The This is Us midseason finale took us to the life of the last of the big three and finished leaving us crying for more!
After Kate’s story last week This is Us chose to save the best for last as we got to see Randall’s tale. It was a bit of a fake out since the show did flash back to a day Randall (Sterling K. Brown) had with William (Ron Cephas Jones) instead of focusing on the same narrow slice of time it had for Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley). We saw teenage Randall (Niles Fitch) on a college visit to Howard University with Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) which led to a long conversation about where Randall felt comfortable in the world.
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Adult Randall was faced with losing Deja (Lyric Ross) just as they seemed to be coming around to their new relationship. Shauna (Joy Brunson) has returned and she wants Deja back now. Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Randall vow to take her to court to fight her but Linda the social worker thinks it’d be ill advised. Randall changes his mind thanks to his memory of William and Deja goes. Kevin shows up about then ready to confess his drug addict ways but Kate’s news stops him. So he hops in the car totally wasted but Tess is in the back seat! Good think Kevin is pulled over and arrested before they crash.
What a winter finale! And what’s going on with that little boy we saw looking for a home? Time to talk This is Us “Number Three”!
Danielle (@dani_pitter): Couch potato, dreamer, writer, and recent college graduate! Also needs many tissues during This is Us, among other amazing shows. Danielle’s book blog, PoetryBooksYA, Danielle’s fansite, ParamoreRKLife.
1. Deja and Randall working on the science project was a delight and BOY is Randall the king of dad jokes! When you saw their newfound easiness, what did you think?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): Oh, Randall and his corny, geeky, nerdy dad jokes! Did he really use Lemonade as a scientific term? Beyoncé would be proud lol. I thought their newfound easiness was nice; better than Deja running away or backtalking or rolling her eyes. I didn’t think much of it, but since the end of the episode, it’s made me think of it more.
Mel (@musiccitymel): Was that not the most precious thing y’all have ever seen?! I think Randall has helped break down some of her walls and shown her a wonderful example of a real, good man. Even if they don’t see each other again (though I hope they will), I believe his example will stay with her.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): Randall is corny as hell, and I was loving every second of it. It was great to see Randall and Deja find some common ground in their relationship. After a rocky start and a long feeling out period, they really found a great way to connect and develop a bond
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): It was sweet, but I knew it was the first sign of the end being near. Deja was just beginning to finally settle in and feel “at home” there with Randall, Beth and the girls, and knowing that her mother was planning to fight to get her back, sadly, I knew that Deja was not long for the wonderful R&B household
K.M. (@kwanawrites): How sweet was that? I was so happy for them, but also read for the other shoe to drop as we knew it would. It was really nice, though to see that Deja had finally gotten an easiness with the family and a place she felt secure and loved.
2. Deja’s mom showing up and Deja asking her why she came!! Tell us what you think about their relationship?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): I got so mad, for some reason. First, her meeting with Randall and basically threatening to take Deja back bugged me, but I couldn’t be too hard on her because she was in jail for something that wasn’t her fault. But now, she came uninvited, blasting away for Deja, no note, no call, no nothing? That pissed me off!! I’m glad that Deja was able to calm her down, but she had done it as if she was the mother and her mother, the child. Deja has had to grow up too fast for her mother’s mistakes, and it’s only a matter of time that she’ll run away back to the safety and love of the Pearsons.
Mel (@musiccitymel): Deja’s mom isn’t perfect but she loves her. From what we have seen, I do believe her mom wants to be the best parent she can be. I just hope that she stays on the straight and narrow for Deja’s sake.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): Deja’s mom obviously cares very much about her, she just doesn’t really go about it in the right way. It was totally inappropriate for her to show up at Randall and Beth’s house unannounced and screaming like a lunatic. Deja’s reaction to the situation shows how much she’s grown since showing up in the Pearson household.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): It’s clear that the love is there and it’s strong between Deja and her mother. From the beginning, I knew that the show’s writers would want to keep it authentic when portraying this slice of a foster care story, and this happens: kids are taken from foster homes all the time, for good reasons and some not good at all reasons. It’s one of those hard truths of the process. But I definitely appreciated that the show didn’t fall on limp and lazy stereotypes about Deja’s mother or their relationship.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): At first, I was a little surprised and put off by Deja’s reaction but then I understood that Deja had been through this before with her mother and just didn’t want her mom to jeopardize her chances of getter her back or end up in jail again. She was actually being the grown up in the situation, as so many of these children have to do.
