Going into the post-Super Bowl episode of This Is Us, most of us expected to shed a whole lot of tears as the show finally revealed how patriarch and all-around best dad ever Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) died. Over the course of the past year-and-a-half, the series built his death up — so we knew it was going to be tragic — but the actual reveal was even more devastating than we could have ever imagined.
After initially surviving the fire caused by the damn faulty Crock-Pot, and then a set-up that caused us to believe that he wouldn’t make it out after saving everyone, and even when he seemed okay, Jack dies suddenly due to cardiac arrest from smoke inhalation. It was crushing. Not only was Jack’s death hard enough, but the fact that Rebecca (Mandy Moore) stood just down the hall, getting a snack and thinking everything was okay, shattered us.
But because This Is Us is one of the most meticulous and detail-oriented shows on television, there was a tiny but devastating detail in the episode that’ll have you reaching for your tissues.
As Rebecca’s getting candy from the vending machine, you can hear a voice that definitely seems to belong to Jack say, “Bec?” But when she turns, nobody is there and, a minute later, the doctor comes and breaks the earth-shattering news to her.
It happens so fast that it was easy to completely miss it. The moment had many fans taking to Twitter to make sure they weren’t the only ones who heard it.
But Ventimiglia told Variety that Rebecca hearing Jack say her name (as he was dying in the other room) was supposed to have that effect on fans. He said, “The moment at the vending machine where you hear ‘Bec,’ that was something that was questionable if it was something ethereal or something that was real. That’s something that I think is up for interpretation by the audience.”
It definitely seems as though Jack saying “Bec” is a goodbye of sorts — the first of the many times Jack’s presence is felt by his loved ones after his death. Ventimiglia told Variety that in discussing the final scene between Jack and Rebecca with This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman, Jack essentially knew he was dying but maintained his usual invincible demeanor to reassure his wife.
We’d be lying if we said this fact didn’t make us weep all over again. While absolutely devastating, we love the idea that Rebecca hearing Jack say her name is his way of sending her a message and reassuring her of his presence, even when he’s not physically there.