This Is Us Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

This Is Us Roundtable: Will Jack’s Death Live Up To The Hype?

Jack Pearson’s presence on This Is Us has been vital from the get-go. He’s easily the husband/father of the year and a legend of sorts. The Pearson kids have lived with his memory for more than half their lives; and his death was a turning point for them, which has shaped who they are today.

The moment everyone has been waiting for is just around the corner. After the Superbowl — fitting seeing as how big the game is for the Pearsons — an all-new episode of This Is Us will air. The episode — the one where we will finally find out if all the clues were literal or subterfuge. How did Jack die? The question will finally be answered.

Until then, let’s discuss what might happen.

Jack Pearson’s death has been a storyline that has grown since This Is Us season 1 and will finally play out during the next episode. Do you think it will live up to the hype, or will this wait be counterproductive?

Denise: Both, in my opinion. That’s what I’m scared of because: One, they will live up that hype; and people will be talking about it as one of the best deaths. But two, it won’t — and everybody will just be disappointed. It’s This Is Us’ biggest mystery, and they’re going to resolve it in just their sophomore season. So, what else will the series have in store for us, aside from Rebecca and Miguel’s courtship, which is somehow foreshadowed in the previous episode via Kevin asking forgiveness from everyone whom he had hurt in the past.

Anam: This show is really good at the unexpected — making you think you’re in the home stretch before throwing something else in, making the audience bawl their eyes out. However, they have been dragging the story of Jack’s death out. Last season, I was hoping they wouldn’t show Jack’s death, especially since they had William’s to deal with; but now, it seems like they’re just milking this for everything they’ve got. So, I’m almost hesitant to think that the conclusion is going to be out of this world. If any show could do that, it would be This Is Us, but they’ve hyped this story so much that anything less than spectacular is going to be a buzzkill.

ALWheaties: Well, season one had a lot of ups and downs. The writers could have easily revealed Jack’s death. They were even alluding to the fact they might in the finale, but left it on a hopeful note after a horrible fight between Jack and Rebecca. This Is Us‘ first season had some twists and turns (like not knowing if Toby would live, when he did, only for William to die). William’s death was gut wrenching, emotion obliterating, but yet you knew it was coming because he had cancer. Jack’s death will be just as bad, maybe even worse, as he has been the lifeblood of the Pearson family. In some ways, I think they’ve dragged this story out too much, but in some ways it’s been ok. I am not a fan of just ripping off the Bandaid. I sometimes like to sit in my misery, but will be sad to see Jack die. Knowing he has died is sad enough.

Shana: I’m going to have to be the only one here to have absolute faith, I suppose. This Is Us has never let me down, so there’s no reason to believe that it will do so with something as vital to the series mythology as Jack Pearson’s death. At this point, the only way this moment won’t live up to the hype is if my expectations become unreal. Don’t expect the kind of melodramatic nonsense that other series might provide here, and there’s no way you’ll be disappointed. At least, that’s my unfiltered opinion.

The foreshadowing all points to Jack dying in the fire. Do you think that’s the case or is this all subterfuge?

Denise: For me, subterfuge. It’s the dog who will die in the fire. Kidding aside, one scene that makes me think this is all subterfuge is a scene from last season where Rebecca arrives at their charred house, wearing normal clothes — assuming she hasn’t changed into sleepwear — and cries while Kate and Randall ask if Kevin knows about the incident (as he is shown kissing Sophie somewhere outside). If Jack died in that fire, Rebecca would probably be with her babies and comforting them. I’m really scared about the outcome.

Anam: Subterfuge. There’s no way they gave away the biggest storyline in this show like that. There’s just no way. The This Is Us writers have got to have something else up their sleeves. What is it? I have no idea. But there’s something else: If this isn’t subterfuge, and Jack does die saving Kate from the fire, total fail.

ALWheaties: It’s hard to say. I personally think it is subterfuge, especially knowing This Is Us! These writers like to do the bait-and-switch, but sometimes they are straightforward — keeps you on the edge without knowing which way they will take it. Last season, we had many theories on how Jack might die. Some were plausible, like he died while drunk driving or giving an organ to Kate on the operating table; or perhaps he didn’t die at all, he’s sitting in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s.

Then, there was the absurd theory that he got run over by Rebecca’s tour bus. When Rebecca drove up to the burned house and was crying in the car, Jack’s personal effects were in a bag on the car seat. They did not look charred to me.

I love Milo Ventimiglia and his portrayal of Jack so much. I hope since they have made us wait this long, that his death will be a rightful one and not a senseless one. Seeing him die the hero would in some ways be nice; seeing him fall into a manhole in the street, not so much.

