‘This Is Us’ Season 5 Finale: Did Wedding Bells Ring for Kevin & Madison? (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 5, Episode 16 of This Is Us, “The Adirondacks.”]
This Is Us never ceases to deliver jaw-dropping twists and turns, and the Season 5 finale episode, “The Adirondacks” is no exception.
Much of the action revolves around Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Madison’s (Caitlin Thompson) wedding, but as usual, when it comes to the Pearsons, nothing goes as planned. From various timelines to fresh developments, we’re breaking down all of the family drama from the pivotal installment, but beware of major spoilers ahead.
The Pearson Dynasty
In a past timeline, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) is furious when Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) tapes over a big wedding finale episode of Dynasty. Their spat leads to uncertainty when the young Big 3 questions if the couple still loves each other. In order to prove their love, Rebecca and Jack show the kids their wedding video, but when Jack begins making comments about the show Dynasty and Rebecca making a big deal out of nothing, the kids are nervous as another fight ensues. In one last-ditch effort to reassure their children, Rebecca and Jack agree to get married again including the kids in the vows for a sweet living room ceremony.
In a first for the series, viewers get their first flashback scene with Madison as she recalls the time when her mother left her as a child. Kevin snaps Madison out of her trance though when he begins discussing the day’s plans, which apparently include a large gift from Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) who says a U-Haul will be arriving at the venue later. Meanwhile, Rebecca and Miguel (Jon Huertas) enjoy some quality time with their granddaughters Tess (Eris Baker), Annie (Faithe Herman), and Déjà (Lyric Ross) before heading to the venue with Beth (Susan Kelchi Watson) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown).
As for Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan), they gear up for the big day by putting the kids down for a nap and packing. During this, Kate learns that Toby is planning to accept the job in San Francisco that would take him away from home for three days a week. Feeling upset, she asks Toby for a minute and leaves things pretty tense before the action moves to the wedding venue.
Madness commences once the entire Pearson clan arrives at the venue with new challenges to overcome. Kevin does his best to problem solve on the fly when he learns the arch Madison made for the ceremony was damaged, leaving the groomsmen to take on building a new one.
Amid this onslaught, Rebecca wants to learn more about Randall’s illuminating journey to New Orleans where he learned more about his birth mother. The sight of Laurel though sets off tears in Rebecca’s eyes and the conversation doesn’t go far before Randall needs to help Kevin by making a trip to Home Depot.
While constructing the new altar, Uncle Nicky’s gift of two Adirondack chairs arrives, and a flurry of new questions stresses Kevin out so much that he has to walk away. Meanwhile, Beth helps Tess transform her bridesmaid’s dress for the ceremony when she admits the original gown makes her uncomfortable. Tess takes an opportunity to thank her mom and apologizes for not being warmer to her in the past year.
As Kevin takes some alone time and Madison gets ready, Randall is left to pick up his conversation with Rebecca. She admits that she has never explained the reasons why she didn’t make Randall’s birth parents a bigger part of his life. She says that she rationalized the situation time and again and that she should have done better.
“I am so sorry, you were my entire world,” Rebecca tells Randall. She says she gets emotional seeing Laurel’s face because “I know what I robbed from my favorite person.” The conversation ends on a positive note as Randall clarifies that Laurel’s his birth mom, hinting Rebecca’s his true mom for raising him.
Second Guessing Things
The chaos distracts Madison enough but it isn’t a permanent fix as more memories flood her mind while getting ready. She recalls an instance when her father said she should accept any date that is willing to take her. When Kate breaks her trance, Madison covers by saying her vows aren’t ready instead of admitting she’s conflicted. The comparison to her own relationship with Kevin is obvious at this moment as she questions if their love is the same kind of concession she has made with relationships in the past.
As if to prove the point, another flashback from Madison’s more recent past includes a day when her boyfriend David breaks up with her, citing that he isn’t as in love with her as she is with him. It happens to be the same day that Madison met Kate at Overeaters Anonymous after she went on a food binge following the breakup.
Now more mature, Madison realizes that she deserves the love she never thought she did and being with Kevin made her realize it. So, she goes to Kevin’s room and asks if he loves her, not their family, but just her and ultimately, it’s clear that Kevin’s more in love with the idea of their family than her alone and she makes the decision to amicably call off the wedding.
Kate & Toby’s Plans
Kate remembers her own wedding day with Toby while talking to Madison and decides to call her boss Phillip (Chris Geere) to resign from her position since she’d rather Toby get his job and keep their family together. Phillip admits Kate wasn’t his first choice for the job but he rejects her resignation, leaving her uncertain about things. When she talks to Toby about it, they both decide that they’ll try and make long-distance work for them because she deserves to have her dream job and Toby should have some sanity. But will it backfire?
Sad about the wedding imploding, Kevin sits with his mom and siblings for some support, and Rebecca tasks her son with something huge. She asks Kevin to build the house that Jack always planned to build for their family near the cabin. Of course, that’s the house viewers have seen in flash-forward scenes, meaning that Kevin accomplishes the goal. Meanwhile, Déjà has a tough time when she learns over a zoom call with Malik (Asante Blackk) that he’s been accepted to four major universities in Pennsylvania as well as Harvard in Boston. Could this put a strain on the young couple’s relationship?
We won’t know until next season, but a flash-forward sequence into the near future definitely teases some changes on the horizon. In the show’s opening moments, Kevin appears to be practicing a speech in a wedding tux, but it turns out it’s not his wedding but… Kate’s! Uncle Nicky is rushing around and makes a comment about making his wife happy, whoever that might be. Madison pushes Kevin out of the bridal suite where Kate’s blissful as ever in a gorgeous gown, and none other than Phillip pops his head out of one of the rooms in the hallway.
Kevin then asks if he can make a joke at his brother-in-law’s expense, revealing that the formerly indifferent co-worker is Kate’s future husband. Meanwhile, Kevin also compliments Randall on an article that calls him a “rising star,” vaguely hinting at success for the political Pearson. Needless to say, there’s a lot of change on the horizon, but it would also seem that happiness is as well with the show’s upcoming sixth and final season. Stay tuned.
This Is Us, Season 6, TBA, NBC