Of course, after a stressful week of biting our nails over Randall’s terrifying encounter with a knife-wielding man, we have to wait just a bit more before we see what happens.
Back in 1983, it’s the Big Three’s first night in big boy beds, and a big girl bed and Jack Pearson is ready for it. Except two out of three kids are scared of their new surroundings. Jack thinks he’s in for a night of watching his VHS tape of The Shining with popcorn, but he’s clearly in for a night of heavy adulting. (Rebecca has a cold and he suggests she just take cold medicine and pass out, every parent’s dream.)
Little Randall is scared, sweet bunny. He’s scared of the dark and the unknown it brings, because sometimes what it brings is truly frightening.
Big Randall is also scared, big sweet bunny. In 2020, Randall is palpably petrified as he faces off against knife guy. He smoothly lies and tells the intruder that he already triggered the (nonexistent) security alarm.
“You will not get past me,” Randall says. Very cool, calm. Pepino Sauve! But really, Randall is shattering on the inside. Kudos to Sterling K. Brown, who managed to convey utter panic to us, the viewers, while also suggesting calm bravado to the intruder.
After the knife guy scuttles off into the night, the next scene flashes to a nightmare. College Randall dreams about his mom being outside in a lightning storm. It’s obvious he has taken on so much worry about her, both worry he knows about consciously and worries that are building up like a lightning storm inside him.
He wakes out of the dream to hear an alarm going off in his dorm. He absolutely freaks, bolting from bed and racing to rescue Beth, who tries to tell him it’s only a drill.
Dear Randall. He’s been waiting for the worst to happen ever since the fire, maybe his whole life.
In 2020, Randall talks to the cops after they check out the house post intruder. The cops say intruders often come back the next night, so Randall insists that Beth and the girls go to a hotel. Naturally, he left out the part about knife-wielding assailants coming back the next night to Beth. He tries to lighten the moment with jokes about fending off attackers with those guns, but inside, things are anything but light. More like a semi-truck sitting on his soul.
The next night, Randall can’t sleep (who could?) And so he gets up to watch the Great British Baking Show, which I also adore. (“This crumpet is a bit claggy, also a wee bit floral, don’t you think, Prue?”)
Kevin calls from Pittsburgh, where he is to attend the funeral of Sophie’s mom (so that’s why she called).
Randall tells Kevin about the intruder, “Christian Slater’s creepy doppelganger.” And then Randall slips up and mentions he was coming home from the airport.
“Where were you coming from, from the airport?”
And Randall lies again, but this time, it’s a bad lie. “It was a work thing,” he says. “Boston.” Oh yeah, that will come back to bite him.
Kevin wants to “toss the verbal football back and forth,” which I translated to “pass the verbal hockey puck back and forth.” But we are beginning to understand that Randall is not much for a certain kind of talking, much to his detriment.
Back in the late 1990s, the dryer is broken, and Randall’s undies are air drying on a rack.
(Haha: “Don’t call them undies…Please stop saying undies …”)
Randall tries to tell his mom about the bad dreams, but gets interrupted, first by Kate (having a fight with “greaseball” Marc), and then Kevin and Sophie bust in early for Rebecca’s birthday dinner. He always takes a backseat to the needs of others, and it will take its toll.
Back in 1983, the scene where Jack tucks Randall in again and tells him there are no monsters is just so sweet.
In 2020, grown-up Randall can’t stop checking his phone because his newly installed home security system is synced up to it. Unfortunately, this leads to him being a less than attentive councilman to one special community member–Darnell, Malik’s father. Darnell, played by the undersung Omar Epps, takes advantage of Randall’s open-door policy and voices his concerns about the housing bill Randall is considering. But the councilman is completely distracted by his phone, which keeps beeping with updates about the house (we later find out it beeps every time a freaking maple leaf falls off a tree).
Taking it back Old School, college Randall listens to the whitest music known to man–the soundtrack from Braveheart. Beth decides to stay in his room and help him with his bad dreams if he switches to the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack.
In 2020, Randall has another dream, in which he’s the only one who knows that Jack is dead. He wakes up panting and wide-eyed.
He is even more wigged out when the house alarm is triggered and won’t stop blaring and loses his carefully constructed cool when he realizes the guy with the knife was in their bedroom. When Beth was sleeping … Before he got there. So yeah, he loses his STUFF in a big way, but most of his breakdown is still on the inside. Not good.
Rebecca’s health, the break-in, is a lot for anyone to handle. Beth tries to plead with Randall to talk to her, to “manage it together.” She sees her man spiraling and she is not wrong.
Randall at this point can hardly handle being out in public, nevermind fielding hard questions and angry constituents at a town hall meeting. Randall is melting down before our eyes.
After stumbling through the Town Hall, Randall’s terror mounts when he dreams that the intruder is touching Beth as she sleeps.
The next day, Darnell, full of mercy, shows up and tries to console Randall about the break-in (Deja told Malik who told him). He calls it: “You didn’t seem that composed last night at the town hall.”
“You one agitated cat.” Seriously!
Darnell shares how he spilled his guts to his pastor, and how his pastor referred him to a good counselor. “Us men of a certain shade, we aren’t used to talking,” but it’s helpful. (You go, Darnell!)
Randall is not having any of it. “Running suits me just fine.” (In the words of Dr. Phil, how’s that working for you?)
Flashing back, college Beth tells Randall she used to have bad dreams after her dad died, but then she talked to someone and found a way to work through her grief. She invites Randall to a grief group. GREAT IDEA! And for a minute it seems like he might listen.
2020: On Randall’s run, he intercepts a purse snatcher mid snatch and pounds the ever loving dilly out of him. All his pent up rage is in every punch (Um, Randall, you are going to kill that guy!) Randall breaks his hand in the incident, and as Beth reports, “The woman you saved is calling you a hero.”
But all Randall is tired, so tired. Lying in bed with his shoes on, he is beyond exhausted. (People on TV always wear shoes, have you noticed that? Bare minimum, they wear slippers. Why is that?)
In 1998, even Randall’s attempt to go to the grief group is thwarted by his family. A family emergency. Again. This time “something is wrong with Kate.” (Obviously, these are story seeds being planted for two weeks from now and the Kate episode)
In 2020, Randall is so uncomfortable with being called a hero. He is greeted by his admiring staff and rushes home where he breaks down.
He calls his brother. “I lied, Man, I need a catch. I’m not okay.”
I could feel his anguish and fear through the screen. Oh, Randall. Please get the help you need before it’s too late! (I know, it’s a show! But I have lots of feelings. So many feelings!)
Meanwhile, Kevin is in bed with a blonde woman, and we all know who she is. Unless she’s not Sophie. But she is!
Because next week we are being promised the Kevin episode, and the return of Sophie.
What do you think? Is Randall headed for disaster? Or will he get help in time?
How about Kevin and Sophie? Do you like/love/hate them together?
Best line? Performance of the night?
I am not the only one with lots of feelings! So spill. Let’s all have a therapeutic session of feeling sharing, and show Randall how it is done (haha).