Shana: I’d like to think that there’s a good mixture of fact and fiction here. Like, the fire itself won’t kill Jack…but some sort of complication from surviving it and/or helping others to survive will be the end of him.

This Is Us has been a powerhouse since the day it premiered. Jack’s death has played a major part in pushing this forward, so do you think that the series will have enough legs to stand on after this big mystery is out in the open?

Denise: This is what I’m worried about. If Jack’s death and how it has affected the family is central to the story, what will the series’ next story be? Randall had already sought out William, and we all know why Kevin deviated into acting instead of being a football player. Or maybe that will be next since they’re now playing out a Kevin storyline: How did he become interested in acting?

Also, maybe This Is Us will explain how the family decided that Kate should keep Jack’s ashes.

Anam: I think that, when they got the renewal for This Is Us seasons 2 and 3, the writers knew that they couldn’t drag out Jack’s death for another couple of seasons. With that being said, this storyline is huge and they’re going to have really big shoes to fill. Will whatever they come up with live up to the intensity of this? I don’t know.

The major storylines have involved character death; and I hope that’s not what they’re planning to continue with, as killing people off gets old really quickly. I’m looking at you, Shonda Rhimes: Stop killing off the regulars!

Regardless, This Is Us is an ensemble series, and all of the characters have a lot going on in their own lives that can easily fill the hour with great storylines. The creative team will just need to continue to find ways to execute those stories in a way that will have the three Pearson kids relating back to each other while they continue on with their lives.

And I’ve got faith in these writers. They’ll be able to do it.

ALWheaties: Oh, yes! Jack will always be there in memory. They have shown this with William; and no matter what, I am sure there will be more lessons to learn from this great Papa! It will be interesting, though, to see how the series moves forward in time with new stories. Perhaps other long-lost Pearsons might pop up, or This Is Us season 3 could be different altogether. Dan Fogelman always has something up his sleeves!

Shana: I think that, for me, This Is Us has always been a series about how a family grows and relates over time and through shared experiences. Some of those experiences have been good, but others have been extremely painful — like Jack’s death, I’m sure, will be — which is exactly how life works. And it’s exactly why the series has been so relatable and moving for so many people.

Therefore, even with the big wrap-up on all of the mystery surrounding Jack Pearson’s death, there’s no reason to believe that the series will lose any of its impact or its ability to tell award-worthy stories. Even if the cause of death is revealed, that particular type of loss has enough of a lasting effect that it can still be explored at the same, gripping pace that’s been used thus far. And there are always other paths to take to avoid beating a dead horse, too. This is a unique family with an interesting story to tell; but somehow, even through their uniqueness…well. This is us — all of us — in some way or another. So, yeah, this series will still have plenty of legs left. Easily.

Finally, what are you doing to prepare for this episode? Stocking up on Kleenex? Chocolate? Wine?

Denise: I’ll probably be hugging my Eeyore plush, who happens to be the plush that can “hug you back.”

Anam: I’m not a stranger to major character death (see also: Derek Shepherd), but I’ve got a new box of tissues ready because that’s usually needed. But, seeing as this episode airs right after the Superbowl, there will be plenty of leftover gameday snack stash to eat my feelings through.

ALWheaties: Well, I feel it is fitting that they have THIS This Is Us after the Superbowl, seeing as how the Pearsons are such a football family. The only way it would have been more fitting is if the Steelers were playing! Perhaps this will help bring more families together? The members of the family not usually interested in football, hanging out and waiting for This Is Us; those who normally wouldn’t be caught dead watching this show, enjoying it with the family? Who knows — maybe this could be a new tradition?

I, for one, will be rooting for the Patriots, then reaching for lots of Kleenex during This Is Us. I didn’t have enough hands for Kleenex when William died, so I am dreading how this episode will go!

Shana: I mean, look: Even those of us who aren’t football fans enjoy some pizza and booze on Superbowl Sunday, while we watch our commercials and wait for big movie trailers to drop. So, I’m already going to be equipped with the essentials: an alcoholic root beer or two, plenty of junk food (read as: pizza), and the mutual support of every other This Is Us viewer on twitter. How else would I even watch anything???

This Is Us will air Sunday night after Superbowl LII. Go Eagles!

Published by

Anam Ahmad

Anam is a self proclaimed TV nerd who loves all things TV. Anything with a fantastical or SciFi twist, a drama, or a show produced by Shonda Rhimes usually catches her eye. She’s a DC native so naturally she’s an activist when she’s not sitting in front of the television.

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