This week’s episode of This Is Us took a turn. “The Most Disappointed Man” took place mostly in courthouses, jailhouses, and hospitals, and lacked much energy. The ending, as always, brought it all together nicely.


The most compelling storyline told is the one where Deja has a mandatory visit with her mother in prison. As keeps happening, Beth is concerned that Randall will come on too strong, but he convinces her to let him take care of it. Will this be the time Randall does something right concerning his foster daughter? Sort of. Deja’s mother Shauna opts out of the apparently-not-so mandatory visit, and Randall frames it as a prison mix-up. He does not want to hurt Deja’s feelings because he knows how much her mom means to her.

Instead, at home, Beth is the one who loses her cool. She is angry that Shuana ignored her own daughter and declares, “I am done letting that woman hurt that child.” Parents damaging children’s psyches is a theme of the episode (and series), as we see Kevin avoiding a trip to New York to see Sophie, popping pills and drinking beer when he can. She calls him out after hearing that Kate and Toby are pregnant, and Kevin decides to buy Sophie a ring (three actually – he couldn’t decide) and jet to the Big Apple to propose.

At the airport, he hops into the bathroom for his next fix, and is suddenly haunted by the image of himself as a terrible father to his and Sophie’s future kids. He wakes up in the hospital and finally makes his way to Sophie, telling her, “I don’t know how to be a husband to you. I don’t know how to be a father to our kids. I don’t have anything to give you…. I’m an empty shell.”

After an emotional discussion, Kevin breaks up with Sophie because of his fears about the future. “When I dream of our future together, Sophie, it’s a nightmare for me,” he says. She slams the door and leaves him out in the cold.

Meanwhile, Kate and Toby’s relationship is growing stronger. Toby is afraid to tell his very Catholic mother that Kate is pregnant out of wedlock, so they head down to the courthouse to get married quickly. Once there, though, Kate is unhappy – she puts on a good face, but Toby can tell this isn’t what she wants.

Instead, he has a conversation with Jack’s urn, telling him he wishes he could have asked his permission to marry his daughter. He also assures him that he’s a big romantic at heart, and that he doesn’t like the idea of a courthouse wedding either. In the end, He pulls off a cute proposal, where he takes off shirts with letters until one by one, it spells out “will you marry me?”

“You deserve to walk down the aisle between your two stupidly handsome brothers and feel them love the crap out of you,” he says, and of course, Kate accepts.

A few other storylines fell in this episode, but they were mostly brief and all from the past. We see Rebecca and Jack in a courthouse when the judge stalls their adopting of Randall. The couple corner the judge and they speak in his chambers. Basically, the judge, also a black man, thinks Randall should grow up with a black family. He gives a monologue about understanding blackness and black identity. Later, the judge recuses himself from the case, and a new black female judge grants the adoption without hesitation.

In another scene, we see Randall’s biological father William pleading guilty and being sentenced to prison. We flash forward to his later years, as we met him in the show’s pilot episode, after William’s been told his cancer isn’t going away. He wants to use drugs again, but there’s a knock at the door, and it’s a grown-up Randall.

While brief, these moments bring us back to Randall’s current dilemma with Deja. After arguing with Beth about what to do, Randall decides to visit Shauna himself. Her face is badly beaten and she explains that being in prison was not her choice. Randall argues that she still was responsible for the actions that led her here, but she hits back. “You wound up over there because, no doubt, things broke your way,” she says. This hits home for Randall, as images of Jack and Rebecca holding their new baby flash across the screen. He accepts that choices were made for him that led him into his life before he was even able to make decisions for himself.

He gives Shauna his and Beth’s home number. The episode ends with Deja excited because her mother called her and wants to talk.

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