Each week, “This Is Us” delivers episodes filled with emotional storylines, and last night’s installment was no exception.
In the episode, fans were taken on a road trip with characters Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and William (Ron Cephas Jones). The episode, titled “Memphis”, followed biological father and son as they traced their family’s past in Tennessee. The viewers were shocked to learn that the road trip would end in William’s death.
“Those two actors just are spellbinding, and they're really masters at their craft,” series star Mandy Moore said at a Costume Designers Guild event. “I openly wept reading the episode, and watching it I, like, nearly hyperventilated!”
Leading up to William's devastating death, viewers were introduced to intricate bits of information significant to William’s character throughout the episode. Some of the discoveries included a time when he was an aspiring musician and the close relationship he shared with his mother. We also found out that the two pieces of information were closely related, in that he had to cut his musical dreams short to care for his ailing mom, a precursor to his battle with addiction.
In William’s final moments, hearts ached when the dying father gave his son a book of poetry, “Poems for My Son.” Randall’s gift to his father was offering comfort on his deathbed.
“It was wonderful because I think we both knew that we were going to be able to do some really great work,” Jones said in an after-show platform. “And it was exciting to think about that, but we also both knew that the way we work, once we're in it, it's like you open up and then stuff just starts… starts to flood out.”
Cast member Justin Hartley mentioned the death of another patriarch when talking to “Extra’s” AJ Calloway about the episode. When asked how character Jack dies, Hartley responds, “Yeah, this is what everyone wants to know!” Justin went on to say, “It's off the charts — it's so sad I can't even talk about it; I'll start crying.”
The stars of “This Is Us” delivered an apology to fans for making them cry every week:
Producer Dan Fogelman shared a note he had written for the cast and crew at the end of the script for last night’s episode:
Fans took to Twitter to react to the heart-wrenching episode.
Celebrity fan Danielle Brooks posted:
I think this show has the whole world breathing together tonight. So beautiful. #ThisIsUs— Danielle Brooks (@thedanieb) February 22, 2017
Other fans chimed in:
CHILLS. The music in this episode is amazing too. #ThisIsIs— Sharon Tharp (@sharontharp) February 22, 2017
Who was not laughing & sobbing at the same time when the ducks came walking across the road. There's your ducks William #ThisIsUs— Vicki Wheeler (@vwc1961) February 22, 2017
Never have I ever loved a character as much as William. My heart feels a little broken, and my living floor a little flooded. #ThisIsUs— Momma Bear (@NewMommaBear) February 22, 2017