When it comes to This Is Us, there are truths fans hold to be self-evident. Kevin and Kate are emotional disasters, stemming from their father's untimely, traumatic death. Kevin's problem manifests in substance abuse and bad choices in women. Kate has relationship issues of her own, with both food and people. Randall, on the other hand, is heroically well-adjusted, with a wife, a family, and the American dream life. But the series just turned all that inside out. Fans are left wondering if a new theory about Randall and Rebecca is the key to the Pearson family blowup coming in the Season 4 finale. Warning: Spoilers for This Is Us Season 4 follow.
The ending to Episode 16, "New York, New York, New York" was downright shocking to longtime fans of Randall. Up until now, he had come across as the level-headed one of the Pearson triplets. His drive to get their mother, Rebecca, into a clinical trial to help delay her descent into Alzheimer's was typical. He's done the research; he has the facts. He wants his siblings on board to help convince Rebecca this is the best path.
But when Rebecca decided she didn't want to do that, Randall's reaction was appalling. Rather than respect his mother's wishes and understand her point of view, he denied she was a person with agency or had the right to choose her life.
Kevin was sent reeling as he discovered his brother was not just enraged at Rebecca's choice. He still harbored a fantasy that he could have somehow made their late father choose a different path too, and live.
Suddenly, the tables all flipped over. Kate and Kevin were the ones who had found their way to becoming well-adjusted, able to respect their mother's wishes. Meanwhile, Randall was behaving monstrously, denying that his mother has any right to choose her destiny.
It also throws a wrench into what caused the rift in the Pearson siblings' relationship at the beginning of Season 5. Up until now, the theories had mainly hinged on Kevin being the one to instigate the break-up. Not that he wouldn't have a good reason, Randall treats Kevin like he's still a flake, even after all these years. But the assumption has been it's Kevin who will throw a tantrum and declare their relationship over, not Randall.
No one imagined that this time out between the triplets might be due to Randall's treatment of Rebecca. Could it be Randall who calls off their relationship because his siblings insist ton respecting their mother as a person? Perhaps Kate and Kevin are doing what they have to do to protect Rebecca until Randall gets his head right. If so, there may be a whole lot more therapy for Randall Pearson come next season.