DEJA VU AGAIN AND AGAIN (THIS IS US RECAP)
This week’s episode of This Is Us was at the exact same time as Peru’s defining match against Colombia in the World Cup Qualifiers. Ines, why are you telling us this piece of irrelevant trivia? Well, readers, it turns out that I am from the Land of the Incas and my country hasn’t played in the World Cup since I was born. That’s right, my jinxing powers are so strong I have effectively cockblocked the Peruvian soccer team from scoring. That’s why Tuesday’s game was so important. I’ve become more vulnerable, weaker with age, which is probably why Peru finally had a shot at glory. It also meant that I could only deal with one emotional roller coaster at a time and I postponed This Is Us for the following day. And then I was so pissed off at its sorry attempts at symbolism that I put off writing this recap until almost a whole week after the episode aired. And now I’m triple pissed off because I’ve just realized that I’m playing into their hands. You see, this week’s episode was all about memory and its burden and how we are condemned to repeat our parents’ behavior. So by me, writing this recap from memory, is in a way replicating the hit-me-over-the-head-with-your-symbolism that has become this show’s signature style. Does this make sense? I need coffee.
Ok, lets me dig deep into the crevices of my brain, where I store forgotten grocery items and lyrics to Chumbawamba songs and see if I can find anything of worth to say about this episode. Let me…Déjà vu it. BARF.
Randall and Deja. The new character’s name is Deja. I can’t get over this fact so I’m going to keep repeating it. Deja. DEJA. Deja, Deja, Deja, Deja.
Randall and Beth are getting the house ready for their new foster kids. Randall, adorable dork that he is, has memorized the Top Ten Strategies for Dealing with Foster Kids blog post on Goop and is convinced that it will help him navigate these turbulent waters. What his careful preparation didn’t account for was the appearance of a symbolic literary device by way of a 12-year-old named Deja. DEJA. As in Déjà vu. As in, what I shout when I get dumped for the umpteenth time for being “too amazing and intimidating.” As in, what I say when I walked through the cobblestoned streets of Paris as a way to convince myself that yes, I did live there in a past life. As in, what I think when that annoying friend-of-a-friend insists on telling you for the millionth time how James Murphy is really the prophet of our generational malaise. At no point, is Deja supposed to be used for gravitas. And yet here we are.
Deja wants to go to sleep because she is aware that she is in This Is Us and that is too much trauma on top of all the other trauma she has already suffered. As she’s getting ready for bed, Beth finds a pack of cigarettes in her bag. Now, from watching the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, we all know that preteen cigarettes are a direct link to the Foot Clan. Deja tries to pry the Malboros from Beth’s hand, a kerfuffle ensues and Randall freaks out. Beth calms him down by using the powers of the Foucauldian state and leaving a baby monitor in their daughters’ bedroom, in case Deja turns out to be a serial killer. Instead, they overhear as she bonds with the kids by asking them who is the supreme leader in the house. Obviously, it’s Beth. I don’t trust households where dads are the ones that lay down the law. What kind of bullshit set up is that?
The next day, Beth and Randall sit Deja down to talk over the night’s events. She explains that the pack of cigarettes was for her mom. Deja has seen the PSAS and knows that smoking kills; she just wanted to have a nice gift for her mother when she got out of jail. Of course, the possibilities of that happening in the near future are slim. I think Randall then tells her his sob story and I’m sure there were fuzzy feelings all around.
The Deja, however, doesn’t stop there. Oh no. All the characters are experiencing some sort of Deja. Double Barf.
Over in Hollywood, the Pearsons are ignoring the Harvey Weinstein scandal and focusing instead on Ron Howard’s war movie. Kevin is super excited because he is filming a scene where he saves Sylvester Stallone’s life. Kate is excited because Sylvester Stallone was Jack’s favorite actor and it gives her the perfect excuse to do her pity party routine. She corners Rocky to gush about her father, who died, and how important his work was to her father, who is no longer with us, and she has so many great memories of watching his work with her fathers, whose death haunts her soul to this very day.
Sylvester Stallone tries to bond with Kevin over his dead dad but Kevin is a straight white dude raised in today’s America. He does not know how to admit, face or deal with feeling. For that reason, he hasn’t been socialized to keep it together at work and remain professional. Unlike the millions of women in the workforce who know that even the hint of a tear will forever mark them as the crazy bitch in the office. Yay, patriarchy! Kevin, instead, wallows in his funk. He messes up his lines. He can’t look at Stallone in the face. To make things even more obvious, the director keeps yelling out instructions about how he’s saving his father in this scene, a scene that takes place in the Vietnam war, where his real father happened to serve because (drumroll please) …. Déjà vu.
Later, he calls Kate. They bicker. They make up. Yawn. About the only relevant part of their conversation is that Kate reminds Kevin how similar he is to his dad…right before Kevin pops in a painkiller. I guess we have some more addiction storylines to look forward to.
All you really need to know is that some white lady tried to scam poor Randall by pretending she was his mom. Decades later, this same white lady will form part of the 53% coalition that helped elect Trump. Teen Randall is obviously disappointed. His siblings actually give him the kind of solidarity and emotional support he needs. It begs the question: If Teen Kate is so cool, how did she grow up to be so horrible?
Mommy Pearson and Daddy Pearson
Ok, I know Deja is the million-dollar word in this episode, but I can’t figure out why Jack constantly looks like a 1970s-used car salesman when these scenes take place in the 90s. Where’s the flannel? The Doc Martins? The Jared Leto hair? Is this why Jack and Rebecca are not having sex? Cause that’s mostly what we deal with in this episode.
In a sorry attempt to reclaim the magic, Rebecca plans a date night that involves driving around in a car and eating burgers. However, when she puts the moves on him, Jack rejects her advances. Ouch. After a few frowny faces, Jack explains that he doesn’t want to do the deed when he’s is feeling like an alcoholic low-life. He wants to talk instead. They do. Then they have sexy times. The end.
EXCEPT. They find a stray dog after they come back from their date. In any other circumstance, this would make me incredibly excited and emotionally invested in everything this show has to offer. But I’m up to their dirty tricks. They’re just going to introduce this pooch to kill him off, aren’t they????????
Déjà vu question: Why am I doing this to myself?
Attempts at Emotional Manipulation
- Teen Randall running away from White Lady
- The mere presence of a dog
- Randall telling Deja his adoption story
Reasons to Lust After Milo
The whole montage of his relationship with Kevin. Also a serious attempt at emotional manipulation. You know Jack would have marched with a pussy hat back in January had he lives to see These End of Days. He would be dropping critiques of toxic masculinity in casual conversation. He would be donating to the Good Men Project. The works.
Deep Quote of the Week
“There’s no such thing as a long time ago. There’s only memories that mean something and memories that don’t.” – Sylvester Stallone, doing his damn best to stay relevant in a post-relevance world.