Once again eloquently dealing with sensitive issues such as race and adoption, This is Us delivers another emotional yet fulfilling episode.
Bringing the audience up to speed after the previous episode’s venture into the Pearson’s life in 2008, the second season’s seventh episode did not disappoint.
Randall and Deja’s poignant storyline was brought to a head with the pair’s first visit to see Deja’s mother in jail. After Beth’s passionate and protective outburst, the arrival onto the scene of the mother of the pair’s foster daughter was highly anticipated. However, a touching reunion between mother and daughter was not to be the case. A dejected and forlorn Deja made for difficult viewing as preconceptions regarding her mother were confirmed. Randall’s protection and obvious disappointment on behalf of his foster daughter was evident reflecting his fiercely loyal personality.
Yet, preconceptions and prejudices were challenged later in the episode when the reason behind the no-show of Deja’s absent mother was explained. Instead of neglecting her daughter, Deja’s mother was instead trying to protect her from the realities of prison life, having been visibly injured in a fight. In an unsympathetic moment for Randall, a tense exchange between foster and biological parents turns competitive. If, and when Deja’s mother is released from prison, we can expect to see a different side of the Randall and Beth we have come to know and love.
Kate’s reluctance to publicise her pregnancy reflects how important it is to her. Toby’s excitement parallels her caution and it is interesting to see how differently the pair approach the situation. However, Toby’s love and loyalty to what Kate really wants prevents the pair from having a rushed wedding just for the sake of it, instead of the big-white affair which deep-down Kate really wants. This episode suggests how much her impending pregnancy has affected Kate, instead of striving for her dreams, she begins to push them all aside in her denial and fear of what is to come. Toby is the perfect antidote to this, as his loving and down-to-earth nature is what helps to keep Kate grounded and will surely provide much-needed support in episodes to come.
The tragedy which is Kevin and Sophie’s doomed relationship reared its ugly head in this episode. Having recently become addicted to the painkillers prescribed to help him through recovery, Kevin is becoming more and more desperate. We watch as he descends further and further towards a break-down, becoming more reckless and thoughtless. In a final painful scene, he ends things with Sophie, reflecting how serious things have become for him, but all the while failing to seek help. Unlike his father, he has yet to realise the extent of his problems.
In the flashback scenes, we witness the events leading up to Randall’s adoption. In a clever parallel, all three of Randall’s parents are present at the same courthouse. Rebecca and Jack have applied to adopt Randall, an interesting storyline as until now, not much has been developed surrounding Randall’s entry into the Pearson family, suggesting that his adoption was seamless. However, when the couple face the Judge, they are met with difficulty. Judge Bradley feels that to place a black child with a white couple would not be in the best interests of the child and is set to reject their application for adoption.
In these scenes, This is Us
deals sensitively and eloquently with the issue of race and puts forward topical and thought-provoking questions. These scenes are an asset to the show, making it seem more realistic and authentic. Meanwhile, William faces another Judge. Unlike Rebecca and Jack, his meeting has nothing to do with family, but rather with the reason his was taken away, drug use.
An inspiring speech from Judge Crowder sees the seeds lain for the William whom the Pearson family later come to know and love and is a touching tribute to the character. It would be interesting if the development of young William’s story played a greater part in the series, as his journey very much informs that of his son and of the other characters.
This Is Us: Season 2 airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on More 4.