If you didn’t already understand why Sterling K. Brown has two Emmys (although, the only possible explanation for that is that you’ve literally never seen him act in anything), you definitely will after last night’s episode of This Is Us, which was all about his character Randall Pearson.
Brown’s devotion to every single scene is awe-inspiring and even manifests when he’s connecting to flashbacks that were presumably shot months and even up to a year ago. In this episode, titled “Number Three,” he connects with the past through emotional new scenes with William (Ron Cephas Jones), his biological father, giving Brown plenty of opportunity to flex one of his best skills as an actor. Namely, crying.
In an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Mandy Moore, who plays Rebecca (Randall’s mother) on the show, said: “I think Sterling gets the award for best cryer.” He more than earned her praises with this pre-hiatus episode, getting the perfect amount of watery eyes and a single, iconic, thousand-pound tear to roll down the right side of his face.
“I feel like he’s literally at the point as an actor who’s like ‘What eye do you want me to have the dramatic single tear drop down my cheek from,” Moore added. “He’s that good.”
Photo: C/O NBC
Lyric Ross, who plays Deja (Beth and Randall’s foster child), is the best thing to happen to the show this season. Aside from being an unbelievable actress (see: every single time she has been on screen), her character brings out the best and most vulnerable sides of Sterling’s—and apparently, she brings out the best in him as a real human too.
“I did not want to shoot this scene,” Brown said during the This Is Us After Show. “Because, I think you’re so special, and it was a perfect sort of symbiosis of Sterling not wanting to say goodbye to Lyric because you’re so much fun to play with, and Randall not wanting to say goodbye to Deja, like I’m telling you, I was a mess.”
Their goodbye during the final scenes of 2017 was an amazingly sweet ending to this relationship we’ve watched develop. Week after week, viewers praise Ross for her powerful portrayal of a foster child with clear PTSD from being placed in abusive and hostile homes. Brown’s character has become more than aware of that, and his carefulness comes to light during this scene:
Randall: “Well I know you’re not too keen on me touching you, so…”
Deja: “It’s really when I don’t see it coming.”
And then they hug, he cries, and we fall apart on our couches.
Brown has the final word of 2017 during the after-show session: “Everybody, so you don’t ask me no more questions, you will see how Jack dies in 2018 before the season is over, I guarantee you.” Yes!