This Is Us’ Sterling K. Brown breaks down as he begs fans to reach out to their estranged family

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Kayleigh Dray
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Fair warning, This Is Us fans; this article contains spoilers. Big, fat, juicy spoilers. We suggest that you leave now if you’re not up-to-date with the hit NBC show.

If you’ve chosen to continue reading, it’s time to talk about Tuesday night’s incredibly emotional episode, Memphis. In it, we watched as Randall Pearson (Sterling K. Brown) head off on a road trip with his weak but determined biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones).

The pair enjoyed some quality father-and-son bonding time – which was exactly what Randall needed after his recent anxiety-fuelled breakdown.

However, as the episode progressed, it quickly became apparent that William had an ulterior motive for the trip; he was headed home to die.

After showing his son around his hometown, William sat down to play music with his son at a local bar, and the pair eventually peeled off to their hotel rooms for some shut-eye. But, in the morning, Randall found his father (who recently stopped his chemotherapy treatment) sicker than ever before.

William was rushed to hospital – but there was nothing more doctors could do for him. Speaking from his hospital bed, he had some final words of advice for his son: “Roll all your windows down, Randall. Crank up the music. Grow out that ‘fro. Let someone else make your bed.”

He added that he wasn’t sad about dying, because “the two best things in his life were the person in the beginning and the person at the end.”

Fans took to social media to praise the emotional scenes – and Sterling himself decided to deliver an emotional 12-minute video about the episode on Facebook Live.

“I’ve seen this episode a few times now, and it still gets me,” he said. “I’m proud of this show. I’m proud of the work. I’m so happy to be a part of something like this. I’ve been doing this for a while and these kinds of opportunities don’t come along all the time.

“It means the world to me that I get to do this for a living.”

The Emmy award-winning actor went on to explain that he himself had lost a beloved uncle to cancer – and urged viewers to reach out to their estranged friends and family.

“We’re all in this together, and no man or woman is an island unto themselves,” he said. “If you have family that you haven’t talked to in a while, or friends that you feel you’ve fallen out of touch with, then phone them up and let them know how much you love them, how much you care. Because tomorrow is not promised.

“It’s not. You’ve got to let the people know, while they’re here.”

Jones, meanwhile, has confirmed that, while his character’s path has come to an end, he is still very much alive. And he will, quite possibly, make an appearance in flashbacks in upcoming episodes

“I do know that he's going to carry over into season two in some way, just as well as Jack was in all of season one,” he explained to EW.

“The whole story was there; it’s just the way they’re doing their writing. It’s so beautiful and interesting, and it leaves it open for so many possibilities.”

 “That’s the greatest thing about the show because we’re kind of always filling in blanks and this one very small story that takes place over a couple of months so far, we’re always filling in these things,” directors and executive producers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra added to People.

“We could see young William,” they teased of future episodes. “We’ve created a world there.”

This Is Us airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on NBC.

Images: NBC


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.