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S02.E17: This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life

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I had written last week that I wasn't moved then but it was only to set up what was to come tonight.

 

That...was not was I was expecting.  It felt a lot of a retread of someone promising to change and they weren't even when things were that dire.  Then had the "a ha!" moment when they realize their kid was better off with someone else and felt it was best to take off then.   While it was nice to see Pam Grier for 2 minutes and the actress who plays Deja is great I didn't get much out of it. 

 

Next week: season finale!  Where so many questions have already been answered so I don't know which ones I have left!

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Ack!...this show is trying to buy my affection for Deja by dangling Pam-freaking-Grier as her nana.

Bite me, show.  I hate that it will probably work.

But I'm going to need flashbacks.  And ghostly advice-dispensing visits.

Edited by voiceover
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That Goodnight Moon scene was breathtaking. Wow. Best use of a multigenerational show yet. That was also the scene that cemented for me that Deja was going to become a Pierson permanently at some point.

But also, if Kate ever does get pregnant, I wish they had saved the birthing scenes across the all characters for her baby.

I kinda wonder if the Sense8 writing staff feels like This is Us “borrowed” from them. The birthing scene, and the rest of the flashes really reminded me of Sense8. They’re very different but surprisingly similar.

I would not be surprised if Deja’s adopted, a lot of my friends foster and they have all adopted one of the first kiddos they were charged with. In fact, one of them has taken in siblings now too, bc they want their now adopted daughter to have their blood siblings too. They could not stand the idea that their daughter’s siblings were being bounced by other fosters (they know they were being bounced bc every time the social worker would call asking for them to take them in too).

They really lucked out with Deja’s actress. I wonder if Beth and Randall are going to continue to Foster if they have Deja full time. I really wanted Beth and Randall to foster the deaf child the social worker talked about. Let’s get more diversity on this show!

Edited by SnoGirl
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Can someone tell me what happened. I just got my power back that's been out since Friday. I don't really care about Deja so when I seen the episode was all about her I went back to putting the house in order.

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Just now, notcreative enough said:

Can someone tell me what happened. I just got my power back that's been out since Friday. I don't really care about Deja so when I seen the episode was all about her I went back to putting the house in order.

Deja’s Mom made a series of bad decisions but we have the superheroes Randall and Beth to swoop in and save Deja.

This episode would be great for anyone suffering insomnia.

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Eh. I mean it gives insight into Duja and her mom but I don’t care that much.

Also the ending was written on the wall of Dujas mom leaving her with Beth and Randall.

And yeah.. even if this wasn’t my favorite episode, the effort that the people behind this show put into just one episode is amazing. All the quick cuts to the generations of life, that litte scene when Duja cut her hand and she was watching The Manny. It’s just amazing to me the effort this show goes into for one episode.

Next week is going to kill me. I just know it.

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1 hour ago, mojoween said:

Susan Kelechi Watson is stupendously gorgeous.

If there is an empty apartment in the building they own, couldn’t Randall and Beth put Deja and Mom into one of them until they get back on their feet, or Deja becomes an adult, whichever comes first?

I don't think this would be a good solution for Deja.  She needs to be a child and be protected.  Her mother is not capable of taking care of her on an emotional or physical level.  She needs to be separated from her mother.  Her mother is in need of rehab again I assume.  Where would the rent money go so quickly but to drugs?  When Shanna is out of rehab I wouldn't mind Beth and Randall helping her with an apartment but she needs to try to live independently and stay sober on her own.  I hope the mom stays away.

If the money really went to bailing out her boyfriend then her mother is so emotionally stunted she is incapable of predicting that they would become homeless if she didn't pay the rent.  Poor her judgment will continue to harm Deja if she is in charge of Deja's care.

Edited by Kira53
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17 minutes ago, chaifan said:

I don't understand why child services was called on Deja in the first place.  She was a teenager left alone at a normal dinner time.  Yes, she injured herself, but there was no sign of abuse or anything worse than just being a poor latchkey kid. 

