Breathe. Just breathe. In a matter of 90 seconds, This Is Us managed to not only answer one of the NBC drama’s core mysteries but also shatter a million hearts at once in the Season 2 premiere (“A Father’s Advice”). Jack Pearson’s (Milo Ventimiglia) cause of death has finally been revealed, and it’s truly heartbreaking. (Spoilers lie ahead.)
Just moments after Rebecca (Mandy Moore) tenderly promised to help her husband overcome his dependency on alcohol — telling him “a few months from now, everything will be back to normal” — the scene flashed forward to, presumably, a few months from then. Rebecca, wearing her Steelers jersey, drives somberly, while her husband’s belongings, including his wedding band, sit in a sterile plastic bag on the passenger seat. This harrowing sequence is intercut with images of teenage Kate and Randall sobbing on Miguel’s couch. (Could they twist the knife in any deeper?)
The car eventually stops outside of the Pearson family home, and as the camera pans up, Rebecca wails in agony, her fists pounding the steering wheel. There, we see the house, freshly burnt to a crisp.
So there you have it: Jack Pearson died in a house fire. And it couldn’t have been a more devastating end for the Pearson family patriarch. After all, this was the house that he built for his family.
“This was always the plan for The Big Three,” creator Dan Fogelman told the crowd at the PEOPLE and EW Season 2 premiere viewing party Tuesday night (September 26). “We had talked about the fire and what happened from day one of starting. This has always been the plan.”
But this is just one piece to the larger puzzle. Last season, Kate (Chrissy Metz) confessed to Toby (Chris Sullivan) that she was responsible for her father’s death. It’s unclear what she meant by that. Did she have the opportunity to save her father that night? Or did she accidentally leave her curling iron on? We’ll have to wait and see.
Of course, now there are even more questions to be answered. Where was Rebecca? If she was wearing her Steelers jersey at the time, then wouldn’t she have been watching the Sunday game with Jack? And why were Kate and Randall at Miguel’s house?! (Earlier in the episode, Kevin told Toby that Kate was the one who called him to tell him about their dad’s death because he was too busy making out with Sophie.) To be honest, I don’t know if my heart can take all of this waiting.
Strap in, folks. This season is going to be a real emotional roller coaster.