This is Us finally gives us the answer we’ve all been waiting for and it was a doozy
This is Us has been teasing us since the beginning of season one with Jack’s death. And on Super Bowl Sunday we finally found out how the Pearson paterfamilias was lost. So what did we learn? Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) opened the door to the bedroom and was blasted by fire. He had to round up the kids and that included some heroics where Kate (Chrissy Metz) was concerned. He then went back into the burning house and surprise! He made it out with that ugly dog. Jack and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) get to the hospital and when Rebecca goes to get a candy bar Jack has a massive coronary episode from inhaling too much soot and dies.
In the future Kate’s audition video (which super Jack saved) has been broken and she’s super sad because she just wants to wallow in her dead dad vid. Kevin (Justin Hartley) spends some time having a heart to heart with Rebecca and making amends with Jack. Randall (Sterling K. Brown) tries to celebrate his dad by throwing a massive Super Bowl bash and ends up throwing a Jack memorial disguised as a lizard funeral instead.
And in a final This is Us twist? We get our first flash forward to an adult social worker Tess placing the little boy we thought was going to be going to Rendall and Beth is going to another couple. But don’t worry Randall and Beth won’t be empty-handed: Deja (Lyric Ross) is back!
Mel (@musiccitymel): Mel is a blogger at www.musiccitymel.com, a fibromyalgia warrior, and cohost of Two Dead Chicks: A Walking Dead Podcast.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): Disney World addict, comic book fan & Film and TV fanatic. Contributing Editor to Comicbookmovie.com. I’ve written some things you might have read… probably not though.
Carole (@cbraunnj): Costumer, teacher, massive Outlander fan.. She makes use of her excessive tv watching by being an obsessive knitter.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): Novelist, runner, podcaster, pretend baker, and professional Canadian. Author of HAVE YOU MET NORA? Read more at NicoleBlades.com.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): A former fashionista turned bestselling author. #WeNeedDiverseRomance advocate. Her latest novel The Betting Vow is available now. You can learn more about K.M. at kmjackson.com.
1. Holy bait and switch, Batman! Were you as surprised by Jack walking out of the house as we were?
Mel (@musiccitymel): Yep. That’s when I knew we had to be in some Final Destination situation. You mean to tell me he walked out of that house with the dog AND THE PHOTO ALBUMS and still died?! I reject this completely on the grounds that my heart can’t take it.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): I was, but I’m not sure why I was. It’s This Is Us bait and switch is kind of their thing. However, it did cause Jack’s death to provide a bit of a more emotional punch. At first you think that maybe this was just an even bigger bait and switch and they were going to drag it out even further, but I knew right as soon as Rebecca left that room what was going to happen.
Carole (@cbraunnj): Oh that fire! I’m surprised anyone got out without major physical injuries! But Jack had to go back for the dog. I understand why but wow. When Jack walked out of the house I was surprised but I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): Totally! But I should have know better Since day one on this show we’ve been all, “Pretty sneaky, sis.” They know how bring a TWIST, for real. I’ve prided myself on figuring out the main twist of the entire show from the pilot, and I’ve guessed a few twists here and there. But I didn’t see this one. Plus, I was so edge-of-seat-clutching-chest through the whole fire opening scene, I wouldn’t see anything coming.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): I was totally surprised. Those darned This Is Us writers always keeping us on our toes. I was like what is happing now? And sidebar: where is the dang dog now?
Also now that I’ve had five minutes of distance from last night’s episode I’m totally suspicions about what really went on in that hospital room with Jack. There has to be a reason we didn’t see him actually die. The writers never keep us out of the loop for nothing on this show.
2. The Pearsons of the present have their own Super Bowl traditions. Which did you most empathize with as you watched?
Mel (@musiccitymel): Probably Kate. Watching her play back that video from the day Jack died was soul crushing.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): I empathize with Randall all the way. That was what my parents taught me to do is celebrate the life someone lived, not the life you lost. So to see Randall put on his very accurate apron and cook up some delicious looking finger foods and celebrate his father was exactly the type of thing I would have done.
There also has to be some underlying guilt there by Randall because the last Super Bowl with Jack he chose to go see Titanic with his girlfriend.
Carole (@cbraunnj): I really empathize with Kevin on this one.Bad news Family avoidance is something I really understand. Kate wallows, Rebecca eats, Randall does his Super Bowl party but Kevin has avoided Jack’s death day for 20 years and that can hurt deeply, because he never saw Jack towards the end.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): I liked Randall’s choosing to celebrate the day. Did you peep his stadium made of subs and snacks, though? Next level. But I also thought Rebecca’s quiet tradition was sweet. Communing with Jack via his fave things and waiting for a laugh from him.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): There were so many heartbreakers here. Kevin all alone and Kate with her broken video tape. Randall trying to be the “perfect” dad and failing miserably. I think I felt the most for Rebecca making that lasagna and eating it all alone while watching the game. It was so quiet and seemed so real that it touched me right in the heart.
