It was supposed to be the best Pearson Super Bowl ever, but This Is Us Season 2 Episode 13 ended up being the last.
At least with Jack.
Since the series first aired and fans realized the main secret was that it actually focuses on one family, told through parallel storylines at different points in their lives, the second biggest question became: how does Jack, the beloved family patriarch, die?
Various theories have taken shape on the internet, including our own, and several hints have been dropped until finally, it all unfolded in a gut-wrenching and heartbreaking reveal.
When something unfathomable happens, you always try to find someone to blame because accepting that it was an accident is just too painful.
And it probably had you sifting through an abnormal amount of tissue boxes...even for a Tuesday night.
I was about 20-minutes into the episode when I realized many of the breadcrumbs the series dropped along the way had materialized; this was the episode.
Rebecca was wearing the Steelers jersey, the same one she was wearing when she pulled up to the scorched house and yelled helplessly into the dead of the night.
Randall was baking cookies with Allison, his new girlfriend, who is later seen comforting him, and Kevin wasn't home because he got into a fight with Rebecca and Jack and spent the night at Sophie's house.
Still, up until those final seconds, the "how" wasn't completely obvious.
How did the fire start?
Did Rebecca leave the stove on when she made pigs in a blanket? Did something in the basement catch on fire? Was it all because of Allison's cookies?
Once again... there was nothing to blame except for a faulty slow-cooker, which Jack made sure to turn off before going to sleep.
That's what's so frustrating. This could have been so easily avoided, yet it resulted in a situation that broke the family and left them picking up the pieces 20-years later.
I don't know about you, but I'll never forget to replace my batteries ever again. Nor will I keep old appliances around the house!
It's amazing to think how many things can go wrong daily and how they somehow manage to turn out alright... until they don't.
The neighbor did warn them that you have to fiddle the switch to turn it off properly. FIDDLE THE SWITCH, I found myself yelling at the television.
I don't think I took a single breath during the flashback moments, especially since each one served as a foreshadowing; Jack's "if I don't see you tomorrow" note and Kevin's call to Rebecca about how he'll talk to his dad tomorrow were particularly harrowing.
Sadly, sometimes there is no tomorrow.
Don't you guys get it? I was supposed to end up in the Super Bowl, not watching it like you guys.Kevin
Characters die all the time but rarely do they make an impact that makes you feel like Jack is your friend, your father, your husband.
Even though it happened 20-years ago, it feels current and real to us, which is why it's so hard to cope.
This wasn't just the last Super Bowl before the Pearson three went to college, this was the last time the family would ever feel whole.
My brain is unable to fully comprehend how such a grim scene could be so beautiful constructed at the same time.
As those flames spread, we saw some of the family's greatest memories. And then, in an instant, those memories and every hope for the future turned to ashes.
For now, the family is still unaware of the fire — blame it on the smoke alarm — yet the previews for This Is Us Season 2 Episode 14 — airing after the Super Bowl — show Jack coming face-to-face with the flames — and death. It's a tough situation to see him in, especially when you know the outcome.
If you thought it couldn't get more heartbreaking than a family losing their father, you were wrong.
Jack may not have been the perfect man; he had his demons like we all do, but the one thing you can never take from him is that he was the best father and the best husband anyone could ask for.
OF COURSE, Jack Pearson died a hero.
OF COURSE, he died doing everything he possibly could to save his family.
How could we have ever even suggested that maybe he died while drinking and driving?
This man probably (I'm almost 99% sure) died trying to save his daughter's dog!
We've known that Kate blamed herself for her father's death, and we know dogs are a sensitive issue for her.
In the present, we see her struggle with giving in to the idea of bringing home a new puppy even though Toby really wants one! (Thank GOD he wasn't watching puppy porn!)
Seriously, how cute was Toby's excitement when he realized that Kate actually adopted a puppy that's as cute as Jacob Tremblay?
But realistically, she wouldn't be that hung up on a dog just because she owned one when her father died.
And we know that she's cuddling the dog in post-fire scenes, so he definitely made it out.
The dog has to be a sore spot because it's the reason Jack is gone. It's the only theory that holds true at this point, especially since we know that Jack didn't go back to find Kevin since he knew his son wasn't home at the time.
Since their last day with their father wasn't exactly peachy, it makes sense that the Pearson's have held onto their grief for so long.
Simply put, they all blew him off to do "teenager" things on a day when he was very excited to spend time with them.
Jack: It would break my heart if you didn't want to be on camera because you don't realize how beautiful you are.
Kate: Dad stop. Just... (sigh) you saying stuff like that to me was fine when I was a kid but I'm older now. I just, I don't see myself the way you see me. And no one else sees me that way either. So you saying it all the time, it just hurts.
They didn't realize that it was the last time Kate would hear him say how beautiful she is, that Kevin wouldn't get to say he's sorry, or that Randall would never catch another game with him.
The present-day scenes pay tribute to Jack in such a way as Kevin and Randall get in touch with their inner-remodelers.
Kevin never understood his father's need to "do something with his hands" to avoid grabbing a drink until he also found himself needing to do something to distract himself.
Tearing down walls was also easier than making amends, which are never easy.
Sophie was a hard name to cross off, especially because she wasn't mad at him; she was disappointed. Everyone knows that's always worse.
And not just because she, as a nurse, didn't pick up the signs, but because she'd allowed him to come into her life and hurt her yet again.
I think it's safe to say that the Sophie and Kevin book is now officially closed.
Sophie: You know, you're the only man that I ever truly loved, but you're the only man that's ever been able to hurt me the way that you do.
Kevin: I never meant to hurt you.
Sophie: No, I know. But you did. And we tried again. We tried to squeeze a puzzle piece in because it fit once when we were kids. You know, if you really want to make amends, could you just leave me with something? Just leave me with the past. And just... let me remember you at ten or at 17 or 20. Just let me remember you when it was good. Okay? Can you do that?
The second hardest name to check off of his list was his father, but when his necklace arrived in the mail, it was a sign that his father understood.
Randall was struggling with getting older, namely running out of time. I guess when your father dies at a young age, you don't really see yourself outliving him and as you near that mark, it starts to haunt you.
Hence why he's been trying to do everything at once with his new business venture R&B. Beth has a point — as she always does — it needs to be "smooth R&B."
As intelligent as Randall is, he needs to just admit that he needs Beth for things to work. She's savvy and badass, and in this case, knows much more about owning a building and being a landlord than he does.
She stepped back and let him dip his toes in when he opened up the gates of hell because he was so eager to make a difference, but he quickly learned his lesson.
He needs her help, even for something as trivial as "always start with pest control."
It's almost as if we're watching the business that Jack and Rebecca, who agreed to be business partners just mere hours before the fire, wanted to build.
Lloyd: Get a room!
Randall: Hey man, what can I say? I love my wife.
Lloyd: I mean or me, a room, I need some sleep.
Randall: Naw, I knew that.
The only comfort was that Randall's demolitions allowed us to see the Pearson brothers showing off their muscles!
Hey writers, we really need some more of that written into the show!
I kid you not, I looked exactly like those ladies while watching Kevin take out his frustration on the wall.
Obviously, you need to watch This Is Us online before the special Super Bowl episode on Feb 4th. And grab TISSUES!
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