This Is Us fans were dealt yet another blow at the end of the latest episode—and it had nothing to do with Jack’s impending death or even Miguel and Shelly’s divorce. The episode “I Call Marriage” ended with Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) hand trembling as he reached for a glass of water on his bedside table. And in case you missed it, scenes for next week’s episode, titled “Jack Pearson’s Son,” showed Randall having the shakes again.
This Is Us viewers are already dealing with William’s (Ron Cephas Jones) Stage 4 cancer diagnosis and the to-be-determined cause of death for Jack (Milo Ventimglia), so this just feels like too much.
On previous episodes of This Is Us, viewers learned that Randall’s drive for perfection is his downfall. Now that his home life is dominated with caring for his father William, who’s in his final weeks of his cancer battle, his work rival Sanjay (Hari Dhillon) is making his life at the office miserable, too. Stress is mounting, to say the very least.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman addressed Randall’s shaking hand and teased what’s next for the beloved character.
“In our second episode of the show, it was one of the things I liked best early on that we locked into — Beth [Susan Kelechi Watson] telling the story of Randall’s breakdown and how his vice is his goodness and his desire to be perfect,” the This Is Us showrunner told EW.
“Suddenly this man is beset on all sides by various stresses, at his work and especially at his home. And this is the episode we start seeing the effect of it, and as we head into next week and the future weeks, we start seeing it in full.”
Fogelman also revealed that as he watches his biological father die, Randall’s memories of his adopted father Jack Pearson’s death will play into the stress storyline. The This Is Us creator added that the show will “dive into that a little bit in the subsequent episode,” which, incidentally, is titled “Jack Person’s Son.”
“When you look at Randall, he is a guy who is driven to be perfect,” Fogelman added.
“And when you’re looking at somebody’s fears or anxieties or stressors, you have to look at the whole person, and he’s a guy who has handled the narrative of his life with aplomb, as you can see, but also has channeled a lot of stuff, a lot of angst about his adopted father. He’s clearly lost his adopted father, who was his father-father. He’s clearly been haunted by the backdrop of his abandonment and now he has reconnected with a man whom he’s on the cusp of losing — losing a father for the second time. Finding a father who’s ill would be stressful for anyone, but particularly it’s a stress for Randall.”
The This Is Us showrunner admitted that he knew ending this week’s episode with Randall’s shaking hand could rock viewers, and he doesn’t sugarcoat things: This could be a serious setback for the character.
“I think people are going to freak out a little bit, and then people are going to learn a little bit more in the subsequent episode and episodes,” Fogelman said.
“Anxieties manifest themselves in many different ways for different people. For anybody who’s ever had even the simplest of panic attacks — which are never really simple — it can be a really devastating thing. You can feel and experience physiological symptoms that are so real that they show themselves with tics. And it’s a very serious thing. People build their lives based on avoiding them or dealing with them, and he’s had some form of a breakdown in the past, which we’ll explore a little further. And if it’s rearing its head, it can be a very dangerous thing.”
Randall’s health issue could pave the way for more on the character’s back-story. In fact, an upcoming episode will focus solely on the dad of two. In an interview at the Television Critics Association winter previews, Fogelman said Brown’s character will headline an upcoming episode of the NBC drama.
“In a couple of episodes there’s an episode with entirely Sterling,” Fogelman told reporters last month.
Sterling K, Brown also teased the Randall-centric episode, telling Glamour: “There is an episode that will be Randall heavy…We actually just finished shooting that episode. I’ll say it’s Episode 16. I hope, if I didn’t mess up the script that they came up with, it should be pretty cool.”
This Is Us Episode 16 is titled “Memphis,” and the synopsis reveals that Randall and William take a road trip to Memphis, where Randall learns about his biological father’s past. The website Commercial Appeal confirmed that shooting for the episode took place on location in Memphis and that much of the story will take place in the year 1976, meaning there will be flashbacks aplenty. Randall wasn’t born until 1980.
Entertainment Weekly previously reported that This is Us fans will soon meet other members of Randall’s biological family, including his biological grandmother Dorothy (played by The Leftovers alum Amanda Warren), who will be featured in flashbacks with a young William (Jermel Nakia). Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta) will also guest star (in both flashback and present day) as a friend from William’s past.
Take a look at the promo for This is Us Episode 15, “Jack Pearson’s Son,” below.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
[Featured Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]