Everyone please prepare yourself for what I’m about to say. Are you ready? Are you sure? Okay: Randall Pearson can be a bit of a selfish jerk. I know that’s blasphemy among This Is Us fans, but, I said what I said. Now, let me explain. Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is a wonderful father, perfect son, general genius, and, all around saint of a human being. But, if we’re all being honest, he isn’t always the best husband to the queen of the present-day This Is Us timeline, Beth Pearson (Susan Kelechi Watson). In fact, he can be down right inconsiderate.
That’s why Beth finally got the episode she deserved with Tuesday night’s “Vegas, Baby.” Beth has long deserved to inform Randall it’s actually not always a “party” being married to everyone’s favorite guy.
From the top of “Vegas” it seems pretty obvious the looming blowout is unavoidable for Mr. and Mrs. Pearson. While Beth is excited to hit Sin City after over a year of stress — started by the sudden appearance of Randall’s dying biological father William Hill (Ron Cephas Jones) in her home — Randall can’t help but fret even more. And, not only is Randall making a fun excursion into a total downer of a trip, he shames Beth for trying to enjoy herself for one rare moment. His excuse is concern for the well-being of their former foster daughter Deja (Lyric Ross), but, considering Randall’s behavior since the beginning of This Is Us, if it wasn’t the preteen it would be something else.
First, Randall tries to convince Beth they’re “pity invites” for Kate Pearson (Chrissy Metz) and Toby Damon’s (Chris Sullivan) bachelor-bachelorette parties. Then, once the couple lands in Sin City and a giddy Beth declares their vacation a “Deja-free zone,” Randall says she can “detach” from the tough foster situation better than he can. The statement is a whisper away from straight up calling his wife detached. Digging himself in deeper, Randall then explains he’s “the heart” of the relationship while Beth is “the head.” Altogether, Randall doesn’t paint a very warm or loving portrait of his wife. All Beth wanted to do was go skydiving.
Then comes the actual showdown. By mid-episode, Randall is fully fixated on how Deja is doing since the Pearsons haven’t heard from her since she came by their mini-mansion in desperate need for utilities money a few weeks prior. When Deja calls, with an admittedly suspicious explanation, Randall rudely peaces out of Toby’s bachelor party to track down Beth and vent all of his anxieties. All Beth wants to do is enjoy Magic Mike Live like her life isn’t a constant rollercoaster of stress and hardships. Randall is instantly annoyed about his wife’s “getting her freak on” with a Live dancer. It doesn’t help his recap of Deja’s call does factually sound like a complete nothing of an emergency Randall used continue holding onto his ex foster daughter.
“I sit inside your anxieties every damn minute of every damn day. And you couldn’t give me one night?” Beth asks. When Randall says he didn’t know being married to him was so difficult, Beth responds, “Hey, it’s not always a party.” Which, true.
Let’s think about Randall’s behavior since This Is Us day 1. In the series premiere, he tracks down the dying father he never knew, William, and takes him to the Pearson’s home without even giving a simple heads-up courtesy call first. Randall's excuse was that he couldn’t bring himself to say the words out loud. Then, after finding out William had stage-four cancer, Randall invites his dad, known to be battling drug addiction, to live with his family and sleep in his young daughter’s bedroom. Again, without asking Beth her opinion on the matter. When Beth asks what the plan is, Randall sidesteps offering up any real explanation and says he just wanted William to make it “to Thursday.” Then, in “What Now,” Randall loudly quits his job as a reaction to his father’s death. By the next episode, season finale “Moonshadow,” Randall announces he wanted to adopt a baby (we never find out how the “I quit my job” conversation went).
Even when Beth tries to create compromise in Randall’s grand “perfectionist” schemes, she gets steamrolled. While Beth is the one who figures out foster care is a better idea than adopting a brand new infant... Randall eventually calls her “heartless” for trying to respect the process. Once Deja leaves casa Pearson, Randall decides to buy a low-income housing building and drags Beth along with him, claiming this is “for” her. It’s not. When Beth, an expert city planner with nearly two decades of experience, asks her husband to take the landlord renovation process slowly, Randall ignores her, inadvertently unleashing roaches into the building. Randall and Beth then have to pay for busing and hotel rooms for each of their tenants.
And let’s remember Beth, who has seemingly been financially supporting their large family solo since Randall peaced out of his high-paying career, begged her spouse in “Clooney” to get a job to ground himself after months in emotional “outer space.” Randall heard that, went to a fantastic job interview, and then walked out because an old man (Garrett Morris) called him about some gossip. Within hours, Randall instead bought that building we were talking about. All because a mural told him to do it.
Beth’s husband seems like a dream man whose romantic platitudes are only bested by his irreproachable father Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) — Randall’s “we are perfectly-imperfect” speech in “A Father’s Advice” alone — but this sounds like a nightmare. Absolutely no one would want to live with this kind of emotional and lifestyle whiplash, even if it means you get to be married to Sterling K. Brown. Of course Beth wants at least one night of unbridled “Vegas” joy in a city famous for its debauchery. She’s right to yell “Screw you!” at St. Randall after his “at least I have a heart” shadefest. If Beth didn’t have a heart, she wouldn’t be able to deal with all of this constant unapologetic nonsense.
If you’ve heard all of this and still want to point out Randall was correct about Deja being in trouble all along, that’s your right. But we can all agree that is a crisis better served by a clear-headed morning conversation than a nighttime screaming match; it’s not like anyone was getting on a plane at 1 a.m. in Las Vegas.
So, let Beth enjoy her male strippers and perfect weave for but four hours.
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