There’s a lot of flashbacks as This Is Us gets ready to wrap up season 2. In this episode, titled “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life,” we find out how Deja ended up in foster care and eventually on the street. From the moment she’s born, her mother has always put her second, which shapes her future. Throughout the episode, there are quick snippets of similar scenarios of the Pearsons growing up to present day.
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Losing Her Caretaker
When Deja is born, her mother is just 16. In the hospital, her mother Shauna doesn’t want to hold Deja, but her grandmother insists that she bond with her child, as it’s time for her to grown up and become the mother she should be who puts her child first. Though she only seems concerned with a boy, Shauna eventually holds Deja to bond with her.
Three years later, a young Deja is home alone playing with a teddy bear when her great grandmother comes home. Her grandmother reads her Goodnight Moon and puts her to bed. When Shauna gets home, her grandmother rips into her; eventually, she tells her she can’t carry them forever. Shortly after, the grandmother dies, leaving Shauna and Deja alone.
In the System
Years later, Deja is making her own breakfast when her mother comes out in a work uniform. Deja tells her the water is turned off, so her mother says she’ll figure it out. It’s Shauna’s birthday, so Deja says she’d like to make her a special birthday dinner after she gets out of work. After school, Deja races home with the ingredients to make her great grandmother’s jambalaya, and she cuts her hand pretty bad with a can opener. Her mother doesn’t pick up the phone, so she takes herself to the hospital, which alerts Child Protective Services. Social worker Linda shows up right around the same time Shauna shows up. But it’s too late, and Linda takes Deja back to her office to find a foster home for her, at least for the night.
It seems the first home she’s in, she stays with another foster child Raven, who likes to stir up trouble. The foster father seems like an angry man and yells at the girls often. Raven makes a comment that he hits her too. On their way to school one day, Raven suggests they steal makeup from a shop for the school dance. Deja doesn’t like the idea at all but goes along with Raven when she calls her soft. Of course, the shop owner figures it out and comes to their home later. And their foster father isn’t happy and beats them after the shop owner leaves.
Linda does a wellness check. She lets Deja know that she’s going to have to stay in foster care a little while longer while her mother is in rehab. She senses that things don’t seem right with Deja, and as she goes to leave, Deja tells Linda that the foster father beats them. She and Raven are removed and put into a shelter. Raven is really upset with Deja and explains that she’s been in so many beds that she lost count. She tells Deja that they’ll just get separated and thrown back into the system now.
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A Permanent Home?
After staying in a few foster homes, Deja eventually goes home to her mother, who is out of rehab. However, she’s brought home a new man, who at first seems sweet and wants to impress Deja. But things sour pretty quickly, as all he and Shauna do is argue about money as he gets drunk. One day, he brings a gun into the apartment. Shauna flips out on him, and he promises to get rid of it. Unfortunately, he gets rid of it by putting it in Shauna’s car. When Shauna gets pulled over, the cops find the gun and arrest her. Deja is pulled out of her drill team when this happens, and then Linda brings her to the Pearsons.
And we all know the story from there. It takes a while for Deja to open up to Beth and Randall. Beth helps treat Deja’s hair issues. And then eventually, Deja leaves when her mother gets out of jail. After she picks her up, she assures Deja that her no-good boyfriend is gone and that they are going to get it right this time.
That quickly sours too, as Shauna just can’t get out of debt. When Deja sees how behind they are, she goes to see Randall and asks for money, which he gives her. However, shortly after, the landlord is threatening to evict them. When Deja asks her mother where’s the money that she put in the bank, her mother says she used it for bills and to help bail her old boyfriend out of jail. Deja takes drastic measures and tries to sell her clothes at a pawn shop, but the shop doesn’t accept clothes. After she gets back to the apartment, she and her mother pack their things and vacate the building.
They spend the night in the car, and that’s when Beth and Randall show up randomly after their trip. They bring both Deja and Shauna back to their place. Shauna tells them it’s just temporary. After a shower and a meal, everyone settles down for a movie, and Shauna sees how happy and kid-like Deja is. When it’s time for bed, Deja asks to sleep in her own room, leaving Shauna some time to open up to Beth.
Randall checks in on Deja, and they bond some more. And when Randall comes back down, Shauna has her bags packed. She tells them that she’s leaving and she can’t take Deja with her.
As I mentioned, throughout the entire episode, there are brief snippets and scenes that parallel what Deja is going through to the Pearsons. For example, when Deja is born, there are clips of when Beth, Rebecca and Randall’s mother are giving birth. When Deja’s great grandmother reads Goodnight Moon to her, the generations of Pearsons are seen reading it too, including Jack to his brother when they are kids.
At first, I don’t understand why this is happening. But as Deja explains to Randall, even though they might have lived similar lives, they are all the same in the end. Everyone has similar experiences in their lives and, ultimately, at the end of the day, everyone goes to sleep.
I have to say I am a little disappointed in the second to last episode of the season. While it is definitely interesting to explore Deja’s life and how she came to the Pearsons, I was looking forward to learning more about the Big Three.
What did you think of “The Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life”? Were you interested to learn about Deja’s past? Are you surprised that her mother left her again? Do you think Randall and Beth will want to adopt Deja? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
The This Is Us season 2 finale airs Tuesday, March 13 at 9/8c on NBC. Want more news? Like our This Is Us Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of NBC)