Oh, William. What a sweet, sweet man. A wise owl. A loving father.
Many would say he’s just a character on TV, but when a character is so alive, so fully realized, and so beloved, he’s much more.
I am sorry this is the end of William’s story, but I know writers this good will find a way to keep bringing him back into the mix. I am wondering if “Poems for My Son” will be published posthumously? Wouldn’t that be lovely?
Ron Cephas Jones is a gifted craftsman. He can convey so much–irony, tenderness, frustration, despair–with a single look. I will miss him so.
Needless to say, I adored William and Randall’s road trip to Memphis. Reminded me of our own trip to Memphis maybe 20 years ago. The electric energy of Beal Street was like none other. It’s where I fell for the Blues for the first time.
This recap will be all Randall and William because of course, this episode was all theirs.
1. I know the trip was necessary and even priceless but was Randall’s breakdown on LAST WEEK’S EPISODE diminished by his seemingly snappy recovery? Here’s hoping we get a peek into the hard work of his healing.
2. When William gently woke the girls up to say goodbye, I felt a spasm of pain. He knew just as my Dad knew when I said goodbye to him that July day in 2006 that it was goodbye until Heaven. William’s term as Grandpa was short but oh so sweet. So glad those little girls got that gift.
3. Speaking of gifts, I was struck by William asking Randall what Jack had been like. What a beautiful thing to ask. And the scene where William “pays his respects” to Jack’s resting place? Astonishing. “Thank you for doing what I couldn’t,” he said to Jack. “I would have liked to have met my son’s father.” I’ve written quite a bit about my own birth father, and the choices he made–to walk away and not toward me–stand in striking contrast to William’s good choices. Yeah, I lost it.
4. The Memphis flashbacks are superbly done. We meet William’s parents as his father is going off to WW2. We see his mother grieving, yet rejoicing in her baby son. We get acquainted with William’s cousin and understand more about his creative pursuits of songwriting, poetry and the Blues.
5. In current day Memphis, William knocks on his old door and wanders through the house that built him. I’ve knocked on my old door, too, but wasn’t let in. Still, even being in my old backyard was potent, stirring up a million memories.
6. William drinks from the old whites-only fountain, quenching a deeper thirst.
7. It was good to see signs of Randall’s goofiness coming back. He sure was keen on meeting those cousins! “I’m up to twelve cousins in various forms!” he exults to Beth. Cute. Even cuter: “You are the chocolate sauce in my ice cream.”
8. After a last hurrah, William declines quickly. His organs shut down and Randall is told his birth father only has hours to live. At the hospital, in those last moments, William has something of inestimable value to give Randall. He calls him his “beautiful boy” and affirms again that Randall made the right choice to risk so much for the chance to know and love him. And also a spiral-bound collection of poetry, “Poems for My Son.” He also has some magnificently meaningful things to say before he leaves this world:
* “I want (the girls) to remember looking up at me, not down.”
* “The two best things in my life are the person at the very beginning and the person at the very end.”
Ah, what richness! I hated saying goodbye to William, my very favorite character, but what a sendoff.
You know, when Randall rolled down the window on his way home–as William suggested he do–it made me think about all the ways we carry our loved ones and their influences with us, always. How do you carry your loved ones with you?
Next week: Looks like Sloane chose to let Kevin live after he walked out on their play to rescue Randall. But what will the fallout be? And Jack and Kate? With TWO EPISODES left to go, is this the beginning of the end for our favorite couple?
What was your favorite part of the episode? Least favorite? What storyline are you most excited to see play out? Comment below and we’ll discuss!