The much anticipated reunion of Kevin and Randall is here, and this might just be the best written episode of This Is Us this season — or maybe ever.
Last week on This Is Us, Kate (Chrissy Metz) started her new job, Miguel (Jon Huertas) and Nicky (Griffin Dunne) made amends and Kevin (Justin Hartley) asked Randall (Sterling K. Brown) to be his best man.
This week, we finally get to see our favorite brothers discuss their issues and hash out the major fight they had at the end of season four.
Throughout the episode, the audience gets to see the complicated relationship between Kevin and Randall throughout the years.
When the boys are young, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) is taking Randall and Kevin to see a live filming of Mr. Rogers. Initially, the people working assume Randall isn’t Jack’s son, which results in a pattern the audience knows well: Jack overcompensating to make Randall feel better and Kevin resenting Randall for stealing all of Jack’s attention.
When Randall is left alone talking to a puppeteer on the set of the show, he admits to having imaginary parents who are Black like him.
As teenagers, Randall (Niles Fitch) goes to visit Kevin (Logan Shroyer) in Los Angeles, resulting in the two of them getting drunk and fighting over their continued animosity.
Obviously, as adults, Kevin and Randall are hashing out 40 years of struggle, fueled through racist encounters, ignorance and beating around the bush.
This episode is one of the greatest the This Is Us writers have ever produced. The conversation is infuriating, just as we all expected it would be. Kevin is written perfectly as the average white person who isn’t overtly racist but is microaggressive and doesn’t really put forth any effort to learn or grow. He’s the person who says he’s an ally, but it’s all lip service. He’s not a real co-conspirator.
Randall, on the other hand, is trying his best not to be extremely frustrated with Kevin’s lack of understanding. He wants his brother to understand, but it’s not his job to educate him. Kevin should be asking more questions and trying to see how Randall felt, rather than giving shallow apologies.
In an effort to explain, Randall tells Kevin about his “ghost kingdom” or what he imagines his life would be like if he wasn’t adopted. His imaginary parents that he told the Mr. Rogers’ crew member about were the meteorologist and the librarian in their town because they’re the only Black people he knew.
He tells Kevin he always felt so guilty for having those fantasies because he loved and appreciated Kevin, Kate, Jack and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) too much.
Kevin finally apologizes in the real way, taking responsibility and owning up to his actions and for everything he said in their epic blowout fight. Randall finally sees Kevin breaking through and trying, so he apologizes to Kevin for the things he said in the fight, too.
“Dad didn’t die ashamed of you,” Randall said. “I only said it in our fight because it was a cheap shot. I’m sorry. He was proud of you. I’m proud of you.”
As if we weren’t crying already, the episode ends on a good note, showing the love and happy moments between Kevin and Randall. Randall tells Kevin he still goes to his ghost kingdom sometimes in dreams, but even after he found his real birth parents, he never replaced the librarian and the meteorologist.
“You’re not just my smart, successful brother, Randall,” Kevin said. “You’re my Black, smart, successful brother. And I think maybe I did resent that. Maybe I thought you getting special treatment was mixed up with you being Black, and I wanted to take you down a notch. And I overlooked things that I shouldn't have. I took shots at you that I shouldn’t have taken. And I was more jealous of you than I should’ve been.”
That night, after the brothers’ bond is restored, Randall goes to sleep and dreams of his ghost kingdom. Only, he finally sees his birth parents, and he feels nothing but happiness.
This was a great episode to leave the audience with until the return date, and it was much anticipated as well. It’ll be interesting to see where Kevin and Randall go from here.
This Is Us will return May 11 on NBC.