Losing a parent is a life-altering experience.
Every death has an impact, but for many people, losing a parent looms as one of the first and largest they'll suffer. Whether they knew that parent well, had a loving relationship or even held them at arm's length, the loss will be palpable.
The Pearson family was defined by the loss of Jack Pearson, and memories of his life and death couldn't help but come to the forefront as Randall and his nuclear family dealt with the loss of William on This Is Us Season 1 Episode 17.
You guys, if THIS was what we got in the penultimate episode of This Is Us Season 1, I'm somewhat concerned about the finale.
Granted, everyone watches This Is Us differently. For me, this was an incredibly personal experience because I related to so much of what Randall was going through after losing William.
My sister, who lost the very same father I did, didn't shed a tear during "What Now?" while I was rather inconsolable. That's what makes This Is Us the rare series that touches so many hearts.
If you're not moved by the plight of one character, you will be moved by that of another. This Is Us isn't referring to the Pearsons and their respective family, but to all of us. As a collective group watching together, we will find common ground. It's beautiful.
It's not as if William hadn't already introduced so much love and opened so many doors for new ways of looking at life for Randall, Beth, Tess and Annie, but he even managed to plan out his death in such a way each of them would receive their own gift with his passing.
If we could all be granted such time and act with such forethought for the ones we love, the world would be a better place.
The only thing I would change about the FUNeral, as Randall dubbed it, is I would have invited more people.
He was a soft armrest for weary souls to lean on.Jesse
Jesse was left behind like everyone else and ultimately closer to William than any of the family at the memorial. It would have been especially adorable if Tess had asked Randall specifically to invite him because she was the person to point out their relationship to her dad in the first place.
Just as we could all benefit from some of William's wisdom, we could equally do with the view children have of the world. What is a eulogy but a toast, anyway?
The Catholics I grew up with (and I went to a lot of funerals) infused their wakes and "after parties" with a lot of the laughter and storytelling that might have been found at a memorial the likes of William's.
The walk through the neighborhood was one of the most inspired and touching ideas of remembrance I've ever seen, and I can only hope the neighborhood appreciated seeing the family as much as the mailman let on.
Was that when the tears first started spilling for anyone else? William was such a sweet soul and the kind of man who took a moment to get to know the people most important to everyday living. It's easy to forget how important service people are, but of course, not for William.
He knew he wasn't coming back. I didn't know. How could I have known? You got your trip to Memphis, the girls got their memorial, he left you all with a way... I loved him too, Randall. I never even got a chance to say goodbye.Beth
How could you not feel for Beth as she struggled with the fact she never said goodbye to William?
Randall had her back though when he gave his toast to her. I have to wonder, though. Did she know about before and after Jack, or did she use the phasing as a way to indicate through his short time, he'd made a great impact?
And even though we only had him for a few months, we'll remember things as "before William" and "after William."Beth
It didn't go well for Kate and brought up so many feelings. She was gutted over all the things she had been feeling as she was working on the simplest of tasks for William's memorial. When she should have been comforting Randall, she was thinking about herself.
Good for Kate, though, because without her tears we wouldn't have been treated to Randall's dream about his two dads meeting and laughing their asses off at the thought Randall taught William how to drive.
Jack's experience teaching his kids how to drive made the whole thought of Randall teaching anyone pretty darn funny to Jack in Randall's dreams.
What a great way to get two dads together in a scene we'd never see otherwise. Let the imaginations soar as the series continues, please!
Toby was feeling a little left out that Kate still hadn't shared how Jack had died, and the memories of a specific night in which Kate talked Jack into drunkenly driving to Cleveland to see Rebecca's show seems like it will be when Jack dies.
After all, Kate said it's all her fault.
I'm telling you right now. The fates are not that cruel. Whatever Kate believes is attributed to her will be nowhere near as obvious.
What I can imagine is Jack arriving at a scene he doesn't want to see. Rebecca nuzzling with her band mate/former high school sweetheart, driving Jack not to drink and drive, but to drink heavily and a disaster of another sort.
