Grab your tissues, folks, because you’ll be sobbing within the first two minutes of the latest This Is Us episode. Yup. The time has come. Jack Pearson’s cause of death is finally revealed, and it’s gut-wrenching. It might also make you a bit angry. In the present, it’s the 20-year anniversary of Jack’s death, and everyone’s dealing with it in their own way.
So, let’s jump right into it.
The episode picks up pretty much where it left off, with the Pearson home on fire. Everyone’s asleep in their rooms – minus Kevin who stayed with Sophie. Jack stirs awake and takes a sip of water, but notices smoke coming in through the cracks of their door. He opens the door and is immediately met with the raging blaze. He starts yelling at Rebecca to get up and get some shoes on because, “The house is on fire!” After Rebecca assures Jack that Kevin stayed with Sophie, Jack races to get the other two kids. First, he gets Randall. By the time he gets to Kate, she’s a sobbing mess and the fire has gotten worse. I swear, when she begged him, “Daddy, please!” not to make her go out there, I lost it. Since the fire is getting worse and Kate’s window is too high to, Jack has to use Kate’s mattress to shield them.
Randall and Rebecca are relieved when they make it back. Jack ushers them out the window before lowering them with a hoist made of sheets. He’s the last one on the roof, but Kate starts screaming for their dog Louie when they hear him barking inside. Honestly, my heart shattered again because this would be me. Jack sees his daughter crying for her dog and goes back inside after the dog against his wife’s wishes. However, the fire gets worse seconds after he goes back in, leaving his family to think the worse. We sob as we wait with baited breath, just like his family, but believing this is Jack’s cause of death. A few torturous minutes later, Jack walks out the front door with the dog in one hand and a bag in the other.
Once the firefighters and EMTs get there, Randall, Kate and Rebecca all seem to check out fine. The EMT, however, recommends that Jack goes to the hospital because he has second degree burns on his hands and inhaled a lot of smoke. Jack being Jack, brushes it off and says they have to drop the kids off at Miguel’s first. As Kate and Randall stare at their home getting destroyed, Rebecca reminds them that it’s just a house. Randall responds that it was a good house. Kate questions what the sack that Jack brought out is. Jack saved the important memories – photo albums, the video tape of Kate’s audition for Berklee, and Rebecca’s necklace. I’m sure there were more things, but that’s just what we got to see. Which just goes to show that, even with his flaws, Jack Pearson is pretty perfect.
Cause of Death
At the hospital, Jack’s in good spirits – worrying more about the score and cracking a few jokes. There’s mention of him going back for the dog, and the doctor says he must really love that dog. “I really love person who really loves that dog,” Jack responds. The doctor offers him some pain killers, obviously not knowing Jack’s history, but Jack says that he can’t. It should also be noted that the doctor mentioned a high heart rate as well. The doctor leaves at that, and Rebecca and Jack are alone. He’s feeling guilty about not buying the batteries for the detector like she asked him to three times. Rebecca argues that she could have bought them also. He jokingly asks why she didn’t. She wonders how he can joke at a time like this, but he responds with the most perfect Jack answer. “Because I’ve still got the only thing that I’ve ever really needed.” I mean COME ON! I’m officially not settling for anything less than my own Jack Pearson, and all the guys can blame the This Is Us writers for that.
Rebecca leaves Jack’s side to go to the vending machine and call the kids. As she’s leaving, he stops her only to pause and joke that she’s standing in front of the tv. I swear, he was going to say I love you, but didn’t for some reason because as soon as she turns away, his face falls. Almost like he knows.
Out in the hall, Rebecca sees the only selection the vending machine has is chocolate, which Jack didn’t want. “Sorry, Jack.” We hear Jack say, “Bec”, and she turns around for a second, but then finishes getting the candy. She then calls to make hotel reservations and call the kids, assuring them they should be home soon. All the while, there’s commotion going on behind her in Jack’s room that she doesn’t notice. She hangs up the phone, and Jack’s doctor comes up to her, visibly upset. He informs her that Jack went into cardiac arrest due to the smoke inhalation and that it was fatal. Rebecca refuses to believe him as she takes a nervous bite of a candy bar. When the doctor reiterates it, she goes back to Jack’s room to prove him wrong, but our hearts shatter instead. We only see the reflection of his lifeless body in the window behind Rebecca. Mandy’s performance as Rebecca realizes the truth is soul crushing. I could literally feel her world ending.
