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10 Most Compelling Moments in This is Us

[THIS ARTICLE HAS SPOILERS]. In Season 2, Episode 17 “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life,” the director connects the characters through the lens of Deja. I know this episode was a bit controversial because some fans did not want the second to last episode being about the life of a minor character. However, This is Us is all about connecting the different characters so it was fitting for them to do so. We see Deja’s life and journey before and after meeting the Pearsons.

(1) “I know you’re only 16, but playtime is over.” (G.G.)

After the opening scene, Shauna’s grandmother (G.G.) tries to get Shauna to hold Deja but she resists. Once Shauna held Deja, you could see the joy and love all over her face. Even though Shauna made some mistakes while Deja was growing up, you can never doubt the love she has for Deja.


(2) “What are we gonna do now?” (Shauna)

One of the most heartwrenching moments is when Deja witnesses GG pass away. Shauna now has to truly raise Deja alone. That same night, Shauna goes to console Deja, but Deja picks up a book and starts reading to her mother. From a young age, she understands how to nurture and care for her mom.


(3) “At least he only hit.” (Raven)

In her first foster home, Deja meets Raven who has been in the foster care system since she was nine years old. Deja learns quickly that her new home has an abusive foster dad. In an effort to protect Deja, Raven makes sure to keep the attention on herself. When Linda comes for a visit, Deja confesses about the abuse.

Deja expects Raven to be happy, but instead Raven says, “Do you know how many beds I’ve slept in? I don’t. ‘Cause by the year I turned nine, I lost count. At least he only hit. We could have stayed in those beds for years. Now we’ll get separated. Before at least we had each other. At least we weren’t alone.”

(I could go on and on about Raven’s important role in Deja’s life but I want to keep this short.)


(4) “Do you have a job?” (Deja)

The first night back in her home, Deja wants to be able to enjoy it with her mother. Shauna, however, decides to invite Lonzo over. Clearly this upsets Deja but she goes alone with it. At dinner Deja asks Lonzo, “do you have a job?” A still very young Deja is still carrying the responsibilities and stress in the household.  


(5) “You’re good for nothing.” (Landlord)

Throughout Deja’s life, not many people had faith in her mom, Shauna. This is evident by her raising a child at such a young age and Deja being taken away by Child Protective Services. On the night of the eviction, the landlord is yelling at Shauna about paying her rent on time. Shauna says, “you know I’m good for it” to which the landlord replies, “you’re good for nothing.”

This was the first moment we see Deja lose a little bit of faith in her mom. After the landlord screams this, Deja is confused because she just received money from Randall to pay the bills. Her mom tells her she had to pay Lonzo’s bail. Deja says, “It’s always something with you.”


(6) “Isn’t it weird how everyone sleeps at night.” (Deja)

Probably one of the most beautiful moments is when Deja tells Randall how strange it was meeting him at first. She says, “you told me I reminded you of you? I thought that was kind of weird because you seemed so different from me.” She then says, “isn’t it weird how everyone goes to sleep at night?” She uses this phrase to talk about how everyone has things in this world that hurt them and make them feel better. Whether you are rich or poor, we still have some of the same things. We are all still connected.


(7) “I’m really tired.” (Deja)

This is the first time in her life that Deja relaxes her shoulders and says, “I’m really tired.” More importantly, she said this to Randall, someone she has grown to love and has earned her trust and respect. With Deja witnessing her great-grandmother pass away, navigating the foster care system, and taking on all the responsibilities in her household, it is no wonder that Deja is tired. However, she never vocalizes it. The only physical sign of stress we see is her stress induced alopecia. She is a strong young girl who should not need to be.


(8) “What would I do without you?” (Shauna)

Toward the end of the episode, Shauna comes to two important realizations. While in the Pearson’s home, Shauna is visibly uncomfortable but also really happy to see how Deja is around the Pearsons. She opens up to Beth and says, “I’ve never seen her acting like that, like she was tonight. Like a kid.” Shauna and Deja have learned how to survive their entire lives and with Deja growing up so fast, there was no time for her to be a child.

The second important realization Shauna comes to is that since Deja was five years old, Shauna has flattered her with one constant phrase, “what would I do without you?” Shauna asks herself “who puts that on a kid? Who does that?”


(9) “I got to go and I can’t take her with me.” (Shauna)

The love Shauna has for Deja is undeniable. Even though Deja has always been the responsible one who pays the bills and helps her mother, Shauna still really loves Deja. She loves her so much that at the very end, she decides to leave her with the Pearsons.


(10) Connections

From the beginning to the end, we see how every character is truly connected. Even Deja, who has had an unimaginably hard life, is connected with the other characters. The episode starts with Shauna, Rebecca, Randall’s biological mother, and Beth all giving birth. It plays clips of everyone reading Goodnight Moon. It shows how everyone is connected via death, Jack, William, and G.G., and abuse, Jack’s father and Deja’s former foster dad. This Is Us is all about connecting characters, but it was particularly important for the director’s to connect Deja as well.

There were so many other things I could have put in this article! This was an important episode for the show, the Pearsons, and for Deja.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4

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Helena James

Notre Dame

Hello! I am a junior at Notre Dame currently pursuing a degree in Business Analytics with a minor in Public Policy. I spend my free time hanging out with my friends, experimenting with makeup, doing my natural hair, watching youtube tutorials, and working out. 
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