This post contains spoilers for the Season 2 premiere of This Is Us, titled “A Father’s Advice.”
The Season 2 premiere of This Is Us finally revealed how Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) died, but of course, there was a twist.
In a case of be careful what you wish for, the new episode, titled “A Father’s Advice,” showed us the manner of Jack’s death — a house fire that decimated the Pearson family home — but not the when or why.
Instead, we see distraught, teenage versions of Kate and Randall sobbing on the couch at Miguel’s house, while Kevin is conspicuously absent — he’s out somewhere with Sophie, sporting a broken leg, completely oblivious to the trauma unraveling in his family. Elsewhere, we see Rebecca driving alone with what seems to be a bag of Jack’s personal effects in the backseat, before she pulls up outside their incinerated house and breaks down in agonized tears.
While the details surrounding his death are still sketchy, it is safe to say that Jack dies in a fire, according to creator Dan Fogelman.
“That’s what we’re saying to people. They don’t know the details… but we’re not misdirecting, he didn’t die four years later,” he confirms.
“You don’t know the full story, we’ll say that,” star Mandy Moore adds. “That’s just one piece of the puzzle. We have 18 episodes…”
Ventimiglia has had to endure an endless barrage of questions about the circumstances surrounding his character’s fate from fans, but he likens this reveal to “a pressure valve release for a little bit.”
Of course, he notes, “with this answer, there’s still a lot of questions — I think people are gonna have to pay attention over the course of this season and episode to episode to episode, and understand what the medium Big Three are experiencing or where they happen to be in the moments that are getting close to Jack’s death.”
Moore points out that the season premiere offers some subtle clues that will help fans follow the timeline as we approach Jack’s demise.
“Kate is holding a dog, [Randall] has a girlfriend, Kevin has a broken leg,” she teases. “These are all things that people are gonna start to see the origin of in the next couple of episodes that will be leading up to figuring out a bigger piece of the puzzle, ultimately, this monumental event that happens in the life of this family.”
Fogelman even hints that we might’ve already seen the day Jack died in a previous flashback — we just don’t know it.
“You’ve seen the night, the day… we’ve flashed forward to the day Jack died, so what you’ve seen there is the day and night of the event, and you’re seeing a lot of little pieces that will all come into play,” he says.
Mostly, the cast and producers are just relieved that they can talk about the fire now, if nothing else.
“This was always the plan, for the Big Three characters and Milo and Mandy, we had talked about the fire and what happened as it related to Jack and this family pretty much from day one of starting,” Fogelman says. “It’s not something we figured out in the off-season, so you’re seeing a lot of things that are gonna reveal themselves in the course of the season.”
The show certainly seems to imply that Jack’s death might somehow be related to his alcoholism, as the episode jumps from Rebecca reassuring her husband that they’ll fix this problem together to the night of his death. But to find out for sure, Fogelman says we’ll have to wait a little longer.
“All the answers about how Jack died and seeing how Jack died, it’s all gonna happen this season,” he promises. “But it’s gonna happen in the course of the season.”
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.