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‘This Is Us’ Season 5: Zoe or Randall's mom Laurel, who's in the photo? This theory will knock your brains off

The Vietnamese grandfather Hai (Vien Hong) and his over-inquisitive granddaughter Linh (Brandilyn Cheah) are somehow connected to the Pearsons

Each episode of ‘This Is Us’ is packed with a zillion surprises and shocks. Last week, the beloved NBC series ended with a major cliffhanger where we met a Vietnamese family. Titled ‘Changes’, the episode began on a beautiful, sunny morning as a little girl innocently asked her grandpa, “Do fish sleep?” Restless and jumpy, she couldn't wait to catch a fish and head back home for lunch. 

The Vietnamese grandfather Hai (Vien Hong) and his over-inquisitive granddaughter Linh (Brandilyn Cheah) are somehow connected to the Pearsons — specifically, Randall Pearson (Sterling K Brown). The photo frame at the end of their conversation left a huge mystery hanging in the air after Hai confessed, “I learned to cook because I wanted to impress someone very close to me. I will not tell you who I cook for but I will show you how I cook for her.”

The camera panned over to the photo frame for a minute and it seemed to look exactly like Randall's birth mother, Laurel (Jennifer C Holmes). However, not all fans were convinced and many refused to accept it was Laurel until they got a confirmation on the show itself. 

Laurel and Hai in ‘This Is Us’ (NBC)

The confusion sparked a huge controversy on social media. To clear the air, ‘This Is Us’ writers intervened and posted a zoomed-in version of the photo. Once it started floating on Twitter, the doubts should have ideally vanished but fans managed to introduce another complex angle. 

“They want us to think that’s Randall’s mom, but she’s Zoe's mom. They had two kids, one stayed in Vietnam with the dad and had that child, the other one, Zoey moved to the US with mom. Beth and Randall are related!” one viewer posted giving rise to a heavy comparison between Zoe (Melanie Liburd) and Laurel. Remember Zoe Baker? We met her in the Season 2 finale ‘The Wedding’. A photographer at Kate and Toby's wedding, her story soon comes into the picture and we find out Zoe's mother left her with Beth's mother when she didn't want to take care of her anymore.

Sharing pictures of the two actresses — Melanie Liburd and Jennifer C Holmes, one Twitter user posted, “I can’t believe they’re not the same person.” ‘This Is Us’ writers had to barge in again and clarify, “But they really are.... two completely different people.” It did nothing to stop the wild theories. Another fan defended them, “Those writers NEVER mess up the timeline. I’ve tried to catch them many times but they do their homework.” 




“I think it's Randall's mom pre-Randall's dad. Maybe she was in the military during the Vietnam war and she had to return to the US.” But another countered, “My thought - it’s a flash-forward. It’s Zoe in the pic - remember when she and Kevin went to Viet Nam? Maybe she went back...” A third said, “Thank you for the closeup! You guys, I know some of us were thinking that this could be Randall's bio mom, but what if it is 'Annie'? She hasn't had a storyline, yet. Or, has she?”

One fan asked, “Did anyone watch the latest episode of #ThisIsUs?? I can’t figure out who the woman in the picture is at the end of the episode. Is it Tess?” And the writers responded, “Randall’s mom.” One clarification wasn't enough though. “So confused, so if it's Zoe in the pic, is the little girl Kevin's daughter?” one posted and the writers made it clear, “Good question. It’s not Zoe in the picture, but Randall’s mom.”

The questions didn't end there. “She was drugged out. I was thinking perhaps she went and stayed with family in a different city. Otherwise, why wouldn't she have run into William? He thought she had died,” one fan wondered and another said, “I think Randall’s mum ended up with this guy, they had a child, who had the little girl in the episode, which makes Randall the little girl's uncle? The timeline fits then?? Maybe, I don’t know.”








Now, at the end of it all... One thing is clear: It is Randall's mom Laurel indeed. The actress who played Zoe, Melanie Liburd, may look similar to Jennifer C Holmes, who plays Laurel, but it really isn't Zoe. And if you are wondering how Randall's mom met the Vietnamese guy Hai and why she couldn't reach out to Randall's father William, the missing pieces of the puzzle will soon fit in. 

Shedding light on the suspense, Dan Fogelman told Entertainment Weekly: “It's just a glimpse of a character that's going to come to play a large role in our story. The story right now is not only incomplete, it's barely even painted. So in short order, a full, beautiful story is going to be told. I think it will be a satisfying and elegant answer to a lot of stuff, as opposed to something that necessarily begs more questions.” He added, “What you've seen right now is the first point of connection. In next week's episode, that will start locking in a little further, and we're not too far away from sharing a lot of information with the audience.”

‘This Is Us’ premiered on Tuesday, October 27, at 9 pm ET on NBC with a two-hour special, and the fourth episode ‘Honestly’ is all set to telecast from 9 pm ET to 10 pm ET on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.