It turns out, you don't need a Jack Pearson-focused episode to find yourself in tears on a Tuesday night.
This Is Us Season 2 Episode 17 centered on Deja's story from before we met her up until Randall and Beth found her sleeping in a car.
While she was living with the Pearsons, we only got to see a fragment of her life, but this poor girl has been through hell and back.
Deja's experiences may have been extreme, but I love that the series made it a point to show that no matter what race, religion, sexual orientation, or upbringing we all experience love, motherhood, loss, growing pains, financial problems, and addiction in the same way.
The difference is how we choose to pick ourselves up and move forward.
That part was a little harder for Deja's mother, who had her when she was just sixteen. Props to This Is Us for portraying teen pregnancy realistically unlike many of the other shows that glorify it.
There's nothing wrong with having kids at a young age, but you have to own up to it and claim responsibility, which I feel Shauna never did.
In fact, I feel like she resented her daughter a bit during her toddler years; she blamed her for being having to live with Gigi and not being able to go to college or do the things other teen girls were doing.
Little Deja was a joy, and you could tell early on that she was "special" and bright. I'd say a lot of that had to do with how her grandmother raised her.
We'll get it right this time Deja.Shawna
Since the beginning, Deja was taught the art of survival, but no matter how bad things got, she always gave her mother the benefit of the doubt.
Her mother had many vices, but the main one was definitely men. She was addicted to them, and she craved their attention; it gave her a feeling of self-worth.
But sadly, that's how Deja found herself with Linda in child services.
Shauna never put Deja's needs first, not even when Deja wanted to surprise her with a birthday dinner.
As she prepared the dinner, she cut herself with a can opener and when she couldn't reach her mom, she took herself to the hospital.
Imagine her disappointment when she found out her mother was too busy "celebrating."
Leaving a minor at home and then being unreachable only to arrive with alcohol on your breath is grounds for child services.
That's when we start to see Deja's journey through the many foster homes; it's an unmasked look at what these children go through.
Deja's life with Shauna wasn't ideal by any means, but neither was hopping from foster home to foster home.
The system takes kids from broken homes, from parents who can't provide for them or support them and places them in temporary homes, which are supposed to be "better" and yet the man taking care of them was an abusive drunk.
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. It's like a storm once it starts Deja, bed after bed after bed. Before, at least we had each other. At least we weren't alone.Raven
Seriously, we have to do better for these children.
Hearing a child say "when he gets drunk, he's going to hit me anyway, might as well have fun before he does," was soul-shattering.
As was hearing a young girl who has been in the system since before she turned nine-years-old says "at least he only hit." These girls will take the beating, quite literally, so that they can have some semblance of a normal life, a bed to come home to and a friend by their side.
A bed — it's such a simple thing and something we take for granted daily, but imagine not knowing where you're going to sleep. That's terrifying.
I do hope we see Raven again in the future because it seems like she was Deja's main source of comfort and stability for quite some time.
The next time you find a bed that feels a little safe, don't blow it.Raven
Deja continued to give her mother chance-after-chance, but each time, something was always more important.
When she got her daughter back after a year, you would think she would embrace the "fresh start," but instead, she was more focused on Lonzo, some dude from rehab.
At first, he seemed nice enough, but old habits die hard, especially when the reality sets in. Lonzo went back to drinking, their home became a prison, and eventually, Deja went back into the system, this time landing a place with the Pearsons.
Deja's journey back to her mother was long, which is why I'm not surprised she's been doing everything in her power to cover for her and keep the social worker from finding out the truth.
But that's too big of a burden for a child to bear which is where the Pearsons come in, again.
The kindness Rebecca and Jack showed Randall on the first day they adopted him now extends to Deja and her mom. He's keeping the Pearson legacy alive.
Deja turned to them in a time of need, and they were eager to help, but her mother still managed to blow that money.
The minute she said she used it to pay Lonzo's bail, even I pressed my tongue against my teeth, pursed my lips and shook my head in disbelief. You keep rooting for this woman, and she keeps letting you down!
Deja: Oh my god, you're still so corny.
Randall: Like I'm on a cob, baby.
Her mother saying, "you don't have to worry," just goes to show how disconnected she really is.
She may not have wanted Deja to worry but that's all she's ever done. Worry about her mom, how they're going to pay the bills and where their next meal will come from.
It's been so bad her hair falls out because of the stress, and she's taken her belongings to a pawn shop. Thankfully, she never traded in Gigi's brooch, which they would have surely undervalued.
I'm sure it's embarrassing for Shauna to seek help from Randall and Beth; to admit defeat and realize you can't take care of your daughter, even if these strangers are more than willing to help.
Being with the Pearsons, she realized how much better off Deja was. She saw her daughter smile, talk about boys and be care-free — she saw her be a child.
I wouldn't say Shauna failed her because Deja is an impressive, smart and capable young woman. She owes a lot of that to her mother. She did what she could, but sometimes, that isn't enough.
Maybe coming to the realization herself instead will be the "rock bottom" that will help Shauna get it together?
While I'm sure saying goodbye would have been too difficult, how will it affect Deja when she wakes up to find her mother gone again, this time willingly?
And despite wanting Deja back, are Randall and Beth ready for it?
Make sure to watch This Is Us online and comment your thoughts below!