So the intruder was real after all.
Many viewers, myself included, assumed that he was a figment of Randall’s imagination.
But This Is Us Season 4 Episode 11 offered the surprise twist that the intruder was the catalyst for Randall’s breakdown rather than a symbol of it.
Randall’s saga kicked off a three-episode trilogy in which each of the Big Three has an episode devoted mainly to what he or she was doing during the same period of time.
This Is Us is always doing something new and innovative to keep the series fresh, though this particular gimmick can be frustrating at times.
Hey Kev. I lied. I need a catch. I’m not okay.
The most disappointing moment of the hour was the last-minute reveal that Kevin slept with Sophie again.
Of all the women This Is Us has teased us with when it comes to Kevin, Sophie was the least exciting choice.
Kevin has made up and broken up with Sophie too many times to count. At a certain point, enough is enough.
But that branch of the saga will have to wait for This Is Us Season 4 Episode 12, which will feature Kevin and Sophie. I’ll reserve judgment until then, I guess.
Anyway, Randall’s breakdown was well done as always. This Is Us is always strong when it comes to mental health issues, making sure to write emotional stories without sacrificing accuracy.
It was painful to watch. Not only have viewers seen this coming, but we’ve been there before, so it was heartbreaking to see Randall go down this road again.
He kept making the worst choices, the ones that served his need to prove he was in control when everyone could see he was anything but.
Even Darnell, who barely knows him, could tell Randall wasn’t keeping it together, but Randall gave him the same old line about how he was fine and knew what his issues were. Ugh.
Look, man, I get it. Us men of a certain shade, we’re not used to talking. But that’s therapy, right? Talking.
I liked how Darnell weaved racial, gender, and cultural issues into the conversation, too.
There are a variety of reasons that men, especially African American men, don’t seek therapy, and that’s an important point that often gets missed when discussing mental health issues.
Jack’s expectations also probably played into it.
Bud. I promise I scared all the monsters away. And because you’re my son, now they’re scared of you too. I’m gonna be honest with you. Your brother and sister are kind of high maintenance so I’m gonna need you to keep being you. Cause if you go south, I’m dead. So can you be a good boy and just go sleep in your bed.
That scene with little Randall was poignant.
Jack thought he was building his son up by telling him that he needed him to be the normal one who keeps it together, but it set Randall up for a lifetime of demanding too much of himself.
It was natural that Randall would have a bad reaction to a fire drill after losing Jack in that fire, too, but it didn’t help that he tried too hard to keep it together.
Randall’s dreams seemed to all be about not being able to communicate with his family and keep them safe. He was the outsider in most of his nightmares, and I was curious as to how his feelings about being the only black kid in his family played into that.
Plus, the younger version of Randall seemed to keep getting shunted aside for Kate and Kevin’s needs.
When he tried to tell Rebecca what was wrong, Kevin and Sophie showing up scotched that, and his attempt to get help went nowhere because of Kate’s emergency.
I want to know exactly what went down between Kate and Marc, but sheesh.
Randall’s needs were important to, and it seemed like everyone just glossed over that.
Of course, some of that is on Randall too because he didn’t speak up. But that dynamic didn’t help anything either.
Hey Kev. I lied. I need a catch. I’m not okay.
Anyway, this episode masterfully built up Randall’s inner tension and refusal to admit something was wrong until he couldn’t take it anymore.
You knew he was going to fall apart at some point; the only question was when.
Beth: Do we need to have weapons everyplace like we’re Mr. and Mrs. Smith?
Randall: You might not want to put it that way because that sounds pretty cool.
Beth: We are allowed to go back to our regularly scheduled programming.
There were so many difficult moments, like the way he froze at the town hall, the way he couldn’t ever resist checking his security app the second it went off, and of course, the way he beat the crap out of the bad guy during his run.
That climactic scene looked to the outside world like a Good Samaritan saving a woman from a purse snatcher, and the fact that Randall was a councilman made that narrative that much more appealing.
But the truth was that Randall had lost control, which was why he kept beating the guy up even when he’d already subdued him, and that was probably a direct reaction to not being able to beat up the intruder.
His tormented phone call to Kevin was a worthwhile payoff to the way the tension had been building up all hour long.
It made sense, too, because even though Kevin and Randall don’t always get along, Randall always turns to Kevin when he’s freaking out.
So what did you think, This Is Us fanatics? Did you enjoy Randall’s struggle with anxiety?
Do you like the idea of focusing on one of the Big Three per episode during this trilogy?
And what did you think of the reveal that Kevin slept with Sophie again?
Hit SHOW COMMENTS and share your thoughts.
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This Is Us continues to air on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.