This Is Us Season 2, Episode 17 Recap: "This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life"

Last week on This Is Us, we were in VEGAS BABY for Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) bachelorette and bachelor parties. While it was full of family drama (classic Pearsons), with Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) getting into a brief fight, there were some sibling heart-to-hearts and a happy ending.
This week thought, it’s all about Déjà (Lyric Ross).
We flash back to Déjà’s birth. Her mom is 16, and her grandma (Déjà’s great-grandmother) is in the hospital with her. We never find out exactly where her mom (Déjà’s grandma) is. Déjà’s great-grandmother is trying to convince her mom to hold her, and gives her a bit of a talking to about needing to “grow up” now that she’s a mom.
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We then meet adorable little toddler Déjà, who is home alone. Her great-grandmother comes home, and they have the cutest little moment reading Goodnight, Moon. When Déjà’s mom finally arrives home though, it all hits the fan a bit. Déjà’s mom is struggling with being a young mom, and there is a bit of tension that she can’t support herself and her daughter without Déjà’s great-grandmother’s help.
Soon after, Déjà’s great-grandmother suffers a heart attack, leaving Déjà and her mom on their own. We instantly see how much this throws them for a loop.
The third to last Déjà we meet is fairly recent. We catch a glimpse of Kevin (Justin Hartley) as the Manny on TV, meaning that it is just before we met the Pearsons for the first time. Déjà is really responsible; she’s keeping her mom in check with bills and getting to work and stuff. It’s also really sweet to see that Déjà and her mom get along and have good banter.
It all starts to spiral out into what we know Déjà’s life as now when Déjà cuts herself pretty badly while trying to open a can. Since they don’t have water at the moment and her mom isn’t picking up, Déjà gets herself to the hospital. This is where Child Services shows up for the first time. After a while, Déjà’s mom shows up, and Linda, the Child Services agent, isn’t buying her story that she went out with some coworkers and her phone died.
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This is when Déjà enters foster care for the first time.
At her first foster home, Déjà has a foster sister named Raven. They get along pretty well, but Raven encourages Déjà to do some not so great stuff, like stealing some beauty products from a convenience store. Heartbreakingly, we also learn that their foster dad beats them, and even threatens to throw them out of the window.
When Linda comes to check on her, Déjà is strong and tells her exactly what’s been going on. They leave that foster home (and we see police with Mr. Miller, the foster dad, thankfully). Linda also lets Déjà know that she can’t go home just yet because her mom has been in and out of treatment for a year. “She only started using that stuff because she misses me” Deja explains.
We next see Déjà when she goes home to live with her mom. Immediately, her mom is inviting over a “friend from rehab” who she is most definitely with. Turns out, this is Lonzo, who you might remember (here’s where Deja’s story starts to connect with the Pearsons, and things start to click for us).
We see the progression of Lonzo’s involvement in their house — it looks like he moves in, and things aren’t too great. There is a lot of fighting, and Déjà definitely doesn’t seem comfortable with him being there.
Then, Déjà is about to slay at drill team practice when two police officers show up, and it doesn’t look good. This is where we first met her — Déjà’s mom was pulled over for having a gun in the car, which turns out to be Lonzo’s.
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Insert classic This Is Us flashback of when we first met Déjà, when she shows up at the Pearsons with Linda, the Child Services worker.
We do find out a tiny bit more about Déjà’s perspective on that time though. We see her rememberingher old foster sister, Raven, telling her that, “The next time you find a bed that feels even a little safe, don’t blow it.” Randall and Beth’s was definitely a safe space for her.
We then get another classic This Is Us flashback of when Déjà left the Pearsons’ to go back and live with her mom. Side note, but this scene was even more emotional to watch this time around. Knowing Déjà’s backstory gives this a whole new set of feels.
In the car immediately after leaving, Déjà’s mom promises that Lonzo is gone and that she’s “going to get it right this time.” There is a sweet little montage of them saving money in a “home bank” that Déjà made for them (she’s so responsible!), but then we meet back with Déjà when she asked the Pearsons to help with the heat bill.
Okay, so here’s when we tie back to last week.
The landlord is at the door (apparently their rent checks bounced three times) and they’re getting evicted (remember we saw Déjà and her mom sleeping in their car at the end of the last episode.) Apparently, Déjà’s mom used their rent money to pay Lonzo’s bail. I’m sad, and Déjà is too, naturally. She wants better for her mom than Lonzo’s bad behavior!
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Flashing forward to present day, after the end of last week’s episode. Randall and Beth invited Déjà and her mom to stay with them. The kids are SO excited to see Déjà! You can tell it’s hard for Déjà’s mom to see her daughter so happy with the Pearsons, and she expresses this in a bit of a heart-to-heart with Beth.
“I’ve never seen her act like that. Like a kid,” shen says and, even more heartbreaking, “I failed her, and I can’t keep failing her”
When Randall comes down from having a chat with Déjà (she admits she thinks they’re alike, too, which is sweet) Déjà’s mom is all packed up to leave.
“I gotta go. And I can’t take her with me.”
One additional sidenote:
There were a lot of flashes between the Pearsons’ lives and Déjà’s throughout the show. They’re definitely showing her as part of the family now, and it will be exciting to watch them grow together, and her journey with her mom as well as Randall and Beth.
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