3. Beth and Randall were INTENSE about keeping Deja. Did you agree with Linda or were you on Beth and Randall’s side?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): Linda was another one who pissed me off lol. So many people have pissed me off this episode! I feel like Linda didn’t do much of anything to advise Beth and Randall. They wanted to keep Deja, sure, but how would they do it, with a crazy jailbird mother?!
Mel (@musiccitymel): I understood where Beth and Randall were coming from. They wanted to protect Deja and though their intentions were wonderful, Linda was ultimately right. This was not meant to be a permanent solution. Again, Deja’s mom isn’t perfect, but I’m hopeful she is going to get on the right path. People stumble and make mistakes but it doesn’t mean you just stop trying. I do hope that after seeing their emotional goodbye Deja’s mom will reconsider not wanting Randall to come around to help with homework or visit. Maybe she will see that they’re a loving influence and presence in Deja’s life and change her mind.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): Linda has been around this case for a really long time, and Beth and Randall just got a sample size of what it’s like to deal with Deja’s mom. Obviously Beth and Randall provide the more stable home enviroment for Deja, but Deja’s mom seems willing to do whatever it takes to provide and care for her.
However, Kitty Foreman needs to realize where Beth and Randall are coming from, and not dismiss them so quickly.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): I was on Beth and Randall’s side all the way. But I’m biased! Linda has been doing this job for a while. She was speaking from experience, so I reluctantly started to see her side a little later.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): I totally understood where Beth and Randall were coming from. It was a natural reaction to then and the girls forming a real bond with Deja. They had put in the work and now loved her but on the other hand I knew right was right and Deja had to go with her mom. In the end, they would lose out and Deja would end up resenting them if they fought. But she also appreciated then for wanting to fight for her. They gave her a safe and solid place to fall which was really what she needed.
4. This college visit with Randall and Jack to Howard University was REALLY interesting. We could say a million things. Why don’t you say some?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): It was really interesting! I had no idea that Howard University was a real HBCU (historically black college/university). I thought it was so nice to see Randall be with a crew of black kids nd not feel even more ostracized than he does at home. He’d felt like one of the guys, blessed, welcomed! However, when Jack came back to get him, Randall’s face was like, “Oh….and this is my dad.” Who’s old and white lol. I love me some Jack, but as a white guy, he will never understand what it means for a young, black guy to be found with his crew of other young, black guys. But luckily Jack understood as best as he could because that’s his son and he’ll do anything for him.
Mel (@musiccitymel): Basically anytime we get to see Jack interacting with his kids on screen, it’s magical. And I think we learn so much from these interactions. We got to learn more about what Randall felt like growing up and how different he felt. He was used to being in schools that were predominantly white and growing up being the only person of color in the family. It was so heartwarming and beautiful to get to see him so excited about the experience Howard University would provide.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): Randall, for the first time, is able to hang out with people like him. I think Jack understands that, but it’s still a bitter sweet moment for him because no matter how good of a father Jack is, he will never be able to connect with Randall on that level. My favorite line of the series happens because of this experience with Randall telling Jack, “I didn’t hesitate because you’re white. I hesitated because you’re old.”
