‘This Is Us’: The Fight Between Randall and Kevin Might Not Be About Rebecca After All

For awhile now, This is Us has been slowly lowering the boom on Rebecca, who has been suffering some form of cognitive malady. In its ongoing mission to tear viewers’ hearts out, future Rebecca is gradually slipping away while past Rebecca struggles to reckon with whatever condition she has. 

With Rebecca telling Kate about her condition,  fans are speculating that the fight between Kevin and Randall probably isn’t about Randall keeping it a secret from him as once thought.

Sterling K. Brown as Randall
Sterling K. Brown as Randall | Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

What’s going on with Rebecca and Kate? 

On Reddit, fans debated the ins and outs of the third episode of the “Hell of a Week” trilogy, with particular emphasis on Rebecca and Kate. One fan stated, “The fact that Rebecca told Kate, makes me think that Rebecca’s diagnosis being kept a secret is no longer a plausible reason for Randall being alienated at the 40th bday party.”

Another fan disagreed, writing, “I still think it’s ultimately going to be Randall’s mental health that’s the cause, nothing to do with Rebecca’s health. That was just a red herring for us all to believe. We’ve seen in this episode Rebecca will maintain agency over her own life for as long as she is able to, while she is still able to.

Telling Kate was empowering for her, helping her regain control. Maintaining power over their own decisions was the big theme for this episode”

But Producer Isaac Aptaker told EW, “Rebecca was feeling closer to her daughter than ever. I also think that she’s been wanting to tell Kate. This is a woman who has had a long history with keeping secrets, and I don’t think she’s eager to repeat that. She doesn’t want to dump this news everyone all at once, especially Kevin, who the feeling is, he’s a bit more fragile with his new sobriety.” 

At the same time, Aptaker added, “There is much more of the story that we don’t know. But there’s certainly a brewing tension that we’ll see over the next handful of episodes surrounding Rebecca and her mental health.”

Bringing Rebecca up to date

In Episode 15, called “Clouds,” we do see a relationship shift, but the focus is not so much on Rebecca and Kate as it is Rebecca and Randall. During a therapy session, Randall blows off steam, complaining that he’s the only one who knows how to take care of Rebecca while taking Miguel and Kevin to task for not being vigilant enough. He’s particularly struggling because Rebecca had asked him to keep her diagnosis secret.. 

Meanwhile, Kevin was the one who got to take Rebecca on a dream trip  to find legendary singer Joni Mitchell’s house, and it was Kevin who finally pushed an anxious Rebeca to get the test results. They tell us what many have long suspected: she’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. 

EW directly asked Aptaker about the rift between Kevin and Randall and if the real source of friction is something we haven’t seen yet. Aptaker said, “There is much more of the story that we don’t know. But there’s certainly a brewing tension that we’ll see over the next handful of episodes surrounding Rebecca and her mental health.

Mandy Moore connects to Joni Mitchell

It’s interesting that one focus of the episode is Joni Mitchell and Rebecca, because in real life, singer Mandy Moore is a professed fan of the singer, having sung her song “Help Me” on her album Coverage. Moore is getting ready to go back out on another leg of her concert tour to promote her first album in 11 years, the Mitchell-influenced Silver Landings. It features confessional lyrics about regret and missed opportunities. 

“To me it was like, ‘What’s the point of making this record if I’m not going to be honest?'” Moore said to EW. “Selfishly I need to come to terms with my own life and choices and find some catharsis. It’s really finding the silver linings in what has happened in the last 10 years of my life since I’ve made music.”

The new record is out March 6.