TV: This Is Us – Memphis

Show: This Is Us
Episode: Memphis
Network: NBC
Airs: Tuesdays 10/9 central
Starring, Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Justin Hartley
Rating: TV-14
FA Scorecard: A
Reviewed by: Lori Twichell

I wasn’t going to write this review. Honestly, I’ve just been enjoying This is Us along with the rest of the world and my schedule has been pretty busy of late, so I didn’t plan this at all. And then I watched Memphis. When I got to the end of the show, I knew that there was no way I would be able to just sit this episode aside. It was too beautiful and brilliant to go without acknowledgement.

If you aren’t caught up with the show, this review will contain spoilers, so read at your own risk. 

In this episode, we find Randall dealing with the fallout of last week’s nervous breakdown. His wife, Beth, is none too pleased that after such a debilitating incident (shakes, partial paralysis, blindness) Randall actually wants to make a road trip with his father, William. They are in the doctor’s office arguing the pros and cons of the trip. The doctor sides with Randall and with a list of specific rules he must abide by for his own health, Randall departs with William.

Now I’m gonna say here that the audience at this point has a pretty clear picture of what’s going to happen on this trip. William’s goodbyes to his grandchildren and daughter in law have a pretty heavy edge to them. It’s plain to see that he’s making peace with what’s coming. Unfortunately for Randall (and those of us who cringe watching this emotional tidal wave) he doesn’t see it.  That makes this episode exponentially  more painful to watch.

In true This is Us format, the stories are not linear. Little bits revealed here and there as we bounce back and forth through time create a bigger masterpiece as the show unfolds. In this episode, we meet William’s parents when they were barely more than teenagers. We see him as an infant growing up with his mother. We finally get to see more of his relationship with Randall’s mother. And we learn all about how his father got to the point of dropping a newborn off at a fire station.

Randall learns more about his family and little by little, as each minute of this episode ticks down, you can feel the empty spaces in the lives of both Randall and William being filled. It’s a truly incredible experience.

This is probably a good place for me to interject and say that I am blown away at the gorgeous unfolding of the storylines on this show. I love how we bounce around through time and learn these little things that might not make any sense whatsoever when we see them, but then six episodes later, they slot into the puzzle with a nearly audible click and give us a fuller, deeper and richer view of the Pearson clan.  It feels like real life. Not the characters, but the way we learn about them. Honestly, if you meet someone on the street or as a casual acquaintance, you don’t know their whole story. No one does. But as the friendship deepens, you learn more. You grow more into that relationship. It strengthens and builds through shared experiences. That’s what sets This is Us apart for me. It would be easy to tell a story from point A to point Z. This way of storytelling is harder to pull together. It takes more work. But it brings so much more reward than the average movie or show.

In my review of the pilot episode,  I ended by saying that the bar had been set pretty high. I said that NBC had me on this one and I hoped and prayed that it wouldn’t get messed up. The investment of my time (and emotions!) in this show has been returned in spades. There’s no possible way for me to recommend this show any more highly. It’s stunningly gorgeous.
Oh and just to end things after the emotional tidal wave that was this episode, here’s a very important apology from the cast of This is Us.

 

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