[The following contains spoilers from the Season 5 premiere of This Is Us. Read at your own risk!]
This Is Us returned on Tuesday night with a two-hour premiere that showed fans how the Pearsons are coping in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and set them up for another emotional rollercoaster of a year. The episodes initially picked up immediately where the Season 4 finale left off, with Kevin (Justin Hartley) finding out that Madison (Caitlin Thompson) was pregnant with twins. We then fast forwarded to him telling Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan), which also revealed that Kevin and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) were still not on good terms after their blow-up fight at the end of Season 4. From there, the story skipped forward to the Big Three’s 40th birthday, which Kate, Toby, Kevin, and Madison decided to spend at the family cabin with Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Miguel (Jon Huertas), who spent the summer quarantining there.
The premiere revealed why Rebecca had a memory episode while shopping for the twins’ birthday cake — she took allergy medication for a poison ivy flare up that blocked her Alzheimer’s meds from working — thanks to Randall showing up and piecing things together when Kate revealed that Rebecca was missing. The pandemic and the extra stress of George Floyd’s death only served to deepen the schism between Randall and his family as he struggled to explain why their sudden awareness that he traveled through the world differently as a black man was too little, too late.
However, in true This Is Us fashion, it was the final moments of the episode that set up where we’ll be going in Season 5. Throughout the premiere, we saw flashbacks to the night that Randall was born and his mother’s alleged overdose before William left Randall at the fire station. It turns out Laurel didn’t actually die that morning. She was resuscitated by paramedics after William thought she died and ran away with baby Randall before the cops could show up. The reveal has deep implications for what Randall’s life could have been if William had stuck around for 30 more seconds and sets up a lot of questions about what’s to come for No. 3 in his 40th year.
“We’re not going to kind of drag out a mystery like that one over multiple seasons, or anything. So there’s a pretty quick answer, and I think it will be found to be elegantly done,” series creator Dan Fogelman teased to press on a conference call about the premiere episode. “It’s one of our last things we’ve always bandied about, in terms of this being the area where we would reveal this information and dive a little bit into his mother’s story, his birth mother’s story.”
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Sterling K. Brown and Faithe Herman, This Is Us
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