[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Tuesday's This Is Us. Read at your own risk]
If you were hoping that things would get better between Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) after he found out she's known William (Ron Cephas Jones) for Randall's entire life on This Is Us, we're afraid there was no good news for you in this week's episode.
"The Trip" revealed exactly what happened between Rebecca and William for her to go see him for a second time, and why she wrote the letter that Randall found in William's apartment. A young Randall began to get curious about his birth parents and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) felt it necessary to try and help their adopted son understand where he really came from. Of course, Rebecca was the only one with that knowledge. She tracked William down again and told him that Randall was curious about him. William had been sober for five years at that point and was more than eager to be able to meet his son. However, Rebecca had a change of heart and left William high and dry.
She'd later send the letter explaining that she wouldn't allow William and Randall to meet because Jack was all the father that Randall needed. The audience is led to believe that Rebecca kept the secret to protect Jack and to ensure that he was the most important man in Randall's life, but in reality she made the decision out of her own fears.
Rebecca was terrified that if Randall met his birth parents that he would be taken away from the Pearsons. "We have to be enough," she tells Jack in one tearful scene. It's an understandable fear and one that is extremely common with adoptive parents — but is that a good enough reason to keep William a secret from Randall, even after he had grown into an adult?
The argument is that Rebecca was trying to do what was best for Randall, to protect him from being hurt or being taken away. The evidence doesn't match the intention though. Rebecca never told Jack about William either, allowing them to make a decision about what to do as a couple. It's easy to see why she'd be nervous about letting her 9-year-old son spend the afternoon with a former drug addict, but what about when he was 16? Or 21? Once Randall was old enough where custody would no longer be an issue, there was no reason to keep William a secret anymore.
It also adds insult to injury that she would use Jack as the excuse for being paralyzed by her own fear. Yes, Jack is an amazing father and perhaps the best person to have adopted Randall. Part of the reason Jack is so great is because he was so willing to do anything to help Randall fill the hole left by the parents that abandoned him. Jack enrolled Randall in an all-black karate studio so that he could have strong, black male role models to look up to, to see himself in. "The Trip" revealed that Jack would have been more than willing to allow William into Randall's life, so why did Rebecca cling so strongly to the opposite opinion?
Adult Randall was slowly able to realize how much pressure keeping this secret must have been for Rebecca. He was able to recognize that and tell her he understands it, but he's not ready to forgive her. We can't help but wonder if he knew exactly what happened between Rebecca and William when he was 9 years old if he'd ever be able to fully forgive her. We know that William was absolutely heartbroken over not getting to have a relationship with his son for 36 years, and there may not be a way for Rebecca to ever explain her choices to either of them.
As for the audience, it's hard to worry about Rebecca rebuilding her relationship with Randall now that we have the image of a younger William crying over the "Poems for My Son" he wrote with the hopes of meeting Randall. There's nothing she could do to undo that pain.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.