Last season on This Is Us, she got a lot of backlash because she kept William (Ron Cephas Jones) a secret from Randall (Sterling K. Brown) for basically 36 years. While it was understandable she wouldn't let a junkie near her newborn, it was harder to accept when Randall was eight years old. It was even tougher to understand why Rebecca kept quiet when Randall was 16, or 18 or 25. The fear of losing her son at those older ages didn't make sense with keeping him away from a part of himself that she knew he was searching for for years.
Then "The World's Most Disappointed Man" episode happened and a crucial piece of context was added to Randall's adoption story that made Rebecca's later decisions much more plausible. We judged her without having all the facts and that's not fair.
The Pearsons were foster parents to Randall for a full-year before being able to legally adopt him. They passed all of their home visits and background checks, but when they arrived at the courthouse for what was supposed to be a formality hearing, they were pushed aside. It turned out the judge, an African-American man in his mid-40s, had an issue with a white family taking home a black baby. He feared that Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca wouldn't have the tools to prepare Randall to deal with a world that saw him as less than. It's no secret that Randall has in fact struggled with finding his identity while surrounded by people who look nothing like him.
In the end, Rebecca and Jack were only able to officially adopt Randall because Rebecca sent the judge a letter proclaiming their love for their third child and the judge recused himself. That doesn't mean that Rebecca was able to change his mind, just that he agreed not to stand in her way.
Knowing that battle was fought and barely won, imagine Rebecca meeting William when Randall was eight years old. Imagine her realizing that William wasn't on drugs anymore, but had a steady job and a keen interesting being part of his son's life. Imagine if she had let them bond together and William decided he wanted custody instead — and then imagine they had that same judge who believed from the beginning that Randall belonged with a black family.
It felt cruel in Season 1 when Rebecca left a heartbroken young William sitting on his bed in tears after denying him the chance to get to know Randall. It seemed overly cautious, but now it's easier to see why Rebecca would make such a panicked decision.
This is not to say that it was right for Rebecca to keep Randall from his biological father for so long. When it became obvious that he was desperate to find where he really came from, he deserved to hear the truth, however it proves that the stories of This Is Us can never be taken at face value. There's always another perspective we haven't seen that could be waiting around the bend.
For now, we think we can cut Rebecca a little slack.
This Is Us continues Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.