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This Is Us’ Mandy Moore Explains Special Meaning Behind Rebecca’s Song At Kate’s Wedding

Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson on This Is Us.
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoiler alert! This story contains spoilers for the Season 6 episode of This Is Us, “Day of the Wedding.”

Kate’s (second) wedding day has finally arrived! After being shocked out of our socks in This Is Us’ Season 5 finale, when we learned that Kate was getting remarried — to Phillip of all people — and after the previous episode showed us how they got there, “Day of the Wedding” finally saw the Pearsons live that fateful day. Kate and Phillip did say, “I do,” but the even bigger talking point of the episode was Rebecca’s declining health. When she took the stage to sing at the reception, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house (mine included), and Mandy Moore explained why the song was even more meaningful than fans might have realized.

It wasn’t a given that Rebecca was even going to be able to perform the song she’d practiced with Phillip for a year prior. Traveling to the wedding and being taken out of her daily routine proved to worsen the effects of Rebecca’s Alzheimer’s, and she slipped in and out of lucidity, consistently confusing Kevin for her late husband Jack. When she started to play, however, and found her key, the tune was surprisingly familiar! The special song Kate had teased the whole episode turned out to be the show’s closing theme music, and Mandy Moore told People that was, of course, always the showrunner’s plan:

It's my understanding that Dan [Fogelman] always had the idea for the song to come around in a more fully realized form.

It’s not really surprising that Dan Fogelman continues to have surprises up his sleeve, even with just a handful of episodes remaining in the series. Listening to the lyrics – which included sentiments like, “They say time will tell, but I think it likes to keep secrets; So we’ll wait and see; But it’s just as well, the years can be counted in seconds” – I had to wonder: was the song sad because the lyrics were sad, or was it sad because we typically associate that music with what’s playing as we’re sobbing into our pillows at the end of each episode? I’m thinking both. 

The familiar melody wasn’t where the song’s special meaning ended, though. Mandy Moore had an especially personal connection, and Rebecca’s ability to perform it spoke to what the actress said she's learned about dementia and Alzheimer’s in researching for her performance:

My husband [Taylor Goldsmith] and our show's composer Sidd Khosla wrote the song — as they have with several songs over the course of the series — which made it even more meaningful. I conferred with a neurologist who has helped me and the writers make sure we are as authentic as possible with the details. I discovered that, oftentimes, if someone suffering from dementia has done something repetitively in the past, as Rebecca has with playing music, then their cognitive reserve makes that same skill available to them, even years into a diagnosis.

It was a great moment, as Mandy Moore continues to blow us away this season. I was, however, just a little disappointed we didn’t get to see Phillip go full Titanic with “My Heart Will Go On” — which had been his plan to distract the partygoers if Rebecca started to struggle on stage. Maybe that could still come to fruition, as in next week’s episode we’ll dive deeper into Kevin’s wedding weekend dalliances. Madison and Beth were on the case in “Day of the Wedding” to find out if Kevin had slept with Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge), Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison), or the wedding singer (Katie Lowes of Scandal and Inventing Anna, whose character was introduced in this episode). 

The countdown is officially on, with five episodes remaining. This Is Us’ final chapter continues at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 26 on NBC. As this one wraps up, check out our 2022 TV schedule to see what shows are premiering soon.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.