If you find yourself sobbing at your TV every Tuesday night, chances are you're a fan of This Is Us. The hit NBC drama built a cult-like following early in its first season, and that has only grown in its second, which came to a close last night with a very This Is Us wedding. Teasers for the season finale showed Kate walking down the aisle, flanked by her brothers, with Toby waiting to meet her.
There was also mention of a "surprise guest": Jack Pearson all grown up (spoiler for non-fans: Jack Pearson died when his kids were in high school). He and a similarly aged, present-day Rebecca shared a moment in which Jack asked her, "where did the time go, Bec?" As it turns out, that was a recurring dream Kate had in the days leading up to her wedding: that her parents had grown old together and they were all there to celebrate their vow renewal. From just the teaser, though, it was unclear what Jack's appearance symbolized.
Ahead of the finale, executive producer Isaac Aptaker promised there wouldn't be any funny business. "We’re not playing any games, but I will say that seeing him was one of the most visceral punches that I think we ever had. It’s so powerful and poignant and haunting and tragic all at once," Aptaker told Variety before the episode aired. He was right.
One thing was clear: Kate's wedding was a family affair, and not just when she walked down the aisle. Randall and Beth pitched in to put together wedding favors (which included a candle, champagne, and Ka-Toby corkscrews), Kevin stepped in as amateur planner, and Madison set the tone for the bridal suite. Madison technically isn't family, but she and Kate have gotten really close lately—so close that she was maid of honor (according to Madison).
“Kevin is basically running around, bending over backwards to make sure this loaded day without their father goes off without a hitch for his sister,” Aptaker said.
There were some pretty sweet flashbacks, too. One tear-jerking scene showed young Kate talking to Jack through the window of their iconic family car, while he tells her, "the guy that gets to marry you, Katie girl, he is one lucky guy." Cue tears.
It was no shocker that The Big Three walked down the aisle together, the brothers Pearson backing Kate up on a day when most little girls dream of being accompanied by their fathers. Kate's bachelorette episode showed that she has just as much love for Randall as she does for her biological twin Kevin, so it was only fair that they get to share the responsibility of "giving her away" to Toby.
Some fans were worried about this episode, though—likely a bit of PTSD after last year's season finale cliffhanger, when Jack and Rebecca's blowout fight called into question the future of their relationship. Between Rebecca's visions of an aged Jack Pearson, and the anticipation for Kate's marriage to Toby, speculation ran wild: Does the appearance of old Jack (who doesn't exist) foreshadow Rebecca's death? Will Ka-Toby go through with the wedding or will someone get left at the altar?
That last question was answered: Ka-Toby married in a beautiful ceremony with what appeared to be a super fun reception afterwards. As for the other bit, the episode's final moments gave fans a glimpse of where the family would be in a year (Kevin on a plane to Vietnam with Beth's cousin; Kate consoling Toby, who appears to be gripped by depression again), and in ten years (older versions of Tess and Randall reluctant to visit a mystery person). This should keep fans intrigued between now and the third season opener next fall.
Watching an hour of This Is Us without crying is still practically an Olympic sport, but this episode mostly showcased joy and love—two ingredients for a beautiful wedding.
“It's about how a family can experience an incredibly, incredibly tragic loss and still fight through it and move forward and find happiness and joy,” Aptaker said. This episode showed all of that and more.
Loved Kate's bohemian wedding dress? Here, are 5 dresses you can shop to get the look.
Flutter-sleeve chiffon plus size wedding dress, $99, David's Bridal
Olympia lace dress, price on request, Sophia Tolli by Mon Cheri
"The Frederika," Empire Waist Silk Gown, $4,900, Stone Fox Bride
Lace Long Sleeve Crop Top Maxi Dress, $190, Asos Curve
Copeland Flutter Sleeve Lace Wedding Dress, $800, Tadashi Shoji available at BHLDN