'This Is Us' recap: Foster children, birth parents and Randall

THIS IS US -- "The Most Disappointed Man in the World" Episode 207 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)
THIS IS US -- "The Most Disappointed Man in the World" Episode 207 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC) (NBC / Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Winter descended in my neck of the woods this past week, so thank goodness we’ve got another episode of “This Is Us” to warm the cockles of our hearts, right?

(Side note: BRB. Googling “heart cockles.”)


(Done. Wow. Never would have guessed. Moving on.)

Anyway, the weather made your obedient recapper sick, so we’re gonna skip Fun Twitter Factoids this week. My apologies. FTF will be back next week, knock wood!


Before we go any further, here’s the customary warning: If you keep reading, you’ll be spoiled for Season 2, Episode 8, so if you haven’t seen it yet, come back later!

Everybody else, pull up a bench, grab your leftover birthday cake, and let’s chat about ”The Most Disappointed Man”!

… Present Day

Randall is taking Deja to see her mom in the local jail. And he’s not entirely happy about this, at all. After all, what kind of mom thinks it’s appropriate to drive her 12-year-old around with a loaded gun in the unlocked glove compartment of her car?

Trick-or-treating, a new baby, and a Miguel bombshell — there's plenty going on in this episode of "This Is Us."

Deja, however, doesn’t care. She puts on a pretty dress and goes through the arduous check-in line to visit her mom in jail. The social worker tells Deja that this time, she’ll get to be face-to-face with her mom. She can even hug her. Deja is so happy, y’all, I can’t even stand it.


So it’s extra-heartbreaking when the social worker pulls Randall aside and tells him Deja’s mom has refused the visit. Randall has to tell Deja … something.

What he says is “there was a mixup.” The visit wasn’t cleared with the prison staff. Deja takes it pretty well, all things considered. She tells Randall she needs her purse because she’s been saving her allowance so she can give it to her mom for her commissary account. Gut punch No. 2.

Sophie wakes Kevin up with a telephone call, and it’s soon apparent that Kevin is, in fact, stalling about moving back east to be with her. Afterward, Kevin reaches for one of many bottles of pills and washes one down with beer.

Kevin goes to tell his sister and Toby that he’s flying east to try to patch things up with Sophie, and the happy couple tells him they’re pregnant with funny customized “Baby” tees. Kevin says the right things, sort of, but it’s clear he is not fully present for this joyous news.

Kevin next hits a jewelry store. He can’t choose between three engagement rings, so he buys all of them to let Sophie decide. Hey, his dad is Jack Pearson, King of the Romantic Gestures, right?

Meanwhile, Kate discovers that Catholic Toby is terrified of telling his mom that the good news. “Bun in the unmarried oven” is apparently a bridge too far for Toby’s mom, and Toby has a full-on Randall-sized freakout while calling his mother who, thankfully, isn’t picking up.

So Kate suggests they just cut to the chase. Go to the courthouse and get married. Everything they’ve done has been unconventional and not the usual way, so why not? Problem solved, right?

Yet as Kate and Toby begin the process of the quickie civil wedding, Toby listens to Kate try to talk herself into how “way better” this is. It’s not convincing.

Later, Toby is watching TV with the urn of Jack’s ashes. (I know, that’s a weird sentence. Go with it. Toby is.) He tells Jack that Kate loves weddings. He sees her with her special “Say Yes to the Dress” notebook, and he doesn’t believe Kate really wants the courthouse thing. He needs Jack’s patented “Jack Pearson Advice.”

After filling Beth in on the aborted prison visit, Randall goes back to see Deja’s mom himself. He introduces himself. He’s stuttering a bit, then the camera pulls back and we see her face. It’s battered, bruised. She tells him she didn’t want Deja to see her like that.

They talk about Deja’s school, the difference between cheerleading and drill team, and Deja’s mom scoffs. “You married to a white woman?” Randall shoots back “Don’t get confused, sis. I wake up to a head scarf and coconut oil every morning. I’m married to a black queen, not that it’s any of your business.”

Deja’s mom tells Randall they’re on opposite sides of the glass because things broke his way, and not hers. She’s grateful for him looking after her, but she’s best for her kid, and the second she’s out, she’s coming for her daughter. Randall says, “You’re going to have to come through me.”

She says, “I’ve been through worse.”

I wince.

