This Is Us Episode 1.16 “Memphis”
Directed by John Requa
Created by Dan Fogelman
Starring Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Ron Cephas Jones, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Sullivan, Jon Huertas, Eris Baker, Faithe Herman, Lonnie Chavis, Mackenzie Hancsicsak, Parker Bates, Alexandra Breckenridge NBC
Air date: Tuesday, February 21st, 2017, 9:00pm ET
Warning! Spoilers below for the last 2 episodes of This Is Us.
Last week on This Is Us, Jack Pearson and his sons and daughter had a rough day. Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) went to see Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) band play and jealousy creeped in, especially after Ben (Sam Trammell) revealed they used to date. He told her he didn’t want her to go on tour, and went and spent Valentine’s Day alone. Kate (Chrissy Metz) apologized to Toby (Chris Sullivan) for making him feel bad. Kevin (Justin Hartley) was freaking out about the play’s opening night. But Randall (Sterling K. Brown) had the worst day of all. Willam (Ron Cephas Jones) is worse. Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) had to go out of town. He blanked out at his really important work presentation, and has the shakes. He made a strange call to Kevin, who ran out on his play to hold a crying, rocking Randall.
This Is Us 1.16 “Memphis” review:The Past: The episode opens with William’s father singing to his mother’s belly – “You Are My Sunshine.” His father was a soldier that died before he was born, so it had always been him and his mother. As a young man, his mother went to Pittsburgh to take care of his grandmother, but never came back. She got a job, and then got sick. In the meantime, young William (Jermel Nakia) played at his cousin’s club. Although his mother warned him about him, he was a pretty stand up guy. William wrote a gorgeous song, and it started getting some play… then he had to go to Pittsburgh, but he thought he was coming back. His mother was dying, and there he met Randall’s mother. Once his mother passed, the drugs didn’t stop, and the rest is history. It’s quite interesting that William was not the party guy at all, until his life unspiraled, and that Randall’s mother was more involved in his life (taking care of his mother) than we initially thought.
The Present: This section opens revealing that Randall had a short hospital stay, time off from work, and therapy, after Kevin found him. Beth is not too happy about the new idea – Randall and William road trip to Memphis, Tennessee, where William grew up, but she usually cannot deny Randall anything. William tosses the maps and they stop where some of Jack’s ashes were spread, after William asks about him. They go eat at a favorite shop, get their hair cut at the local barber’s and to the house he grew up in. This scene was quite funny and awkward (Randall’s signature moves). William pulled a brick out of the fireplace and got his “treasure,” some toys of that boy long ago. They walk back into that club, where his cousin still owns, and he wants nothing to do with him. William apologizes to his cousin for never coming back, and Randall keeps jumping in like a love, so excited to meet family. Just as William is about to leave forever, his cousin asks if he still plays. And William and Randall have a night of joy of music, of whisky, and especially of family.
Randall to Beth on the phone: “Baby, you won’t believe this. I’m up to 12 cousins of various forms.” This is a dear moment. And, “Everything is a little better with Beth on it.” Marriage goals.
I entered this episode hoping what I thought was going to happen at the end, would not happen.
But it did. Randall rushes William to the hospital the next day. Randall cannot believe that it’s over based on last night. I can. It’s called the “surge,” and I’ve seen it.
William gives him a book of poems. “I want them to remember looking up at me, not down. Up.” What? I am dying too.
“My beautiful boy.”
I know that This Is Us is famous for the tears, and I certainly have shed my fair share over the last season, but this episode was a kicker. We knew it was coming. Perhaps we did not know exactly when, but we knew that it was… but goddamn! Having a William-centric episode that tied together so neatly (…the person in the very beginning and the person at the very end), was incredible. William introducing himself to Jack by his favorite tree, and then Randall using Jack’s comforting anxiety method to ease his father into eternal sleep were television moments like no other. The episode ended and my husband and I needed a minute to process and to mourn this incredible journey.
Windows down, and music up is great advice for all.
P.S. I cannot WAIT to see the Randall in an afro flashback.
This Is Us airs Tuesday nights at 9:00pm ET on NBC.