This Is Us Season 5 premiered with a two-hour Pearson-fest. The double episode gave the show time to delve into all the family members' lives, from Kate and Toby's continuing struggle with adoption, Kevin and Madison's budding relationship, and Rebecca's declining mental health. But the real heart of the episode was Randall, who learned some things about himself while viewers learned even more. The double-whammy of him firing his therapist just as fans discovered his mother might be alive brought questions — namely: Will Randall's birth mom be his therapist on This Is Us? Not so fast, everyone.
Warning: Spoilers for This Is Us Season 5 follow. Randall's journey over the two-hour premiere could be considered something of an awakening. His fallout with Kevin, who accused him of somehow being an interloper, had forced a distance on him from the rest of the group. Coupled with his therapy appointments and his experience with the police brutality protests and Black Lives Matter marches, his recent life events have helped him see the racial dynamics within his upbringing clearer.
All of this leads to the decision to fire his current therapist. As much progress that he made with her, he realized there was only so far he could go wearing the suit of emotional armor he developed from his childhood.
It's not surprising fans immediately put this development together with the show's big twist: that Randall's mother may still be alive. For many fans on Twitter and Reddit, it seemed clear that the next therapist he hires will be his birth mother. I imagine the thought process for that was something like: How else is he going to meet a random elderly Black woman who will suddenly become important to him?
However, the This Is Us writers were not having it, and they nixed the theory pretty much on the spot, tweeting:
So, if it's not going to be a serendipitous meeting over Randall's mental health, how will he learn of Laurel's existence? According to showrunner Dan Fogelman, it's not going to be in a way anyone expects.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Fogelman explained that he could not even really tease it properly:
I can't hint a lot, other than to say there's no way to guess it. And not because it's, like, crazy. It's just so specific that if somebody guessed, it would mean that they're a psychic.
That said, Fogelman did admit Randall's position on the Philadelphia City Council might be a factor. After all, it elevates his profile. Should, say, The Philadelphia Inquirer (or more likely The Philadelphia Tribune) was to run a story on him, in which he shares his background and his father's story, Laurel might see it and recognize her son.
Of course, I'm not a psychic, so I guess that can't be the answer. But fans won't have to wait long to learn the truth. Fogelman promised answers are coming in the first half of Season 5.
This Is Us Season 5 returns Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.