understand. I can only assume at some point during This Is Us Season 2 we will see a direct correlation between Jack and Rebecca's non-start of a singing career.
He must have told her she couldn't continue in the vein she was before they were dating if they were to be a couple for all the pent up frustration she has against him because she didn't continue her attempts to find a successful musical career.
The first season must have been unfairly weighted toward Jack because he's dead, right? We're seeing him through rose-colored glasses. Because when Jabecca had their row after Jack drove drunk (dumb) and then punched Ben, I couldn't help but be on Jack's side.
Even after discovering the very thing that brought them together is what drove them apart in the end and hearing Rebecca's anger over the drinking, knowing she was worried about the kids in his presence while drinking. All of it. Still. On Jack's side.
Is that right? Should I be taking a side? Shouldn't I be rooting for the couple to come out of it OK, even if Jack will die eventually?
The connection with Jabecca as a couple just isn't solidified at this point. With Jack, I'm all in. With Rebecca? There's work to be done.
The two of them screaming, each with their points about what they've sacrificed for the marriage and their family, and all I recall witnessing during the season are Jack's sacrifices. It was also very difficult when they couldn't find something nice to say about loving each other now, but in the heat of the moment, it's a pass.
Rebecca's apology in the morning about the way things were said was only more hurtful because Jack thought there was more to it than that. He did have the words to tell Rebecca he loved her.
You've asked me a question before, you wonder what I love about you now, So I'm gonna start with the obvious. I love the mother that you are. I love that you are still the most beautiful woman in any room and that you laugh with your entire face. I love that you dance funny, not sexy, which makes it even sexier, but most of all, I love that you are still the same woman who all those years ago ran out of a blind date because she simply had to sing. You're not just my great love story, Rebecca, you are my big break. And our love story? I know it may not feel like it right now, baby, but I promise you, it's just getting started.Jack
That was beautiful, and it will be interesting to see how they were received when the show returns. But whether or not they remain together, I don't think they will ever stop loving each other, and that is evidenced by the necklace Rebecca was fondling as Jack left for Miguel's.
It's entirely possible their marriage will be over, that Jack will die while apart from the family and that's why Kate has always had a strained relationship with her mother. Kicking Jack out and him dying alone, all because Kate initially suggested he go to Cleveland to find Rebecca would sting.
All Kate has ever wanted was to be like the woman Jack loved so much, her mother. So much so that she's decided to take up singing when the show returns.
The kids are gonna be fine. We've shown them a healthy marriage. This is just gonna be a blip on their radar years from now. We're their parents, Bec, but at the end of the day, what happens to them, how they turn out, it's bigger than us.Jack
Kevin's inability to hold onto a relationship could be a direct result of their split. Maybe Jack was wrong about it being a blip in their lives. Kevin made the wrong decision about potentially working with Ron Howard. He'll lose Sophie again.
Randall, coming from a broken home, would never hold it against his parents if they split. He'd love them both equally no matter what, I think, because of the very things Jack said.
Sometimes they'll make good decisions. Sometimes bad decisions. And every once in a while, they're gonna do something that's gonna knock us off our feet. Something that exceeds even our wildest dreams. Our kids are gonna be fine. Me? I can't go back to who I was before I met you.Jack
Unfortunately, Jabecca's relationship and what happens to it isn't the deal breaker for me. Because This Is Us. And we already know relationships fail no matter how beautiful the people in them may be.
And we know Jack is going to die young and that Rebecca's future lies in the hands of Miguel. How invested can we be in Jabecca when they're doomed from the start? It's different to be invested in a solitary character and hold your breath, wanting his every move to lead to another, but within a relationship? It's not the same.
This was a disappointing finale because to go out of a season with so little of the many characters I have come to love feels like I've been robbed. There are two more seasons to come, but the wait is long.
You all may completely disagree and have wholly enjoyed the finale, and I'd love to hear from you.
How do you feel about the relationship between Jack and Rebecca? Are you completely invested in their love as a couple, or is one character more than the other? If so, do you have reasons for that?
Share your thoughts, and when you watch This Is Us online, come on back and share comments on all of the reviews throughout the season. I'll see them all and will comment back and kickstart the discussion again.
By the way, when you look at the rating, please remember that I rate each episode against the season, so breathe.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.