Randall unpacked a lot about his residual resentment on This Is Us.
“After the Fire” was his way of imagining what would have happened if he could save his father from the fire. Initially, it seemed like a great way to insert Milo Ventimiglia into the present-day storyline and have him interact with the adult Big Three, but it quickly became evident that Randall had a lot to work through in his personal life and this wasn’t going to be a peachy episode in the slightest.
The episode explored the best-case and worst-case scenarios of Randall’s survival while arriving at the idea that so many little things could have been different had Jack survived.
In the best-case scenario, Jack doesn’t go back into the burning house. A fireman still saves the dog, Louis, which irritated me because it made it seem like Jack’s sacrifice was for naught.
Rebecca immediately tells Jack that she lied about knowing Randall’s birth father, so Jack takes Randall to meet William Hill prior to going to college. The two hit it off despite Jack wanting Randall to err on the side of caution since William is still an addict. “So are you,” Randall tells Jack, which forces him to come to terms with reality. The commonality bonds William and Jack as they attend AA meetings together and William becomes engrained in the family.
Despite Jack’s survival and William’s existence in his life earlier in time, nothing much changes in Randall’s life. He still attends Howard, he meets and marries Beth, he has three girls, he catches William’s cancer early on and saves his life, he becomes councilman (since Thanksgiving is in their new home), and he and Jack team up to help Rebecca navigate her early-onset Alzheimer’s.
There’s nothing wrong with daydreaming about what could have been with rose-colored glasses, but when you come to a therapist to work through your issues, you’re kind of asking (and paying) to be pushed out of your comfort zone.
Chances are that if Jack survived, Randall’s life would have been totally different.
Meeting William at a younger age prior to college would have affected their relationship and how they connected, and it had the capacity to destroy the family that made him one of their own.
So, the therapist asks Randall to think about his worst-case scenario with Jack’s survival — the thing he’s most afraid of.
In both cases, Rebecca tells Jack the truth about William, but this time, Jack isn’t so forgiving. He’s absolutely repulsed by Rebecca’s actions and it drives him to drink for much of his life, though, he never falls off the wagon and his relationship with Randall is never threatened, so it does seem like that’s still erring on the side of caution.
However, as we learn, this was never about Jack, so it doesn’t really matter what his relationship with Randall is.
The two visit William, who denies having a son and basically closes the door on Randall and Jack, which triggers Randall and sets a precedent for his life.
He goes to Howard earlier and joins a frat and changes up his style instead of becoming the bookworm we know and love. This means he never meets Beth, he doesn’t have his own family, he becomes the unreliable “Kevin” of the family, and he teaches English while sleeping with his students (okay, TA’s, but still, it’s weird).
Credit: This Is Us/NBC
The resentment he harbors for Rebecca and her decision to keep his birth father from him shapes his whole life and forces him to lose touch with his family. The Big Three is a big pile of nothing at this point and it’s sad to watch.
Instead of his rehearsal dinner, Jack gives a toast at Kevin’s wedding to Sophie. Jack’s survival even influences the siblings as Kevin doesn’t pursue acting but stays behind to run the family business with his dad. Meanwhile, Kate gets married to some guy named Ethan and has two daughters.
It’s different that’s for sure, but it’s not better.
Randall’s therapist then brings up a good point — despite the emphasis being on both of his father’s and their survival, the therapy session was actually rooted in his feelings towards his mother, Rebecca.
As I mentioned previously, both times, Jack’s survival leads to Rebecca’s coming clean about keeping William a secret from Randall.
His whole life, he’s been defined by her betrayal and keeping him away from his birth father. Randall argues that he’s forgiven Rebecca as the therapist asks, “have you.”
Randall’s motivations for constantly wondering “what if” seems to be hinged on the idea that if he tried hard enough, he could’ve changed the outcome of both Jack and William’s fate, regardless of how that would have changed his life.
It boils down to him not willing to accept that he cannot try to save his mother, and he can’t afford to lose yet another parent.
He’s not willing to open up the wound about William with Rebecca, but he thinks that emotional blackmail is the better option.
It gets tricky for me here because I’ve never had anything against Randall yet, I felt so triggered by his phone call to Rebecca that I almost wish he did just bring up how much her lie hurt him over the years and how he’s held onto it despite pretending that he was fine.
“I was a good son,” Randall tells his mother over the phone, which is true. He has been a great son, one who has sacrificed a lot to take care of her, but being a good son doesn’t allow you to make impossible asks of your mother or guilt her into doing something she doesn’t want to do.
It’s also a selfish ask. Randall approaches it as “losing another parent would break me,” which yes, of course, it would Randall. Losing a parent isn’t easy and regardless, if you’ve lost one or three, it never gets easier.
Randall thinks the world has it out against him because he’s on track to lose a third parent instead of realizing how blessed he is that he had three parents.
Some people don’t even get to have one parent let alone three who have molded him into the man he is today. Randall needs to be reminded of his blessings rather than seeing them as a curse.