3. The ripples of tiny decisions in the hospital that led to what finally killed Jack were so heartbreaking. What did you think of these little ripples?
Mel (@musiccitymel): Seattle Grace/Grey Sloan Memorial this hospital was NOT. Where did these people go to medical school?! Also, they could not have tried to resuscitate that man for more than 30 seconds?! I was invoking the names of Cristina Yang, Miranda Bailey and Meredith Grey last night because if they had been on staff, Jack would be with us. I’m still distraught.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): I mean the doctor even said that the smoke inhalation is serious and he should be monitored. I just kept shouting at my TV, “Get Dr. K in here! I don’t care if he is long retired!” It was really good story telling though to see all of this chaos going on behind Rebecca in regards to Jack and she’s still just planning her hotel accommodations like everything is fine.
Carole (@cbraunnj): The 20-20 hindsight here is painful. Should they have put Jack on a heart monitor, yes. Maybe a larger hospital with a burn unit would have caught any complications in time to save Jack. I think it was a perfect storm of decisions that brought on Jack’s death.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): I was almost yelling, “Turn around, Rebecca! Hang up the phone! They’ve called a code!” And I knew it wasn’t going to be good when the doctor told Jack that he inhaled a lot of smoke. Then when Rebecca walked out of the hospital room to head to the vending machine, there was something about the way Jack looked at her leaving that made me know that would be the last time they ever spoke.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): I was so mad at all of that. You saw it coming which made the frustration that much greater. I just wanted to have a Terms of Endearment meltdown and demand some proper healthcare for Jack.
4. Kevin, Kate and Randall all had their moment with Jack. Kevin when he finally made amends, Kate when she went digital and finally told Toby her heart, and Randall when he held a funeral for a lizard and talked to Tess. This moment all seemed overdue for all three of them. What did you think?
Mel (@musiccitymel): It was so beautiful. I feel it was such a testament to how love truly doesn’t die. The loss of Jack will always be felt, but it’s his love and his legacy that are helping to guide the Pearson siblings even 20 years after his death.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): I’m finally glad to see Kate making some strides to let Toby into this dark time in her life and help her. She’s been so annoyingly closed off, and distant about it. I get being closed off about it, but give Toby some credit. Don’t instantly dismiss him and tell him he can’t help.
Kevin’s talk to Jack was just amazing. Justin Hartley knocked that out of the park and it was super emotional and moving. I hope we get some more character growing moments from him coming up.
Seeing Randall kind of relive the last time he saw Jack was something I’ve been wanting desperately. Jack has always been imporatant to Randall, but they kind of let Williams take the forefront of Randall’s fatherly figure when they brought him in, and you haven’t been able to grasp how Jack’s death really effected Randall until now.
Carole (@cbraunnj): Beth stepped on the lizard. I couldn’t believe they really did that. But who hasn’t held a small animal funeral? I think Randall really needed that funeral. But his talking to Tess seemed the most cathartic thing for him. As for Kate, she seemed to finally get to the other side of her long time wallow. Toby has the patience of a saint when it comes to Kate’s dad relationship. The fact that he got to see teen Kate with Jack gives him more understanding. And Kevin got to do something he hasn’t done for 20 years, talk to Jack. That was a cleansing moment for him.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): All of the moments were so moving and real. The writers on the show… man. They’re so good at capturing every corner of emotion and heart. Randall’s talk with Tess really touched me. And the young actor playing Tess did a fantastic job in that scene.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): I thought each were beautifully done. I hope this is the turnaround moment that Kevin needded. And we’ll see where Kate and Toby go from here. I have to say I was waiting for the other shoe to drop during their scene. The writers have me so nervous at this point. And Randall with poor Mr. McGiggles, what a day for him to go. It was so tragic that it was comical.
5. We expected to cry during this episode but we couldn’t predict how many of those tears would come courtesy of Rebecca and Mandy Moore. From that bite of the candy bar to her breakdown in front of the house in the car to her heart to heart with Kevin, talk to us about Rebecca this episode.
Mel (@musiccitymel): If Mandy Moore doesn’t win an award next year, I quit. Her reaction to Jack’s death was so real and raw. Taking a bite of that candy bar because the thought that her husband, who she just talked to could be dead, was incredulous. I feel like that was such a real reaction. I think my favorite Rebecca moment came when she put Jack’s necklace on and grasped at it in an effort to feel his presence. That really got to me.
Jake (@Jake_Lester):: Mandy Moore was a rock star this entire episode, all the moments in the questions are great, but just her comfort and support of Kevin when he called from Jack’s tree was just as amazing. If Mandy Moore doesn’t win some type of award for playing Rebecca, we riot.
