As a “slice of life” family drama, This Is Us shouldn’t have big all-consuming mysteries. Yet since the second episode fans have been obsessed with figuring out what happened to Jack Pearson and once we learned that he died, how it happened. This Is Us has dropped some tantalizing hints about Jack’s death that have set fans abuzz even more than usual but ultimately how Jack died doesn’t matter. There is no way that This Is Us is going to live up to the hype fans have created surrounding Jack’s death and it is better to just stop altogether.
Expecting the Worst
This Is Us has not handled Jack’s death in the best way. While the cast and executive producers have been clear in interviews that season 1 wouldn’t end with the reveal of Jack’s death, the show has dropped so many teases that it’s becoming almost unbearable. Every flashback scene set in the 90s is wrought with way more tension than is necessary knowing that Jack could drop dead. It was especially cruel of the show to have Kate seemingly confess to Toby how Jack died in “What Now?” only to constantly tease but never deliver in the season finale. No matter when This Is Us reveals the circumstances behind Jack’s death it is not going to have the catharsis that fans are expecting.
Jack’s death is important because he died, it’s not how he died. The way Jack died doesn’t and shouldn’t matter. If the way Jack died was essential to understanding the characters in present day on This Is Us, should have revealed it way before now. It might explain why Kevin and Kate have such a strained relationship with their mother but that’s probably it. The kids were teenagers when Jack died and no matter how it went down that is the reason that it affected them deeply. They were more mature than little kids but just figuring out themselves as adults when this big traumatic moment hit them. This is the impact of Jack’s death, nothing more.
Jack is not going to die saving a burning building of a thousand orphans or single-handedly stopping the biggest terrorist attack before 9/11. This Is Us just isn’t that type of show. You can just look at the way William died in season 1 to figure out how Jack is going to meet his end. It is a little bit different because William was dying of cancer from the moment we met him and Jack appears to be in the prime of his health but the show is not a melodrama. William died in a way that felt similar and relevant to people who have had family members die from a terminal disease. There was nothing special about it other than it was William dying. The same thing will happen with Jack. Jack is going to die the way many people lose their fathers, unexpectedly and tragically, but not in some amazing fashion.
Acceptance and Moving Forward
Trying to sort out the clues that This Is Us has intentionally and unintentionally dropped about Jack’s death is a fool’s errand. It turns This Is Us into a show it’s not — it becomes much more soapy and sensational. As many theories as have popped up about Jack’s death, This Is Us is not a mystery-driven show. This doesn’t mean that Jack’s death, whenever it is revealed, won’t be dramatic and tense. It is just being given undue importance.
This Is Us wants to stoke people’s speculation drives. The more people are talking about the show, even talking about something as depressing as Jack’s death, the better off the series is for NBC. This Is Us would probably be best served giving the answer to Jack’s death sooner rather than later but for now fans need to stop worrying. It is impossible for the show to come up with a situation that is going to please everyone with how Jack died. It’s time for fans to focus on the impact that losing Jack had on the family and less how that loss occurred.
But what do you think? Does it matter how Jack died? Do you want This Is Us to reveal it or do you not care? Do you think there is a reasonable theory? Could Jack have died in some sweeping melodramatic moment or was it a simple, but tragic, death like many people have suffered?
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(Image courtesy of NBC)