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): I really like the actor playing Young Randall. (In fact, I think I tweet it every episode where the Pearson teens are featured: what a fantastic job of casting!) There was real affection and connection between Young Randall and Jack on that road trip, and I liked seeing how much Jack viewed his young Black son as his son—no exceptions. It semi-broke my heart when Young Randall told his dad that he feels like the “other” every day of his life and it how good it was to be kids who looked like him. As a Black woman who grew up in Canada, I can very much relate to the experience of being The Only or One of Two in the room. I liked seeing how natural and relaxed Young Randall was around the other kids at H.U. Again, I like that the writers didn’t turn to lazy tropes like: awkward “what are YOU doing here” moment between white Jack and some other person/parent of color. The writing on this show is so nuanced and smart!
K.M. (@kwanawrites): There was so much to see in Randall’s visit to Howard. What an eye opener into his world and how it’s not easy being the minority all the time. How great for him to have had that experience and giving it to Jack too. I noticed how he picked up on the dap handshake that Jack wasn’t in on and Jack noticed it too and it was too funny the way he was in awe of seeing so many black girls all around him. Their conversation in the car was tough but necessary. People are often dismissive of feelings of being the outsider, but they are very real.
5. What do you think was the tipping point in Randall thinking about his relationship to William that made him change his mind about fighting with Shauna about Deja?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): Maybe because William had spent the better half of his life fighting being a real dad, he’d felt like an imposter infiltrating on Jack and Rebecca’s family. He didn’t tell baby Randall he was his birth father; he’d just stood in the background. Maybe that whole “imposter syndrome” was felt by Randall as well, to the point of letting Deja go. Even though we all know that Shauna was not a fit mother, Deja (for the time being) had to go home.
Mel (@musiccitymel): I think what William said to him outside when he asked what right he had to come into his life when his mom asked him not to and how Randall had this whole life he didn’t know anything about really affected him. Because though the situations were different, the sentiment is similar. Just like young Randall, Deja had a lifetime of memories with her mom, silly nicknames, adventures laughter and tears that Randall didn’t know anything about. That’s not to say he couldn’t enrich her life, but that’s still her mama.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): The whole story I’m sure really opened his eyes to what may seem like the happy ending may not be the best outcome for all parties involved. He sees how much this little girl loves her mom, and his ultimate goal is to do what’s best for her and make her happy. Even if that’s not with him and Beth.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): I think it was remembering the story William told him about the bike on the lawn with the “vanity” plates on them. It made Randall really think about how much of Deja’s life he and Beth didn’t know about, how much of her inside, quirky, personal stuff (her favorite color, sweet nicknames) they had yet to discover. It was just like what William told him about the bikes: “I didn’t know if Number 1, 2 or 3 was a nickname you had from a life I had nothing to do with.” Deep, but real. William (Ron Cephas Jones) is just superb.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): I think it was his thinking about his conversation with William and William telling him why he didn’t intrude on his life growing up and then seeing Deja’s mom and her shopping for Deja. He realized that at her core she’s a loving mother. Flawed but still and always Deja’s loving mother.
6. This conversation between Jack and Randall was so rich it was one discovery after another. Which part had the most OR least impact for you?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): I basically said this before in another question, so I’ll copy-paste again lol. I thought it was so nice to see Randall be with a crew of black kids and not feel even more ostracized than he does at home. He’d felt like one of the guys, blessed, welcomed! However, when Jack came back to get him, Randall’s face was like, “Oh….and this is my dad.” Who’s old and white lol. I love me some Jack, but as a white guy, he will never understand what it means for a young, black guy to be found with his crew of other young, black guys. But luckily, Jack understood as best as he could because that’s his son and he’ll do anything for him.
Mel (@musiccitymel): Again, it was beautiful. I loved that we got to know more about his time in Vietnam and how it affected him. This was such a big moment because he’s confiding something in Randall that he hasn’t confided in anyone else. I feel like this was a moment where they were able to connect and understand each other on a much deeper level. Though for different reasons, they have both experienced that feeling of being off balance.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): The whole thing was awesome, and extremely sweet. The most gut wrenching part was when Jack talked about probably not being there for all of Randall’s life.
