Don’t do it.
That’s all I kept thinking throughout this week’s episode of This Is Us, which was entitled “A Long Road Home.” I actually think I said it out loud a few times. Just please… don’t do it. Whether it was Kate (Chrissy Metz) traveling to San Diego to confront an ex that wasn’t worth her time or energy, or Kevin (Justin Hartley) contemplating pulling out of his commitment to what could be a life-changing role, I just wanted the Pearson siblings to be better. To do better. To focus on them and not worry about other people. Kevin, do that movie! Kate, move on and live your life with your insanely patient husband (Toby is approaching saint status at this point)!
Just… don’t do it.
I’m definitely sure I said it when watching the Randall (Sterling K. Brown) portion of the show. I’m positive I stood up a few times and motioned toward the screen for the R portion of R&B to get a hold of himself and use his thinking faculties. Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) almost owed me a Coke after we both, almost in sync, said aloud that Randall needed his therapist.
Listen, yes. There was another bomb dropped on Number Three this week, finally finding out something we’d known since before Thanksgiving, namely that his mother did in fact not die the day after his birth. What we all found out at the same time is that Laurel lived a much longer and fulfilled life, passing away at an old age in 2015.
It’s never difficult for me to put myself in Randall’s shoes. Honestly, sometimes it feels as if the writers are borrowing from my life story while crafting his. There have been a few times over the show’s five seasons that I’ve questioned what the writing room was doing with Randall’s character, wondering if they were going to lead him down a path that didn’t feel authentic for the sake of a storyline, or drama. Almost every time the drama lure turned out to be a red herring, and the storyline paid off in ways I could never imagine.
This time, with this storyline, I have to admit… they got me again. I was concerned. As someone who also never got to meet his birth mother, and was told later that she passed away at an older age than I’d ever imagined, I felt his anxiety. I too would’ve questioned whether William knew, and why he hadn’t told him when he had ample opportunity, even up to the moment when his face was in his hands just before he died. I know I would’ve went through the same range of emotions and would’ve done what I’d done my whole life: question everything.
But still, I said… Don’t do it. Don’t go down the path of blaming William for not telling you. Instead, use what you’ve been learning in therapy about coping mechanisms, and reasoning exercises, and coming to grips and dealing with all of the supposed rejection and misunderstanding and downright deception that’s underlined your existence. And then… understand that William, who had no reason to keep your mom from you, OR information about your mom, just wouldn’t do it. Realize that your birth father was so enamored with you, and your family–especially your girls and the relationship they had with their mom, your wife–he definitely would’ve moved mountains for you to feel that same connection with your mom. So while it may have seem like a natural inclination, I kept yelling at the screen, “Randall! Don’t do it!“
Thankfully, by the end of the episode, he’d reached out to his therapist, who encouraged him to be all-in on his discovery journey, and nervously reached out to the man that knew his birth mom (the “Hello, Hi” exchange on the phone was awkward Randall in all his glory… heh), who pretty much assured him that William wasn’t being deceitful. I guess, like Randall I’m going to have to trust that things will go the way they’re supposed to go. Duly noted.
Now, R&B will be headed to the city of rhythm and blues (and one of my faves), New Orleans, to continue this journey, retrace his mom’s steps, and get some much-needed answers. It will be yet another one of those This Is Us special episodes that they do so well.
Thank you, This Is Us writers, for Randall. For his story. For keeping it authentic.
For just… doing it.