Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from the This Is Us episode “Birth Mother.”
This Is Us fans took to the show’s Instagram page to applaud the series for the episode titled “Birth Mother.” Viewers claimed it was one of the best in five seasons and could have stood alone even without the anchor of the series behind it. Fans shared their appreciation for the actors, writers, and directors for their ability to convey the tragic story of one woman who was haunted by the mistakes of her past, as they took to the comments section of the post seen below.
“One of my top ten episodes of the entire series. Love the diversity of characters. The acting, cinematography, and all the work from the cast and crew. It felt like a mini-movie,” penned one follower.
The episode explored Randall Pearson’s backstory. He and his wife, Beth, traveled to New Orleans to meet Hai, a man who said he knew Randall’s mother, Laurel. Hai told them he could explain why Randall’s biological father, William, believed she had died after childbirth.
Randall learned of her privileged roots, born into a family that did not know how to show affection. She learned to use a river behind her beloved Aunt Mae’s home to help wash away her hurt feelings as a child, and when she was older, as a way to release her pain following the death of her older brother, Jackson, in Vietnam.
The episode told the tale of Laurel and Hai, whose star-crossed union was put to the test when she was promised in marriage to a young man by her overbearing father. She fled Louisiana and asked Hai to leave with her. His refusal set Laurel on a path of choices that would haunt her for the remainder of her life.
“This is everything! Only the impeccable writers of this show would design 2 people who don’t speak the same language to be in love. Takes my breath away, the best episode I’ve ever seen,” added a second Instagram user of Laurel and Hai’s love story.
This Is Us touched on her relationship with William, whom she met in Philadelphia, and the overdose that nearly killed her after giving birth to their son, Randall. William believed she had died, but Laurel survived, was hospitalized, and later was arrested for drug possession and jailed for five years in California.
It was only after her release and return to her aunt’s home that Laurel was able to cope with her deep pain. It was in Louisiana where she lived out the rest of her life and reunited with Hai, who had married, had children, and was now widowed. Laurel told him her story and how she thought of her child every day, until she lost her life to cancer.
Perhaps the most riveting moment of the show, according to viewers, was the closing scene when Randall, in his own attempt to process his pain, waded into the same river Laurel once used as a form of therapy, only to meet her spirit there. Their conversation was one of acceptance and set the character on a new path with his adoptive family, the Pearsons.
“This was one of the most amazing episodes ever. But oh it hurts my heart that they never got to meet each other again,” wrote a third fan.