I think living in an apartment with no water was the issue. But again, unless Deja specifically told them, why would they ask just because she cut her hand?

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2 hours ago, methodwriter85 said:

No, the idea was that despite all the different walks of life that people go through, there are some things that we all experience that are universal and timeless. 

Yes, we witnessed the birth of the latest Pearson -- fostered or adopted -- along with those of her foster-father and his siblings. 

Throughout the episode we then saw individual points that Deja and Shauna had in common with the family, set off by contrasts: Randall's gaining and then losing William, as Deja lost her mother; babies delivered by their father at home -- Tess and Randall; a mother grieving for a lost child or her own lost childhood, and being comforted by her mother or grandmother; a grieving father with no living mother or grandmother to, rightly or wrongly, steady him and stand by him to raise the child; generations cooking together; the insoucient Raven/Kevin and the diligent Deja/Randall; the drunken and abusive father foster father or would-be stepfather; cheerleading, track or drill team; alcohol and anxiety...

And other similarities implied, based on what we've seen before: siblings who survived abuse together and then lost each other (Jack and Nick; Deja and Raven), and Deja's verbal image of the whole world's lying down to sleep each night, akin to Kevin's painting.

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Well I liked seeing Deja's backstory but I was left a little puzzled. Did she start in the foster care system when the social worker removed her from her home when she cut her hand and there was no water, or had she had stints in the system before? How many foster homes has she had time to be in? Her foster care sister in the home with the father who was a drunk seemed to have been more of a veteran of the system.

In real life I imagine she wouldn't be able to immediately go back into Beth and Randall's home even if her mother wants to bail and all the parties agree that's what she wants. The wheels of the state child care system have to turn.

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2 hours ago, chaifan said:

Leaving her daughter was the easiest thing she could do.  It was a total cop out. 

I don't understand why child services was called on Deja in the first place.  She was a teenager left alone at a normal dinner time.  Yes, she injured herself, but there was no sign of abuse or anything worse than just being a poor latchkey kid. 

Like Lady Calypso above I found myself totally bored with 90% of this episode and saw no point in devoting an entire episode to this backstory, especially when it was pretty obvious Shawna was just going to bail in the end again.

I am guessing she told them that she couldn't get in touch with her mom - then the social worker tried to call and couldn't reach her either. Maybe it was because of the lack of running water - that has to be it.

Those are the most likely reasons I can imagine, since it is Newark... there are a lot of poor people there. They wouldn't just call DCF over a teen being home alone at like 7 PM. I'm also surprised the urgent care she went to was so empty.

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11 minutes ago, Pallas said:

babies delivered by their father at home -- Tess and Randall;

Speaking of which, we see young William help Laurel deliver Randall in a bedroom, then the same bedroom without Laurel and the bed stripped of sheets. Assuming it's true that Laurel died in childbirth, what happened to her body? Didn't the fireman tell Jack the likely birth mother's body was found in an alley? Did "Saint" William dump her there?

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It seems to me like this show should have ended forever a few weeks ago. It is getting really corny. I did not enjoy tonight's episode on any level. It just strayed too far from the main characters. I would prefer to see the main characters at different stages in time instead of this side plot about Daysha (sp?), It is trite and comes across like a Lifetime movie. 

Edited by DakotaLavender
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I didn't even finish the episode because I don't care about Deja's backstory.  This did not feel like an episode of This Is Us...

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The only thing I can say is to repeat what's been said about this episode being a repeat of stuff we basically already knew and lots of clips of stuff we've already seen.  The only interesting thing was Pam Grier as Nana and more of Linda the Social Worker.

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Since Deja is likely sticking around for good and will become a Pearson, I understand why the show felt the need to flesh out her backstory and make her mom more sympathetic.  We’ve seen why the Pearsons are the way that they are, so they wanted to establish Deja as a new addition to the family. That’s why they tried to intertwine her story with the rest of the family and it was relatively well done. The acting was great and the story was moving. 

