This week's episode of This Is Us is the last one before the finale next week. The show has been teasing that this will be an episode that centers around a joyful occasion, the wedding of Toby and Kate, bringing the entire clan together, plus a chance to meet Toby's family. But our penultimate episode didn't set up a scenario where the audience is ready to celebrate matrimony. Instead, we ended on a cliffhanger of Shauna about to run out of the Pearson house and leave her daughter behind. Do the Pearsons adopt Deja next week? Or does Randall at least get Shauna to be a responsible adult for once in her life and at the very least say goodbye to her daughter and explain herself before leaving?
We learned in the episode this week that Shauna was 16 when she gave birth to Deja, and her own mother was nowhere to be seen. Shauna was, at that time, being raised by her own grandmother, who then took on the task of looking after both of these children. She paid the rent for Shauna's apartment, looking after her granddaughter when Shauna went out partying, and tried to get her granddaughter to step up and take responsibility, and generally keeping it all together.
Is it really any wonder that from the time Deja's great-grandmother, who she called G.G., died, she was the one who had to take over the role of being the adult in the family? Despite her best efforts, Shauna never did grow up, never did learn to take responsibility, and never did stop putting herself first.
Contrast that against Beth and Randall who took Deja in, gave her the childhood she never had, and who's hearts were broken when she left.
The show shies away from ever painting Shauna as a drug addict. The "rehab" we heard about from Randall and Beth's end is explained away as something Shauna fell into after the state took her daughter away. But we're seeing everything from a struggling child's perspective. We don't know why the water is off, it just is.
By the time Deja is back with her mother after living with the Pearsons, she's now grown up far more than she did before. She's doing the bills and thinks she's seeing where the money goes. But she doesn't realize that rent isn't getting paid until it's too late. Despite her best efforts to get cash, the money disappears into thin air, because Shauna is still putting herself and her desires first.
Perhaps the most heartrending moment of the hour is when the wool falls away from Deja's eyes: "It's always going to be something, isn't it?"
Shauna is at least aware enough to recognize that Deja's joy at the Pearsons, and her ability to relax and be a child after having to be the adult for her whole life. But rather than try and stay and do the hard work of being an adult, and giving that to Deja herself, Shauna's response is to run. She packs and insists she has to go, and Deja can't come with her. The obvious unspoken statement is she's going to run out without Deja, and never say goodbye, because it's too hard for her to face.
What will the Pearsons do? Can Randall make Shauna at least be an adult enough to say goodbye before running away? If he and Beth just let Shauna leave, how badly will Deja react? What *will* Linda say when all this highly unorthodox contact between biological and foster families turns up in her to-do pile? Will the Pearsons step up and adopt Deja and make her one of their own?
Let's hope we find out next week, and that whatever happens, it gets squared away before the wedding.