‘This Is Us’: Will Randall Ever Return to Memphis?
If you’ve never ugly-cried during a TV show, This Is Us is the answer. More specifically, the season 1 episode, “Memphis,” will get you there. The episode followed Randall (Sterling K. Brown) as he drove William (Ron Cephas Jones) to his hometown of Memphis.
It was an emotional 60 minutes, revealing so much more about the two men than previously before. So, will Randall ever go back?
Why did Randall visit Memphis?
During “Memphis,” Randall had just been released from the hospital following his breakdown. He offered to take William back to Memphis to make amends, reminisce, and learn about his family history.
Part of that history revealed to Randall that William’s father died in the military when his mother was pregnant. He had a band but left when his mom got sick to be with her. It was around the time he fell in love (with Randall’s birth mother), so he never returned.
It was his mother’s death that sent William into drug addiction (which is why he leaves Randall at the Fire Station). By the show’s end, it’s clear William won’t return to New York with Randall. His final moments are with his son (Randall) and require an entire box of Kleenex.
“It was kind of a moment, like an open mouth moment,” Ron Cephas Jones previously said of the script. “Like, I can’t believe what I’m reading. It affected us all that way—me, Sterling, and Susan Kelechi Watson.”
He continued: “I remember us walking out of the building after the first read and each of us were waiting for one of us to confirm what we just read.”
Will Randall ever return to Memphis?
Director Glenn Ficarra previously told E! News that “Memphis” set Randall on a new path after dealing with William’s death, but leaves room for more questions and answers.
“In a way, the episode kind of completed him, but also tore something else open, but I think in his everyday life as opposed to his past. I think that’s a bold new avenue for him,” he said.
However, because of Randall’s previous mental health struggles, the added stress of William’s death may not have impacted him as much as fans would think.
“I think Randall’s always going to have issues with pressure and I think that’s a whole other element of his character, this need to be exceptional, whether it be because he’s adopted or because he’s black in a white world,” Ficarra added.
He continued: “Just his coping mechanism is not the healthiest. I think he’ll learn to deal with it, but he is not a guy who’s going to say this is enough. Whatever his life was before William entered his life, I don’t think it’s a place he’s itching to get back to. I think it’s just the beginning of more growth for him.”
That means he may have gotten all he needed in Memphis during his trip with William. Now that William is gone, so is the need to dig any deeper into that history.
How is season 4 of ‘This Is Us’ dealing with Randall’s struggle with identity?
From the pilot episode of This Is Us, it’s clear Randall has an innate need to be accepted by the world, even at his own personal demise. The perfectionist, people-pleasing, kind soul never felt he fit into the Pearson family.
Season 4 may tie up some of those lingering past issues. With Randall as the new City Councilman, and the big move, and Beth’s new dance studio, Randall may break again. If he does, this could be the time those old wounds heal for good.
Otherwise, Randall could be the only Pearson without a stressful season this time around. All in all, that’s not a bad thing.