RIP William Hill. Angels led him in.
I don’t think anyone will argue with me that this week’s episode of This Is Us was one of the most beautiful hours on television. The two were making reminiscing, making amends most importantly memories that Randall would cherish forever.
We were warned this week to bring in the tissues, but if you watch regularly, that would have been a given, especially considering we left Randall in full blown panic mode and his father with stage 4 cancer.
We didn’t see any of the other cast members this week. Instead, the episode focused solely on Randall and his relationship with his father, one that he had been searching for his whole life. And if that wasn’t enough, his adoptive father also played a huge role in one of the hardest moment’s of his life – saying goodbye once again.
and And if that wasn’t enough, his adoptive father also played a huge role in one of the hardest moment’s of his life – saying goodbye once again.
Speaking of his adoptive father, this is the first time we saw William ask about him and Randall was more than eager to share stories of his hearty laugh and his strong personality. William asked his son to detour to Jack’s resting place saying, “I want to meet my son’s father.” A bold statement considering not many people would be willing give another man that title. But William knew the reason Randall was such a great guy was because of his upbringing and he thanked Jack for it. It’s a shame the two never met – they would have really gotten along.
We got a look at William’s backstory, one filled with agony and tragedy. When his mother was pregnant with him, his father was sent off into war and never made it home. That idea seemed to carry over to this episode, with William embarking on one last journey and never making it back to New York, something we as viewers knew from the first minute of the episode and something Randall denied till the very end.
In the backstory, his mother left Memphis when he was a young adult to care for her mother, who passed away shortly after. Instead of returning, she stayed in Pittsburgh, constantly encouraging him to play music, write poems and craft his art. There’s nothing better in this world than a mother who supports her son’s passions.
William played in his cousin’s band performing cover songs before finally writing a smash hit, which took them to sold-out status. All of that was put on pause when he got the call that his mother was ill. He left to Pittsburgh to take care of her, promising his cuz that he’d come back to continue performing.
In the present, we know he never kept his word. When he finally returns with Randall in tow, his cuz is not happy to see him. He feels betrayed and forgotten, understandably so but William knows he’s dying so he’s here to say his apologies and make amends. After he explains that he stayed behind to care for his mother, fell in love and then fell into drugs when she passed. He was too embarrassed to come back, knowing he threw away so much potential. His cuzzo forgives him and asks him to play “one last time.”
Randall is in awe of his roots, finally getting the chance to learn who he is and where he comes from. As he watches his father rock it out at his old bar, he meets several family members while getting drunk. Drunk Randall is definitely a rarity but needed, especially in these circumstances.
The next day however, William can’t get out of bed because of the tremors. Randall calls the paramedics who take him to the hospital where the doctor assures him that his father will not be leaving. He has to come to terms with the fact that they are the end of their journey now – it’s time to say goodbye. William hands him a book of poems he’d saved for the “right moment.”
If the tears weren’t rolling yet, they started when he explained that despite going through hardships he would never call his life sad because the two best things in it were the person with him in the beginning and the person with him in the end. You can mess up a lot, make so many bad choices but if at the end, the one person you’ve always cared for is by your side, you must have done something right. That’s how William feels.
He tells Randall that he’s scared of death so he comforts him the only way he knows how – the way his father comforted him when he was having panic attacks. As he holds his fathers face and helps him breathe, William sees his life flash before his eyes – his mother, the love of his life, his son, his grandchildren, his cousin. It’s all there. And then, the writers tug the final heart-string and William walks into his old home, with his beautiful young mother standing there to greet him. I don’t know if this depiction of death is at all, in any way accurate, but my god, I hope it is. Knowing there is still someone waiting for you on the other side is the most comforting of all.
Randall leaves Memphis with a heavy heart but a lot more soul. In the car, he listens to his dad’s advice one last time and rolls down the windows while blasting the music real loud.
He was in a fragile place before this but I don’t think he’ll necessarily be worse off after this. His biological father taught him a lot and showed him a side that he didn’t really get to see – how to let go and just enjoy things without stressing and always making the bed. Maybe it will give him a new perspective on life and what’s important. After all, he does deserve the best. Father’s words.