The last episode of This Is Us allowed you to ride shotgun on a father-son road trip to Memphis, which afforded Randall a precious peek into William’s beginnings — but ended with his crushing death. Tonight’s episode, titled “What Now?”(9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC), brings you the rather unconventional memorial service of Randall’s biological father (played by Ron Cephas Jones), while also finding Pearson family members at assorted crossroads.
“Every character is at a point of making a decision,” says This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia. a.k.a. Jack, using the word “stressful” to describe this episode. “Kate [Chrissy Metz], with regards to Toby [Chris Sullivan] and moving forward with their life together and being inclusive of information. Kevin [Justin Hartley] is faced with a challenge and a question that he has to make a decision on with regards to his life in New York. Randall has some decisions to make based on the follow-up with William’s death. And then Jack and Rebecca [Mandy Moore] are in a spot where they are, for the first time, really being pulled apart in different directions.”
We also seem to be inching closer to learning about the death of Jack as Kate is trying to figure out a way to open up to Toby about her father’s demise. This episode returns you to the mid-to-late-’90s, when Jack will ultimately pass away — and a time in life when the relationship between Jack and Rebecca is buckling under a tremendous strain as she prepares to hit the road to sing with Ben’s band. “A lot of it does come from Rebecca’s want to have something for herself, but Jack just sees that as getting away from the family,” Ventimiglia tells EW. “I know everybody talks about Jack’s jealousy and whatnot. I don’t think Jack has a jealousy as in he doubts himself compared to another man or next to another man; it’s attention pulled away from him and his family that I think Jack is incredibly protective of.”
The final scene in “Jack Pearson’s Son,” which was the last time Jack was onscreen, certainly didn’t leave audiences on an encouraging note. The episode ended with Jack returning to the bottle — something he’d given up years before when it was causing problems — downing a drink at the restaurant where he should have been on a Valentine’s Day date with Rebecca. “I think that’s a good indication of where we’re going,” says Ventimiglia. “Jack has years later decided to take up a drink again. It can’t be good for many reasons, and alcohol only messes up and further clouds judgment. So you got to believe that Jack’s judgment is going to be clouded in a time that he’s already really trying to hang onto his family structure. Even though he’s looking for that escape, that escape ultimately will come back and bite him in the ass.”
While you process that sobering quote, click here to read what Sterling K. Brown had to say about this episode and paying unconventional tribute to William.
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