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On Jan. 12, This Is Us Season 5 will finally address what happened to Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) birth mom, Laurel (Jennifer C. Holmes). At the start of the season, viewers learned that Laurel didn’t die of an overdose as previously believed. Now, Randall will travel to New Orleans to get more answers. So why did the This Is Us writers feel compelled to tell this story now? Ahead of the episode titled “Birth Mother,” Brown explained the importance of Laurel’s journey.

‘This Is Us’ Season 5 reveals what really happened to Randall’s birth mom

Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson calling Hai about his birth mother, Laurel, on 'This Is Us' Season 5 Episode 5
Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson on ‘This Is Us’ Season 5 | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Long before This Is Us Season 5, William (Ron Cephas Jones) told Randall that Laurel died of an overdose after giving birth. But in the premiere on Oct. 27, the NBC drama revealed William was wrong. Laurel didn’t die shortly after childbirth.

As the season continued, Laurel’s story seemed to slip into the background. But in a turn of events, Randall accidentally released a video that went viral. This caught the attention of a man named Hai (Vien Hong), who reached out to the city councilman. 

Hai claimed to be a close friend of Laurel’s and revealed she died in May 2015 of breast cancer. Then he told Randall that William truly thought Laurel was deceased. Hai also wished to show him Laurel’s world in New Orleans. So Randall proposed a visit.

“Hey, what if we were to come out there? To see where my mother lived and the things she loved,” Randall told Hai. “I would like that very much.”

Sterling K. Brown reveals the importance of Randall’s mother on ‘This Is Us’ Season 5

The This Is Us Season 5 Episode 6 trailer confirmed “Birth Mother” will follow Randall’s journey as he uncovers the truth about Laurel. Then when speaking with TODAY on Jan. 12, Brown explained what fans can take from the episode. 

“This is probably the second episode that has a Black woman front and center,” Brown said. “We did a backstory for Beth [Susan Kelechi Watson] in the past. And now, this is Randall’s mother, Laurel’s, backstory.”

He continued, “It’s just this reminder that the show has that everybody has a story that’s worth being told. People, when you first meet them, they may come to you as drug addicts. They may be easily dismissed. But you realize that everyone has a journey, and that journey is important to be told.”

Brown also hinted that Laurel’s story will go beyond her connection to Randall.

“For Randall, in particular, it’s nice to know that it’s the first time that he sees his mother’s story as something that is important in and of itself. And not just how it relates to him,” he said.

What to expect from Randall’s mom in ‘This Is Us’ Season 5


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Whatever happens when This Is Us Season 5 dives into Laurel’s backstory, it’s clear fans can expect a “beautiful” episode on Jan. 12. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly from January 2021, executive producers Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker teased what’s coming and how Laurel’s story will impact Randall’s overarching arc.

“Identity and the search for his identity is such a driving force for Randall throughout our entire series,” Berger said. “We have some incredibly beautiful, exciting stuff coming up as he continues to piece together his past and his history…. It’s going to be pretty spectacular.”

Then Aptaker added, “This unlocks for [Randall] a totally new world that represents the other half of who he is and who his parents were.”

Meanwhile, creator Dan Fogelman previously hinted Laurel’s story will give This Is Us fans the answers they’ve been looking for.

“A full, beautiful story is going to be told,” Fogelman told Entertainment Weekly in November 2020. “I think it will be a satisfying and elegant answer to a lot of stuff, as opposed to something that necessarily begs more questions.”

This Is Us Season 5 airs Tuesday nights on NBC.