Randall spent an hour in therapy exploring his wish that Jack had lived.
It was an intense session, but he ended This Is Us Season 4 Episode 17 by going further down the path of trying to control Rebecca's illness.
Our TV Fanatics Carissa Pavlica, Sarah Little, Christine Orlando, and Jack Ori discuss Randall's fantasies, his choice to badger Rebecca into accepting the clinical trial, and whether he missed the point during his therapy session.
In therapy, Randall seemed to gain insight into his need to control Rebecca's treatment, but then he went home and insisted on her doing the clinical trial. Did he miss the point of what he discussed in therapy?
Carissa: That was so disappointing. He didn't miss the point, he just didn't care.
Randall is eternally selfish. In all of the scenarios -- real life and the two alternatives -- Randall is always at the center of his parents' world. The other kids barely register.
And Kevin's success kills him. He's so sure that Kevin only thrived because his father died.
What does that say about Randall?
In neither alternative scenario did Kevin become an actor. And Kate was an afterthought. It's as if Randall refuses to allow himself any insight into his own issues, and that's worrisome.
Sarah: I don't necessarily think he missed the point. He knows he has control issues and for me, his call wasn't one hundred percent about that.
As he was looking back on his life and dabbling in the "what if's" of it, I think what he got out of it was that since he was always there for Rebecca and "the perfect son," he deserved to demand this one thing from her.
But what he fails to realize is how much Rebecca has done for him all his life.
She has gotten a lot of hate in the past, but she has sacrificed so much for her family and she does not deserve this guilt trip from Randall.
Right now, he is acting as if he is the only one who has suffered and that could not be farther from the truth.
Christine: He didn’t miss that point. He used it to his advantage.
Randall is convinced that his way is the right way and even if the trial doesn’t work, as long as Rebecca does it then HE can live with himself.
That he’s guilting his mother into giving up precious time with her family in which she, and they could be happy and make wonderful memories doesn’t matter to Randall.
He only sees this from his point of view and he’ll use his mother’s love for him to get what he wants.
Jack: I was so angry at Randall for guilting Rebecca like that!
I don't think he missed the point. I think he wasn't ready for what Dr. Lee was telling him, which was that he needed to talk to Rebecca about his old resentment over William.
It was easier for him to continue in the same old pattern and try to control Rebecca's decisions than make the change.
I understand that but I don't like it, and I generally like Randall.
Do you think Rebecca will go through with the clinical trial? Should she?
Carissa: I hope Rebecca doesn't go to make Randall happy.
That he asked proves that he has no understanding of his mother. Yes, she made a decision that he feels negatively effected his (seemingly happy) life, but punishing her isn't the answer.
And if she gives up any time of what is left of her cognitive happiness on a pipe dream so her son isn't upset, it will be unbearable.
And should Rebecca go to the trial? That's only up to Rebecca who is still in control of her faculties and her life.
Sarah: I would hope that she takes a stand and takes back control of her own life, but Rebecca has always made sacrifices for the happiness of her children.
Randall, Kate, and Kevin are old enough now that she should not have to worry about appeasing them.
She needs to do what is best for her, even if that means going against the wishes of Randall. Ultimately, it is Rebecca's mind and body and she deserves to make that decision for herself
Christine: I fear she will simply because we know Randall and Kevin stop talking after this.
I don’t know what this trial is but she, and Miguel I assume, will go to a city where they know no one.
That’s bound to be isolating and lonely and I can’t imagine that will help Rebecca at all.
Plus, any treatment usually works its best when the recipient is in a positive frame of mind, something Rebecca most likely won’t be in since she’s being emotionally blackmailed into doing this.
I’d love to see Rebecca take a stand with Randall, but she’s always coddled him more than the other two and I fear that’s going to continue here.
Jack: I really would love it if Rebecca stood up to Randall!
Maybe she'll surprise us. After all, she wants to live the rest of her life on her own terms.
Or maybe Miguel will talk her out of it and put Randall in his place for once and for all.
But as Sarah said above, Rebecca always sacrifices a lot for her family, especially Randall. So my ideas are probably as much fantasy as
Rate Dr. Lee as Randall's therapist from 1 (she should have her license revoked) to 10 (she is the perfect therapist for him.)
Carissa: I'm biased. Any role that Pamela Adlon takes will always shine for me.
But Dr. Lee makes all kinds of sense, and she reads Randall like a favorite book.
She's a 10. Who wouldn't give a 10 to a woman willing to call herself an overpaid hack who still manages to expose someone's deepest fears?
Sarah: I absolutely loved Dr. Lee,. She was able to read Randall perfectly and lead the conversation in the direction it needed to go.
I would probably give her an 8 just because at this point, it does not seem as if any therapist is perfect for Randall as he needs to be more willing to put in the work.
Plus, with that ending between Rebecca and Randall, it is clear that there is still progress to be made, as there should be since he has only had a few therapy sessions so far.
Christine: I’ll go with an 8.
She called out Randall’s bull and kept him honest about what he really felt. She never let him get her off track and led Randall to see his issues.
Unfortunately, she can’t control what Randall does with his realizations and it isn’t her fault he used this to try to force his mother to comply with his wishes.
Jack: I will give her a 9.
She did great at calling Randall out on his BS, as Christine said. And she was able to get through to him to an extent.