That being said, this time could have been used for so many other things. Seriously. Stop dangling Nicky in front of my face if you aren’t going to dive into his story. 

Edited by Spencer Hastings
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I didn't mind seeing Deja's background but I thought the whole show being about it, was a bit much. I loved Pam Grier and was sorry to see her die so early in the episode. I've never wanted to surf on my computer and I kept losing focus because you kind of knew what was going to happen.

Deja's "bed" references are understandable and I felt for her friend who was already hardened by her experiences, it's awful being shuffled around and many don't get pulled out because of abuse. They also showed though, that many have awful lives with one bed, Jack did, I know real kids that I found out much later, had horrible lives at home when I was growing up,but they kept so much hidden. There was alcohol, child abuse, sexual abuse, never having new clothes or good food, missing meals, it goes on and on.  Because we were suburban and back then, cops gave more warnings than arrests, things went on without much interruption. They had the same bed but it was an awful one.

Deja is very resilient and I hope they don't turn Randall into St Randall, I don't like that theme, but I do hope to see a realistic portrayal of how they integrate Deja into their family. I also hope she can live with her mother in their new apartment building and still stay close to them. Maybe Beth or Randall can help her Mom get a good job or training for one so she can be more stable and they can watch Deja as she goes to school or works odd hours. Deja loves her Mom but Randall's house is like Disney Land to her, everything is so nice and new and fresh and the kids are cute and polite. I'd love it too as a kid. But getting a "new family' a new beautiful room isn't all she needs and bonding so quickly to Randall and Beth is filling a hole, but is not without issues.

Edited by debraran
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8 hours ago, Empress1 said:

I'm conflicted about Shawna leaving Deja with the Pearsons. On one hand, I was affected by seeing Deja's time with the Pearsons through Shawna's eyes. Shawna isn't a bad person, she's a young person who never quite got it together, then made some bad decisions, including relying on Deja too much. At the Pearsons, Deja is protected and cared for and isn't relied on to help run the house. But on the other, is Shawna so far gone that she has zero chance of giving Deja a decent life? She's not and won't be as wealthy as the Pearsons, but that doesn't mean she can't be there for her daughter and start to be an adult.

Same, and that's what I like about it. This is complicated. They don't turn Shawna into a cartoon villain to make it easy. She loves her daughter and is trying but she's got real challenges that are unfair and potentially dangerous for Deja. 

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42 minutes ago, morgan said:

I feel all alone because I really enjoyed this episode.  I loved the flash scenes of childbirth, goodnight moon, cooking, abuse, etc.  All human experiences that are the same but different.  I don’t mind that This is Us continues to explore periferal characters and expect the show continue to do that.  I really enjoyed it when Deja was talking to Randall about how everyone sleeps because I do that, too.  I find it so interesting how different it sometimes feels like people are, but basic human experiences still connect us.  Maybe that is why I seem to have enjoyed this episode more than others.  

You're not alone Morgan.  I really loved this episode. My daughter's favorite book growing up was Goodnight Moon and I miss the nights when we would read it together before bed time.  She is carrying on the tradition with her child with the very same book that we read together. I love back stories, whether they are about main characters or not. I choose to just enjoy this show instead of picking it apart and criticizing it.

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It was so sad seeing the kids schlepped around.  Poor Raven, willing to stay in a house where she was beaten rather than being moved to an uncertain home again.  

2 hours ago, debraran said:

Deja loves her Mom but Randall's house is like Disney Land to her, everything is so nice and new and fresh and the kids are cute and polite. I'd love it too as a kid. But getting a "new family' a new beautiful room isn't all she needs and bonding so quickly to Randall and Beth is filling a hole, but is not without issues.

I so agree.  Being in a secure home is one thing, but she still loves her mother.  Even though Deja loves the Pearson family I can't imagine the feeling of abandonment she will experience once again when she wakes up to find Shauna gone.  

