'This Is Us': The Pearsons Face the Pain of the Past (RECAP)
[Spoiler Alert: This recap contains spoilers from “Déjà Vu,” Episode 2 of This Is Us Season 2.]
Break out the tissues because This Is Us is throwing emotional blows left and right this week. In the new episode titled “Déjà Vu,” old wounds resurface, while some are in the process of mending. Continuing with Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) foster parenting plot line, Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) recovery, and Kevin’s (Justin Hartley) big movie production with Sylvester Stallone, this episode was filled to brim with juicy Pearson tidbits (not including Jack’s death). While the Pearson parents are featured in the episode, it is the plots pertaining to “The Big 3” that take center stage.
Beginning with Jack’s effort to put his drinking problems in the past, he shares that he is 3 weeks sober with his fellow Alcoholics Anonymous members, but that his dialogue with Rebecca (Mandy Moore) has grown more limited with each passing day. This admittance shows that he is getting better in some ways, while taking steps backward with his wife. Rebecca has noticed the divide as well, and confides in Shelly (Miguel’s ex-wife), about their growing distance. Taking Shelly’s advice, Rebecca decides to pull a “Jack Pearson” by sweeping none other than Jack Pearson himself, off his feet.
Recreating their first date, Rebecca drives Jack out to a stadium parking lot with burgers and some nostalgic tunes in tow. Initially the couple are at odds, while Rebecca is trying to get close to Jack, he has a tough time opening up. When they arrive home, Jack finally admits to Rebecca that he feels weak, and that A.A. forces him to face the darkest parts of his life. Being the supportive wife that she is, Rebecca tells Jack that she knows how strong he is, even if he doesn’t. Ultimately Jack takes this declaration to heart, and can be up front and honest, allowing the invisible wall between them to crumble.
Since the last few episodes have shown a crack in the Pearson façade, this reconnection between Jack and Rebecca gives viewers hope that things can only go up from here, of course that is until Jack dies, which has yet to be fully revealed.
Next there is Randall who finds himself at the center of two plot lines in the episode, the first occurring during his teen years and the other is a current time line which finds him and Beth fostering a 12 year old girl named Déjà. In the past, Randall is seen putting an ad in the paper in an effort to find his birth parents. When Kate and Kevin question Randall’s odd behavior he clues them into his motivations, to which they are supportive, even accompanying him to the park where a responder to his ad asked to meet. When the meeting doesn’t go well, Randall storms off. This event explains a lot about why it is so important to Randall that he exceeds at being a foster parent.
When Déjà is placed with Beth, Randall, and their daughters Annie and Tess (Faithe Herman and Eris Baker), he is immediately taken aback, as it is obvious that she has deep emotional issues pertaining to her situation. As Déjà is settling in, Beth attempts to help unpack her things, but emotions escalate when she finds cigarettes in Déjà’s bag. The moment that Randall enters the room to see what is happening, Déjà visibly flinches, keying both he and Beth into the wounds that she has suffered in her short life.
Randall admits that challenges in life never seemed that hard, but he finally thinks he is facing something that is as hard as everyone says. This realization is vital once he and Beth receive Déjà’s case file, where they find out her mother will be in jail for quite some time. He attempts to level with the adolescent, sharing his own experience as an adopted child, but the calm exchange takes a quick turn the minute that he and Beth reveal the current fate of Déjà’s mother. If viewers know anything about Randall and Beth, it is that they don’t give up so easily, and it is unlikely they’ll do so with Déjà.
In a heartwarming moment, Déjà goes to Tess and Annie to find out what the house is really like, from one kid to another. When Déjà hears that the worst punishment in the house is revoked iPad privileges, she says the house is crazy, leading to a flashback between Annie and William (Ron Cephas Jones) where he makes the same remark. A similarity like that could indicate that Déjà sticking around is more likely than not, as William became a fixture in their house before.
Finally there is Kevin and Kate, who are on the set of Ron Howard’s latest film that also includes the likes of Oscar winner, Sylvester Stallone. Kate who admits to being a big fan ends up having a conversation with “Sly” about the joy that his movies brought to her family, especially Jack. In her attempt to thank him, Stallone discovers that her and Kevin’s father is deceased, which leads to an awkward exchange with Kevin. Although Stallone was trying to be supportive, the mention of Kevin’s father throws him off of his acting game, and pushes him over the edge with Kate. There are clearly some unresolved issues with Kevin facing his father’s death, when Kate tries to address it, they get into a big fight.
After Kate leaves, Kevin is seen filming another scene where he becomes injured, again in a moment of distraction caused by memories of his father. When he calls to apologize to Kate, Kevin admits that he needs to face the unresolved emotions regarding Jack’s death, to which she tells him some day. Once Kevin hangs up the phone, he reaches for pain pills, while Kate glances up at Jack’s ashes and remarking that Kevin is just like him. This statement may be positive, but is also slightly concerning, does this mean that Kevin may have addiction problems the way Jack did, or is it an allusion to Jack’s closed off nature over sharing his emotions? These plots and more are sure to be explored in upcoming episodes, thankfully just a week stands between viewers and some much desired answers.
This Is Us, Tuesdays 9/8c, NBC