The fall finale of ‘This Is Us’ ended with one shocking turn of events. Randall and Beth tried to come to terms with Deja’s decision about her future, while Kevin made yet another bad move that will have lasting consequences.
It’s finally time to focus on Randall Pearson. He may have been the last to walk, but he was the first of the Big Three to talk. “Table” was his first word. Fast forward to his senior year of high school, Randall is busy applying to colleges. In addition to all the Ivy League schools, Randall is looking at Howard University. Jack is all about Randall going to Harvard, but he agrees to go visit Howard when Randall asks.
Jack and Randall head out to Howard University on a Friday, the day of Kevin’s career-ending football game. Randall meets up with Keith when he gets on campus and feels right at home. Jack knows that Randall will make the right decision regarding his college future. When Randall introduces Jack to his new friends, there’s a hesitation on Randall’s part because Jack is white. On the way home, Jack brings it up. He knows it’s not easy for Randall to meet new people when they don’t know his circumstances. Randall admits to Jack that he feels like this all the time. There’s always a hesitation with people when they see Randall with the rest of the Pearsons. Randall fears he’s always going to feel off-balance in life and things will always be more complicated for him.
Jack decides to take a detour. He stops by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and finally opens up about the war with Randall. He confesses to his son that Rebecca doesn’t even know “what he really did, what he really saw” while he was there. Even to this day, it’s too hard to talk about. But, like Randall, he felt off balance when he got home from the war.
“You’re going to find your balance, Randall,” Jack says to his son. “And then you’re going to lose it, and you’re going to find it again. It’s the ride. You’re going to make a lot of choices, and I’m probably not going to be around for all of them. The choices you make are going to be spectacular, because you are spectacular, son.”
They’re looking out at at the Washington Monument when they get the page from Kate about Kevin’s leg.
Twenty Dollars & Pac-Man
In the present day, Deja is busy studying for her big presentation. Randall is her biggest cheerleader with this project. Suddenly, Randall hears Beth and Deja’s mom fighting outside. The charges against Shauna have been dropped, so she’s here to get her daughter. Deja comes outside and tells her mom to go home. If Deja’s going to get to go home, Shauna has to do everything the right way.
The next day, Linda, the social worker, explains what is going on. There’s going to be a hearing, and she’s going to recommend that Shauna get custody of Deja. Randall and Beth are just shocked. They say they’re going to fight Shauna for custody.
Randall doesn’t want to let Deja go. Then he remembers last Thanksgiving, when he found out Rebecca and William had known each other for almost his entire life. William had told Randall that he and Rebecca only met up twice, right after Randall was born and another when Randall was about 9 years old. Randall had started asking where he had come from. Rebecca went to visit William. He told Rebecca that he was clean, but he must have come on too strong with Rebecca. She feared William was going to come after Randall. She disappeared from William’s apartment, but he followed her. He couldn’t risk losing any and all possibility of seeing his son again. He only had 20 dollars for a taxi, but he made it to the Pearson home.
William wanted to walk up to the door and knock. He didn’t want to take Randall away from his family. He just wanted to be a part of the “big stuff.” When William got on the front lawn, he realized he didn’t know Randall at all, so he walked away. “Who was I to insert myself into your life against your mother’s wishes?” he told Randall.
After remembering his father’s words, Randall knows that he can’t keep Deja from her mother. Randall talks to Beth about how he loved Pac-Man when he was a kid. The game is a lot like life, it’s the same thing over and over again. However, “eventually, inevitably, those ghosts catch up with you.” They go see Deja’s presentation and cheer her on like the incredible people they are.
The next morning, Shauna is outside waiting for Deja. Randall offers to help in any way that he can, but Shauna says she’s got it. Deja wants Randall and Beth to know that just because she wants to go home doesn’t mean she doesn’t like living with them. Shauna is her mother, her family. She can’t give up on her. Later, Beth and Randall agree to try again with foster care.
After saying goodbye to Deja, Kevin shows up at the Pearson house. He immediately grabs the vodka. When he feels like Randall is going to start asking questions he doesn’t want to answer, Kevin leaves in a hurry. The thing is, he doesn’t notice Tess in the backseat of his car. He’s pulled over by a cop and arrested for DUI. Oh, boy. Kevin is in some serious trouble. Not just with the police, but with Randall and Beth.
“That’s the thing about the three of you,” Jack told Randall when Kevin was hospitalized. “There’s always a blindspot. I’ll be with one of you having a great time and, bam, something happens to the other, and I realize I should have been looking in that other direction.”
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