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Autumn Okuszka, Editor-in-chief

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Emmy-nominated NBC hit ‘This Is Us’ has been a favorite among families since its premiere in 2016, as written about on ‘Titan Nation’ here. The show follows the Pearsons, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), Rebecca (Mandy Moore), and their three children, Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz), and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and how life’s many issues, and gifts, affect them.

Throughout the entirety of the series however, the show not only focused on the family, but how one of the members died.

It is revealed to viewers by Kate in season one that her father, Jack, died by the image of his urn, but up until the middle of season two, viewers did not know how Jack died. Spoiler alert!

For a long while there was speculation as to how this beloved character died, ranging from drunk driving to working at the World Trade Center on 9/11. However, these theories were put to rest when it was revealed in the season 2 premiere, ‘A Father’s Advice,’ that the Pearson’s home was burned down, and Rebecca, inside her car with Jack’s belongings in the seat behind her, is sobbing alone.

This plot revelation shocked and upset viewers, as they now had some background information as to how ‘Papa Pearson’ passed away – in a house fire. Now speculation began as to why Jack died. Within each episode that followed the season 2 premiere, bits and pieces were revealed. The most common theory was that Jack, as the hero he has always been throughout the series, saved his family from the fire but went back into the house to save Kate’s beloved dog and died in the process, as Kate felt the death was her fault and oddly resents dogs because of it.

Soon enough, the episode that showcased the death was quickly approaching, with subtle clues being broadcasted such as Rebecca and Jack not buying batteries for their smoke alarms, and Kevin being so traumatized by his father’s death he isn’t even able to talk about it.

Fans weren’t prepared however when Jack’s dramatic death was set into motion on his favorite day of the year, Super Bowl Sunday, episode titled ‘That’ll Be the Day.’ Jack put in a lot of effort to make this day special for his family as his children would be leaving for college the following year, but they didn’t appreciate his efforts as each left the home in their own way. Kevin, the most notable, left after fighting with his father, explaining the trauma he associates with his father’s death.

Little did he know, that would be the last conversation he would share with his father. All alone, Jack and Rebecca turn in for the night with Randall and Kate in their bedrooms. Jack turns off everything throughout the home, including a faulty slow cooker, given to the family by an older couple years prior.

Little did Jack know, the slow-cooker would cost him his life. We see the appliance short, setting the Pearson’s beloved home ablaze without the family’s knowledge. The next episode, premiering on ‘Super Bowl Sunday,’ shows the aftermath of the fire, and the fan’s theories playing out before the world’s eyes.

Like clockwork, Jack rescues his family (except for Kevin, who is away from the home) from the tortuous fire, and almost rescues himself until realizing Kate’s dog is still stuck inside, as she pleads for it to save itself. Jack, overwhelmed with the love for his little girl, runs back inside the home and viewer’s see the room he returned to light with flames. The family fears Jack’s death, and viewer’s at home begin to cry. Jack seems to have met his demise, but not quite.

The front door opens, with Jack covered in smoke, the dog as well as meaningful items for the family in his arms.

So, how does Jack actually die? The children, Kate and Randall, retire to a family friend’s home while Jack is taken to the hospital and is treated for third-degree burns, or so Rebecca as well as fans thought. Although viewer’s don’t see it, it is revealed through Rebecca while outside of the hospital room that Jack has suddenly died due to a catastrophic heart attack caused by smoke inhalation. Again, the viewer’s, and Rebecca, begin to cry as this shocking plot-twist shakes the world.

The rest of the episode goes as follows: Rebecca tells her children that their father has died, with Kevin still absent. The scene then plays out as the one we had witnessed months before, Rebecca crying alone in front of her destroyed home with Jack’s remaining belonging’s looming over her, and Kate finding Kevin to tell him of his father’s death, never being able to apologize for the fight they had the day before.

‘This Is Us’ followed up with a funeral episode, tying loose ends together and letting both the character’s and viewer’s find closure in this beloved character’s death. Milo Ventimiglia has confirmed that Jack’s story is far from over, and viewer’s are both sad and relieved to move on from such a huge plot line.

Jack’s death although very tragic, was “perfect” as described by Milo, as there was no other end he could picture for this beloved character, and most fans agree.

You can watch ‘This Is Us’ every Tuesday at 9pm on NBC, episodes returning February 27th.

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