*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
Although it looked like This Is Us season four, episode ten might just end on a happy note, a quick shot of Randall (Sterling K. Brown) facing a man with a knife in his kitchen spoiled all that. Now, the episode 11 teaser is making us wonder if that scene was real or imagined.
Let’s back up a bit: Having just gotten home from Los Angeles, where he learned his mother Rebecca (Mandy Moore) has “mild cognitive impairment,” Randall kissed Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and went downstairs to get a glass of water before bed. He’s been under a great deal of stress because of Rebecca’s health and his new job as a city councilman. To add to that, Rebecca asked him not to tell his siblings about her memory loss, so he’s holding it all in. We know that Randall struggles with debilitating anxiety, so when we heard his quick, strained breathing before we saw the man with a knife, we figured he must be having an anxiety attack. Nope. Instead, Randall tells the man, “You will not get past me” and the screen fades to black.
Sure, it could be a terrifying, albeit run-of-the-mill home invasion, but the episode 11 teaser (above) makes us think that may not be the case. We get another glimpse of the man with a knife, but he’s followed by flashbacks of Randall telling Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) that he’s scared of monsters and having vivid dreams that feel real. Next, we see an unknown hand brushing against Beth’s back and Randall screaming.
Because of the news that Randall received about Rebecca and the emotional and stress-related burdens he already has, it could be that he’s having night terrors again. The man, of course, could symbolize someone or something endangering his family and his way of life in a literal sense. Randall obviously feels out of control, a feeling he doesn’t enjoy, so it’s not too far of a stretch.
Brown also said during a Television Critics Association panel that the backend of season four will delve into his character’s mental health and how he cares and doesn’t care for himself.
So, is Randall’s worst nightmare real or imagined?
We’ll have to wait and find out when This Is Us returns with episode 11 (the first in a Big Three trilogy) on Tuesday, January 21, at 9 p.m. PT/ET on NBC.