After waiting six seasons, Miguel finally stepped into the spotlight on This Is Us. Hopefully, tissues were nearby.
This Is Us Season 6 Episode 15 Recap: “Miguel”
Every television show has an unsung hero. It’s the supporting character who’s perfect in their role, but when called upon to be in the spotlight, they deliver. On The Office, it was Kevin Malone. On Ted Lasso, it’s Higgins. On This Is Us, it’s Miguel. It’s always been, Miguel.
The episode starts with Miguel’s childhood in Puerto Rico. Led by Miguel’s father, the entire Rivas family moves to Pennsylvania. Miguel’s father finds work as a landscaper. When a young Miguel uses the bathroom in one of the homes, he stumbles upon the owner of the home and discusses Roberto Clemente and the Pittsburgh Pirates. When Miguel says he’ll sit anywhere in the stadium to watch Clemente, the man stresses that where you sit is all that matters, a lesson that stuck with Miguel for the entirety of his life.
We skip ahead to Miguel’s early days as an adult. Miguel lands the construction job because he changes his name to “Mike Rivers”. After all, “Miguel Rivas” never received a callback. On Christmas Eve, Miguel spars with his father over the choices in his life: a new car, straighter hair, and his willingness to pay for a nurse for his aunt. His father expresses his disappointment in Miguel, feeling as if he’s forgotten where he came from. An upset Miguel leaves in tears.
Miguel heads to the bar to meet Jack and Rebecca. Weirdly enough, Rebecca is not too kind to Miguel. Being the good guy that he is, Jack forces Miguel and Rebecca to talk and settle their differences. Future scenes at the bar highlight their budding friendship as well as Miguel’s courtship of his wife, Shelly, which unfortunately ends in divorce as their two kids witness the turmoil in their failed marriage.
Miguel tries to do the right thing and moves to Houston to be closer to his kids even if that means leaving behind a heartbroken Rebecca. After his father dies, Miguel admits to his mother that he’s lost in life. His mother reassures Miguel that he will find love soon enough. Lo and behold, that love is Rebecca, who he reconnects with on Facebook in 2008. When the two friends meet up, their connection is seamless. They kiss, make love, and begin a relationship together in Pittsburgh. At this point, I bet most fans gave a fist pump to celebrate this new union. You know who didn’t approve of this relationship? A twentysomething Kevin, who voiced his displeasure on Thanksgiving at the cabin.
That concludes the happier part of the recap. Now, it’s time to go to the present where things become much sadder. Well, it’s bittersweet, but sad nonetheless as Rebecca’s Alzheimer’s worsens. Miguel borrows Jack’s Super Dad cape, and cares for Rebecca 24/7. Miguel is the first thing she sees in the morning and the last thing she sees at night. Between physical therapy, medicine consumption, and memory exercises, Miguel starts to wear down both physically and mentally, culminating with a bruised lower body after slipping on ice. Jack would be proud of Miguel. That’s for damn sure.
Thankfully, the Big Three step in and give Miguel the break that he so desperately deserves. They hire full-time care for Rebecca, which allows Miguel to receive the necessary treatment he needs both physically and mentally.
Cue Billy Joel. Let’s get sad.
The final montage covers Miguel’s final years. His health begins to deteriorate despite stepping back as Rebecca’s primary caregiver. His heart weakens along with the rest of the body. The writing is on the wall. Knowing Miguel’s time is limited, Kevin visits Miguel’s son, informing him about his dad’s illness. It’s here where Kevin finally sympathizes with Miguel and appreciates what he did for his entire family after Jack’s death. Kevin urges Miguel’s son to make things right with Miguel while he still has the chance. Thankfully, Miguel’s son listens to Kevin’s advice and spends time with his dying father.
I wrote this at the end of my recap last week. I was right. Sadly, Miguel dies. His ashes are spread at his two homes: Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico.
When the show finally ends at the end of the month, “Miguel” could crack the Top 10 list for best This Is Us episodes. Though not as good as “Memphis,” the best episode in the series, “Miguel” finally gave an unselfish character the tribute he so desperately deserved. “Miguel” reminded viewers like me that This Is Us can still reach back and throw a 99mph fastball. Go be with Jack, Miguel. Here’s to the final three episodes.
What are your thoughts on this episode? Tweet me, at @danny_giro.