This Is Us fans need to keep the tissues nearby for the upcoming episode, “What Now?” While the death of William (Ron Cephas Jones) was a hard pill for viewers to swallow, the aftermath of his totally expected demise may be even worse. In an interview with the Huffington Post, This Is Us star Susan Kelechi Watson, who plays Randall Pearson’s devoted wife, Beth, on the show, said William’s death hits her character “hard.”
“They started off as strangers … and then she kind of sort of let him in. And then he figures his role out in the family, and they become family and they become friends,” the This Is Us actress told HuffPo.
“It’s going to be difficult and she didn’t have a chance to say goodbye. And her being his main caretaker in a sense, being home with him. You’ll find out how much she’s helped him in terms of medicine and doctors … So, it’s going to have a big effect.”
Because William died during a road trip with his biological son Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Beth and her children didn’t have the chance to say a proper goodbye to him. The new This Is Us episode will feature a celebration of William’s life, hosted, in part, by Randall and Beth’s two daughters, Annie (Faithe Herman) and Tess (Eris Baker). Susan Kelechi Watson told TV Guide that William affected Beth and her family in unexpected ways.
“They started off as strangers and they slowly became family, then they became friends,” the This Is Us actress said. “That part of her life is gone. The adjustment that she has to make and her grief is something we can expect to see.”
Not only that, but Justin Hartley, who plays Randall’s brother, Kevin, said his character feels like he lost a father for the second time.
“These kids lost their father and this guy was a father figure to Kevin, a little bit, without even meaning to be,” Hartley told TV Guide.
Of course, This Is Us fans know that a main character can remain on the show decades after a death scene due to the show’s flashback format. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman confirmed that we have not seen the last of William Hill.
“Just because these characters in the show die in the present day doesn’t mean they don’t remain a part of the show,” the This Is Us creator told EW. “He’s going to remain a big part of the show…William’s character only entered Randall’s family’s story in the last year, so there’s less of a backstory there. It means that if you’re going into his past more, you’re probably preceding his entrance into Randall and Beth and the kids’ lives — which we will do as well, but he’s going to remain a substantial part of the series.”
Fogelman also explained why he didn’t wait until the This Is Us season finale to say goodbye to William.
“First and foremost, it felt to me like life doesn’t play out all the time like a TV show, you know?” the This Is Us creator said. “The characters in your life don’t die during the season finales all the time. And they don’t always die exactly in a rhythm of how you expect it to happen or when or where, so that was part of the thinking.”
Fogelman revealed that he pored over the words for William’s death scene more than he has for anything he has written for This Is Us this year, but in the end, his goal “not be scared to kill off a main character just because everybody loves him” was met.
While his character was killed off, Ron Cephas Jones assured fans he’s not going anywhere, telling TV Line the adult version of William will return, perhaps via flashbacks or even a dream or hallucination sometime in the future.
“I know I’ll be seen, one way or another,” the This Is Us star said.
Take a look at the video below to see a trailer for This Is Us Episode 17, ‘What Now?”
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
[Featured Image by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]