We knew it. Last week when we questioned why Randall was being such a jerk-store with that voicemail on This Is Us (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV), we knew this week’s episode would do two things: 1) take a deep dive into Beth and Randall’s relationship and 2) draw parallels between their big fight and the epic blow-out between Jack and Rebecca back in season one.
Well sure enough both things went down in “R & B,” and boy was it ugly.
You know how sometimes you look at a person you love and you just wonder, how did we get here? That’s kind of how we felt watching Beth and Randall go at each other in this episode. From the very start of the series we’ve loved these two together, maybe even more so than Jack and Rebecca tbh, but there’s no denying they’ve been out of step in season three. So when the show went back in time to explore their relationship with this particular episode, it felt heavier than it would have been had we gotten these flashbacks previously.
Now that we’ve had a closer look at their origin story, we can’t help but feel like the relationship has always been one-sided, and that Beth had a valid point when she said she’s always had to bend in order to make things work. Let’s take a look at why.
Finding your spot in the universe
It’s so painfully obvious that Randall loves Beth and always has, but we should really point out that Randall fell in love with the idea of Beth before ever actually getting to know her. He asked around about her and watched her from afar, but he totally bungled their first date and obviously ignored her request not to call her again. To be fair we don’t know how the next few weeks played out when they actually started dating, but only giving us that snippet wasn’t exactly a strong start to a solid relationship.
Fast forward seven years and Randall was proposing for the umpteenth time, but Beth was clear–she wanted to get her own life together first and figure out what it was she wanted to do. She didn’t want her whole existence to be defined by her husband, something most people can probably relate to. Jerry Maguire had it wrong with the “you complete me” bull — in a healthy relationship it should be “you complement me.”
It wasn’t that Beth didn’t want to be with Randall, she just didn’t want to rush things. But then Rebecca told her the story of Randall’s panic attack when he was eight years old. He was looking up at the stars and didn’t know where he fit in with the universe. It was a feeling he continued to have right up until the night he met Beth, and he phoned home to say as much.
It’s a romantic sentiment, and one that finally convinced Beth to say yes, but again let’s point something out here: Randall’s universe was complete, but what about Beth’s? Her whole hesitation was that she didn’t know where she fit, so what was the problem with giving her time and backing off with the pressure?
At the end of the day agreeing to the marriage was her decision, but it’s not as though she didn’t voice her fears and concerns before accepting.
The nacho theory
It took a while, but Randall finally realized what Beth’s favourite meal was and made nachos for her whenever she wanted. (Heck, we all want nachos and ginger beer after seeing that episode.) But that doesn’t mean he always let her eat all of the perfectly topped chips. He had a penchant for eating the best nachos and leaving Beth the crumbs, and she was quick to point out the chip bowl was a metaphor for their married life together.
Shortly after Tess was born Beth shared her fears that her daughter would forget her when she returned to work, and that three months wasn’t enough time. On the other hand she was also really looking forward to returning to work.
“We’ll make it work,” Randall promised her, as any supportive husband probably would. The problem with saying that though is that it’s an empty promise. It’s saying, “Don’t worry, things will work out.” But how, exactly, will they work out? Unless he was giving her an alternative plan or offering to give up something so that she could ease into this new life, then saying “we’ll make it work” may as well be code for, “Let me know what you’re going to do and I’ll just try to be okay with it.”
Beth tried to point this all out, of course, but Randall got really upset. And so rather than get into a fight, Beth let it go, again. That’s definitely on her but we always thought Randall was more observant than that.
A full house
Even giant homes in the suburbs can feel like cramped quarters when your brother-in-law and estranged father-in-law move in. Beth was certainly feeling that in the next flashback, when she lied and pretended to be going to an out-of-town conference just to get some alone time. Of course this is TV and Randall and William ran into her at the grocery store as she was stocking up on hotel snacks and wine, and Beth revealed that she was too afraid to tell Randall what was really going on because he would overreact.
In the end Randall was understanding and even made Beth want to come home instead, but the scene raised so many red flags. Beth really should have still taken that time to herself. Randall should have insisted that she get it. Or, at the very least he should have booked her a makeup night so she could go be by herself and enjoy it, guilt-free. And that overall lack of communication was something they should have probably worked on a little harder in the months that followed. Had they done that, maybe they could have avoided their current situation…
The politician’s wife
Fast forward to the present day, and all of this and more came up in Beth’s speech to Randall. She didn’t want to spend the next however many years being a politician’s wife, and while he doesn’t outright expect that of her, he also doesn’t have a plan as to how far he’s taking this new career or what it could entail in the future. It really does feel like Randall is putting his father’s old neighbourhood over his own family, and he has been for a long time. Now that Beth is finally putting her foot down and not giving in on this dance thing, he’s angry. Enter last week’s voicemail as Exhibit A.
Meanwhile, Randall is right too—had Beth decided to take this step at any other point in their 20-year history, maybe he would have been more accommodating. But let’s not forget that Beth told Randall she was not on board with him running, and he broke his promise to drop out if she ever felt that way.
A murky future
Unfortunately, the argument ended in a bad place and without any resolution, especially after Beth brought Randall’s anxiety into the equation. Her remarks were made out of anger and honesty, and of everything that was said that was what rendered Randall speechless. Beth immediately regretted it of course, but sometimes in a fight of that magnitude you just say things you can’t take back.
Considering that next week is the season finale, and we’re probably going to find out who the “her” is from the flash-forwards earlier this year, we don’t have high hopes for our former favourite couple. And that makes us sad.
After all… if these two break up, what does that mean for the rest of us hopeless romantics?