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This Is Us - Memphis - Review: “Don’t Take My Sunshine Away”

27 Feb 2017

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Well, I hope everyone had their Kleenex ready for this one! This episode was relentless with the tear-jerking moments and I honestly wasn’t prepared for how emotional it got.

This exceptional episode was entirely focused on Randall and William’s last adventure together. The episode picks up a few days after Randall’s breakdown and after receiving treatment from a professional he seems to be doing a lot better. It’s clear that William doesn’t have a lot of time left so he wants to take Randall on a road trip to Memphis to see where he grew up. After getting his doctor’s approval, Beth reluctantly allows Randall to go on the trip.

Before I get into their road trip, I have to say one of my favorite parts of this episode was how we got a glimpse into William’s past, with scenes from both his childhood and his parents’ life as well. His dad was a soldier who died before he was born so it was always just him and his mom. When he grew up, she moved away to Pittsburg to take care of her sick mother and ended up staying there. I loved their touching goodbye scene at the train station. You could really tell how much they meant to each other. Meanwhile, William stays in Memphis and works on his music with his band. Just when they're starting to get somewhere and have a great song, which he wrote for his mother, William gets a call that his mom is sick and he decides to go to Pittsburg to take care of her. He leaves his cousin, who is also a member of his band, and everything seems fine, however when he comes back in the present day things seem to be pretty different. In Pittsburg, William takes care of his mom while she's sick just like she took care of her mom and Randall has been taking care of William. Although his mom is sick, his life in Pittsburg seems to be going well. He meets Randall’s biological mother on the bus, which we’ve already seen but got a bit more of during this episode. At this point in time, he’s sober and barely even drinks alcohol, however, after falling into the wrong crowd and the death of his mother, he starts turning to drugs. It seems he has never been back to Memphis since he left so it was bound to be a very emotional trip.

Meanwhile, on the most emotional road trip ever, it was clear this was going to be a great adventure for them as soon as William threw Randall’s maps out the window. Right away this episode brought the waterworks when William requested to visit Jack’s official resting place. Randall takes him to the tree where they spread some of Jack’s ashes so that William can meet Jack. He spends his time there thanking Jack for raising Randall and being a great father. It’s one of the sweetest moments of the episode and, in my opinion, the whole series. Then they're on their way to Memphis and it’s obvious they’re going on a goodbye tour of William’s old city where he grew up. Their first stop was William’s childhood home and all he wants to do when they get inside is see if the treasure he hid in the fireplace is still there. Surprisingly, it is and William’s reaction is nothing short of adorable. Next, they go back to the bar that William and his band used to play at. Although we saw in flashbacks that when William left town his cousin was fine with it, that is not the case anymore. In the middle of all this drama and reconciliation, Randall is just so excited to meet all the family that he didn't know about. They end up having a big celebration at the bar and William even got up on stage and played music again with his cousin. One of my favorite moments of this episode was the call between Randall and Beth. I love their relationship and they have such a genuine chemistry. Randall is so excited to tell her about everyone he’s meeting and he says he wishes she was there because everything is better when she’s there. They’re just so adorable.

All the excitement took a lot out of William and the next morning he has to be rushed to the hospital. These last ten minutes were relentless and I could barely see through my tears. This is when we knew it was the end. Randall still has hope that maybe William has more time but the doctor tells him that William is not leaving the hospital. Randall just breaks down crying and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. It’s then time to say goodbye to William in a series of beautiful moments between father and son. William gave Randall a book of poems, titled “Poems For My Son”, which he wrote. I hope that we’ll get to hear some of these over the next couple of episodes. William also says that although he hasn't had a very good life, he thinks it’s pretty good that he can say the two best things in his life were the person at the very beginning and the person at the very end. In William’s final moments he tells Randall that he’s scared and like Jack used to do for Randall, Randall holds William’s head and tells him he’s okay, to just breathe. He holds him like this until his last breath. And just in case all this wasn’t enough to get you sobbing they threw in a montage of William’s best moments with his family and greeting his mother. Even after it was all over, things did not let up. As Randall is driving home he sees some ducks crossing the road in front of him which remind him of the ducks that William wanted to show him on the trip but never had a chance to. These ducks serve as a reminder of William’s wishes for Randall to let go and enjoy life, to drive home with the window open blasting his favorite music and so, in the final moments of the episode, that’s exactly what he does.

Words can't adequately describe how devastated I was by this episode. Even though I knew this moment was coming eventually, I was expecting it in the finale and I wasn’t ready. I cried like I knew William personally. The reaction to this episode is a testament to how great the writing and character development have been since the start. The performances from Sterling K. Brown and Ron Cephas Jones have been incredible throughout this season but they were on another level throughout this episode. In less than a full season, I absolutely love all these characters and it kills me to lose any of them. The next episodes will simply not feel the same without William.

What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!