We’ve already praised This Is Us for being one of the best shows on television, but last night’s episode has raised the bar again.
I can’t get over how much I love This Is Us, and I’m not alone. By the end of Tuesday’s episode my news feed on several social media sites was buzzing with praise. Once again we were left speechless by Sterling K. Brown’s performance. In this episode Ron Cephas Jones joined him to bring us the most poignant piece of TV we’ve ever seen.
When you have a character on a TV show that suffers from a terminal illness it’s only natural that your most recurring thought is, “when are they going to die?” Tonight we got our answer.
After last week’s episode ended with Randall suffering from a severe anxiety attack brought on by stress, no one thought he would be losing his father the following week, but that’s exactly what happened. Instead of focusing on Kevin and the play, this episode was all about William and it was absolutely perfect.
There are so many brutal deaths on TV that we rarely, if ever, get to see it portrayed in a poetic and beautiful way. We’ve become all too familiar with characters getting shot or murdered, and while Grey’s Anatomy may have some of the more emotional death scenes, they happen so frequently on that show you can smell the formula from a mile away.
This Is Us is different. They knew from the start that introducing a character with a terminal illness meant they had already set a high standard for themselves. This wasn’t just a story about a guy who died from cancer, but a heartbreaking tale of a man who had so much potential but had fallen flat because of the bad decisions he couldn’t help but make.
It was also a story of parenthood. Seeing William’s life with his mother juxtaposed with Randall’s life with his father brought it all together. We didn’t get to know William as well as we have been able to know the others, just like Randall was barely able to get to know him, but with this episode we were shown just how similar the two are. They both put their parents above themselves and they both did everything they could to support them before they died, and while Randall will always be a part of the Pearson family it’s so great to see where his strength and loyalty really comes from.
Finally, while Brown and Jones brought us some of the most heartbreaking scenes on the show, like Randall holding William’s face at the very end, we can’t forget Jermel Nakia as young William. Nakia’s performance was what really tied us to William more than we already were, and it was through him that we were able to connect with William in such a strong way that his performance gave William’s death so much more meaning.
Without Nakia as young William I feel like we wouldn’t be nearly as connected to him as we were, and it’s a shame that his name doesn’t get mentioned as often as it should. I’m so happy to have been able to witness his performance, and I’m happy that This Is Us was able to bring him into our living rooms.
This was a fantastic episode. But don’t forget, we still haven’t seen how Jack died. I thought William’s death was going to be the season finale but since it already happened… I’m going to go to the store to get more Kleenex. If this is episode was emotional I can’t begin to imagine how I’m going to handle that one!