This post contains spoilers for This Is Us Season 2, Episode 14, “Super Bowl Sunday.”
As promised, This Is Us finally revealed the full story of Jack’s death on Thursday night, starting with Jack waking up to the smell of smoke. By the time he stirred, the Crock-Pot fire fans saw begin last week had consumed the house. But it wasn’t the fire itself that killed Jack—a detail that makes his death all the more devastating.
Last episode, fans watched Jack live out his last day, right up until the moment the camera ominously loomed on the family Crock-Pot—as it set the kitchen ablaze. The slow cooker, fans learned, had been a gift from the family who previously owned the house—and its notoriously tricky switch appeared to be what would ultimately lead to Jack’s demise. Well, that and the Pearsons’ smoke detector, which we already knew had no batteries inside it.
Still, it was unclear how exactly Jack died in the house fire. The clues had been floating around for months, but now they finally came together to form one gut-wrenching episode.
This week, once he realized the house was on fire, Jack gathered Rebecca, Randall, and Kate (Kevin was not home the night of the fire). He lowered the kids and Rebecca to the ground from the second floor—which ins when their dog, Louie, began barking. Kate screamed for the dog, but he didn’t come out on his own. Bent on saving their pet, Jack went back in the house, successfully saving Louie, as well as a few of the family’s prized possessions: a photo album and a copy of Kate’s audition tape to music school.
“You are something else,” Rebecca said as they sat together in an ambulance, along with a concerned paramedic. Jack’s response? A typically humble “I try.” Paramedics wanted Jack to get to a hospital, concerned about the amount of smoke he’d inhaled, but he and Rebecca wanted to drop the kids off at Miguel's first. The doctor proclaimed Jack’s minor swelling to be a “miracle,” and despite appearing a little absent-minded, Jack was in good humor and seemed fine. Unfortunately, as Rebecca booked a hotel, spoke to the kids on the waiting room phone, and picked out a snack from the vending machine, Jack died of cardiac arrest. Kate blames herself, we learned, because of all the things Jack retrieved for her—because, as she put it, “he couldn't bear to disappoint me.”
It’s been a bit disconcerting to watch NBC turn Jack’s demise into a TV “event” in the same vein as deaths on more gruesome shows—like Walking Dead, which has faced accusations of manipulative storytelling in recent seasons. To some, this might undercut the NBC drama’s reputation for sweetness and empathy—a series about family of good, relatable people trying their best throughout difficult circumstances. Whatever some might think of the show’s chosen set-up, however, it delivered exactly what it promised: one hell of a post-Super Bowl tear-jerker.
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Westworld (Season 2)
HBO is once again hoping you’ll ignore the big Game of Thrones-shaped hole in its schedule and turn your attention back to the sci-fi mind game that is Westworld. The Emmy-nominated series, starring Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton, is ready to confound you once again in its second season. Until its spring 2018 premiere, take a trip back in time and revisit nine burning questions we still have about the finale.Photo: By John P. Johnson/HBO.
Yara Shahidi takes the lead in this youthful Black-ish spin-off set to air on Freeform starting Jan. 3, 2018. In this series, Zoey is finally off to college, stumbling through cringeworthy rites of passage like embarrassing herself at a frat party and hiding secrets from her parents.Photo: By Eric Liebowitz/Freeform.
’Tis the season to watch a bunch of perfect human specimens fight for tiny gold medallions. This year’s Winter Olympics will kick off on Feb. 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.Photo: By Julian Finney/Getty Images.
After breaking out on Master of None and winning a historic Emmy for one of this year’s best TV episodes, Lena Waithe is ready to claim her spot in the prestige-TV realm. Enter The Chi, her Showtime series about young people coming of age in Chicago, set to premiere on Jan. 7.Photo: By Matt Dinerstein/SHOWTIME.
A Wrinkle in Time
The classic Madeleine L’Engle tale is finally coming to the big screen on March 9, 2018, thanks to Disney and director Ava DuVernay. The sci-fi story about a girl tesseracting her way through time to find her missing father will star newcomer Storm Reid alongside stars like Oprah Winfrey,Mindy Kaling,Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Pine.Photo: By Atsushi Nishijima/Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
After some catastrophic ups and downs, Han Solo’s origin story will finally be revealed to us on May 25, 2018. The Star Wars spin-off stars Alden Ehrenreich as the galactic smuggler and also features Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and Emilia Clarke playing a mysterious character named Kira.Photo: From Lucasfilm Ltd./Everett Collection.PreviousNext
Laura BradleyLaura Bradley is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com. She was formerly an editorial assistant at Slate and lives in Brooklyn.