I didn't love that the show spent an entire episode on Deja's backstory, but that little girl is a superb actress.  Her non verbal work is wonderful.  Tears my heart out.  How old is she supposed to be?  Everyone is calling her a teen but she looks barely 13.  Is that old enough according to NJ CPS to be a latchkey kid?

I very much liked how the episode showed glimpses of each generation and family doing similar things-- Goodnight Moon, cooking together, experiencing birth and death.  We even got to see young Jack and his brother reading the same book.  (Not 15 minutes before the show started I made a comment to someone on FB about Goodnight Moon.  Weird!)

I had no idea that was Pam Grier when I fell in love with GiGi.

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8 hours ago, chaifan said:

Leaving her daughter was the easiest thing she could do.  It was a total cop out. 

I took it to be a difficult choice, a sacrifice she made so Deja could have a better life.  After all Shauna mentioned she was able to see Deja act like a kid with Tess and Annie instead of having to be the adult she'd been for her mother since age five.

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9 hours ago, methodwriter85 said:

No, the idea was that despite all the different walks of life that people go through, there are some things that we all experience that are universal and timeless. Basically, if this show liked popular music that came out after 1980, we would have played "One" by U2 for the final montage.

 

Ok, thanks MethodWriter for explaining this to me. I genuinely was only half paying attention so I obviously didn't pick up on this. Still, for me, I felt it was too cheesy? Maybe I was just in an off mood last night. I'll likely give the episode one more chance during the break to watch.

9 hours ago, Empress1 said:

My friend adopted the first kid she fostered (as a single foster mom). Her daughter was a little older than Deja when she was placed with my friend. It happens. (She told me that apparently it's pretty common to be "one and done" with fostering, though not because a lot of foster parents adopt right away - because they underestimate how hard it will be and don't do it again once their first placement leaves.)

Oh, ok! I honestly didn't know that. I guess I'm just used to TV cliches and I wasn't surprised that they wouldn't let Randall and Beth continue to foster for the rest of the series and that they'd adopt sooner rather than later to please Randall (though he isn't getting the little boy that he wanted). However, I get it. Lyric Ross is too talented to let go, so I guess she's sticking around. It's really fine with me and I enjoy Deja as a character. I've just seen this play out on TV quite a few times. I was actually interested in exploring the foster system more, so I'm hoping that will continue. 

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I loved the story personally and the cuts to those shared moments that every family has: birth of a baby, cooking together, etc. I thought it was all beautifully done.

One peeve though, their apartment was WAY TOO NICE! Yes, I get that it was Grandma's apt before she died and they inherited it, but if the mom was drinking and drugging for very long, they would long since have lost the apartment, or at have sold off the decor at least. Doesn't help that I've finally gotten around to watching The Wire. I'm on season 4, the one where they focus on the kids. None of their homes look that nice. When a family is dirt poor and someone is drug addicted, everything that can be sold is sold right down to the food in the fridge. To me, this was a sanitized version of that sort of life.

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They had me at Goodnight Moon.  And all the generational stuff.  In our family we call great-grandmother Gigi, too.  I'm easy. 

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Just now, ShadowFacts said:

And all the generational stuff.  In our family we call great-grandmother Gigi, too.

My nieces called my grandmother, their great-grandmother, Gigi as well.  I loved that part.

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49 minutes ago, Haleth said:

I didn't love that the show spent an entire episode on Deja's backstory, but that little girl is a superb actress.  Her non verbal work is wonderful.  Tears my heart out.  How old is she supposed to be?  Everyone is calling her a teen but she looks barely 13.  Is that old enough according to NJ CPS to be a latchkey kid?

I would assume so, in IL it’s 12. I think the actress is actually 15 (which doesn’t surprise me), but kids mature physically at different rates so you cannot tell how old a kid is by how they look. A lot of black girls keep “baby faces” well into their 20s; before puberty people always thought I was older than my age because I was taller than my peers and fat (before childhood obesity was a trend), after puberty every one thought I was younger because of my face and voice. 

