Everything came full circle and even moved forward a bit in this third part of the "Number" trilogy, setting the stage for major fireworks when NBC's "This Is Us" returns in 2018. After spotlighting Kevin's (Justin Hartley) downward spiral in "Number One," and Kate's (Chrissy Metz) tragic miscarriage in "Number Two," it was time to check in on how "Number Three" spent that same day.
It wasn't great for him, either, though perhaps not on the same level as his siblings, for this was the day that Deja (Lyric Ross) was approved to go back home to her mother. After months in their home, Deja had come to feel like family and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth were determined to fight for her. After all, what could her mother offer her that they couldn't?
It turns out things aren't as simple as that, and in the foster system, the decision is largely out of their hands anyway. Plus, who are they to judge if a woman they don't know is ready to have her daughter back? Who are they, indeed?
As we do every week, we're going to single out the show's most powerful moments, scoring them by how many tissues we tore through just to watch them. This week, we grabbed an extra box because we definitely went through more than we ever have. These are happy tears of anguish.
After coming to a realization about Deja, Randall spun into this rambling metaphor about his favorite childhood game, Pac-Man. Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) had no idea what he was talking about, so he tried to say it was like life. No matter what you do, eventually the ghosts will get you in the end. Bleak, yes. Profound, not so much. Sometimes you can't force it, man. Good looking out, Beth!
1 tissue (because we're laughing so hard we're crying)
"The Choices You Make Are Going to Be Spectacular"
If Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) doesn't take home the trophy for "Father of the Year" every year, there's no justice. The devotion he gave to Randall's feelings and experience during their tour of Howard College was so selfless and supportive, it's almost beyond belief. But we've see Jack's flaws as a husband and as a man. One thing he's proven is that he would be the father he never had. No one gives a pep talk like Jack, and this one helped Randall know that his off-kilter world wouldn't always be that way.
"She Had This Whole World Spinning Before Us"
Randall has lived the adoption process, but he was an infant. His story was different than Deja's and he has to respect that. After spying on her mother and seeing things they still didn't know about Deja, like her favorite color and nicknames, he realized that Deja had a life before she joined his family. Do they have the right, no matter their feelings, to strip that life away from Deja, or from her mother, for a mistake? Knowing they were doing the right thing in letter her go home, though, didn't make it any easier.
Jack does not talk about his time in the war -- we didn't even learn about it until this season. But when Randall opened up to him about feeling out of place every day, comparing it to how Jack felt at Howard, his father took him someplace special. They lingered at the Vietnam Memorial, where Jack probably found his brother's name. They didn't talk about that, but rather Jack told him that after being drafted into the war and returning home, he felt a little out of place every day, too. And because he learned to find his way, he knows Randall can do the same.
"Who Was I?"
One of the things that helped Randall realize the right thing to do with Deja was recalling a conversation he'd had with William. After Rebecca ditched William the second time she went to see him, William followed her home. He nearly knocked and fought to be a part of Randall's life, but then he saw the bicycles with numbered license plates for the triplets nicknames. "Who was I to insert myself into your life against your mother's wishes?" he asked. And so Randall found himself asking himself the same question in regards to Deja. Sometimes life doesn't offer any easy choices, and how can you ever know if you've made the right one?
"My Foster Dad Helped Me With That"
Randall has made tremendous progress in connecting with Deja, and she showed moments throughout the hour that she was starting to feel that fatherly love from him. No moment was bigger than when she publicly gave him a shout-out at her school for helping with a project. This is the same school she'd earlier said would mock her for actually putting effort into it. If nothing else, Randall and Beth can feel confident they've been a good influence in her life, teaching her a strong work ethic. "Hard work equals big house, big car."
Randall has so much love to give, and yet he's held back fiercely to respect Deja's hesitation and nervousness around men. In their final moments together, though, she effectively gives him permission to hug her by telling her it only makes her nervous when she doesn't see it coming. The compassion he feels for this girl he's known for such a short time is so palpable, it's no wonder he and Beth both agree that as painful as it was to say goodbye, they have to open their door again. Then, we got a tease of a little boy just waiting for a home to open up. Looks like Randall might get his wish to have another boy in the house. At least that's something to look forward to.
"I'm Gonna Kill Him"
We are not looking forward to the fallout of Kevin's reckless behavior that capped this episode. We know he's hurting and spiraling out of control. And when he was finally ready to admit defeat and seek help in Randall, the Kate miscarriage bombshell was dropped in his face and so he retreated back into the bottle. Even worse, he then decided to leave. In no shape to drive, he's lucky he only got arrested for a DUI, especially after discovering Tess (Eris Baker) had hitched a ride because she missed her uncle. He could have killed her, and now her parents are going to have to get in line with the rest of America to kill him next time they see him.
We tore up the rest of the tissues in anger
How much lower is Kevin going to have to go to find his rock bottom? He's already the hardest character on the show to sympathize with or get behind, and he's just not helping his case. The writers are putting him through the ringer this season, and they're dragging us along for the ride. At least we're getting break for awhile. "This Is Us" returns for its final 8 episodes sometime in 2018.