“God help me, I’m going to be strong”
Rebecca pulls up in front of Miguel’s house. She’s stoic, but broken as she gathers herself and meets Miguel on the sidewalk. When he asks where’s jack and what’s wrong, it takes her a minute to say that Jack died. Miguel doesn’t believe it and he starts to get emotional, but she instantly tells him to stop. “I have to go in. I have to talk to my kids, and I have to ruin the rest of their life. So, I’m going to be strong for them. God help me, I’m going to be strong for them.” She then says that if he can’t do the same, then he needs to take a walk around the block. She leaves him there as she goes to break the news to Kate and Randall.We don’t hear what she tells the kids, but we see them shatter, which only had me falling apart also. Rebecca tells them she needs a minute. When she leaves, Kate says she needs to be the one to tell Kevin. We see the scene were Rebecca goes back to the house and breaks down in the car. Now, we know that she pulls her necklace out of his effects and puts it on before falling apart. Elsewhere, Kate finds Kevin and Sophie asleep in the back of a car. We later see Kate and Kevin console each other in the woods. Ugh! My heart!
Randall: The Celebrator
In the present, it’s the 20th anniversary of Jack’s death and also Super Bowl Sunday. Randall dubs Kate the wallower, Kevin the avoider, and himself the celebrator. So, that’s what he’s doing by having a Super Bowl party with 20 of his daughter’s friends. He’s in a fantastic mood, but Tess isn’t feeling it and Beth is skeptical about the whole party. Randall says they need some boys in the house. The scene cuts to a foster care working telling a little boy that they’ve found a family for him.
Later in the party, Annie’s lizard, Mr. Giggles, gets loose, and isn’t found until Beth accidentally steps on him. Poor lizard. The party turns into a funeral for the newly purchased pet. As Randall gives a speech, his own words hit close to home for him. “When you lose someone suddenly and unexpectedly, it hurts differently.” He compares that pain to a toothache he once had and a lightening bolt reaching inside you. Beth cuts him off before he gets too deep.
Tess later confesses to her father that she’s worried he wants a new life because of how he keeps going after new things. Randall assures her that’s not the case. All he’s ever wanted to do is be as good of a father to her as Jack was to him. She’ll always be his top priority. He notes all these things she’ll still be doing with him when she’s older – like dinner with him once a week. This makes Tess feel better and she admits that she likes fostering.Cut back to the boy and the foster worker. Turns out, this is a FLASH FORWARD, and the foster worker is actually TESS! We know this because an older Randall comes in to meet her for dinner. Then cut back to the present where Beth gets a call from Deja. She’s at the front door. Aw!
Kate: The Wallower
Elsewhere, Kate is wallowing in nostalgia by watching the audition tape Jack saved from the fire. Toby questions why, and she sort of – understandably – jumps all over him by saying it’s cathartic and the 20th anniversary. So, she’s going for the jugular. Toby nods in understanding, not wanting to push the subject anymore. The VCR then destroys the tape sending Kate into a panic. Toby assures her he has a guy who can fix it, though.
While they’re waiting for the tape to get fixed, Kate finally confesses the guilt she feels over her dad’s death. She believes that he died because of her. “Because in the scariest moment of our lives, he couldn’t bear to disappoint me.” She asks him to please let her feel guilty once a year for it. Toby understands, and the man comes out with the fixed tape! Kate is thrilled.Later, she watches the video again, but this time on her computer since the guy digitized it as well. She then reminisces with Toby on how Jack repeatedly had to fix a leaky window in her room, noting how patient and steady he was. Then she sweetly comments on how Toby saved her life after 20 years of beating herself up. Jack would have loved him. Ugh! My heart!
Kevin: The Avoider
Rebecca tells Kevin that Miguel left because he usually gives her space on the anniversary. Kevin admits he usually avoids the pain by getting drunk and hooking up with models. Rebecca admits to making Jack’s favorite lasagna and eating it while watching the game. When he says that’s sad, she disagrees because Jack always sends her some sign that makes her belly laugh on her saddest day. Aww!
Kevin then spends the day trying not to avoid his grief like he typically does. He eventually finds himself at Jack’s tree, ready to make amends. “I’m sorry, dad, that I wasn’t there that night, and I’m sorry that the last thing I ever said to you was…awful.” He apologizes before reflecting on how bad the last couple decades have been for him. “And I haven’t turned out to be even close to the man that you… I just think you’d be really disappointed in me.” He then vows to be better and to make his father proud. Ugh, my heart!Still at the tree, he calls his mom. She’s eating the lasagna and watching the game. He tells her how strong she was for them. She says that she had to try to protect them even though they were so big already. Rebecca then confesses she’s haunted by the fact she took a bite of the candy bar after getting the news. To lighten the mood, Kevin admits he’s not sure he’s at the right tree, which causes them to laugh. “You see? This year he sent me you.” Dang it! I am too invested in this family, man!
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC!