This Is Us loves to gives its viewers new mysteries to ponder (just tell us how Jack died, already!), and it looks like we have a new one that is going to drive Randall Pearson's story for the second half of Season 2. At the end of the midseason finale, Randall's daughter Tess stowed away in Kevin's car in an attempt to run away from home. Given all the messed up stuff going on with Kevin, Randall and Beth haven't really given much thought to why Tess wanted out of the house, but it's a big question: Why did Tess run away on This Is Us, and how will that change things up in the Pearson family? Tuesday night's new episode may have offered up some answers. Spoiler alert: Don't read on if you haven't watch Season 2 Episode 11 of This Is Us, "The Fifth Wheel."
Obviously, with the fallout from Kevin getting arrested for driving drunk with Tess in the back seat of his car, the midseason premiere focused most largely on Kevin and his court-mandated therapy, but Tess does come up a couple times. Viewers will remember that Tess told Kevin she hated her home right before he got pulled over by the cops, but she did not tell her parents how upset she was when they asked why she stowed away in Kevin's car in the new episode. Instead, Tess tried to smooth things over in her brief chat, which worked since Randall and Beth seemed much more concerned with preparing for Kevin's family therapy session.
And it may very well be this quick dismissal of her by her parents that caused Tess to want to run away in the first place. After a fiery back and forth in their family therapy session, Kevin tells Randall that Tess probably ran away because there isn't any stability in that house, pointing out how Randall invited his estranged father to live with him, and then welcomed in a foster child right after his dad died. It would make sense that Tess might feel overlooked and devalued after continually seeing her father focus his love and energy on new people that he invited to live with them. I mean, if you think about the past season and a half of the This Is Us, Tess and Annie are barely even in the show because Randall is always more focused on someone else.
Sterling K. Brown seemed to confirm in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that it is this lack of stability in Randall's home that is causing Tess to get upset. He said that Tess is fed up with her father's constantly shifting routine:
There’s been a lot of things happening — new people introduced, et cetera. The only thing that’s constant in life is change, but for children, stability is incredibly stabilizing, for lack of a better word. Routine gives us comfort, and Randall is constantly shifting routine on his daughters, especially his older daughter, who’s conscious to it. At a certain age, we’re pretty good at going with the flow, and then at a certain point we’re like, ‘All right, now I’m ready for things to just kind of remain the same.’ I think Tess is in that place where she’s like, ‘Alright, can we just have something stay the same, for a little while, please? Without you dealing with something else?’ I think it’s of that nature.
So Randall may now know the reason his daughter isn't happy at home, but he has yet to actually address it. It will be tricky, considering that we saw Beth and Randall talking about possibly fostering another child after saying goodbye to Deja, which sounds like something that is the polar opposite of what Tess wants right now. Be sure to watch this growing tension between Tess and Randall closely as the season continues!