This Is Us: Season 1, Episode 16 “Memphis” (B)
I had read something about how sad this episode was before I watched it, and while it might have been a spoiler, I think the writing was on the wall with William for a while now. This episode was framed in typical fashion to say goodbye to a character, with flashbacks to his happier past and all the influential moments in his life. Opening with his own birth was an effective way to track the life cycle, and that’s especially relevant on this show, which pulled its very first emotional twist at the end of the first episode by linking the triplets’ birth with their lives in the present. This was a focused hour that saw Randall get to have the father he always wanted and meet the many cousins in his life that I imagine he’s going to try to tether himself to now that his biological father has passed away. The manner in which William died was predictable but still sad, and I think this was a fitting ode to the character, with that classic flashback to him getting on the bus and meeting Randall’s mother serving as an appropriate bookend. The most touching part was William’s warm response to “meeting” Jack, who Randall really did consider his father and whose ability to calm him down and ground him in reality was an enormously special part of this relationship. I’m not sure what will define Randall now that his father is gone, but I think that it should help refocus the show around the dynamic between the three siblings which should prove to be a positive move.