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‘This Is Us’ Recap: Kevin’s Addiction Leads to Self-Destruction

The Tuesday, November 7, episode of This Is Us, titled “The Most Disappointed Man,” felt more like an episode of Law Order, flashing back to William’s drug bust and Randall’s adoption and giving us a peek inside Deja’s mother’s life in jail. The hour also had its fair share of TIU hallmarks, with Kate and Toby taking a big step toward marriage and Kevin taking a bigger step away from marriage.

Justin Hartley as Kevin on ‘This Is Us’
Justin Hartley as Kevin on ‘This Is Us’ Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Always a Pearson

In flashbacks, we saw the process Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) went through to adopt Randall. After a year of home visits from their social worker Paula, the couple appeared before a judge to make Randall’s Pearson status official. But the judge wasn’t sold on the idea.

He told Jack and Rebecca that he didn’t believe they could give Randall the tools he needed to live as a black man. He thought Randall should be with a black family, although Rebecca and Jack assured the judge they would teach him to understand who he was.

Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia as Rebecca and Jack on ‘This Is Us’
Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia as Rebecca and Jack on ‘This Is Us’ Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Rebecca sent the judge a letter telling him that she and Jack wouldn’t give up on adopting Randall because he was their son. The judge, who had already made up his mind, recused himself from the case. Once it was in another judge’s hands, Jack and Rebecca were able to legally adopt Randall Kenneth Pearson, solidifying the family we know and love today.

William Makes a Change

At the same time Jack and Rebecca were trying to adopt Randall, William (Ron Cephas Jones) was getting busted for drugs. He told a judge in court that he had nothing left to live for in the outside world, with his mother, girlfriend and son all gone, and called himself “the most disappointed man” as he suggested the judge lock him up.

The judge met with William one-on-one before his sentencing because he wanted to change William’s story. What William had said about being “the most disappointed man” struck a chord with the judge because he considered himself the second most disappointed man. He knew that the decisions he made each day about other people’s lives would ruin the endings of their stories. That’s why he chose to change the ending of William’s story by letting him go and giving him a second chance. He made William promise to picture his face every time he thought about heading down the wrong path again, and William did.

The day William found out his cancer had progressed, he went back home with the intention of doing drugs. Right before he lit up, though, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) knocked on his door and introduced himself — the scene we saw in the pilot.

Deja’s Mom Resurfaces

In the present, a reluctant Randall took Deja to a court-mandated visit with her mom, Shauna. Deja was excited, but Shauna refused to see her, so Randall told Deja the jail hadn’t cleared their visit. Before they left, Deja made sure her mother got the allowance she’d been saving up so her mom would have everything she needed in jail.

Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) became fiercely protective of Deja when Randall told her what had happened. She decided that as long as Deja lived under their roof, she wouldn’t be seeing her mother.

Randall later went to visit Deja’s mom to lecture her on the importance of keeping her commitments to her child. Shauna’s face was noticeably bruised; she hadn’t wanted Deja to see it, so she’d opted out of their visit. Though Randall believed Shauna’s choices were why she wound up in jail, she reasoned that it was her ex’s fault, not hers. Shauna said she was best for Deja and the second she got out of jail she’d be coming for her daughter. Randall responded, “You’re gonna have to go through me.”

Tough talk, but Randall also gave Shauna their phone number so she could call Deja. She did, and Randall warned Beth that Shauna wanted Deja back.

Say ‘No’ to the Courthouse

Kate(Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) told Kevin(Justin Hartley) they were pregnant, but they had a harder time telling Toby’s mom, a staunch Catholic who’d balked at the idea of Toby and Kate living together. Toby was worried about how she’d react to them having a baby out of wedlock, so Kate proposed that they just get married at the courthouse.

Chrissy Metz and Chris Sullivan as Kate and Toby on ‘This Is Us’
Chrissy Metz and Chris Sullivan as Kate and Toby on ‘This Is Us’ Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Toby took her up on her offer, but once they obtained their marriage license, he sensed that Kate actually wanted a big wedding. Toby turned to Jack(‘s ashes) for advice, and what do you know — Jack is just as wise in death as he was in life.

Toby proposed to Kate — using a series of layered sweatshirts that said “Will you marry me?” — and told her she deserved a big wedding if she wanted one. He also insisted that’s what Jack would’ve wanted, which we think sold Kate on the idea.

Kevin Spirals

Kevin continued his pain pill-induced self-destruction. After postponing a trip to visit Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) in New York, he decided to finally go and plan a big, romantic gesture to make it up to her. So he bought her not one, not two, but three engagement rings — he’d let her decide which one she liked.

Kevin went to the hospital to meet Sophie, but she wasn’t there. He waited around a while, took a few more pills and envisioned what his married-with-kids future with Sophie would look like. Kevin ended up on Sophie’s doorstep, but he wasn’t there to propose. He was there to break up with her.

Kevin told Sophie their future together seemed like a nightmare to him because he was an empty shell with nothing to give her. He didn’t know how to be a husband or a father. He was just playing a part — trying to be like his dad or Toby. This breakup would save her from years of disappointment, he claimed. Raise your hand if you think Kevin is going to regret this one.

This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.



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