TV ReviewsThis Is Us (4×17) After the Fire Review

Ariba BhuvadMarch 18, 202095/100
Roxann Dawson
Vera Herbert, Kay Oyegun
Running Times
45 minutes
Tuesdays 9pm
Overall Score
Rating Summary
This Is Us presents a what-if episode flashing back to all the pivotal moments in the Pearsons' life with Jack alive and well.

For our review of the last episode of This Is Us, click here.

Synopsis: Randall reflects on what could have been. (IMDb)

“What if” scenarios in series are a personal favorite, and in the case of this week’s episode This Is Us, it works perfectly. Along with Randall, most of us have wondered what the Pearsons’ lives would have been like if Jack never died. Would things have been better? Would things have been worse?

Randall has an intense therapy session which breaks down how he thinks life would have been like if Jack never died. His first run-through illustrates a seemingly perfect life that followed after that horrible fire. Very soon after that fire, Rebecca reveals that she’s always known who Randall’s birth father is, and immediately after that, life played out in a beautiful way. William would have become a part of the Pearson family life, Randall would have still met Beth and gotten married and had kids, and so on and so forth.

Randall’s therapist is not buying this “perfect” version of Randall’s life and makes him truly contemplate how things could have gone. In one very gloomy version, the Pearson family falls apart after Rebecca reveals she met William years ago. Jack and Randall never quite forgive her, Randall goes to Howard and never meets Beth, Kevin stays back and inherits the family construction business, and Kate is married to someone else and has two kids. So, this version is pretty bad for Randall but great for everyone else. And he basically lets years go by before seeing Rebecca and doesn’t go to visit her until Jack tells him she is sick.

So what does this all mean? According to Randall’s therapist, it means that he still harbors resentment towards Rebecca for hiding the William secret. But that’s not the lesson Randall takes away from it. He knows that he has lost one too many parents in his life and isn’t ready to lose his mother too.

What happens next looks to be pretty jarring and it basically answers the question we had about Randall’s falling out with Kate and Kevin in a future timeline. As the episode comes to a close, Randall calls Rebecca and essentially guilt trips her into agreeing to join the clinical trial He not so subtly mentions that he’s always been a good son and never harbored resentment for Rebecca’s secret (didn’t he though?). So, he needs her to do this.

And Rebecca agrees.

Next week is the This Is Us season 4 finale, and it’s surely going to be a brutal one to get through. We are definitely not ready!

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