This Is Us recap: Season 2 Episode 17, “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life.” Aired March 6, 2018.
This Is Us aired a brand new episode, which focused on Deja’s backstory and how she came to be part of the Pearson family. We got to see Shauna in a different light and the experiences she went through that shaped her relationship with her daughter.
Instead of seeing the Pearson family in the present, we got to see through flashbacks how their stories were intertwined. From births to loss to family moments together, the episode led us through Deja’s life with her mother, Shauna, and her grandmother. Shauna’s mother isn’t in the picture and her grandmother is there to help raise Deja.
Unfortunately, she passes away when Deja is still young and Shauna must raise her without help. Seeing how Shauna struggled to come to grips being a mother at just 16, when she was still a child herself, gave us a different look at who she was as a person. Before, we only saw the mistakes that led Deja going into foster care.
However, we see Shauna’s perspective and how she tried to provide the best way she could. The show has always done well in giving us a look into how the characters’ stories reflect one another and this episode exemplified one more thread beautifully.
Deja’s journey into foster care begins after she hurts herself trying to make dinner for herself and her mother. The hospital follows protocol in calling child services, which brings Linda into the picture. Deja’s world is rocked when she is taken away from her mother, who was apparently out drinking when Deja was hurt.
Having never been in this situation before, Deja tries to navigate her way through the system. In a house with another girl, Raven, Deja is subject to physical abuse from her foster father. She finds the courage to tell Linda, but Raven is upset because for her, this was the least of their worries as long as they were together and in warm beds.
Raven has experience with being in foster care, something Deja is new to and struggling to understand. Eventually, she goes back to her mother, who seems to have cleaned up her act.
We find out that the gun found in Shauna’s car belonged to her boyfriend, which she had always maintained. He has not been a good influence for her and Deja is not happy with him. When Shauna is arrested, we see that this is when Deja is sent to Beth and Randall. While sleeping in Tess’ room where the girls are, Deja remembers being told to allow herself to be comfortable when she was in a safe bed.
Getting to see Deja’s perspective on her story in this episode was wonderful. It truly showed that there was no villain in this situation and her mother was just trying her best, despite the missteps being taken.
Deja and her mother seem to have it together at first, but eventually we can see that Shauna is still struggling. This leads Deja to seeking out Beth and Randall for money. However, her mother ends up using the money for bail since her ex-boyfriend is in jail.
Facing eviction, Deja reaches out to Randall, but tries to act like everything is okay. At one point, she is ready to sell a precious heirloom, but decides against it. One parallel this leads us to is Kevin and Jack’s necklace, showing that some things are just irreplaceable.
Deja and her mother end up sleeping in their car, only to be found by Beth and Randall. They bring the two to their home and Shauna sees how happy Deja is. She watches a movie, plays cards, and is able to be a kid.
Shauna shows strength and courage as she opens up to Beth about feeling as though she has failed her daughter. Beth tries to reassure her, but Shauna has come to the realization that it has always been Deja taking care of her, not the other way around.
Randall checks on Deja, who wanted to sleep in her old room for the night. She sees the plants that Randall was attempting to keep alive, even coming up with a corny nickname for one that was drooping. They have a conversation where Deja tries to make sense of a comment Randall had made about seeing himself in her. She had been thinking about how everyone in the world was alike in that they all needed sleep no matter what they were experiencing.
This moment with Randall really solidified how their relationship has grown. Having been unable to trust Randall at first, he has become someone she can confide in and she even is able to accept a comforting hug from him, which was not something she could do before unless he warned her.
When Randall comes downstairs, he learns Shauna has decided to leave without Deja. She has made a difficult decision that she can’t provide for Deja just yet and she trusts her daughter is in safe hands here. We don’t know how Deja will react to what has happened and how this will impact her relationship with the Pearsons.
One thing we do know is next week marks a wedding and a surprise appearance from a special guest. Dream sequence? Or something else? With this show, I feel like anything could happen.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Tell us in the comments below or find us on Twitter! Tune in next week for the season finale episode, “The Wedding.”
Tune into This Is Us Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.
(Featured image via Ron Batzdorff/NBC)