‘This Is Us’ Season 4, Episode 11 Recap: Randall Pearson Is Not OK
Last week on This Is Us, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) learned that Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) memory-loss condition is cause for concern. When he returned home, he found a man with a knife in his living room. Meanwhile, Kevin (Justin Hartley) fell for a married woman and received a text from Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) that will definitely stir things up. Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) confronted their marital issues and Toby admitted another woman kissed him. (Ouch.)
In season four, episode 11, we get a glimpse into Randall’s struggle with anxiety, leading us to wonder, is the man with the knife real? Let’s find out.
1. The Past
We flashback to one of Rebecca’s birthdays. Randall (Niles Fitch) is in college and Rebecca has just re-entered the workforce. He’s trying to fix her appliances when she notices he’s uncharacteristically sluggish. He admits he’s been having weird dreams, but he doesn’t go into detail.
Back at school, Randall and Beth (Rachel Hilson) are studying and he asks her to stay over because he’s having trouble sleeping. While they slumber, we see Randall dreaming about a family dinner where his mom and siblings all believe Jack (Milo Ventimigia) is still alive. Beth wakes him, as he’s been yelling in his sleep. So, he tells Beth about how helpless and out of control he feels in the dreams and she comforts him, saying she had the worst dreams after her dad died. She suggests he see a counselor or enters a grief group, but he’s resistant.
The next night, as Randall and Beth prepare to go to Rebecca’s birthday dinner, he receives a call from Kevin saying that the event is cancelled because something happened with Kate. The family will be there shortly to pick him up and Kevin will explain later. We’re left to wonder what could have transpired.
2. The Present
Randall, thankfully, scares the man with the knife off (yep, it turns out he’s real), but the rest of the family is definitely spooked. Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) tries to reassure the girls that nothing bad will happen to them and Tess (Eris Baker) tells Annie (Faithe Herman) that Randall scared him away with his bad jokes. Still, Randall is not convinced that they’re home free and asks Beth to take the girls and stay in a hotel. Meanwhile, he’ll stay in the house until the window gets fixed and he’s sure they’re all safe.
Even though Randall is being the big strong man of the family, he’s definitely dealing with some post-traumatic stress. When a noise wakes him up, he texts Kevin to see if he’s awake. In fact, Kevin is and, of all places, he’s in Pennsylvania to attend Sophie’s mom’s funeral. Randall tells him about the break-in, accidentally mentioning that he just got home from the airport (remember, Kevin doesn’t know about Rebecca’s memory loss). Concerned, Kevin tells Randall he’s more than happy to keep him company over the phone if it’s helpful, but Randall says he’ll be fine.
The next day, Randall goes into the office and Jae-won (Tim Jo) encourages him to reschedule the Town Hall he has coming up. Randall clearly hasn’t slept and is spacey as can be. When Malik’s (Asante Blackk) dad Darnell (Omar Epps) comes to talk to him about the housing bill Randall is pushing for, he’s distracted by the alarm notifications on his phone and offends Darnell. Randall half-heartedly tries to stop him, but he storms out.
When Randall arrives home, the alarm is blaring. Thankfully, it just went off because Annie tried to open a window, but Randall is visibly shaken. That evening, he doesn’t sleep again.
In the morning, Beth asks Randall if they can put all the weapons away and resume their normal life. But then they realize their jewelry has been stolen. Although Randall only saw the man downstairs, he clearly was in their upstairs bedroom as well. Randall reacts immediately, but before he calls the police, Beth asks him to acknowledge that he’s had a very stressful week. She asks him if they can take a day off and discuss everything going on so they can figure out how to manage it all without his anxiety taking over.
During Town Hall, Randall begs his constituents to trust him and his belief in the housing bill, but they’re up in arms. His anxiety is clearly taking over and he stumbles over his answers and loses his train of thought. Beth watches nervously, but they get through it.
The following morning, Randall goes for a run and Beth double checks that they’re still on for their “talk.” As Randall’s about to start running, Darnell stops by and admits that Malik told him about the break-in. He levels with Randall and says that he can tell something is going on with him. Randall says he runs to cope with stress, but Darnell suggests that therapy might be a more effective option. Randall is defensive, but Darnell tells him he’s been in therapy and has found great relief in it. It’s a major moment not just for them, but for the depiction of African American men in TV and movies. (Everyone deserves an opportunity to be vulnerable!) Still, Randall brushes the suggestion off and sprints away—right into a mugging. He sees a man and a woman scuffling and immediately attacks the man and fractures his hand.
Later, Beth finds him at the hospital and tells him the woman who he saved is calling him a hero. He’s numb and tells Beth he’s really tired. So, they go home and instead of having their talk, she tells him to rest. He awakens that night to a flurry of notifications on his phone. It’s a bunch of news articles calling him the hero of the city.
Randall returns to work the next day and his staff claps for him. One woman asks him what it feels like to be a hero and he’s so overcome by anxiety (likely because he doesn’t feel like he could save his family from their intruder) that he leaves. He rushes home, locks himself in the bathroom and calls Kevin. Kevin answers and listens to Randall as he cries and admits he’s not OK. Kevin says, “I’m gonna be the guy that gets you through this.” He says it’s been “a hell of a week” and looks next to him where a woman’s head is poking out from the covers.
Judging from next episode’s promo, it looks like that beautiful head of hair belongs to…Sophie!! We’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case when This Is Us returns with next week with season four, episode 12 at 9 p.m. PT/ET on NBC.