Randall loves his mother and wants the best for her, that’s clear, it’s also clear that his heart is in the right place, but he needs to let her make her own decisions even if it hurts him. He needs to allow Rebecca, a grown woman who only ever sacrificed for the happiness of her family and children, to make this one decision for herself. Doesn’t she at least deserve that?
Her whole life has been about giving things up, making sacrifices, and picking up the pieces, which Randall helped with, but he also got to live this whole life because of it.
He learned absolutely nothing from his therapy session because, in the end, he still needed to control the situation.
His fear of failure is clouding his judgment, but what happens when the trial doesn’t work? His mother will eventually die and then the breakdown he’s been postponing ensues. It would be better if he worked through his inability to let go ahead of time while making some good, more-aware memories with his mom without the guilt of not being able to save his dad’s.
Randall could gear so much of his resentment towards his other two parents, yet it’s always Rebecca that gets the brunt of it from all of her children. I feel for her, but I hope she gets to make the choice she thinks is best here.
If it means that Kevin needs to interfere and strain relations with Randall than so be it. Kevin may not have always been by his mother’s side, but it seems silly and selfish to fault him for being a young adult, pursuing his dreams, and living his own life. He never abandoned Rebecca or stopped loving her, he simply lived his own life.
Kevin also hasn’t been perfect, but when it comes to learning life lessons, and I really mean learning them, he’s been the most advanced character who has grown and matured into a really great and reliable man who is able to put his needs aside and respect his mother’s wishes. It was so beautiful to just watch him give Rebecca the time to figure out what she wants and acknowledge that she just wants to be happy in her final moments. Kevin’s not plagued by his past because he’s lived the life he always wanted and regretted none of it. Even when his decisions were less-than, he owned them because they were his.
Seeing this session pan out, it’s clear why Kate and Kevin have distanced themselves from Randall come their 40th birthday. He loves to lift himself up while putting them down and at some point, it just isn’t fair.
From the flash-forward scenes, we know that Randall either doesn’t get his way or the trial doesn’t work for Rebecca, but it does drive a wedge between the family, and that’s unfortunate but understandable.
Could it be the reason his relationship with Beth is strained in the future also?
The season finale is next week and we’ll likely get all the answers we’ve been searching for. The teaser shows the birth of Jack Damon’s child, an explosive fight between Kevin and Randall, and you know we’ll find out who Kevin’s baby momma is!
Lizzy Buczak is the founder of CraveYouTV. What started off as a silly blog in her sophomore year at Columbia College Chicago turned her passion for watching TV into an opportunity! She has been in charge of CraveYou since 2011, writing reviews and news content for a wide variety of shows.
Lizzy is a Music Business and Journalism major who has written for RADIO.COM, TV Fanatic, Time Out Chicago, Innerview, Pop’stache and Family Time.
They’ll help fill the void and guarantee an ugly-cry or two. Sometimes, a good cry is just necessary!
Before there was This Is Us, there was Parenthood. If you love This Is Us because of how much the Pearson family loves each other and enjoy a good cry then I suggest you meet the Bravermans. This family will leave you teary-eyed within five minutes of watching. You’ll immediately start connecting with the characters and seeing parts of your own family in them. And if you need more convincing, it stars Lauren Graham who plays Lorelai Gilmore on the hit, Gilmore Girls.
2. Chasing Life
Just the premise of the show makes us want to cry: a 20-something-year-old aspiring journalist finds her world is turned upside down when she is diagnosed with cancer. And while cancer in itself is always depressing, the beauty of the series is in how April Carver handles the diagnosis, battles the illness with determination and grace, and finds the will to live when it would be understandable for her to give up. Not to mention she has a good group of gals by her side!
3. One Tree Hill
What started as a story about two small-town step-brothers fighting over a spot on the high-school basketball team grew into a tearjerking drama filled with life lessons, suspenseful twists, betrayals, lifelong friendships and an emphasis on the importance of family. As longtime fans know, there is only one tree hill and it’s your home.
4. Gilmore Girls
Since we’re on the topic, we have to include Gilmore Girls on this list. If by some chance you haven’t gotten sucked in by the mother-daughter dynamic between Lorelai and Rory or by the small town charm, you need to run to Stars Hollow ASAP. Their swift dialogue and close relationship makes us want to be friends with them. It’s actually the reason Netflix revived the show years later. Plus, this is the birthplace of our love for Milo Ventimiglia, who played bad boy Jess, and our coffee addiction.
5. Friday Night Lights
Even if football isn’t your thing, you’ll still be captivated by the high school football team at the heart of the show. There’s definitely a camaraderie around sports, especially in a small town that obsesses over the local team. You’ll get glossy-eyed as these characters deal with family hardships, failure, first love, grief and the realization that the glory of being a high school jock isn’t forever.
6. The Fosters
Freeform shows are good at two things — uniting people and making them cry. Two moms, Stef and Lena, raise a non-traditional family; some biological children, some adoptive and some fosters who have been damaged by the system. With such a mix, the painful storylines are aplenty and emotional struggles and societal issues are at the forefront.
