Over the past few weeks, This Is Us has gone more in-depth with each of the Big 3 than ever before. Last week, we watched Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) experience the heartbreaking loss of their baby. Before that, we watched Kevin (Justin Hartley) struggle with addiction during a high school reunion. This week, we turn to Randall (Sterling K. Brown).
With this being the last episode of This Is Us in 2017, there's no doubt that it’ll be a gut-wrenching one.
Spoilers ahead for This Is Us!
Randall is headed off on a college tour of Howard University with his dad, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia). He’s checking out a ton of schools (Jack brings up Harvard a lot) but he’s definitely interested in checking out HBCU opportunities as well. When they get there, Randall goes on a “behind the curtain” tour with a friend of his from high school who currently attends. It’s pretty obvious throughout the tour that Randall is loving it there.
On the way home, he opens up to his dad, saying that how this father felt at Howard is how he feels everyday. He also talks about loving the school but being nervous about making the right decision...and if it will be the right school for him.
Jack tells Randall he wants to take him to one more place before they leave Washington D.C., and they go by the Vietnam War Memorial. Jack finds some names on the wall, and has a moment with his son. Sitting in the light of the Washington Monument, Jack tells Randall about how he never really talks about his time in Vietnam, not even to Rebecca (Mandy Moore). He opens up about feeling out of place everywhere he went when he got back, and reflects on how the draft changed his life. As with most This Is Us chats, Jack shares a lesson with his son, talking about how he’s going to make a lot of decisions in his life and that he won’t always be there for them, but that he should feel confident in himself.
We don’t really see this side of Jack — his history and time in Vietnam have scarcely been talked about over the last season and a half. It was also nice to see Randall’s experience at Howard and how even just the potential of going there shaped his view on what college could be for him. Bonus: Susan Kelechi Watson, who plays Beth, went to Howard University IRL, so could this be where Beth and Randall met?
Modern Day Randall
However, this episode spends most of its time with Modern Day Randall, even though it gave us a bit of background on Senior Year Randall as well.
Right at the start of the episode, Déjà’s mom arrives at the house unannounced. Apparently, they’ve dropped her charges and she wants her daughter to come back and live with her. Randall and Beth are a bit up in arms, but Déjà (Lyric Ross) takes control of the situation and tells her mom that she’s excited but it needs to go through the social worker.
The next morning, the social worker drops by and tells them that they’re going to recommend that Déjà’s mother gets custody of her daughter. Randall and Beth threaten to press charges against Déjà’s mom for trespassing, as they think it’s best for Déjà to stay with them and this would violate her mother’s probation.
After Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) mentions that she thought last year would be the craziest Thanksgiving they’d ever have, Randall has a flashback of a conversation with William, his biological father. William talks about how he had the opportunity to meet Randall when he was nine, but decided not to after seeing the three bikes on the front lawn and realizing how much he didn’t know. “Who was I to insert myself into your life against your mother’s wishes?” he asked.
This really sticks with Randall, and he tells Beth that they definitely can’t keep Déjà from her mother. He drove past her apartment earlier, and noticed some things he had no idea about, which further drove home William’s experience. “She had this whole world spinning before us” he says to his wife.
In a tiny sweet moment, Déjà refers to Randall as her “foster dad” while giving a presentation to her class. You can see how much this means to both of them.
The next morning, Déjà leaves with her mom. Randall offers help to her whenever she needs it, but Déjà’s mom makes sure he knows “we’ve got it from here”. The whole fam is really sad to see her go, and I am too! Their relationships really grew to be something special, but you can tell it’s nice for Déjà to be back with her mom as well. As she’s leaving, Déjà also lets Randall know that even though she wants go home, it’s not that she doesn’t like living with them.
Once Déjà leaves, we sync up with the Big 3 as a whole and see everything happening all at once — Kevin arrives at Randall’s shortly after Déjà leaves. He’s just gotten off the phone with his mom, who told him about Kate’s miscarriage. “When it rains,” Randall says.
Randall and Beth briefly discuss wanting to foster again as well, both mentioning how their experience with Déjà was proof to them that it’s worth it even if the child doesn’t stay with them forever.
In the last few scenes, we see some major drama connect the storylines back together again. While at Randall’s, Kevin downs a (mostly vodka) mixed drink. While he’s finishing up, his nieces walk into the kitchen and he instantly feels uncomfortable. He asks them to tell Randall that he has to leave and heads out. He’s speeding down the street extremely fast and swerving a ton, when Tess (Eris Baker) pops up in the back seat. Moments later, the cops pull him over and Kevin is arrested for a DUI.
With this being the fall finale, it looks like January will find us with Kevin’s addiction becoming public knowledge, as well as providing some major changes for Randall and Kate.
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