This week’s episode of This Is Us (titled: “Memphis”) delved into William’s past while he and Randall took a road trip to Memphis.
We catch up with Randall and Beth at his psychiatrist’s office. Randall had been hospitalized after his breakdown, and Beth was worried about him and William traveling to Memphis. The doctor clears him for travel, and they prepare for their journey. William says good-bye to his granddaughters before he and Randall take off on the open road.
During the trip, we flash back to William’s early life. His father was killed in the line of duty, leaving William and mother alone. They are very close, which presents a problem for William when his mother leaves to care for her sick mother in Pennsylvania. She wants him to pursue his dreams in Memphis. William plays in his cousin’s (Ricky’s) cover band and their audiences are small until William presents his cousin with a song that makes their band the talk of the town. Soon they are performing for packed houses. One night, William receives a call that his mother is sick. He says good-bye to his cousin and promises to bring him back sixty songs.
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Back in the present, William questions Randall about his breakdown since Randall seems to have it all together. Randall tells William about how Jack used to help him get through the attacks by cupping his hands over Randall’s face while breathing with him. William wants to hear more about Jack and then wants to visit the place where they scattered some of his remains. When they get there, William thanks Jack for taking care of his son, and he’s saddened that he never got to meet his son’s father.
In Memphis, Randall and William visit William’s childhood home. The people living there let them inside, and William retrieves his “treasure” from a loose brick in the fireplace. He’s surprised to find a few toys and several quarters that he left there years ago. Then they visit places around Memphis, eating BBQ and getting haircuts together.
In the past, William takes care of his mother (even though she wants him to stay in Memphis to pursue his dream) and ends up meeting Laurel on a bus. There is a happy montage of the couple and them taking care of his mother. When his mother passes, Laurel brings William to her friend’s, where they are doing drugs. And the rest is history…
In Memphis, William still feels bad about abandoning Ricky and goes to the same club where they performed in the past, which his cousin now owns. Ricky is still upset, but William tells him what happened and that he was ashamed of what he became. He turns to leave, when Ricky asks William if he is too sick to play.
That night, Randall is having a great time while William is playing with the band. Randall calls Beth, and she is happy for him, and Randall really feels a connection with the place.
The next morning, William is having issues breathing, so Randall calls an ambulance. At the hospital, the doctor tells Randall that William has hours, maybe a day, to live. When Randall visits with William, William gives him a book of poems (the same one William tried to give Rebecca in the past). William has a wonderful moment with Randall then tells his son that he’s scared. Randall holds his father’s head in his hands and asks him to breathe. William sees moments in his past and then passes with his son by his side.
This episode was a tear-jerker. I loved that it was William-centric, and I was super depressed about the ending. William has touched everyone in the Pearson family in some way, and I do wonder how his death will affect everyone.
Join me in two weeks for the recap/review of the next new episode of This Is Us, which airs Tuesday, March 7, on NBC at 9/8c.