There may be devastation. There could be a twist. There might be a heart-to-heart. There probably definitely will be tears. Whatever the case, tonight’s episode of This Is Us will bring the season to a close on some kind of emotional, provocative note.
Titled “Moonshadow,” the season 1 finale (9 p.m. ET/PT) of the NBC family dramedy is “a very intense hour of television,” creator Dan Fogelman tells EW. “It lives in a space we haven’t quite lived in before, and it’s a dangerous episode in that it makes me uncomfortable in the way you want to be uncomfortable if you’re doing my job. I’m excited for people to see it.”
The finale will focus primarily on Pearson patriarch and matriarch Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore), picking up where the last episode left off, with an intoxicated Jack getting into a car, aiming to repair his cracked marriage. It also transports you to a much earlier time in their lives — the year 1972, before they met. “This is the episode where you get to see Jack and Rebecca before there ever was a Jack and Rebecca,” says Fogelman. “You see them in their much younger years as they’re figuring out what kind of lives they want for themselves. Jack has returned from Vietnam — he is in a bad living situation at home with his parents — Rebecca is embarking on a music career that is not exactly breaking her way, and they’re both trying to find their way through life. It’s the story of how they were doing at that stuff before they had each other to lean on.”
And for those fans who fastidiously follow the facial follicles of father Jack, this is the episode in which you experience him sans beard, mustache, or goatee. “This was always the plan: In the final episode of the season, we would see Jack in a younger age than we’ve seen him before,” says Fogelman. “We knew the whole year was going to be a story about different forms of his facial hair and that the final episode of the season would reveal him clean-shaven for the first time… It was the first time we’d seen him all year without anything on his face. It was such a surprising shock, and we thought, ‘Oh, people are going to love this.’”
It sounds like he thinks the same of a moment that will help close out the season. “There’s a scene at the end that I’d put up there with anything we’ve done this season,” he says. “I’m incredibly proud of Mandy and Milo as actors in the entire episode, but particularly this scene is just stunning. It’s going to get a lot of people talking, and it’s going to have a lot of people debating.”
“[The finale] is going to answer some questions and make people ask some new ones, and change a lot of people’s perceptions about where they think the show is going,” says Fogelman. “Without giving much away, it changes everything — and maybe in ways people might be talking about, maybe in other ways.”