There’s only one episode left until the Season 2 finale of This Is Us and we are not ready. But before we watch Kate and Toby get hitched next week, “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life” gave us a more intimate look at Deja’s life before meeting Randall and Beth.
Despite their different backgrounds and upbringings, what is most interesting about this episode is how the lives of Deja and Randall connect — even going back to William and Jack. It truly is a case of deja vu.
All This Has Happened Before
This episode of This Is Us is more a series of vignettes, telling the stories of different pasts and presents simultaneously and how they connect and interweave. Everything runs in a cycle. Deja gets taken away from her mother, which causes her mother to start using drugs, which only keeps Deja in foster care for longer periods of time as she goes in and out of rehab.
There is the cycle of loss, with the death of baby Kyle and Randall’s mother in childbirth as the catalyst which brings Randall into the Pearson family. Laurel’s death caused William to leave Randall at the fire station that day and Kyle’s death led to Rebecca and Jack adopting a baby.
There are so many parallels: Jack and Deja with their shared rough childhoods, Kate and Deja with their desire to connect with their mothers, and even Kevin and Deja with their prized heirlooms from deceased family members.
Everything happens for a reason. This episode is proof. Every action causes another to fall into place, leading Deja to her eventual home. There are too many connections for it to not be true — Deja, like Randall, was born to be a Pearson. And it won’t stop there. Deja living with the Pearsons is what will inspire Adult Tess to become a social worker, changing lives and keeping the cycle going.
All This Will Happen Again
This episode is also a deeply moving look at the the trauma some children face in the foster care system. Deja is bounced from home to home to and has to deal with unkind or even abusive foster parents. In the back of her mind is always the concern about her mother. When they are together Deja is the one who has to worry about paying the bills. It’s no wonder she was closed off to Randall and Beth when she first arrived.
However, the episode doesn’t make Shauna out to be the villain of the story. She gets her own backstory as a teen mother with a hard life just trying to do the best she can.
You feel empathy for her because of her struggle and because of the ways her story connects to those we’ve seen before of William, or even Jack and Rebecca trying to afford raising three kids. And like William, Shauna has to make a difficult choice in order to give her daughter a better life. It’s yet another example of everything coming full circle.
As the star of the episode, Lyric Ross delivers an incredibly strong and emotional performance. You really feel for Deja and her desire for a safe place to rest her head. Ross has a quiet presence, especially in her final scene where she realizes she may not be that different from Randall after all.
The Season 2 finale of This Is Us airs Tuesday in the US, March 13th at 9 PM on NBC.