This Is Us

The ‘This Is Us’ Season 4, Episode 17 Promo Poses The Ultimate “What If” Scenario

by Ani Bundel

Since the series premiere of This Is Us, fans have obsessed over the story of Jack Pearson. They've wanted to know who he was, what his past was like, and how he died. There's also been a bit of fantasy going on at times, like at Kate and Toby's wedding. Rebecca had visions of Jack, now aged along with her, being there to see his Katy-girl get married. But the show has never fully delved into an alternate reality where Jack lived, until now. The This Is Us Season 4, Episode 17 promo promises fans that next week, the show is going to go there. Warning: Spoilers for This Is Us Season 4 follow.

The This Is Us Season 4 New York episode was a touching ode to Rebecca and her life-long sacrifices to her family. The story about NYC was really about Rebecca deferring her happiness for her husband and her children. Now, confronted with her own mortality and the sand slipping through the hourglass, she decided to choose herself.

Except Randall, who wanted her to defer her wants on the chance of a cure, couldn't handle his mother's decision. As the final moments of the episode showed, his refusal to accept his mother's wishes was rooted in the same inability to accept the choice his father made all those years ago to go back inside the house fire.

As next week's episode shows, Randall's spent his entire life with a meticulously constructed fantasy world riding around in his head. One where Jack's been alive all along.

The title for Season 4's penultimate episode is "After The Fire." Here's the synopsis:

Randall reflects on what could have been.

As for how this episode will play out, producer Isaac Aptaker told Entertainment Weekly this week would "dive into Randall’s psychology in an interesting way."

It launches one of our more out-there-conceptually episodes that we’ve ever done on the show. I don’t want to give too much away about it, but she starts probing into Randall’s psychology and what makes him tick in a really, really interesting way. It launches one of our more out-there-conceptually episodes that we’ve ever done on the show.

Speaking to TVLine, actor Sterling K. Brown, who plays Randall, also praised "After The Fire," saying, "I think it may be one of my favorite episodes we’ve shot in the past four years."

Can this episode live up to the hype? Will this be a Randall-only hour? Fans will find out next Tuesday.