If you would like to read my review of the last episode, click here.
Synopsis: Randall and Beth are faced with a hard choice; Jack takes Randall on a college tour. (IMDB)
Writer: Shukree Hassan Tilghman
Director: Ken Olin
Running Time: 45 minutes
Tonight marked the mid-season finale of This Is Us and the conclusion of the three-episode arc revolving around the Big Three. Tonight’s episode was all about Randall, number three.
The episode opened to a sweet moment between Randall and Deja, as Deja was working on her science project. Sounds of yelling disrupted this moment, as we learn Shauna, Deja’s mother, was outside yelling at Beth, demanding to see Deja. Shauna was cleared of charges and wanted Deja to come back home with her. Level-headed and calm, Deja insisted that Shauna go home and wait to talk to the social worker, so they can do this the right way. This was a heart-breaking moment as Randall and Beth realized that this could mean losing Deja. Determined to keep her, Randall and Beth decide that they will hire a lawyer to find a way to keep Deja.
In the past, teenage Randall was applying to college. Although his father’s sights were set on Harvard, Randall wanted to check out Howard University instead. Convincing Jack to take him to D.C., the two headed off on a road trip to check out Howard. Howard proved to be a sense of comfort for Randall as upon reaching there, he parted ways with Jack to hang out with friends.
As is in This Is Us‘ nature, a tear-jerking flashback took us to last Thanksgiving when Randall learned that Rebecca knew of William’s whereabouts his whole life. This flashback proved to dig deeper and provide one of the best moments of this episode.
After learning Rebecca’s secret, Randall asked William why he never came for him, thus begins the $20 story. When Randall had turned nine, Rebecca went to visit William, after Randall began asking questions about William. Seeing William’s excitement sent Rebecca away in a panic, however, William followed her in a taxi with only $20 in his pocket, in hopes of finding out where they live before the meter hit $20 (which he did, phew!). Standing outside the Pearson house, William imagined that he was a part of Randall’s life, for all his big moments. This montage of imagination was beautiful and heart-warming as we saw William at Randall’s birthdays and his graduation. Reality came sweeping back when William saw three bikes in the yard, realizing that Randall had a life and he had no right to barge into it, so he never tried.
After meeting his friends, Randall and Jack head back home. Jack notices the hesitation Randall has when introducing him as his father, a point he brings up on the drive home. Randall explains that the discomfort Jack felt in that moment is how Randall feels all the time in school and around his friends. To let Randall know he understands, the two make a pit stop at the Vietnam Memorial in D.C., where Jack explains that when he returned from the war, he felt out of place and lost balance in his life.
Meanwhile, in the present, Randall continues to struggle with the idea of losing Deja to Shauna and goes to Shauna’s home. He discovers that she is happy and buying things for Deja’s return. This sad moment makes him realize they can’t take Deja away from her mother, and they must let her go. When discussing this with Beth, he compares life to Pac-Man, where they must play the same game over and over again. There will be cherries, and there will be ghosts, but you have to keep going.
Watching Deja give her presentation and giving her “foster Dad” a shout-out was a beautiful moment that hurt knowing they were giving her up to Shauna. Saying goodbye to Deja and letting her go was a difficult moment to process in this episode, leaving Randall, Beth, and the girls in tears as they bid farewell.
Remember when Kevin was in the midst of a breakdown? The episodes finally connected with Kevin showing up flustered to Randall’s and finding out that Kate had a miscarriage. His downfall continued when he drove away from Randall’s drunk. A flashback montage showed Jack reassuring Randall that Kevin would make it through his injury, and would find his way. Ironically, present Kevin was recklessly driving drunk and discovered that Tess (Eris Baker) was hiding in his car. To his continued misfortune, the cops pulled him over and gave him a D.U.I.
Despite that, this year the midseason finale ended on a sweet note, rather than a dramatic one. Beth and Randall decide that they want to try and adopt again, perhaps a boy according to Randall. In that moment, we are taken to a social worker talking to a little boy reassuring him that they will find him a home soon. Aw, this can only mean good things when This Is Us returns.
With a huge sigh of relief, we were thankful that this episode ended with everyone alive and well (in the past and present), at least for now. This Is Us was as beautiful as ever tonight as it has been this entire second season. The family dynamic and the heartache are an integral part of this show, and tonight was no exception. Once again the writing and acting brought us and left us in tears. Bravo, This Is Us, Bravo.
See you in January, This Is Us.