This Is Us Season 6 Episode 17 Review: The Train

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Only This Is Us could make an uplifting episode about the main character’s death.

I was dreading This Is Us Season 6 Episode 17. Death is never fun, and Rebecca’s was bound to be heartbreaking.

But the hour didn’t focus on her death. Instead, a younger-looking Rebecca took a train ride that honored her life, and it was beautiful.

The scenes at the cabin as Rebecca’s family waited to say their final goodbyes were heart-wrenchingly realistic, especially juxtaposed with Rebecca’s ride through her life.

Randall: We’re all just waiting, laughing, eating Chinese. Is this even right?
Deja: I don’t think there are any rules for any of this.

Randall wondered if they were doing the right thing because they were laughing and having fun while they waited. His feelings were understandable, but sometimes that’s the only way to get through the painful times.

Rebecca wouldn’t have wanted them to sit silently grieving.

The family’s closeness as they came to say their goodbyes was a testimonial to her as a mother; she had wanted to raise children who would grow into self-confident adults who deeply loved each other, and she did that.

Each of the goodbyes was a beautiful tribute in its own way, but what was with Toby?

I know he’s a jokester, and he was supposedly kidding about wanting Rebecca to like him more than she did Philip, but that wasn’t funny.

Nor was his pretending to resent Kevin paying for the food.

Toby’s going to deflect with humor during tough times, but that kind of joke wasn’t a good idea. It made it appear that he hadn’t changed since he and Kate divorced, and we all know he had.

Randall might have been confused by the dichotomy of Deja learning she’s pregnant just as Rebecca was dying, but I wasn’t.

That was a very This Is Us thing to do. It demonstrated that life goes on despite the sadness. Deja’s baby will never know their great-grandparents, which is sad. But they will be a very loved, wanted member of the next generation of the Pearson family, and that’s a cause for celebration.

Marcus Brooks was a nice misdirection.

Malik is Deja’s partner, not him, and that’s as it should be because it would be weird if Deja dated the boy whose heart started beating just as Jack’s stopped. 

Besides, shouldn’t that Marcus be a lot older than Deja? If he was 11 when Jack died, he was only seven years younger than Randall.

Marcus’s contribution to Alzheimer’s research suggests a deeper connection to Rebecca’s family than his heart restarting just as Jack’s stopped.

I’m wondering if there is still some misdirection going on here. This Marcus might not be the same one whose life was saved when Jack died. Could he be a grown-up version of Deja and Malik’s son?

As for Rebecca’s train ride, it was a lovely metaphor for re-exploring her life as she got ready to die and her transition from one world to another.

It didn’t take long to figure out that she was waiting for Kate to arrive before she left this world, but at first, it seemed like she was waiting for Jack.

William was an interesting choice as her tour guide. I knew she’d reunite with Jack in the end, but I had expected him to be the one to lead her to the next world.

William’s wisdom about death being the start of the next adventure was exactly what viewers needed to hear, as well as Rebecca herself.

Many viewers were dreading Rebecca’s death, and the end of This Is Us altogether. It felt like William was talking directly to us when he said that every ending is the beginning of a new chapter and that grief is proof that something wonderful once happened.

Grief is complex, as Rebecca well knew. Randall’s introduction into their lives helped heal the pain of losing Kyle, but he wasn’t a replacement for Kyle, and her great love for Miguel didn’t make her miss Jack any less.

From the beginning, This Is Us has been about grief mixed with joy, and Rebecca’s journey through her life was no exception.

I’m still not quite sure I understand the Jack/Marcus connection. It seemed like Jack died so that Marcus could live. It gave meaning to what was otherwise a meaningless event, but was that all there was to it, or was there something more?

This may be the final question that This Is Us answers on the series finale. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it, and it isn’t anything more than the circle of life — one heart restarting while another stopped.

At first, I expected some sort of Sixth Sense twist where Jack had appeared to Marcus’ father because both men were dead, especially since the father was no longer alive when an adult Marcus hung out with his family.

The strange coincidence of Jack’s heart attack just as Marcus’ heart restarted was a better twist, though.

Finally, who else cried when Kate finally arrived so she could say goodbye to her mother?

I was scared she wouldn’t make it in time, but Rebecca was determined to hang on, and once Kate arrived, Randall and Kevin also had some beautiful things to say.

Your turn, This Is Us fanatics.

Hit that big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and share your thoughts about Rebecca’s final journey, everyone’s goodbyes to her, and the way that Jack and Marcus’ paths crossed.

There’s only one more episode left, but don’t forget you can watch This Is Us online whenever you want.

This Is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST / PST. The series finale airs on May 24, 2022.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.

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