Carole (@cbraunnj): Give Mandy Moore an award! A standing ovation! When she left Jack’s hospital room I was yelling, “Don’t leave him!!” That wasn’t a good idea. But the feeling of “I don’t believe you” denial to when she saw Jack on the bed, that was painful. And now we know how that clip of her in front of the burned out house fits in. But she finally had a chance to really talk with Kevin, an older sober Kevin. That was an excellent moment
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): Mandy Moore dragged our hearts out slowly and painfully with that hospital doorway scene. Outstanding. As soon as the scene ended I said, “Submitted to the Emmy Academy For Your Consideration.” Mandy did that!
K.M. (@kwanawrites): Rebecca gave me so many feels. The bite of the candy bar was perfect. It showed her shock and seemed perfectly logical to me. It was like, “Oh no, I’m going on with my life and you’ve got this wrong. My husband is still alive.” The scene with her and Miguel tore me up too, when she told him he’d have to take a walk around the block and get it together because she was going to be strong for her kids.
6. This is Us has made an art of the twist ending! What did you think of this one, our first flash forward, with an adult Tess as a social worker with the boy and Deja returning to Randall and Beth?
Mel (@musiccitymel): My heart wasn’t prepared for that. Seeing how Randall and Beth’s example shaped young Tess was such a beautiful moment. Also, I was so happy to see Deja back!!!
Jake (@Jake_Lester): There’s no way this was in direct response to the people who said the last episode foreshadowed Randall’s death, because the show was written and filmed way before that blasphemous piece was written, but I’m glad they showed old man Randall. I think it’s also really awesome that Tess went into a line of work that was obviously so important to her father, and why he is the person he is today.
Carole (@cbraunnj): Ok, have to admit that I got a bit confused. I had to watch that part again (thank you technology!). I really thought the young boy was going to be with Randall and Beth. But Tess saying that she likes fostering then made sense, it gives her a future life path. I’m now wondering what happened to bring Deja back? Obviously she trusts Randall and Beth, so they made a lovely impression on her.
I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would guys! But BOY was I FURIOUS AT THAT DOCTOR. WTF. I wasn’t that angry at the doctor, after all, it’s a dr in the past
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): I liked this flash forward. (And it didn’t make me twitch, thinking of Lost, that night goodness!) It was really well done. Did not see it coming. Also, I was happy to see Deja return. She’s a good addition to the family and their storyline. Looking forward to seeing what comes next.
K.M. (@kwanawrites): This was the moment that broke me. I knew that Tess would end up bringing us the feels. When she broke her feelings down to Randall and their scene I was starting to break, but that twist reveal with her as the grown up social worker… well I just about died of all the joy, it was so perfect. Seeing her grown and accomplished and an older Randall being so proud of her was everything I didn’t know I needed. Then it ending up being Deja at the door? Come on! It’s like the writers are reading our dream twitter streams and I’m here for it!
Final Verdict: We knew this episode of This is Us was going to be tough but we really didn’t know how next level they could go!
Everyone expected this episode of This is Us to be a doozy and it lived up to every expectation that we had. How many times were we holding our breaths only to be suddenly shocked when Jack didn’t die the way we expected. But in reality we probably should’ve expected the fakeout. Is that too many expects? We don’t know. We just loved the episode. Plus we were introduced to a whole new timeline! Who knew that every time we saw that little boy that he was being placed because Tess was the social worker? We were here for all of it.
Why on earth does Kate feel that responsible for Jack’s death? Honestly there were so many things that lead to his death it almost minimizes the self-flagellation she’s been doing for the past twenty years. Now we need details on adult Tess! And will this new timeline bring a baby KaToby? And why is Deja back? So many questions!
It was a really good thing we got to see Kevin have his moment of atonement with Jack. It’s been difficult for us to feel anything about Kevin because he’s always so emotionally closed off. And he can also be kind of a douche. So this is just one more step in thawing our relationship with poor Kevin.
We would really love to shout it out to Glenn Ficarra & John Requa for their direction. There were so many beautiful shots and such wonderful performances that were coaxed out of the actors. When Rebecca is alone in the car in front of the house sobbing but you could only hear the song? But the best shot was when Rebecca walked in after she didn’t believe the doctor. Seeing the reflection of Jack’s body and just focusing on Rebecca never showing the body? It was a stroke of genius and really made that moment.
RELATED | Drama After Dark Issue 11
Additional kudos to Mandy Moore. She really brought it this week with each reaction. When the doctor told her that Jack had had a massive heart attack and had died and she bit the candy bar? We’re thinking that’s going to go down in television history. Moore has been great in This is Us before but between this episode and the episode where Kevin is in rehab she’s really gotten to flex her muscles and it’s been impressive.
Speaking of that doctor. What was that about? The doctor actually said out loud that inhaling soot put a lot of pressure on the lungs. So Jack wasn’t hooked up to an EKG machine? Why didn’t he have oxygen? Why did they leave him alone? This wasn’t 1980, this was 1998! Come on. We think the Pearsons have a serious malpractice suit.
This is Us made us stay up late but it was all worth it in the end. This was the most buzzed about episode ever and we can’t wait to see where the show goes from here.