Most of us didn’t sign up for a whodunit when we began watching NBC’s “This Is Us,” but it’s sort of turning into one. The big, gaping plot hole that the show builds around is just how perfect-specimen-of-a-dad Jack Pearson met his maker.
“Before this season is over we will see how Jack Pearson dies,” Sterling K. Brown said on the Golden Globes red carpet. Then Milo Ventimiglia on Saturday told Us Weekly the cause of Jack’s death would be revealed “very, very, very, very soon.”
While Tuesday’s episode didn’t completely divulge the backstory, it did reveal one more crucial piece of information. (Spoilers ahead!)
In the beginning of “Clooney,” Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Ventimiglia) list items they need to buy at the mall — batteries for Rebecca, a suit for Jack — in what turns into quite the dramatic trip. Then off they go! Teenage Kate has a meltdown in a fitting room. Teenage Kevin drowns his injury-related sorrows with chicken wings then gets teary-eyed with dad. Teenage Randall asks a girl out using the ol’ personalized Magic 8-ball trick (the kid’s a genius).
Back at home, Rebecca and Jack share a heartfelt moment after all that heavy-duty parenting. All seems well. Then Rebecca asks Jack if they forgot anything at the mall. Nope, he doesn’t think so. Suddenly, we cut to a close-up shot of the smoke detector.
NO. NO. NO.
Rebecca had told Jack not to let her forget the batteries. Then they both forgot. Combine this with what we’ve learned so far, and the pieces are clearly falling into place.
Jack’s death was so traumatic that the family, in present day, can’t talk about it. Heck, Kate hasn’t even told the man she’s going to marry what exactly happened. So the importance to the “This Is Us” story rests not just with the actual manner of Jack’s death, but the circumstances surrounding it. The Rebecca-battery connection is one more addition to this.
Here’s a rundown of what we’ve learned about Jack’s death so far, in chronological order by episode:
Season 1, Episode 5: “The Game Plan”
Can you even remember a time before you realized Jack wasn’t still alive? Well, this major plot point wasn’t revealed until five episodes in, when Kate tells Toby that she likes to watch the Steelers games at home alone with her dad. Her dad, in this case, being the urn of his ashes she keeps on her mantle.
Season 1, Episode 6: “Career Days”
Kevin inadvertently crashes a memorial service, and ends up talking with the man’s widow about her 15-year-old son. During the conversation, he reveals he used to build model planes and boats with Jack — “I used to pick the most complex ones,” Kevin explains, “because…