Also Jack sharing some insight into his days in Vietnam to Randall when he had not told anyone else, including Rebecca, about it was really cool moment that you like to see. I love it when Jack shares little moments or things with one member of the Big Three that is just theirs.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): Like I said earlier, the conversation in the car ride back home from the Howard University visit hit me the most. Randall told him how he really feels being this Black young man in a mainly white world. And I liked that Jack truly listened, instead of getting defensive or somehow feeling hurt or rejected by his son.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): I loved that Jack felt comfortable enough to share with Randall things about Vietnam and his vulnerably towards it that he didn’t feel safe enough to share with anyone else, not even Rebecca. It’s amazing how his relationships are different with each of his kids, but that’s why they each have their own special issues isn’t it?
7. Deja acknowledging Randall’s contribution to her project and the way she LEFT! Tell us about your feelings.
Danielle (@dani_pitter): This scene irked and annoyed the piss out of me lol! I just couldn’t believe that after all this time, Deja had finally started to open up to a loving family, and still decided to go back home with her jailbird mother (I’m going to keep calling her that, I don’t care haha!). But at least she had taken the time to let Randall know that just because she wanted to go, it had no personal affect on how she felt about him. It annoyed me so much; Deja deserves better than what she’s got.
Mel (@musiccitymel): I can’t. I’m still ugly crying. Their goodbye was the most beautiful moment on the show thus far. My absolute favorite moment of the entire series. They have set the bar HIGH.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): When she called him her Foster Dad there was an extreme influx of alergies in my house and my eyes started watering for no reason. That was such a gratifying sweet moment for those two given their rocky relationship starting out. I loved every second of it.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): Are there any words for those scenes beyond: **melting into a puddle of salty tears**?? The hat tip in the classroom was sweet, but the goodbye scene? Aw, brohhhh! Heartbreaking and outstanding at once. The actor playing Deja was phenomenal, and she held her own against the excellent Sterling K. Big house, fancy car. So good! It’s like this show’s version of “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” from another favorite show of mine, Friday Night Lights.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): Deja has grown so much in such a short time. Love her and I hope we get to see her back. She is such a special character and gave Randall just what he needed to say goodbye as she left. It was so sweet, and I was of course, a puddle of tears. This darned show!
8. OH KEVIN. When that Tess popped up in the backseat of that car even if we saw it coming our hearts STOPPED. What did you think?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): Oh. Hi, Kevin…lol. When Tess popped up in that backseat, I GAGGED!! WHAT on God’s green earth was she doing on the back of the car!? And how did she get out? She’d felt stifled in the house, but why run away?! And Kevin got arrested with a DUI, which isn’t surprising, but dammit!! He had to do it in front of Randall’s baby?! Huge WTF ending!!
Mel (@musiccitymel): Honestly, the only thing I could think was PLEASE get that baby out of the car and to safety because if this man messes up Randall and Beth’s chance to foster another child, I will mess up his pretty face. Respectfully.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): This actually turned out better than I thought when I saw that Tess was in Kevin’s back seat. It’s still not good, but I was afraid her was going to wreck the car with her in it, and there would be no coming back from that. There’s going to be some BIG ramifications for him, but we’ve been seeing this coming for a while.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): I did not see that coming, so I was like: TESSSSSSSS WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? Then I was like, They better not land him and her in a car wreck where we don’t know if that sweet little girl pulls through or not.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): Dang Kevin! I was so mad and then I could not believe how relieved I was that he was arrested and not in a car crash with Tess in the car. We if he wasn’t at the bottom before he is now, or will be when Beth lights into him.
9. MIDSEASON FINALE GETS A BONUS QUESTION: Tell us your thoughts overall about this trilogy that lead to the midseason finale!
Danielle (@dani_pitter): I still haven’t seen Kate’s episode, but based on both Randall and Kevin’s stories, I thought they blended together very well. We still got to know them throughout the show, but having their own episode without much interruption was helpful. It was also helpful to know Randall and Kevin’s relationship with each other, in conjunction to their individual episodes.
