Now that This Is Us is on hiatus, we have ample time to rest our tear ducts and recuperate from the tragic passing of America’s favorite TV dad, Jack Pearson. The mystery behind Jack’s demise is now crystal clear — he dies from cardiac arrest due to excessive smoke inhalation, just hours after rescuing his family from the house fire. If we could take it all back and give the Pearson family their happily ever after, we would, but the show’s fate, of course, lies in the hands of This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman.
Even though Jack’s death was firmly weaved into the plot from the get-go, Fogelman revealed that there’s one This Is Us plot point related to Jack’s death that he wishes he could take back — a crucial piece of the story that dates back to Season 1.
As you’ll recall, the pivotal death was confirmed in the fifth episode when Kate showed Toby the urn in which her father’s ashes are stored.
That alone sent fans into a frenzy and catalyzed endless theories and speculation. The initial hysteria reached its peak near the end of the first season when Kate confessed that she’s responsible for the Pearson patriarch’s early demise.
The episode then brought us back to the period when Jack died: He stepped out of the bar to call teen Kate and tell her that she was right — he needed to mend things with Rebecca — then went on to drunkenly drive off to Bec’s gig.
After that episode, many fans were convinced that the mystery behind Jack’s death would finally be unfolded, especially since the following installment was a season-ender. But when the finale concluded with a devastating fight between Jack and Rebecca, fans were left feeling deceived.
Looking back, Fogelman now understands where the fan frustration was coming from.
He says he would have changed the way they designed the Season 1 big reveal so it would clearly point toward the separation instead of the cause death.
The choice led to a more careful approach to This Is Us Season 2, where the writers made sure that they would “never make it frustrating” for fans, and that they would clue everyone into what they intended to happen right from the start (i.e., missing smoke alarm batteries).
Now that we’ve run out of riddles to solve, should we expect more mysteries in the coming seasons?
Fogelman downright answered with a hard no.
“I think that would be a foolish thing to try to create,” he explains. Also, as he so firmly points out: “The show is not about Jack’s death, and if that’s all you care about, you’re missing the point.”
This Is Us returns to our TV screens on February 27th on NBC.