Miguel has gotten a bad rap on This Is Us — viewers have known that Jack has been dead since basically the beginning of the show, and since Miguel is married to Rebecca in the present day, he’s seen as a usurper. He’s taken Jack’s place in the family, and everyone hates him (especially Kevin). Poor, poor Miguel. It’s particularly suspicious that Miguel and his wife were Jack and Rebecca’s best couple friends before it all went down, but the Oct. 31 episode of This Is Us let everyone in on the actual timeline of this marriage. On This Is Us, Rebecca and Miguel got together pretty late in life, so everyone can (probably) stop hating on Miguel.
Flashback to Halloween 2008 — Barack Obama is a week away from winning the presidency (oh, those were the days), and Randall’s first daughter, Tess, is about to be born. Beth is having Rebecca help with the baby, and while chatting, Rebecca asks Beth to help her set up this thing called a “Facebook” so she can see and share pictures of the baby. (Ah, 2008.) Really, though, it’s for Rebecca to talk to people, and it suddenly dawns on Beth that her mother-in-law is insanely lonely. Then, Tess is born!
When Randall finds Rebecca sobbing in the kitchen, he’s unsure if her tears are happy are sad, and she admits that they’re both. “That was one of the happiest moments of my life,” Rebecca tells Randall of her granddaughter’s birth. “But also, your dad isn’t here. And that’s just something I’m going to have to deal with for the rest of my life. The happiest moments will also be a little sad.”
Later, Rebecca posts a picture of baby Tess on her Facebook and — ping — gets a congratulatory message from their old friend Miguel. “Congrats on your first grandchild!” he says. “Hello from Houston — didn’t know you were on this! How’ve you been for the last eight years?”
A couple things pop out here — the first is that Miguel and the Pearsons have obviously lost contact because Miguel didn’t know that Beth was pregnant and Rebecca doesn’t seem to know that Miguel had moved to Texas. Why did these guys stop speaking to each other? It wouldn’t be off base to badume that Jack’s death drove Miguel and Rebecca apart instead of bringing them together — people formulate grief in different ways. Now, after eight years, Miguel thought it the right time to reach out, and it’s pretty nice. Miguel has always thought highly of Rebecca — he told Jack in the first season that Rebecca was a Grade-A wife — and maybe he thought a congratulatory message about Rebecca’s first grandkid was a perfect way in. (It was.)
But the fact that Rebecca and Miguel are reconnecting may not sit well with the kids, and considering how they treat Miguel in the present day, anything having to do with Jack is a touchy subject. Miguel will never be Jack, and everyone knows that. Miguel just wants to love the Pearsons, but since Miguel will always remind Kevin, Kate, and Randall of their father — he was there when the house burned down and possibly when Jack died — it will be a hard road for the Big Three dealing with Rebecca and Miguel’s reconnection.
But, Rebecca has spent so much time caring for her children (and now grandchildren) in the wake of her husband’s death that she forgot how to care for herself. Rebecca is lonely, and who better than a comforting voice from her past to provide some sort of relief from that? Rebecca lost her partner at a young age and had to figure it out from there, but her children are grown, her work is done, and she deserves to be happy.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2016, Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Jack, told audiences to keep an open mind about Miguel. “I know the road that we’re traveling on, and I know the destination, and I know all of that,” he said. “What I’ve been saying to everyone was, ‘Just wait’ I’m happy that people were slamming me with question marks, but at the same time, it’s a moment where I feel like as storytellers, all questions will be answered. You just gotta wait.” In a video for Variety, the cast badured that we’d “turn the corner” on Miguel.
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Miguel and Rebecca knew each other in their past lives, but their current marriage seems to have grown out of a need for companionship and probably a deep familiarity with each other. A Facebook invitation turned into love turned into a life together, and Rebecca’s family would do well to accept Miguel for what he is — the man who helped give their mother her own life back.