Spoiler Alert: This post contains spoilers from This Is Us episode titled “Super Bowl Sunday.” Proceed with caution.
This Is Us delivered a heartbreaking episode that finally revealed what caused Pearson family patriarch Jack‘s death. Since Season 1, fans have been speculating about how the character could have died: everything from driving drunk to the theory that he died on 9/11. Even though fans knew the big death was coming, it was an emotional roller coaster of an episode with a classic surprising This Is Us twist at the end.
Jack died the night of the Super Bowl in 1997 and all the Pearsons have different ways of coping during the big game. As Randall puts it, “Kate wallows, Kevin avoids, but this is my dad’s favorite day so I celebrate it.” He throws a party for 20 little girls who are much more interested in the halftime show and the Puppy Bowl than the game itself. Kate watches the tape her dad recorded of her singing her audition. And Kevin usually gets drunk, but since he’s sober now he finds himself at Jack’s tree apologizing for their last fight and revealing his fear that even in fighting his addiction he will never live up to his father. It’s a catharsis he never got while Jack was alive, but something he so desperately needs.
All of the Pearsons receive a measure of closure in this episode, from Kate learning to forgive herself and embrace her love with Toby to Kevin sharing the day with his mother, Rebecca, and healing the wounds between them. Randall too gets to share the impact being father has had on his own life with his eldest daughter Tess.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
It was the fire that finally killed Jack, just not in the way most fans thought it would happen. Jack didn’t die in the blaze itself, but from a cardiac arrest caused by smoke inhalation — appropriately called a widowmaker heart attack. Kate blames herself because Jack went back inside to get Louis, the family dog, causing him to be exposed to the smoke longer than necessary. But being the hero he is, Jack didn’t just save the dog he also saved the family’s photo albums and Kate’s audition tape as well.
Fans had a lot of emotions about the reveal, despite knowing the death was going to happen:
I don't know of another show that I've watched that we KNEW someone was going to die for like 30+ episodes and yet I'm still a mess when they die #ThisIsUs
— Johnathon (@soapwikijohn) February 5, 2018
— Nickole (@nickole_durbin) February 5, 2018
— Megan (@megan_bunnyy) February 5, 2018
The episode ended with a shocking reveal: a jump into the future with an adult Tess working as a social worker and an older Randall. This not only eases the fears of those worried Randall was going to die, but it also adds a whole new layer to an already complex family drama.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 PM on NBC.