Randall and Kevin had a tough conversation, peppered with two significant incidents from Randall's past.
On This Is Us Season 5 Episode 13, the brothers finally had the talk they've been putting off forever, and they seemed to come to somewhat of an understanding.
Our TV Fanatics Sarah Little, Christine Orlando, Carissa Pavlica, and Jack Ori discuss the most difficult moments of the hour, the kids' visit to the Mr. Rogers set, and more. Read on!
As a viewer, what was the most difficult moment for you in Randall and Kevin's conversation about their childhoods?
Christine: Randall's coldness towards Kevin was surprising.
When he told Kevin he gave a "beautiful monologue," I thought that was pretty damn condescending. What Kevin said wasn't perfect, but it felt like he was really trying to bridge the gap between them.
I knew this conversation wasn't going to be easy, but it felt like Randall wasn't giving Kevin an inch for much of the beginning.
Sarah: I think, overall, it was an extremely difficult episode to watch, but so important.
I also believe that Randall was pretty composed despite all of the emotions that he held in for so long coming to the surface.
It was mostly just difficult to realize that there was no solution or perfect answer for the two brothers. All they could do was take recognition of things they did and said in the past and move forward.
Carissa: Perspective is everything.
It was the worst time to have the conversation given the current climate, but that's the only time it would have happened.
But what happened to them because they're brothers and how their parents treated each of their kids differently.
Sibling rivalry is already a bitch, but toss in the triplet factor, the adoption, and their different skin colors, and it was a recipe for disaster.
Thankfully, they're adult enough to recognize it now, and by the end, they were willing to accept and forgive. That's what matters.
Jack: I'm with Sarah on this -- the entire conversation was tough but so important.
The hardest thing for me was that at the beginning, the gap between Randall and Kevin was so much of a chasm that I wasn't sure it could ever be bridged.
I agreed with Randall that Kevin's apology was ingenuine. I HATE apologies that start with "if" with a passion.
And Randall was talking about things he'd felt about his life as a whole, and Kevin was focused on one incident, so it didn't seem like there was ever going to be a way for them to come to an understanding.
Do you think that little Randall's "conversation" with Daniel Tiger helped him?
Christine: I think it helped him realize that he wasn't the only one who had a land of make-believe in his head.
Maybe it allowed little Randall to feel a little less guilty about his fantasies around having his adopted family and his biological one.
Sarah: I agree with Christine; it definitely made him feel like he wasn’t alone.
Now, we know that he still felt guilty for having his ghost kingdom growing up. But I think, at least for that moment, he felt at peace with it.
Carissa: Does any conversation with Daniel Tiger NOT help with a kid?
Not only was Mr. Rogers on the mark with his messaging, but it made Randall feel special to have the conversation.
I love Mr. Rogers.
Jack: I love Mr. Rogers too! I was thrilled with this tribute, especially after Susan Kelechi Watson (Beth) also appeared in the Tom Hanks Mr. Rogers movie.
Back on topic, I think talking to Daniel Tiger definitely helped Randall feel less alone. I couldn't help wondering what would have happened if Jack hadn't interrupted the conversation at the moment he did.
Did either of the past storylines go the way you expected? What was the most surprising thing that happened?
Christine: Hearing all of the stupid things Kevin said to Randall during his visit to LA was cringeworthy.
Some of it had to do with race, but mostly it was Kevin being an insecure, drunken, a—hole.
At one point, Randall was so close to calling him out on his racist quips, but he didn't have the words, and he dropped the subject before he'd even begun.
That was tough to watch and made it clear that Randall has been carrying around this resentment for many years.
Sarah: I, too, was surprised by Kevin’s behavior in LA.
So much of it was not okay, and it was more obvious than it has ever been that these characters aren’t perfect.
It’s no wonder Randall feels a certain way about Kevin.
But despite the cringe-worthy evening between the two of them, they were able, temporarily, to look past it and share a nice moment.
It sort of perfectly sums up what Kevin and Randall’s relationship has been. They fight, they ignore that the fight ever happened, and the cycle repeats. Hopefully, in the future, that cycle has broken.
Carissa: Nothing really surprised me. They both insulted one another because they weren't close enough to know better.
Now that they're communicating and airing out differences, I hope that they learn from it, but again, sibling rivalry is a thing, and no matter how close it is, it can rear again in an instant.
Jack: I was worried that Kevin's insistence on a fake ID that looked nothing like Randall was going to get Randall into trouble and that there would be some unequal treatment by the cops thing that happened.
I'm glad it didn't go that way, but I agree: Kevin was a total jerk throughout those scenes. I agree with Sarah that it was a strong parallel to the conversation they were having now.
The difference was that in the end, Randall was able to have the conversation this time. Hopefully, that was the beginning of real change.
Obviously, Randall's perspective is his perspective, but were there any places where you felt his perspective was inaccurate? If so, what?
Christine: Nobody's family is perfect and, although the Pearsons are uniquely imperfect, I think Randall can get stuck on the negatives instead of the positives.
Jack and Rebecca adored Randall.
Their goal was always to make sure Randall felt a part of their family even though he looked different.
In the 1980s, most well-meaning white people were taught that race didn't matter, and I think Jack and Rebecca took that to mean they should try to pretend like Randall being Black didn't matter.
Although it didn't affect how much they loved him, it did affect the way the world perceived Randall in their family.
It was like the elephant in the room that nobody acknowledged but was always there, and it made Randall feel like he couldn't talk about it. Like a part of him was never seen.