Back in Kate-and-Toby-Land, Toby proposes. He’s willing to do the city hall/strangers thing, if that’s what she wants, but she deserves the big white scary wedding, with her “stupidly handsome brothers” walking her down the aisle in a ridiculously expensive white dress.

Meanwhile, Kevin is at Sophie’s door, sweaty and drunk. He claims that the awesome, romantic Kevin she saw earlier wasn’t him. It was Kevin pretending to be his dad, or Toby, or some romantic movie lead. He’s doing her a favor, really, by telling her that his dreams of their future together are actually a nightmare.

Sophie slams the door on him hard.

I don’t blame you, sis.

Back in the Day…

We haven’t seen much of Casa Pearson, The Early Years, this season. So it’s a nice surprise to check in and find the Big Three in diapers, and Jack and Rebecca sweating out a series of visits (including a few surprise ones) from the social worker overseeing their quest to adopt Baby Randall.

While the couple is understandably a bit anxious, the social worker is completely reassuring. She tells them they’ll just have to answer a few simple questions before a judge — questions like “Do you want to adopt this child?” — and then it’s a done deal. Randall will officially and forever more be a proud Pearson.

"This Is Us" is all about brothery love this week — with a twist, of course.

Meanwhile, young William, Randall’s biological father, is facing another judge on a drug charge. And the judge says he’s disappointed in William, who until this arrest didn’t even have a speeding ticket on his record.

Even in his response to the judge in the courtroom, William is a poet. “What would you have me do, your honor? … A year ago, my mother was live, my girl was alive, and we were expecting a son. Now they’re gone. They’re all gone… I am the most disappointed man you’ve ever met in your entire life.”

While they’re waiting to go back before the judge, the Pearsons decide to get a family portrait made for their eventual adoption notice. However, the photographer works my last nerve by chirping something about not getting many families like theirs, and not knowing if he can get the lighting right because their skin tones are so different — which, excuse me, random photographer person?? The Pearsons are so much more chill with this man than I am.

But it’s all good, right? There’s just this pro forma hearing they have to get through with simple, easy questions from the judge, and then it’s all over.


Except … not so much. Because the judge in question is one Mr. Delroy Lindo, who is fabulous and so I still love him, even as he frowns at my imaginary adoptive parents and says he has serious questions for their social worker, who isn’t there. So he reschedules the hearing for a few days later.


Even the clerk looks surprised.

Jack approaches Judge Lindo, who pulls no punches. “That child does not belong in your home,” he says. Rebecca says, respectfully, that he’s wrong, but the judge is unmoved. He won’t be changing his mind. Randall can go into foster care until a “suitable family” can be located.

William’s judge goes to see him in lockup. Moved by William’s words in court, he tells William how tired he is of seeing all the bad endings to all the stories of the people who stand before him every day.

He wants to write a better story for William. He’ll help William stay out of jail and get treatment. The only thing he asks for in return is that William remember his face. And should the day come when he’s tempted to make another mistake, William should picture this judge’s face and make a better choice.

William agrees.

Rebecca gets the proofs back from the family photo shoot, and the photographer was right: He sucks. (OK, I’m paraphrasing.) Not to be deterred, she cuts out the best picture of Randall, and pastes it onto the best picture of the rest of his family, and sends it to Judge Delroy Lindo to put on his wall with the rest of them.

There was a big twist on this week's episode of "This Is Us."

Because they are a family, no matter what he says.

And when they come back for their rescheduled hearing, they find out Judge Lindo has recused himself. A kind woman sits on the bench this time, and asks them those simple, easy questions.

“You’ve done the hard work,” the judge says, by choosing to love Randall. She, on the other hand, gets the pleasure of signing it into law.

And like that, they’re the Pearsons, officially and forever more.

Then we see William, picturing that judge’s face as he walks away from the drug dealers on the corner.

And then it’s older William, talking to a doctor who tells him it’s time to enjoy what time he has left, because the cancer isn’t going away.

As present-day Randall tells Beth he knows they’re falling for Deja, but he can’t help think of William, lost, missing his baby, we see William, after the doctor’s visit, sitting in front of his drug kit, ready to use again. Why not? He’s dying.

And there’s a pounding on the door.

It’s Randall.

It’s clear we’ve been watching what happened in William's life immediately before we were introduced to him in the pilot.

Back in the present, Randall tells Beth he gave Deja’s mom their number, and told her to call collect.

Which she does, to Deja’s evident joy.

Gut punch No. … actually, I’ve lost count.

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