There are so many things that can be said about this past week’s episode of This Is Us. So many words that could be written about how one episode of television can break and win your heart at the same time. How frustrating it is that we didn’t get even more of John Huertas, who played Miguel Rivas on the series, over its six seasons. How everything on this show–this great, brilliant show–tracks back to relationships between fathers and their sons and mothers and their daughters. “Miguel” finally gave us the backstory of one of the most underappreciated characters on television, and gave us more insight into how a man wound up married to his deceased best friend’s wife.
It was another masterclass of television put on by the show’s writers and creator Dan Fogelman, with the words coming in a close second to Huertas’ performance for MVP of the night. There were four quotes, four lines of dialogue, four gems that were dropped during the 43-minute love letter that stood out for me. I tweeted them in real time as I watched, and they’ve stuck with me every time I rewatched (I’m up to five times already. Whew.). Here they are below–four lines, and reasons, why “Miguel” will be considered a classic episode of a classic series.
I’m really going to miss this show. Goodness.
“Love is giving your heart without expectation.”
It was more than enough to get to your heart when Miguel’s mother uttered those words when describing why and how she was able to care for her sister, who suffered a massive stroke at 24, for so many years. But to have Miguel repeat those words as part of his vows when he married Rebecca? Listen… there were thug tears. For real.
“If I’m being honest, the first time I ever felt homesick in my life is when I left you standing on that porch.”
The entire episode was leading up to this conversation, one that Miguel awkwardly started by thanking Rebecca for coming to dinner. It’s the nervousness that’s usually reserved for first dates between strangers, but here was Miguel, at his big age, with someone he’d known for more than two decades, fumbling before getting it together. And man did he ever!
“…his two favorite people who he once left alone in a bar until they became friends…”
Sooooo… the dinner went well. Rebecca and Miguel ended up between the sheets (in an Isley Brothers kind of way, of course) and were officially together. But then came the awkward part. Telling the kids? Nope. That would prove to be a mess for sure but it wasn’t at the top of the list. What made it to number one was finally talking about Jack, the near-perfect, now deceased elephant in the room. It’s a subject they avoided for years, much like Republicans avoid using tact. When Miguel brought it up, Rebecca assured him that he would be OK with them. Because they were his two favorite people in the world. Agreed.
“I don’t know. But that’s a good question. Ask me again later…”
So, there’s probably another line of dialogue I could put before this one, like when Miguel and his father briefly smiled at each other and recited a line he’d told him since he was young. And then there’s the dialogue between Miguel and the Big Three as they confronted and then comforted him while addressing the need for care for both him and Rebecca. I teared up, for sure.
But this one is more poignant. This one, which happened while Jack was outside “checking out Miguel’s new car and NOT giving his two favorite people a chance to bond” *wink*, was the final lines spoken in the episode. Miguel said them in Spanish, and then translated them for Rebecca. It was honest, especially since he was still all screwed up after being forced to the states from Puerto Rico as a kid, and then assimilating, and doing well for himself, and still not knowing where he fit. What was next for him. Who he was.
This line of dialogue was perfect, from the heart. Not a sales pitch from a person who had become a great salesperson. It also proved to be prophetic. A foreshadowing. It was definitely the sweetest thing. What a man. What an episode. What a series.