It isn't her fault that he chose to continue down the control issue path, but I wonder if she could have pushed back a bit on him saying he wouldn't hurt Rebecca by bringing up the past.
On the other hand, change is slow and gradual, and you can't give the patient too much at once or they will become overwhelmed and paralyzed. So maybe she did all she could
Randall's worst fear fantasy included Kevin being successful while Randall was drifting through life and disconnected from his family. What do you think that meant in terms of his real life?
Carissa: I didn't see Kevin as being successful in the second fantasy. I saw it as Kevin being closer to his father than Randall.
Yes, he had some success in homebuilding, but his true success was in marrying the love of his life and feeling settled.
I think it means that Randall is profoundly jealous of Kevin and always worried that he'd be the favored son, so Randall tried even harder to be all things to Rebecca in the wake of Jack's death.
Sarah: I thought that was very interesting, as it seemed like the roles had been reversed between Kevin and Randall.
I think what this is ultimately leading to is the fight between the two brothers, and it will come from some deep-rooted feelings that Randall has about Kevin.
It could be resentment, jealousy, fear of being loved less than him in terms of their mother, etc.
Whatever it is, it is something that Randall has been holding onto for a while and has affected his relationship with Kevin.
Christine: Wow, Kate was barely an afterthought for Randall in those fantasies.
How sad is that?
Why is it that in Randall’s mind, if his siblings are happy, then he is miserable. It’s as though he’s convinced his parents could have never loved them all equally.
Randall has always been jealous of Kevin because deep down, he considers Kevin the real son and that’s why Randall has always felt he needed to be perfect.
Kevin has always felt that Randall got more attention because their parents never wanted him to feel like an outsider.
It’s caused a lot of underlying resentment between the two that’s about to boil over at the worst possible time for Rebecca.
Jack: Like Sarah, I was struck by the role reversal in Randall's second fantasy. Kevin was the favored son and Randall was the "loser" who drifts through life.
It was weird, too, that Randall's idea of Kevin being more successful than him involved Kevin giving up his dreams and settling for a "normal" job.
Could that be what Randall feels he's done in his own life?
Maybe Randall's jealousy of Kevin is partially based on his feeling that Kevin isn't held back by anxiety and is willing to follow his own path. (Of course, Kevin has his own issues but that's beside the point.)
Share any thoughts not covered by these questions.
Carissa: In Randall's fear scenario, Kate had a little girl. I wonder what that means in Randall's head.
And is it me, or has every season so far had a Randall-centric episode as the season's penultimate episode? There is only one left!
Sarah: The second scenario deeply disturbed me.
I have a hard time believing that Jack would ever be that cruel to Rebecca and that Rebecca would just sit there and take it.
All of it just made me so, so sad, and it made me feel for Randall just a tiny bit that he could ever imagine his family and life like that.
He really does have a cruel mind and I am glad he is trying to get help -- even though his phone call with Rebecca placed him several steps back.
Christine: In Randall’s fear scenario, Jack was furious with Rebecca over her lie, so much so that it tore apart their marriage and family.
I was left wondering if that was Randall’s fear or his desire.
Does he secretly wish that if his father had lived he would have made Rebecca suffer for her sins in a way that Randall couldn’t?
Randall used Rebecca’s guilt over her long-ago lie, and what he considers his sacrifice to stay home and take care of her to bend her to his will. I’ve always known that Randall had a controlling nature but now we know how dark that can be.
Also, Randall has absolutely no respect or care for Miguel who is Rebecca’s husband and has never been anything but good to this family and that just bugs the hell out of me.
Jack: To me, the two fantasies showed how Randall, like many people with anxiety, struggles with all-or-nothing thinking.
Either everything was perfect because Jack lived or everything was completely awful.
I don't think it was about Jack as much as it was about Randall's deep-seated fears.
His fear that William wouldn't want him at all. His fear of not really being part of the family. His fear of Kevin being better at life than him.
What was your favorite scene, storyline, or quote from this week's This Is Us?
Carissa: I can't pick a favorite. It rubbed me the wrong way.
I always really enjoyed Randall, and I have a hard time appreciating him right now.
OK. So I'll go with my favorite moment being when Dr. Lee had all of the right insight for Randall, and the worst being when Randall threw it all away to bully his mother. Awful.
Sarah: Even though she was a minimal part of the episode, Beth Pearson will never fail to amaze me -- past and present.
She has not been utilized enough on these past few episodes, and I can't help but wonder what she thinks of Randall forcing the clinical trial on Rebecca.
I have a feeling that she might call him a dick again, which was hands down the best scene/quote of the episode.
Christine: A young Beth telling Randall not to be a dick to his mother was awesome! The world needs more of Beth Pearson.
But my favorite was seeing Rebecca having so much fun with Miguel, Kevin, Kate, Toby, and baby Jack at the end.
That’s exactly what Rebecca wants from her life right now and she has it. It made Randall’s manipulations all the more cruel and selfish.
Jack: I also wonder what Beth would/will think of this latest move on Randall's part.
I loved when Dr. Lee called Randall out on his BS. I didn't think much of her before that but afterward, she had my attention.
Your turn, This Is Us fanatics!
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This Is Us continues to air on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST. Its Season 4 finale will air on March 24, 2020.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.