Wednesday, November 29, 2017

This Is Us 2.10: “Number Three”

“When I got back, I was off-balance. I was out of place in every place that I went. You’re going to find your balance, Randall and then you’re going to lose it and then you’re going to find it again. It’s the ride. You’re going to make a lot of choice and I’m not going to be around for all of them. But the choices you make are going to be spectacular because you are spectacular. Own it. Run with it.”
- Jack

Well, I was not expecting the ending this week’s episode but I probably should have. As the past two episodes have done, we get to see the same day in the past and present with Randall, with a few added flashbacks to scenes we’ve seen before and some we haven’t. In the past, Randall is filling out his application to Harvard but he really wants to check out Howard University. One of the boys he grew up with (his like one black friend) goes there now. He convinces Jack to take him but Jack’s a little skeptical. But as soon as Randall gets to campus, he meets up with his friend and they go off exploring, leaving Jack to do the usual scheduled tour. Randall is so impressed with the campus and the fact that there are primarily Black people. It’s a chance for him to be with people like him. He expresses this to Jack on the way home and they have a very interesting conversation about feeling out of place. Jack takes Randall to the Vietnam War memorial and explains that he was drafted at age 25 and when he got back form war, he felt out of place and off balance, much like Randall does now. But Randall is going to be just fine, no matter where he ends up.

In the present, Randall is starting to get ready for the Pearson family Thanksgiving tradition. He does not yet know about Kate’s loss and Kevin’s epic spiral. But, he has stuff of his own to deal with. Deja is preparing for a big school project that h e’s been helping her with when Shawna shows up out of nowhere demanding to see her daughter. She says the charges against her were dropped but Deja talks her down and we have to wait until the next morning to hear from the social worker. She’s going to recommend to the court that Deja go back to her mother because her apartment is clean and she’s stocked the fridge (the chargers got dropped so the prosecutor could nail a bigger fish). Randall and Beth are furious and intend to fight this. They claim they’ll file charges against Shawna for harassment and trespassing.

But, after Randall drops Deja off at school, he sits in his car and remembers a talk he had with William the prior year right after the big Thanksgiving debacle where he found out that William and Rebecca knew each other. William pontificates on the day Rebecca came to his apartment when Randall is nine. He followed Rebecca back to the Pearson home and he imagined what would happen if he introduced himself and how he’d get to partake in all of Randall’s milestones and then he realized he didn’t know which bike was Randall’s and what his nickname was and all sorts of personal information that really connects a person. So, Randall goes to Deja’s neighborhood and sees Shawna buying new clothes. When he gets to the school for Deja’s project, he tells Beth that they can’t stop Deja from going back home because there is a lot they don’t know about her that her mother does. Much like William made the decision to let Randall go, they too must let Deja go. It’s still a heartbreaking situation for them and Tess and Annie are obviously sad to be losing this sister they’ve just gained. I know letting things go and happen as they may is not Randall’s strong suit. Doing anything that involves relinquishing control is not his forte but he manages it. He even manages to give Deja a hug (which is a huge step for them given where they started off a few short episodes ago).

Just as Deja leave sand the Pearsons start to process being one person down, Randall gets the call from Rebecca that Kate has lost the baby. And then Kevin shows up all strung out and in a really bad place. He pours a large amount of vodka into his orange juice and downs it when the other girls come in. Kevin also declines a double brother chat with Kate until he gets his head on straight. Something tells me that’s not going to happen because he takes off (obviously drunk) and he realizes just as the cops pull up behind him that Tess is in the car. She wanted to hang out with cool uncle Kevin. He obviously gets arrested for DUI and both Beth and Randall are furious about what happened. I hope they aren’t mad at Tess. And I really hope that this is a wake up call for not only Kevin but everyone around him. As Jack told young Randall in the past, you develop blind spots with the people you care about and Kevin is everyone’s blind spot. They just don’t see him or pay attention to him when he really needs help. We can only hope that this changes things.

I will say that this episode wasn’t as upsetting as I expected it to be. But I do think it sets a lot of things up nicely for when we come back in January and I really enjoyed getting to fill in another little bit of William and Randall’s saga. You don’t see someone for a few episodes and you forget that he still has so much more story to tell. I will be sad to not get to spend time with the Pearson clan for a few weeks but I know that when we come back in the new year, it will be that much sweeter.

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