Anything but an accident. In a round about nature, a girl of Kate's age at the time would blame herself, and once it's in your head, it's buried deep. I'm expecting tears in any case!
Kevin was ready to get back on stage and make the play a success, too. Sophie had a lot of faith that he could win over the NYT theater critic, but it wasn't to be.
Kevin isn't the man he was when he was on The Manny. Reconnecting with his family and being out of the Los Angeles area has changed him. He's stronger and more confident, but also more caring and kind.
He could have used Randall's misfortunes as an excuse but didn't even consider it, something Sophie found very sexy.
Life has a way of working itself out. What's the saying? Whatever is meant to be will be...
The play was a success, the family was proud, and if anyone had been there to see it, possibly great reviews would have been had.
There's now a man where the Manny once stood.Randall
The cameo from Ron Howard was such a pleasant and shocking surprise, but it also dangled a carrot in front of Kevin that might be difficult for him to resist. Then again, not MY Kevin.
We have to have faith, right?
MY Kevin will thank Ron Howard profusely for the offer of a role in a film, but tell him he's committed to stage right now. He'll ask for a review of his play, and he'll continue on his journey with Sophie until they're strong enough to consider their next move.
Then again, the Los Angeles change of venue was mentioned twice. Toby is ready to get back to LA, Ron Howard wants Kevin there and Randall? Well, his whole life just went up in a delightful puff of smoke. He can go anywhere.
My father died, man, and on the day of his memorial you sent me pears, which I'm allergic to. And you know this because at the lunch when you hired me we at Roquefort salad and I went into anaphylactic shock. And along with the pears that could have killed me, you sent a card with a one-line Hallmark message and a typed out signature, from "The Team." And for all this, Tyler, I thank you.Randall
When my father died, he died having spent his life at the same company. Almost 40 years or something. He hated waking up in the morning. He never did what he wanted. He always had an excuse for putting off his dreams.
Also when he died, I received from my company questions on how long I'd be gone, veiled threats that an extra day (I took a week) might result in my dismissal. Soon afterward, another employee lost her adoptive grandfather and was awarded homemade muffins and all the time she needed.
The world is weird.
Randall: You see, for days, I've been plagued by the question: how do I honor my father's legacy? Then I realized, I honor his legacy by taking what I learned from the way he lived his life and use it to shape the way I go on living mine. So here it is, Tyler. I quit.
I wanted to honor my father by changing my life. Goodness, it took a long time, but now, watching Randall go through everything was liberating and vindicating.
Randall has been hard working and focused since he was a tiny boy. That's not a bad thing at all, but it does indicate he might be due for a break. He saw how his father lived, and learned after he was gone that the impact William made on his own life spread much further than he knew.
William's moves weren't fast, but they were endearing as hell. He was endearing as hell.Beth
That didn't only apply to his dancing feet!
Randall's going to take some time to get to know the world he lives in. Sure, he might have shared that with Beth before making his move, but sometimes you have to act when the feeling hits.
No hard feelings, man. I walk out of here in triumph. I came, I saw, I conquered.Randall
The cast has been saying This Is Us Season 1 Episode 18 will be deeper and a little darker than we're used to seeing. The tone is about to shift.
With so many big decisions being made and carrots dangling, the Pearson family is in a stage of upheaval. That's exactly where we'd expect them to be as we prepare to move into the finale, right?
This can't be wrapped up in a bow and neatly tied. We need to be concerned and spend ages sitting in anticipation of what comes next. Just like in our lives, biting our nails and trying to find something to do while we wait for what's next.
If darkness looms, there will also be hope because, in this life, there is always light breaking when we least expect it.
What did you think of yet another fantastic episode of This Is Us, and what are you expecting of the finale? Where will be go from here?
I've voted for a bottle of wine, some Kleenex, maybe 50 colorful balloons to keep the mood bright and a hat for our virtual viewing party. What do you think?
If you're behind, don't hesitate to watch This Is Us online so we can all do it together!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.