Tuesday’s episode of NBC’s “This specific is actually Us” reminded viewers why the show is actually the unrivaled champion of tear-soaked television.
The hour, titled “Memphis,” took viewers on a road trip with Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and also also also his cancer-striken biological father William (Ron Cephas Jones). Their destination? Tennessee, where William was looking to reconnect with his past as his body began to fail him.
By the end of the episode, William would certainly thank his son again for finding him and also also also take his last breath.
“I remember us walking out of the building after the first read, and also also also each of us were waiting for one of us to confirm what we’d just read,” Jones said of his reaction to the heart-tugging script. “the item was This specific feeling of, ‘There’s something special here, and also also also I don’t know if the item’s real or not.'”
He added: “I think the item worked out beautifully.”
nevertheless the journey to the sad — albeit inevitable — moment was a pitch-perfect prelude to a sad final note.
The flashbacks inside the episode focused on the past in which William sought to revisit. Viewers got a look at his deep connection with his mother, a war widow who raised her son on a diet of love and also also also encouragement, and also also also his days as an up-and also also also-coming musician that has a one-of-a-kind talent for prose.
He played in a band with his cousin, nevertheless in which relationship fell apart when Randall left town to care for his ailing mother and also also also never returned, having fallen deep into a grief-prompted addiction.
This specific backstory was an important factor inside the episode, executive producer John Requa told sy88pgw. the item helped provide a little sliver of comfort, in a way.
“The ray of wish for William is actually at least he’s reunited with This specific person in which meant so much,” said Requa, who directed the episode with Glenn Ficarra. “the item’s sort of two fold. We see in which he went down in which path — in which he just loved her so much in which the item was a devastating blow — and also also also then also just to give a ray of wish to understand in which there’s This specific profound presence in his life and also also also he’s heading back there.”
inside the present day, William and also also also Randall made the most of their trip. They even paid a visit to Jack’s final resting place — a lake where some of his ashes were scattered.
Once at their destination, the pair toured the city (portions of the episode were filmed on location in Memphis). Their days were filled with barbecue and also also also numerous introductions to relatives a giddy Randall never knew existed.
The morning after a particularly rousing night, Randall awoke to find his father in distress.
At the hospital, a doctor told Randall his father had hours to live.
William, who had said his goodbyes to his grandchildren before they set out on their adventure, was fine with This specific. He wanted their last image of him to be one of strength rather than pity, he told Randall. (“I wanted them to see me looking down at them, not up,” William said.)
This specific was a key moment, Requa said.
“in which’s a metaphor for, ‘Remember me at my best,'” he said.
The entire trip, in fact, was motivated by Randall’s desire to die on his own terms.
“He knows via the very beginning in which he’s going to die, in which he’s going [to Memphis] to die,” Requa said.
Before he died, William made sure to give Randall his book of poetry, “Poems for My Son.” and also also also Randall gave his father a gift, too: a comforting voice to guide him to the end.
Like his father Jack used to do for him during panic attacks, Randall put his hands on William’s head and also also also told him everything would certainly be okay.
At a panel and also also also early screening of the episode, producers teased in which Randall will try to find meaning in his father’s death going forward.
“Death is actually what gives life meaning,” Requa told sy88pgw after the panel. “the item’s horribly sad, nevertheless the item’s not in itself a negative thing … .you wouldn’t know to cherish every day and also also also live your life to the fullest if you thought you were going to live forever.”
In all, Requa is actually “proud of the journey I’ve gone on” with Jones and also also also the character.
“I don’t know if I’m prouder of anything in my life than I am of This specific journey we’ve gone on with him,” he said. “He’s just so human nevertheless soulful and also also also seems to embody the human condition in such a beautiful and also also also profound way.”
“This specific is actually Us” airs Tuesdays on NBC.