This isn’t the news This Is Us fans were hoping for.
Jon Huertas, who plays Miguel on the NBC drama, revealed that production on the series may be delayed until January 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“I was just on the phone with [creator] Dan Fogelman, and we were talking about, you know, we may not go into production until January, depending on whether or not there’s a second wave,” he said in a conversation with Gov. Gavin Newsom and other industry leaders, per The Wrap.
The video-streamed call occurred as officials brainstorm plans to release guidelines for filming in a post-coronavirus world. Guidelines will be revealed next Monday and will likely adopt the protocols implemented in South Korea, Sweden, and Iceland, according to Variety.
“When we talk about the protocols and the guidelines that we may be following when we go back into production, it’s really kind of daunting to all of us. The actors, we talk all the time. We have a crew of 200-300 people who work in close proximity. We consider ourselves a family. As much as we would like to get back online, we are very much concerned about our crew,” Huertas revealed.
Of course, if production is pushed to the beginning of 2021, it means that the tearjerking family drama won’t return as part of the fall 2020-2021 TV lineup, and is likely to premiere either in the spring of 2021 or even be pushed to the fall of 2021.
FOX and The CW have both released fall 2020 lineup’s that have bypassed most of their scripted dramas, which are all set to return in 2021.
Some may say that there’s nothing to it, it was just a way to introduce a character, but avid watchers of This Is Us know that’s absolutely false.
There has to be some bigger meaning and connection that simply hasn’t been revealed yet. Plus, they wouldn’t give us so much insight into Sadie being a horse-whisperer unless it was relevant.
Check them some of favorite theories about who Dr. Mason might be below and let us know if you have any ideas:
Theory #1: It’s Dr. Katowsky’s Son/Grandchild/ Relative
It cannot be a coincidence that Dr. K was heavily featured in this episode talking about his own loss of a child, right?
There’s a huge probability that Madison’s OB-GYN, Dr. Mason, is Dr. K’s son aka the child that he and his wife had after the first miscarriage. *a fan pointed out that child was a daughter, but Dr. K had other children. Someone pointed out that those children would be older and that he once mentioned having grandchildren, so it’s possible Dr. Mason is related in some way.
The doc seemed to have a knack for giving some really great advice just like Dr. K. He told Madison not to write off Kevin before she even talked to him and told him about the pregnancy, which led to Kevin being “all in” with the twins. There may be proof of this Dr. K and Mason are related because in the very first scene he tells Sadie that her horse is “is just a lemon.” And we know Dr. K loved his lemon metaphor.
Theory #2: Someone Like Dr. K
Considering Dr. Mason gave great advice just like Dr. K, many fans believe he’s going to be a huge part of Kevin and Madison’s pregnancy journey. He might be the one that they turn to for advice, guidance, and assurance just like Kevin’s parents did with Dr. K after he delivered Kevin and Kate. It would be a sweet way of bringing things full-circle. And hey, this still allows the Dr. Mason to be Dr. K’s son. Dr. Mason might be Kevin and Madison’s person.
Credit: NBC/ This Is Us
Theory #3: Dr. Mason is Kyle
Okay, this theory is kind of wild and if This Is Us was a thriller drama/ telenovela rather than an inspirational, heartwarming family drama, we might consider it to be true, but sadly, we don’t think it is. That being said, we’re including it because it’s fun to imagine “what if.”
What if Dr. K was so desperate for a son that he stole one of Rebecca and Jack’s children instead. Imagine if Kyle never died but was taken and raised to be Dr. Mason, who reunites with his biological family, the Pearsons, years later by sheer coincidence when Madison walks into his office pregnant with Kevin’s twins. Again, if This Is Us was that kind of show, which it isn’t, this would be an incredible plot twist.
However, Dr. Mason seems older than Kevin, Randall, and Kate, plus, I wouldn’t want anything to tarnish the sweet, innocent Dr. K, who is a gem in this world.
Theory 4: Sadie Needed to Give the Doc Advice
Maybe Sadie and Dr. Mason were only necessary so she could give her dad that he then gave Madison about Kevin: “Little early to give up on him, don’t you think? You haven’t even give him a chance to be himself yet.” Sadie is a horse and Kevin whisperer.
Theory #5: He’s Madison Future Husband
Madison knows she’s not Kevin’s great love story, and she’s fine with it. Maybe through all of this, she falls in love with the doc and Sadie becomes her step-daughter. There’s no confirmation that Madison becomes Kevin’s wife simply because she’s carrying his children, so it’s entirely possible they both move on while being connected by their twins.
Showrunner Dave Fogel told Deadline that Dr. Mason will 100% become instrumental next season: “The doctor becomes an important character next season to Kevin – he’s having twins with a virtual stranger, not a normal birth experience. It’s no coincidence he was introduced in the same episode that Dr. K returned.”