As fans emotionally prepare to say goodbye to This Is Us during the series finale next week, they had to bid an early farewell to one character during Tuesday’s penultimate episode (spoilers ahead).
In the episode titled “The Train,” the Pearson family gathered to say one last goodbye to the family matriarch Rebecca, whose health had been gradually declining throughout the season after her early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
While each family member had their time with Rebecca (Mandy Moore) — including appearances from two series favorites, William (Ron Cephas Jones) and Dr. Nathan “K” Katowsky (Gerald McRaney) — the episode concluded with Rebecca drifting off into an eternal sleep, where she was joined by her late husband, Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia).
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The episode proved to be a gut-wrenching journey for fans and Moore, alike. When Moore signed on to the series in 2016, her character had the least amount of screen time in the pilot. But by the final season, Rebecca had become the central thread in the time-lapsing show, with Moore having the biggest role on the show — literally. She was the only actor to play her own character at every age.
The actress and singer reflected on her character’s “bittersweet” conclusion in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, calling the show’s final season the “end of an era.”
“I mean, it’s strange. I was sitting next to my husband watching [Tuesday’s episode], and watching his emotions and feeling him made it even more emotional,” she said. “It’s the end of an era. It’s saying goodbye to this woman I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and inhabiting for six years. And the fact that I’ll never get to do it again, it’s just this weird confluence of gratitude and sadness; it’s quite bittersweet.”
She continued of the final season: “It’s so beautiful and also overwhelming to be part of something that has, from the jump, touched people and elicited such a reaction. And it has done the same thing for all of us. I don’t think any of us have ever been immune. We’re all human beings, and we’re stumbling through life and making mistakes just like all of these characters are, and it’s a testament to the writing that we’re all able to show up and try to be the best version of ourselves. I feel like there’s so much to learn and absorb, and I’m still in that moment.”
And with This Is Us nearly in her rearview mirror, Moore is now turning her attention back to music. The singer released a new studio album, In Real Life, on May 13. The LP is the follow-up to 2020’s Silver Landings, which was her first new album in more than a decade.
The series finale of This Is Us will air on Tuesday, May 24, at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
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