This Is Us returned to NBC on Tuesday night with a two-hour season five premiere, but one major twist definitely took viewers by surprise.
The episode showed Randall Pearson, who is played by Sterling K. Brown, spending nearly the entire episode having an identity crisis. At this point in the series, Randall and the rest of his family are barely speaking because of his fight with Kevin.
This Is Us showrunners also incorporated the recent black lives movement into the episode and showed Randall’s reaction to the devastating passing of George Floyd, which is something he realizes that white mother and siblings will never understand.
In the episode, Randall is celebrating his 40th birthday which is triggering for him because he realizes this day might not even be his actual birthday since he was left at a fire station as a newborn.
A major twist happened in Randall’s storyline when flashbacks followed his birth parents William and Laurel in the days leading up to Randall’s birth and the moments that followed that led to him be dropped at the fire station. For years William had assumed Laurel passed due to her struggles with narcotics, but the episode reveals she is actually still alive.
This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman opened up about Randall’s identity struggles in a recent press conference. “I think for Randall, for that character, until he can get some answers there, and some kind of closure, it will be a final step in him coming to terms with some of his own questions about his identity,” Fogelman said.
“It’s something if you look back on the series that we’ve kind of always [layered] in, talk of ‘Where’s your mother? Why is your mother birth mother not a part of this narrative of your life? She’s this character who died in childbirth and you’ve never really looked into it.’ So this first half of the season is our opportunity to do this and it kind of sticks with a plan of the when and the how and the why in terms of Randall’s big picture arc.”
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.