Mel (@musiccitymel): AMAZING! I feel even more of a connection to each member of the Pearson family. Yes, even Kevin. Watching them go through these struggles and how they deal with them and how they love through them is so beautiful. Is it just me or is this the best written show on television? Also, Sterling K Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson are still, and always will be, perfection. I will stan for them forever. BRB. Gonna go play Pac-Man till the end of time. COME ON, JANUARY!
Jake (@Jake_Lester): I loved the trilogy! The whole arc made me have a greater appreciation for Kevin and Kate, while also affirming my love for Randall. It was a great way to end the first part of season two, and I can’t wait for this show to come back.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it, specifically because I kind of thought focusing solely on Kevin or Kate would be a little flat (because, ahem, Sterling K is my forever fave, clearly.). But the Kevin episode blew that whole theory out of the water. I enjoyed the trio episodes. Each one came with its own impact and more information about the characters that might help us understand some of their choices right now. Well done, This Is Us Writer’s Room! Now I’m counting down the weeks until the Pearson are back pulling at my heartstrings.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): IMO the writers did a great job with this trilogy. *claps all around* As I had a feeling would happen, #3 was my favorite. Randall just twists my heart into a pretzel every time and that scene with William and the life that could have been. Well that was just unfair emotional wrangling. I was a mess! I’m really looking forward to what will happen with the little boy we saw a brief glimpse of. Will he join Brandall when we come back? Will Randall bail Kevin out of jail or let him sit and stew? Will Beth ever speak to Kevin again? I can’t wait to see what happens when they come back next year.
Final Verdict: While not as explosive a midseason finale as last year, This is Us delivered a strong trio of episodes to end the first half of season one and leave us staring at our calendars waiting for January 2nd!
Randall and Beth faced a tough decision as parents in the midseason finale of This is Us. The midseason finale took a look at what it means to be a parent and sometimes the result really surprised us. Would Deja have been better off with Beth and the Pearsons? Maybe. Randall’s own life would appear to be evidence. But Randall wishes he could’ve had a relationship with William when he came looking for him originally. It was tough to watch Randall and Beth make the decision to not fight Shauna, and it really honored William.
We caught a glimpse of a boy looking for a new home. So even though we felt the sting of Deja’s departure there’s definitely something to look forward to as Beth and Randall might just get a son in the second half of season 2! When will they meet him? Will the sailing be smooth or will Deja 2.0 occur? And we’re also curious as to whether or not we’ll see Deja again sometime (because we’re not convinced she’s gone forever).
Sterling K. Brown might just be one of the best actors on television right now. He took us from corny dad jokes (we’d listen to them all day, Sterling K.) to the poignant moment he got permission to hug Deja goodbye, this was the episode we knew he was going to slay. And he lived up to every expectation. That man says more with his eyes than should be legal. We’d be hooked on This is Us for his performance alone. Thankfully the writing, directing and every other actor in the show really live up to the same high standard (shoutout to Susan Kelechi Watson as well).
We’ve watched Kevin descend over the last five episodes! Does his arrest finally mark his rock bottom? Thank goodness he was arrested before Tess and Kevin were hurt. It might have been a little contrived for her to just show up in her uncle’s car, but hey it’s a midseason finale! There have to be some stakes!
Teenage Randall’s trip to Howard University was a really poignant part of this episode. We think it said a lot about identity both from a racial standpoint and an adoption standpoint. Seeing faces that look like are own can be an integral part of our experiences. So why didn’t Randall end up at Howard? One theory: We know that Jack dies not too long after he takes his son to visit Howard University. As supportive as Jack was about Howard it wasn’t hard to miss the pride in his voice as he talked about his son attending Harvard. Is this the reason young Randall ended up at Harvard and altered the course of his life?
This is Us concluded their Pearson trilogy on a really high note. How will we stand the wait until January 2nd? Will we see an intervention for Kevin? When will we properly meet the Beth and Randall’s son? Stick with us when This is Us returns, because we’ll all be here!