‘This Is Us’ Season 2, Episode 10 Recap: Randall & the Pac-Man Life
*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
The midseason finale of This Is Us, titled “Number Three,” opens with home footage featuring Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) cheering on their third pride and joy, baby Randall.
Next, teenage Randall (Niles Fitch) is filling out college applications when—déjà vu—a fuse blows out in the Pearson home. As Jack attempts to restore the electricity, Randall approaches him and asks if he would be able to visit Howard University, even though it isn’t on his dad’s list of approved unis.
Nevertheless, Jack seems pleased with his son’s interest in college and plans a father-son road trip to tour the campus.
When Jack and Randall arrive at the school, they’re greeted by a student named Keith (Chris V. Pipkin), who just so happens to be a family friend of the Pearsons. Randall and Keith immediately hit it off, prompting Jack to let the boys go off on their own.
On the drive home, Jack asks Randall what he thought of the school, despite the fact that it’s not Harvard. But when Randall explains that he felt like he fit in for the first time in his life, Jack decides to make a pit stop at the Vietnam Memorial and dives into a story about the time he was drafted at the age of 25.
Jack opens up about his experience and reveals that he faced countless life-changing moments during the war, most of which Rebecca doesn’t even know about, and admits to feeling off-balance when he returned. Despite feeling out of place, Jack eventually regained his footing, and he reassures Randall that he’ll find his own balance, too.
In the present day, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) walks in to find Deja (Lyric Ross) studying for a school presentation on photosynthesis. Upon realizing she’s stressed, Randall reassures her that Thanksgiving break is right around the corner and says he’s proud of her dedication to the project. After attempting (and failing) to get Deja to call him “Foster Dad,” Randall tells her that “working hard is what gets you the big house and the fancy car.”
As he’s exiting her room, Randall overhears voices coming from outside and finds Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Deja’s mom, Shauna (Joy Brunson), arguing on the front porch. Shauna explains the charges against her have been dropped, and she wants her daughter back now. Randall and Beth try to calm her down (to no avail), which prompts Deja to come downstairs to see what all the fuss is about.
In an oddly calm manner, Deja comforts her mom and tells her to be patient until the social worker, Linda (Debra Jo Rupp), is able to sort everything out.
The next day, Linda arrives at Randall and Beth’s house and explains that Shauna’s charges were dropped in exchange for her cooperation. Linda says she visited Shauna’s apartment, saw that things are in order and is going to recommend at a hearing that Shauna regain full custody of Deja. Although Linda reminds Randall and Beth that this is what they signed up for, Randall blurts out that Shauna will probably put Deja in harm’s way again and threatens to sue her for trespassing on their property.
Cut to a flashback of the moment Randall found out that Rebecca was in contact with his biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones). Suddenly, Randall and William are sitting side by side in Adirondack chairs. Randall asks William how many times he and Rebecca met up over the years, and William goes on to describe the two times he saw her—once shortly after Randall was born and once when Randall started asking where he really came from. William reveals that Rebecca took off during that final meeting, which prompted him to follow her home. However, once he noticed three children’s bikes on the front lawn, he realized this life didn’t belong to him and he needed to accept his lack of involvement in his son’s life.
Meanwhile, Randall tells Beth he doesn’t think it’s right to keep Deja from her mother. He dives into a story about his childhood obsession with Pac-Man and how the game illustrates life. Randall explains that Pac-Man plays the same game over and over again, and even though he sometimes gets more cherries than in other rounds, the ghosts always catch up with him.
Later on, Linda and Shauna arrive at Randall and Beth’s home to pick up Deja. While Deja gathers her things, Randall tells Shauna that he’s available for anything Deja may need, but Shauna dismisses his offer and reassures him they’ll be just fine.
As Deja says her farewells, she asks Randall if he remembers telling her how he always felt torn when he was growing up. She reveals that she doesn’t want Beth and Randall to think she doesn’t want to live with them just because she’s going home to her mother. Randall reminds her that “working hard is what gets you the big house and the fancy car,” and they hug it out. *BRB, we’ve been reduced to a puddle of tears*
Later on, Kevin (Justin Hartley) arrives at Randall’s house and receives the heartbreaking news that Kate (Chrissy Metz) had suffered a miscarriage. When Randall steps out to call Kate, Tess (Eris Baker) and Annie (Faithe Herman) enter the kitchen to find Uncle Kevin downing a glass of (vodka-spiked) orange juice and quickly slipping the vodka bottle back into the fridge.
Meanwhile, Randall pulls Beth aside and says they don’t have to go through the foster process again. But Beth disagrees and admits she wants to open their home to another child, but it doesn’t need to be right away.
Cut to a social worker reassuring a young boy that he’ll have a permanent home in no time.
At long last, Kevin’s erratic behavior finally catches up with him. A montage of clips shows Kevin driving recklessly while Randall runs around the house searching for an MIA Tess. Suddenly, Tess pops up in the back seat of Kevin’s car, nearly giving him (and us) a heart attack.
Right on cue, Beth receives a phone call from the police informing her that Kevin was arrested for a DUI with Tess in the back seat.
The episode concludes with a flashback of teenage Randall playing Pac-Man.
So. Many. Feels.
This Is Us returns on Tuesday, January 2, 2018.