Edited by Scarlett45
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Like some of you, I was never really interested or invested in the Deja story. But I thought they did a very good job providing us a background and how it can be for a child in her position, in the system and trying to survive an unreliable - to say the least - mother.

I turned away when she was left alone with those three men in the apartment after her mom went off to work -- I thought she was going to be abused. Thank God she just went off to school.

I hope she one day reunites with that young girl friend from her first foster home.

I think we got a few glimpses / flashbacks of Jack and his brother (reading the Moon story, etc.)

My very favorite part of the entire episode, was the SNL commercial about SKB making us cry and hosting SNL this week. Fun-ny!

9 hours ago, clarkbar said:

I looked at my watch with 2 minutes to go and found myself disappointed it was almost over.  I really liked seeing "the rest of the story"--changed my perspectives on both Deja and her mother.  As a teacher, I've seen many foster children come through my classrooms.  I found this story especially touching.

Word.

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27 minutes ago, mansfolly said:

I think we got a few glimpses / flashbacks of Jack and his brother (reading the Moon story, etc.)

Yep. I squeed because it shows how Jack's story will be a part of future episodes. Also, more on Randall's biomom and William.

 

ETA: Also, I loved that when Deja was making dinner, her favorite show was on the TV. 

Edited by MsChicklet
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I don't dislike Deja and I am hoping the plot is moving towards her becoming a permanent part of the Randall/Beth family.  But...........my problem with this episode is it was a little anvil on the head heavy.  Instead of showing Deja, her Mother and the Pearsons in the now and having little things happen that caused a flashback  (Beth opens a coffee can, flash to Deja cutting her hand,  Tess calls her Dad and says it went to voice mail flash to Deja calling Mom at the hospital and so on) it was the opposite with Deja and her Mother doing things and a flash to the Pearsons at different times of life doing pretty much the exact same thing..............heavy falling anvils of   <<everybody's lives intertwine people have similar experiences we're not all that different after all>>  almost literally smacking us on the head with the lesson.

Deja isn't enough of a character for me yet that a whole show devoted to her and how she ended up at the Pearson house can hold interest.  The basic story yes but an hour of it was too much.  I think this was the first episode that I didn't watch with my full attention - but I did level up pin Free Cell while it was on.  

To the things that were in the episode:  I hope the Mother doesn't just disappear and goes to the social worker, let's her know Deja will stay with the Pearson's, officially signs away parental rights and such.  I also hope she wrote or will write a letter to Deja explaining.  I was afraid when Mom left for work the guys would make a move on Deja, it was maybe lightly hinted at in the kitchen but if there was anything going on it was the one part where they refrained from hitting us over the head with it.  Part of me wants to see Raven again and the easy way for a drama would be for her to find Deja and need money or they see her on the streets as a hooker or something.  It would be more interesting for her to pop up as a successful person they interact with and suddenly she and Deja recognize each other.  Maybe that's overly optimistic of her beating the odds but the show has enough sad cases and I thought the girl who played Raven was really good and wouldn't mind seeing her again and having it be a happy reunion for once would be nice.

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I'm probably the only person in North America who wasn't read "Goodnight, Moon" over and over as a child (#darnimmigrantparents).  I assure you that I WAS read to, though - in Cantonese AND English.  Anyway, I think it's established that Gigi/Nana (aka Pam Grier) is Shawna's grandmother, not mom.  So my question is:  Where is SHAWNA's mom?  I don't think we were told?  And if Randall/Beth DO adopt Deja, I hope there is some sort of open relationship with Shawna.  And I hope Deja doesn't resent the fact that Shawna just "dumped" her with the Pearsons (she honestly didn't, but Deja doesn't know that.  Deja may resent Beth, thinking SHE was the one who convinced Shawna to leave).

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I actually liked this episode, and I get the fact that now that Deja is going to be a permanent fixture she deserves a flashback. Yet, I can't help but realize that neither Tess or Annie have gotten a real flashback. The closest we have gotten is Tess's birth. Part of it may be that they probably have rather boring lives up til now, but still.

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