Jack and Rebecca did the best they knew how to do, but they overcompensated to make Randall feel special. In doing so, they set Randall and Kevin up for a lifetime of intense sibling rivalry.
Sarah: It’s hard to fault Randall for any of his feelings.
As Christine said, Jack and Rebecca chose almost never to address the fact that Randall is Black.
And while their intentions were good, Randall still got hurt as a result.
Randall knows that his parents loved and cherished him, but sometimes that’s not enough. I’m just happy that Randall can finally address all of the feelings he held in for so long.
Carissa: I'll repeat. Perspective is everything.
Nobody can take away how someone else observed a situation because it's tinged with their own experiences, but I think they realize now that they misunderstood each other and it wasn't as cut and dried as either of them once thought.
Jack: I certainly don't fault Randall for any of his feelings either.
A lot of the harm that was done to him was unintentional.
Jack and Rebecca certainly did their best, and even the ticket-collecting guy who assumed Jack had two white sons didn't set out to make a Black kid feel unwelcome.
Similarly, it just never occurred to Jack to have a conversation with Randall about how that or other similar incidents made him feel. He corrected the mistake and moved on.
I'm glad that Randall was finally able to express some of those feelings now.
How do you think Kevin and Randall's relationship will move forward from here?
Christine: Despite everything, Kevin and Randall are brothers, and they love one another. As long as they can keep talking and accept their differences, I think they're going to be just fine.
Sarah: All the tension between the two of them has not been solved, and they aren’t going to be holding hands, skipping through a field of daisies anytime soon.
All they can do is take it one day at a time, but they are in a good spot right now.
They have a deep love for one another, and nothing will ever change that. Randall and Kevin need to continue to have open communication with one another going forward.
Carissa: It might change, and it might not. All they can do is agree to talk when something comes up, love each other, and forgive when necessary.
Jack: I definitely don't think that everything has been resolved -- how could something like Randall's life-long feelings about his racial identity and his place in the family be fixed in just one conversation?
But I am hopeful that he and Kevin can at least communicate better in the future now that they've had this difficult conversation.
Discuss anything not covered above.
Christine: I was struck by Randall's comments about always expecting to be grateful because I'd never thought of it that way until he said it, but it made perfect sense.
I'm sure the world saw it as he was -- a Black, orphaned boy and the idyllic white family who took him in.
The constant message was: look how lucky you are.
But that never acknowledges how incredibly unlucky he was to lose his parents in the first place.
I could see the pressure of being expected to constantly declare that sense of gratitude could leave him with a strong undercurrent of bitterness and anger.
Sarah: I think the Pearson family needs to continue to have these tough conversations about race because they have a lot of time that they need to make up for.
They needed to dedicate a whole episode to Kevin and Randall’s conversation, but I also want to see one between Randall and Rebecca as well. Or maybe even between Rebecca, Kevin, and Kate.
Carissa: Growing up in Pittsburgh, I never went to the Mr. Rogers set, but we did see the cast all over the place all the time, and it was so special. It meant a lot seeing it incorporated into the show.
Jack: I'm a lifelong Mr. Rogers fan and was SO jealous that the kids got to see the show in person!
I agree with Christine re the gratitude piece. This has come up a lot on several This Is Us pages I participate in on Facebook. Some viewers believe Randall is extremely ungrateful and should be happy he was adopted, and I hope that what he said about that resonated with some of them.
What was your favorite scene, quote, or storyline from this week's This Is Us?
Christine: My favorite scene was when Randall told Kevin that he never meant it when he said that Jack was ashamed of Kevin and admitted that both Jack and Randall were proud of him.
Sarah: Yeah, the best scene by far was when Randall and Kevin finally “made up” and came to an understanding.
If you didn’t cry when they apologized and said they loved each other, I’m sorry, but you’re heartless. It was beautiful, simple, and so profound.
Carissa: Oh, Sarah. You and the perpetual crying. LOL!!
No, I didn't cry.
I appreciated the crazy painting that Kevin did because it reminded me of his discussion with Randall's kids during This Is Us Season 1.
Randall can fault Kevin for a lot, but he has also missed some very seminal moments that his brother has shared with his family, proving that he's a good man who loves Randall's family deeply.
Jack: I also loved the moment Randall told Kevin that Jack would not have been ashamed of Kevin.
I think Kevin needed to hear that just as much as Randall has needed to hear his whole life that it was okay to fantasize about his birth family.
When This Is Us returns in May, it'll be the final three episodes of Season 5. What do you hope happens as the season wraps up?
Christine: I'm still waiting to get more backstory on how Miguel and Rebecca became a couple. That's the top story I'd like to see. Beyond that, I hope we concentrate on the Big 3 and their families.
Sarah: I never thought I’d say this, but I can’t wait to see Kevin and Madison’s wedding! They have come so far from a one-night stand, and there’s no doubt that their wedding will be amazing.
Carissa: I have no idea.
There wasn't even close to enough material covered to satisfy me going into the final season, and now that we know they're quitting three episodes shy of their goal, I don't even know if we'll see a wedding let alone another finale that gives us a broader view of that day in the future when Rebecca appears to be dying.
Jack: I also want more of Miguel and Rebecca's backstory. And I'm hoping that as the wedding gets closer, we'll see more of how Nicky interacts (or doesn't!) with the rest of the family.
Your turn, This Is Us fanatics! Hit that big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know your answers to these questions!
Want to refresh your memory first? Just watch This Is Us online right here on TV Fanatic.
This Is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST. The next new episode airs on May 11, 2021.