(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Tuesday’s “This is Us.”)
After hearing the life story of his birth mother, Laurel Dubois, in tonight’s episode of “This Is Us”, Randall Pearson (Sterling K. Brown) had a cathartic experience screaming in the middle of a lake in New Orleans – something fans just had taught Laurel herself as she was overwhelmed by emotion. And during Randall’s very loud night swimming session, he came face to face with his biological mother in a scene that Brown was not only in Randall’s mind – or absinthe-induced, even though Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) keeps joking about alcohol all day – but a actually spiritual moment.
“I choose to see it as a miracle,”
Randall’s encounter with Laurel comes in both her younger (played by Jennifer C. Holmes) and older (Angela Gibbs) forms, as the two have a loving conversation that they were never able to share in real life.
“In my mind, and this need not make sense to anyone else, he got a chance to hear from his mother the words ‘I love you,’ and he got the chance to say them back to her,” Brown said. “And that’s why he’s so light. Therefore, at the end of the episode, he is willing and wants to let go of all the bad things between him and his brother, Kevin [played by Justin Hartley], because he knows there is something more. I think this is the first time in our context of our show that Randall had a truly spiritual moment. ”
Now that it came to the logistics of shooting the sea scene, it was not exactly a spiritual moment for Brown, who worked closely with the episode’s director and co-writer, Kay Oyegun, to nail those shots.
“While we were doing the sea scene, I basically had to shoot it twice because I shot it with Jennifer, and I shot it with Angela, and they were not quite sure whose footage they were going to use, and they wanted opportunity to use both, ”Brown said. “I think they put them together in a really nice way. But we just wanted to shoot the scene and I want to scream my head off. I was like, ‘How many times do I have to do this, Kay?’ And she was like, ‘Almost done, Brown. Almost done.’ After a couple of them, she just came to look at me and go, ‘Poor Randall.’ I was like, ‘You wrote this s – t! Why are you looking at me ?! ‘ (laughs)“
To get to the cathartic miracle in the lake, Randall had to sit through Hai’s story of Laurel’s life – one he was not immediately interested in, as all he cared about was finding out what happened after his biological father, William, thought she died of a heroin overdose after giving birth in their Pittsburgh apartment.
But once Hai tells Randall that she was brought back to life by paramedics after William left baby Randall – and that she was then taken to a hospital, arrested for drug possession and unable to contact William, before she was sentenced to five years in prison in California – Randall started listening.
“The difference is that until that point, he was only really thinking about his mother in terms of how her life affected his, right?” Said Brown. “She is a side character in his story, as many people tend to think we are at the center of our own stories. That it was only until he realized: ‘Oh, prison, there were consequences for her actions.’ And they were possibly by virtue of her blackness greater consequences than if she would not have been black. Not only did she go to jail, she went to jail for five years on the other side of the country. ”
He continued, “And that was the moment he realized, ‘OK, maybe I should just sit down and listen to her story.’ And her story is important because she lived. Not only because of how it necessarily intertwines or interacts with mine, but here is an opportunity to learn about someone who plays a role in my existence and that I need to know. Not just because of how they affect me, but because I want to know. ‘”
“Once he could sit back and listen without worrying about it all, he got exactly what he needed,” Brown explained. “Because part of Randall’s story is that ‘Only two people who did not care about me who saw no value in me could have just given up on me and been absent in my life.’ And now he knows that’s not true. That this kind of story he created in his mind is much more multidimensional, and he is actually a product of the love of two loving people with circumstances that conspired with them in a horrible way. ”
So now you may be wondering if Randall is planning to tell his mother, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), about everything he has just learned about Laurel – or if he thinks it might be too much for her as she is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
“I do not know. That’s my honest answer,” Brown said, laughing. that his mother knows about their relationship at this point? Is there anything she needs to answer or resolve? I think at this point the answer is no. He bore so much pain and so much anger and frustration at the thought that she denied him access to a relationship [with William] it could have been beneficial in his life. I think he put it to bed, right? “
He added: “I think if he finds a way he can share it with her and where she can see it as not an accusation against something to be done by her as a parent that he will. I think if he feels she might be feeling some kind of guilt, then he keeps it to himself. And that will be OK, because right now the most important thing is that she enjoys the quality of her life, the time she has in the highest quality for as long as she can. I do not think he is interested in confronting her with anything that might make her unhappy. Honestly, I think she’s cool about it. That’s my two cents. Now you can watch an episode later where Randall goes to town on Rebecca, as ‘How dare you!’ (laughs) But that’s what I think right now. ”
“This Is Us” airs Tuesdays at 9 / 8c on NBC.