'This Is Us' May Have Revealed What's So Significant About The Future Flashforwards

- This Is Us -
'This Is Us' May Have Revealed What's So Significant About The Future Flashforwards

The second episode of This Is Us' final season is by all accounts a quiet one, but it also may have revealed what's so significant about the flashforwards to the extended Pearson family gathering at Rebecca's bedside. Ever since the future timeline was introduced in Season 2, it's been cloaked in mystery. Originally, the question was who were the Pearsons going to see, but now it's why are they going to see Rebecca at this particular moment in time?

Given her Alzheimer's diagnosis and her weakened state in the future timeline, it's been clear for a while that this is the Pearson family's way of saying goodbye to their matriarch. Rebecca is dying, but the circumstances surrounding her farewell appear to be extremely specific.

Remember, Beth brings a classic Pin the Tail on the Donkey game with her when she arrives at the cabin. That suggests it's either the Big Three's birthday (always a monumental day for the Pearsons), or the family is recreating their childhood birthday parties for their mom — or both. But why would they do that? To give Rebecca one last beautiful memory.

Rebecca Wants To Know What Her Last Memory Will Be

After Nicky's first love, Sally, cracks an Alzheimer's joke during the most awkward dinner ever captured on film, Rebecca reveals to her new acquaintance that she actually has the disease. Then she proceeds to share the one thought that keeps haunting her. "Sometimes I think about what my very last memory will be before the candle goes out," she confesses.

What if that's what the flashforwards are building up to? The Pearson family giving Rebecca one last memory. But it's not just any memory, it's one that will evoke one of the happiest times in her life. A time when she was a young mother, happily married, and surrounded by her family. Kevin, Randall, and Kate (assuming Kate is still alive, which she better be, show) can't give her back all of the memories Alzheimer's is going to take away from her, but they can ensure the last thing she sees before the light goes out is all of her loved ones at her bedside celebrating her life and legacy.

The Series Creator Has Confirmed The Series Finale Will Be "Simple"

Even though This Is Us can serve up mysteries and shock reveals on the same level as Game of Thrones, it's first and foremost the story of a family. That's something series creator Dan Fogelman has never lost sight of. In a December 2021 interview with Entertainment Weekly, he revealed that the series will have a "very beautiful and simple ending." Ending the show by having the family grant Rebecca's wish to know what her final memory will be feels like a fitting and emotional end to a series that's always been about the way a person's legacy endures even after they're gone.

This Is Us has always been about memories. Whether the show is revisiting the teenage Big Three or Jack and Rebecca's early courtship, memories are always a key part of the present day story. In light of Rebecca's diagnosis, the preoccupation with examining the past makes even more sense.

As Kevin told Tess and Annie way back in Season 1, "It all just sort of fits somehow. And even if you don’t understand how yet, people will die in our lives, people that we love. In the future. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe years from now. I mean, it's kind of beautiful, right, if you think about it, the fact that just because someone dies, just because you can't see them or talk to them anymore, it doesn't mean they're not still in the painting. I think maybe that's the point of the whole thing. There's no dying. There's no you or me or them. It’s just us."

Ultimately, what Rebecca will see when she closes her eyes is her legacy continuing. She'll see that she's given her children a beautiful life, she helped Nicky get back on her feet, and she had not just one, but two great loves. She'll endure into the future when her grandson, Jack, welcomes little Hope Pearson into the world, and her influence will live on through all of the lives she touched. When the light goes out for her, it will continue on through all of the people she loves, as evidenced by the Pearsons coming together not just to mourn a loss, but to celebrate a life well lived.

Images: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

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