This Is Us took a surprising step away from the Pearson family with one of its most powerful episodes yet on Tuesday night. The new episode, entitled "This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life," walked viewers through the life of Deja, the one-time foster child of Randall and Beth. Although she's been a major part of Season 2, we really didn't know much about Deja's backstory on This Is Us or much about how she ended up in the foster care program to begin with, but the new episode answered all those questions and then some.
Given that Tuesday night's new episode was the last one before the Season 2 finale of This Is Us, it was a pretty surprising move for the show to not focus on the core Pearson family at all. Instead, it turned its lens to Deja. It was more of a mini-movie than an episode of television, really, as we watched Deja grow from a newborn to her current teenage self, and navigate a lot of heartbreak and letdowns along the way.
First, we learn that Deja's mother Shauna gave birth to her when she was 16 years old, and since she was so young, she relied heavily on her grandma to take care of them both. When her grandma died, Shauna began relying heavily on Deja to remind her to pay the bills and get to work on time. Although Deja and her mom had a happy relationship at the start, it was still pretty clear that Shauna was far from the most responsible parent. Everything changed when Deja cut her hand on a can opener and rushed to urgent care. The doctor's stitched up her hand, but Deja's was unable to be reached and a child services professional took notice. Shauna finally rushed in and revealed that she had been out celebrating her birthday and her phone had died, but at that point it was too late.
While in foster care, Deja made a best friend in another girl named Raven. The two of them were taken in my the same couple, but although they enjoyed being together, the husband would beat Raven. Finally, Deja told child services about the abuse and she and Raven were put back in foster care... which angered Raven, who was willing to take the beatings in order to have her own bed.
When Shauna was finally able to take Deja back home, their relationship had massively changed. Shauna had been using drugs while Deja was in foster care, and she began dating a deadbeat dude who had just gotten out of prison. Eventually, Shauna was caught with one of her boyfriend's guns in her car, which resulted in Deja first being sent to Randall and Beth. We had already seen that Deja was quiet and resistant when staying with Randall and Beth, and readily went back to live with her mother when she got out of jail. But their home life got even worse still. Shauna was rapidly running out of money, and spending much of it on her boyfriend's bail certainly didn't help. That all led up to Deja asking Randall and Beth for money for their heating bill, which we saw last episode. That money wasn't enough to keep Deja and Shauna from getting evicted. They were forced to sleep in their car that night, which is where Randall and Beth found them at the end of the previous episode.
With all that backstory delivered, the episode finally moved into the show's present-day storyline. Randall and Beth invited Shauna and Deja to stay the night in their home, and after Shauna sees how happy and worry-free Deja is with them, she ends up making the decision to leave Deja with the Pearsons.