This Is Us wrecked fans with "Memphis," a standalone Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and William (Ron Cephas Jones) episode—here's a Milo Ventimiglia's excuse note for work/school—and there's a lot to unpack. Warning, spoilers.
"Memphis" featured Randall taking his biological father William back home to Memphis, it would be their final time together. William died at the end of the episode, he knew it was coming. Creator Dan Fogelman penned the emotional episode and took to Twitter to share the note he attached to the script of the episode.
"A note to the reader from Dan, and particularly to Mr. Ron Cephas Jones:
It's never easy writing the death scene of one of your favorite characters (and actors). I hope we've done you proud—you certainly always deliver for us.
And if anyone is extra sad about the ending, I'd urge you to remember the words of a wise young actor named Justin Hartley who once said:
People will die in our lives, people that we love. But it's kind of beautiful if you think about it, the fact that just because someone died, it doesn't mean they're still not in the paining."
The painting Fogelman refers to is from an episode of This Is Us where Hartley's character Kevin explained death to Randall's kids.
In an interview with EW, Fogelman said the plan for William had always been that with one or two episodes left of the season that there would be a road trip, just the location changed. Fogelman said the plan was to kill the character, it never changed.
"It would be very easy for us to make the decision to keep William alive just because people love him so much. I love the actor so much, and the character. But you're right, it didn't feel truthful for this character and the purpose he was meant to serve in this story in the present day," he said. "It's always hard. It's especially hard with a great guy like Ron and a tremendous actor, but as I said in the note that I wrote at the end of the script: Just because these characters in the show die in the present day doesn't mean they don't remain a part of the show. When Game of Thrones beheads somebody, it's hard to keep them completely alive in the story. We have a slightly different narrative structure, so it allows William to remain a part of things."
You will see William again. Next week in fact. "He's going to remain a big part of the show," Fogelman said. However, because William only entered Randall's life this year, so when he is seen again it will be exploring his past, the question, Fogelman said, is when. "[H]e's going to remain a substantial part of the series. How many? And when? We're still figuring that all out," he said.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays, 9 p.m. on NBC.
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