‘This Is Us’: This Theory About Malik’s Dad, Darnell, Has Fans Freaking Out About Omar Epps

When Omar Epps and Jennifer Morrison were introduced in This Is Us Season 4, fans were ready to watch a House reunion unfold before their eyes. Unfortunately, the two actors have yet to interact onscreen. However, both of their characters have already touched the Pearson family in their own way. While Morrison’s Cassidy has plenty going on with Kevin (Justin Hartley), Epps has his hands full as Malik’s (Asante Blackk) dad, Darnell. Now, it seems fans have cooked up a theory about Darnell as This Is Us continues. And not going to lie, it’s worrisome.

[Spoilers for This Is Us Season 4 ahead!]

Who is Malik’s dad? Omar Epps plays Darnell Hodges in ‘This Is Us’

Omar Epps at Celebrities Visit Build - July 26, 2018
Omar Epps | Desiree Navarro/WireImage

In the This Is Us Season 4 premiere, Darnell is not only introduced as Malik’s father, but the owner of an auto shop in Philadelphia. He is committed to raising his son as well as his granddaughter, Janelle, with Kelly (Marsha Stephanie Blake). And of course, Darnell’s dad speeches could give Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Randall (Sterling K.Brown) a run for their money.

Then in the seventh episode, titled “The Dinner and the Date,” Darnell and Kelly are invited to Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Randall’s to discuss Deja (Lyric Ross) and Malik’s growing romance. Both sets of parents are cautious with their children. However, Darnell vouches for his son and apologizes for the school skipping, which occurred earlier in the episode.

That said, the dinner still escalates, as Beth and Kelly go at it. And when Randall states that he’s afraid Malik will bring Deja back to her former life, Darnell speaks up. He unveils his gang tattoos and admits to living the “hood” life. But Darnell makes it clear it’s in the past.

“Look, you can choose to see me and only see my mistakes, or you can choose to see something different,” he said. “Just like you can choose to see our son as a kid from North Philly, a teenage father. Or you can choose to see a straight-A student, a sweet boy who loves to make his mother and daughter smile. But what you’re not gonna do is write him off.”

Clearly, Darnell’s speech struck a chord with Beth and Randall. And after the Hodges leave, Beth and Randall tell Deja she is allowed to continue seeing Malik.

Why ‘This Is Us’ fans think Malik’s dad, Darnell, will die

Following “The Dinner and the Date,” fans flooded social media to share their thoughts on the episode. And one This Is Us viewer had an interesting theory about Darnell that had fans in a whirlwind of emotions.

In the episode, Malik told Deja that Kelly and Darnell have been together for 22 years. Coincidentally, this is the same number of years Jack and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) were together before Jack died. And it seems the echoed number has fans thinking the This Is Us writers are hinting at Darnell’s death.

“When Malik said his parents had been together 22 years, that made my ears perk up. Rebecca and Jack has been married 22 years when he died,” the Reddit fan wrote. “I think Malik’s dad is going to die.”

The Redditor also predicted how Darnell will die, wondering if his death could be “something gang related that Malik gets into with that guy from the body shop to make money for his daughter.”

They then hypothesized that Darnell’s death would reflect Jack and Randall’s story. “Malik will be around the same age as Randall when Jack died,” the fan wrote. “Randall takes Malik under his wing.”

In response, most This Is Us fans seemed to agree with the theory about Darnell. “Can’t help but think that number wasn’t just a coincidence! You could be on to something,” one fan wrote.

But everyone is still crossing their fingers that it doesn’t happen. “Plausible considering that Omar is kind of a big TV name and therefore less likely to stick around,” another fan wrote. “That being said, I would just like to say NO THANK YOU to this theory!”

For now, fans don’t know what’s going to happen to Darnell as This Is Us Season 4 moves forward. But we hope Epps stays on as Darnell for a very long time. The addition of the Hodges family has already prompted more discussions surrounding race and socioeconomic background. And quite frankly, we’d much rather see those storylines unfold than the death of another parent.

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