'This Is Us' Bosses Preview Randall's Mental State Going Forward
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 11 of This Is Us, "One Hell of a Week: Part One."]
The installment took a deep dive into the anxiety-ridden Pearson as he recalled past trauma and relived current trauma over and over again through vivid nightmares.
So how did the team behind NBC's popular drama pull off the pivotal installment? Executive producers Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker spoke to reporters openly about Randall's mental state, what lays ahead for fans in the impending Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Kate (Chrissy Metz) focused episodes, and more.
It was clear in the episode that Randall's dependency on wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and brother Kevin can't sustain. When we asked Berger and Aptaker about their take on Randall's mental crutches, she offers, "I think it's clear that Randall is someone that's found different ways to cope with his anxiety and keep it brimming just below the surface, but what we're seeing in this episode is that you can only do that for so long before there's something of an explosion."
"So, whether it be confiding in Kevin, in Beth, whether it be taking these long runs, at a certain point you're gonna come up against something that none of the coping mechanisms are enough and you're going to have to dig a little deeper and I think it's clear that we're reaching that point with Randall," Berger concludes.
"The [scene] between Randall and Omar Epps where you have this character Darnell revealing that he goes to therapy, that he kind of tackles his mental health issues head on, and that's something that people have been bringing up to Randall all season," adds Aptaker. "Much earlier in the year, Beth suggested that Randall really begin to deal with his mental health struggles in a professional setting and Randall is so resistant to it — for whatever reason, he has this block."
"So, I think the bigger question of the season is when is Randall gonna realize that talking to his wife, talking to his brother, white-knuckling this isn't a long-term solution. He really needs to seek professional help."
Could that professional help have something to do with upcoming guest star Pamela Adlon? Her mysterious role is supposedly tied to Randall's storyline, but Berger and Aptaker had no updates regarding the Better Things star's appearances.
Berger did mention in terms of Randall and Beth's conversation that has yet to take place after being delayed multiple times in this installment, "Possibly it will happen down the line."
In terms of what's coming down the pike, don't expect all of the trilogy episodes to tackle things in the same way. "The titles for all of these episodes is "One Hell of a Week" one, two and three," Aptaker says. "Not every episode specifically tackles anxiety for each of our siblings, but we're joining them in a very very difficult week in each of their lives, whether it's emotional or painful."
"Each of them are really going through the ringer and that results in this phone call that they have where they realize they've all been through something and sort of need to step up as a trio of siblings and be there for each other," Aptaker says of the trilogy's upcoming culmination.
As for Kevin's mystery woman in bed, all will be answered, reveals Aptaker, who says of the next episode, "We're going to follow him to Pittsburgh and see why he decided to go to Sophie's (Alexandra Breckenridge) [mother's] funeral, if he has any interactions with Sophie, what it's like for Kevin to be back home again on his old stomping grounds, so we'll follow Kevin through sort of the same time span."
The lingering question of whether the show will tackle the teased sibling tensions from the fall finale before Season 4 is up was also answered by the EPs. "That's something we'll be caught up to in the first episode of Season 5," Aptaker promises, noting the show's affinity for celebrating the Big 3's birthday in season premieres, "but we won't get all the way there this season."
Don't miss a single second — catch the next episode of This Is Us when it returns Tuesday, January 28 on NBC.
This Is Us, Season 4 Returns, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC