- This Is Us -How Does Randall’s Mom Connect To Hai On ‘This Is Us’? 9 Theories Breaking Down *That* Photo
Spoilers ahead for This Is Us Season 5. A grandfather and granddaughter peacefully fishing ended up giving viewers the tiniest bit more information about Randall's birth mother on This Is Us. After the Season 5 premiere revealed that Laurel had miraculously survived her overdose after childbirth, the photo of Randall's mom on This Is Us at the end of "Changes" leaves fans with more questions than answers. But the Vietnamese man who apparently loved (loves?) Laurel may be the key to Randall finding out the truth about his biological mom... even if he's still completely in the dark for now.
Thanks to some name drops and the credits, we know that Vien Hong portrayed the grandfather Hai and Brandilyn Cheah plays his questioning granddaughter Linh. Linh asks her grandfather why they must cook a meal from scratch and he says he learned to cook to impress a woman. At the end of the episode, Linh — and This Is Us viewers — find out the "very special" woman he was trying to impress is Randall's birth mother (Jennifer C. Holmes). This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that the woman in the photo is none other than Laurel and Sterling K. Brown delighted in the reveal on Twitter.
The whole ordeal of a photograph involving the Big Three's parents with a person from Vietnam probably had you having flashbacks to when Kevin discovered the photo of Jack with Hien wearing the compass necklace. And that might be no coincidence. Let's explore what the connection between Laurel and Hai could mean on This Is Us.
1. Hai Is Connected to Jack Or Nicky's Time In Vietnam
Fogelman told EW that these new characters speaking Vietnamese is "certainly purposeful" regarding Vietnam's significance to the overall story and with Jack and Nicky serving in the Vietnam War. "... even if they're not direct points of continuation. The Vietnam War could have had a myriad of butterfly-type effects that could have affected the same family's story in surprising and different ways."
Could that mean that Hai may be related to Hien and her son Lanh — who Nicky tragically killed with a grenade while fishing? An older man named Quan was also in that family. Or, as this Twitter user wondered, could Hai be related to Bao — the "sometimes" member of the Viet Cong that gave Jack a ride?
While there was an overlap in the Pearson brothers' time in Vietnam, there's a possibility that rather than Jack, Nicky is the connection to Hai — as @Lorri517 wondered on Twitter. Actor Kane Lieu is credited as playing Young Hai in the photograph and his IMDb page does not indicate that he has previously been on This Is Us before. But that doesn't mean Hai doesn't somehow have a connection to Jack and Nicky's time in Vietnam.
2. Laurel's Connection To Hai Started Before She Gave Birth To Randall
In Fogelman's EW interview he confirmed that there's a crossover in time when it comes to Hai and Laurel's story and Jack's time in Vietnam. That could be an indication that Laurel and Hai knew each other before Randall was born since the Vietnam War ended in 1975 and Randall was born in 1980. In the Season 5 premiere, Laurel is talking about President Jimmy Carter, and her and William's friend mocks her for her communism talk. Their friends also eventually get arrested for handing out pamphlets. So did Laurel protest the Vietnam War? Could she have met Hai, or someone related to him, through that?
3. Hai Is A Vietnam Refugee
If Laurel hadn't been connected to Hai before giving birth to Randall, here's another scenario that could explain their connection. After surviving her overdose, she continues her activism related to the fallout of the Vietnam War. If Hai was a refugee who came to the U.S. after the war, their paths could cross that way (though they may have dissenting opinions on communism). Laurel's reference to Carter being "a good enough man" in the Season 5 premiere would be no accident since the American president increased the number of Southeast Asian refugees admitted into the U.S. in 1979. The Washington Post noted at the time that the majority of the refugees entering the country from that region were from Vietnam.
4. Randall's Mom Won't Remember Her Past
Reddit user taavir40 considered the possibility that Laurel's mom might have amnesia. Although amnesia might sound far-fetched, it's certainly something that has been depicted on TV before. And there could be a basis for it in reality since in 2018, The Atlantic reported on scientific research that looked at amnesia connected to opioid overdoses. Even if she doesn't go full Michelle Tanner in the series finale of Full House, she could experience some memory loss from her overdose and lack of oxygen. Her body would give her the clue that she had just given birth. But if she doesn't seek medical attention, continues to abuse heroin, or has severe memory loss, that could explain why she never sought out William.
5. Randall Has A Biological Half-Sibling
You can't really see Laurel's stomach in the photo, but some fans are speculating if she's potentially pregnant in the picture. After all, Hai's hands are on her stomach in a classic maternity photo shot. (So many pregnancies, This Is Us!) If that's the case, then Randall could have another family member popping up soon.
6. Randall's New Therapist Is His Half-Brother
The potential of Randall having more biological family means fans' minds are running wild speculating about who could be related to him. While a popular theory ahead of "Changes" was that Randall's therapist would be his mother, fans have swiftly pivoted to focus on his new therapist Dr. Vance (played by Keith Powell, who was Toofer on 30 Rock).
On Twitter, @MariaRehrig wondered if Randall's new therapist is actually his brother. Beth made a point to mock Randall for thinking he was similar to his therapist, who is a "young father." Is that a clue that Dr. Vance is Randall's younger half-brother? If so, Randall also has a new niece with April. While being sensitive about making too many assumptions about Dr. Vance's racial and ethnic background, Randall did emphasize he's Black, so this theory doesn't necessarily connect Laurel and Hai. But anything to do with Laurel is worth discussing.
7. Randall's Therapist's Wife Is His Half-Sister
If you believe Laurel had a child with Hai, then Randall's sibling would be half-Black and half-Vietnamese. In "Changes," Randall had an awkward moment with Dr. Vance where he felt the need to say he married a Black woman. As is appropriate for the patient-doctor relationship, Dr. Vance didn't offer up any information about the race or ethnicity of his wife. Is that a sneaky hint that Dr. Vance's wife could be Laurel and Hai's child?
8. Hai & Laurel Never Had A Child Together
Hai's granddaughter Linh appears to be Vietnamese and she discovered who Laurel is. So it stands to reason that Laurel is not Linh's granddaughter. That most likely means that Hai had another family outside of Laurel. This adds to the question of when Lauren and Hai crossed paths.
9. Laurel Is Still Alive
Did you happen to notice the present tense that Hai used in his conversation with Linh? "Preparing a meal is the way to show someone you love them. I learned to cook because I want to impress someone very special to me," Hai said. He then added, "I will not tell you who I cook for, but I will show you how I cook for her." He didn't say he "wanted" to impress her. And he didn't say he "cooked" for her. Does this mean that Hai and Laurel knew each other before (again, perhaps even before she gave birth to Randall) and they've recently reconnected? Does that mean Hai is making meals of freshly caught fish for Laurel in the present timeline?!
This Is Us executive producer Ken Olin told The Dipp that there will be a "major episode" about Laurel's backstory soon. So it's only a matter of time until fans can discover the truth. But then the question becomes, how will Randall handle the news that his birth mother survived?