This Is Us Just Revealed How Jack Died—And Broke Our Hearts

Tonight's Super Bowl episode revealed what happened to Jack—and how the family is coping on the 20th anniversary.

Spoilers for tonight's episode of This Is Us, "Super Bowl Sunday," below.

We knew it was coming, but it didn’t hurt any less to see the father who gave some of the best morality speeches we’ve heard in a long time succumb to mortality. But as hard as it was to watch him leave behind a family he loved so dearly, it was even more devastating to witness his family struggle to maintain his legacy on the 20th anniversary of his death, when the pain of losing him is still very fresh.

Let’s unpack what happened on this week’s extra, special Super Bowl episode of This Is Us.

Jack has a close call in the house fire.
It was perhaps purposefully the worst kept secret on This Is Us: Jack died in a house fire. More specifically, he died in a house fire started by a faulty hand-me-down Crock-Pot. But, not really. Ever the hero, he sees his family—Rebecca, Randall and Kate (not Kevin, because he’s out with Sophie)—to safety through a bedroom window and onto the front lawn. He's about to take the leap for himself when he sees the horror on his precious daughter’s face when she hears the yelps of her puppy. After a moment's hesitation, he rushes back inside to rescue it—just before a fiery explosion blocks his exit.



Because we prepared for this moment going down just like this, we were, predictably, crushed. But then, lo and behold, a singed Jack comes barreling outside the front door with the canine cradled in his arm. Not only that, but he's also toting Kate’s video tapes for her college audition. Well played, This Is Us. You managed to trick us and reduce us to tears about something else entirely. Even in a time of panic and despair, Jack was keen enough to remember two of the most important things to his one and only daughter—her pup and her music.

Of course, Jack dies anyway.
Just when we thought we were in the clear (even though we know he doesn't make it much further into the future), Jack does die—and still because of the fire. Not right away, though. He passes away in the hospital from a heart attack due to smoke inhalation, after suffering second degree burns and cracking jokes with Rebecca, seemingly in good spirits and remarkable health.

It makes sense, though, that the wonderful Jack wouldn’t leave Rebecca with a final memory of him running into a burning house. Instead, he leaves her with a moment of happiness—telling her that his family is everything to him and joking about her blocking the view of the Super Bowl on TV. It was a lovely, warm moment, despite the pain ahead.

Rebecca walks out of his hospital room to call Miguel and check on Kate and Randall, who are staying with him. Her back is turned from Jack's room, but we see an alarm go off in the hospital, signaling the doctors to assist him. Rebecca tries to make temporary living arrangements at a hotel, and purchases a candy bar from the vending machine. Then, the doctor approaches to tell her the bad news. Jack died after suffering from cardiac arrest. Rebecca is devastated. When she arrives at Miguel’s house, she tells him what happened, imploring him to keep his emotions in check or take a walk. She needs to say strong before she ruins her kids' lives.

Toby pulls a Jack move to cheer Kate up.
Whether or not those extra minutes it took Jack to save Kate’s dog were the very ones that cost him his life remains to be seen. But Kate has carried the guilt from that moment for the last 20 years. Every year on the anniversary of Jack's death, she watches the tape he made of her singing—the one he saved from the fire.

Meanwhile, the eternally good-natured Toby tries to comfort her on this sad day, and, predictably, she tells him she prefers to wallow in this pain than be comforted. She watches the vintage tape in the VCR, and mid-way through it stops. The VCR has eaten the tape, leaving her in a panic. Right on time, Toby rushes over and claims he knows how it could be fixed. And wouldn’t you know—he does get it fixed.

It’s something Jack would have done for Kate—made her feel better when she was down, because nothing hurt him worse than seeing her upset or disappointed. Kate is so grateful, and she opens up to Toby about her relationship with her dad, telling him, “my day would have loved you.”

Kate is the one who told Kevin about Jack's death.

As Kate tells Toby about the day her father died, she reveals that she is the one who told Kevin about their father's death. Sobbing, she Randall that Kevin “has to hear it from me.” It’s a moment that reminds us of their “twinning” bond, but also Kate's longtime need to coddle Kevin in a way she feels no one else can—even to this day.

Rebecca intentionally celebrates the anniversary of Jack's death alone.
Just like Kate, Rebecca also has a tradition for the anniversary of Jack's death. But she doesn't wallow. Rebecca tells Kevin she makes Jack’s favorite lasagna and eats it while watching the Super Bowl. Miguel respectfully leaves her alone to mourn in her own way. Rebecca derives great comfort from this tradition, telling Kevin that Jack sends her a laugh in some way every single year.

Kevin crosses his final apology—the one to his dad—off his list.
In Kevin's quest to better himself through introspection, he's helped each member of his family see in themselves what Kevin always admired about them. Last week, it was Randall in the middle of their DIY building renovations. This week, it’s Rebecca. 

But first, Kevin goes to Jack’s “tree” to talk to his father about the man he’s become and the man he hopes to be—a version of Jack that Kevin respected even amid all his flaws. Kevin admits that he too has suffered from some of Jack’s own weaknesses, and vows to do better. He finally apologizes to Jack for his “awful” last words. He also tells him about filming a movie with his idol, Rocky.

It’s a rare, sobering moment from Kevin after a wealth of turmoil in his life. He calls his mother to tell her how strong she was when Jack died, and she seems comforted and even relieved to hear him say this. On an unexpectedly lighter note, he also confesses that he is not certain that he is at the right tree for his father. Just like that, he gives Rebecca the laugh she was waiting on. “See? Jack sent me you,” she tells her son.

Randall passed down the selflessness he inherited from Jack to Tell.
Throughout the series, much of Randall’s search for fatherhood has come in the form of William, the biological father he lost soon after he finally met him. So unlike Kevin and especially Kate, we don’t really know how Jack’s death affected him—except that he was obviously touched by his mentorship. But this episode went deeper to show us what Randall was most impacted by—Jack's determination to bring happiness to his family under all circumstances. 

Randall has always chosen to celebrate the anniversary of his father's death by commemorating the one thing Jack loved to do on this day—watch the Super Bowl. So, Randall throws a Super Bowl party for Beth and his daughters, and it soon becomes clear that he is the one most interested in the game. Beth supports the tradition and the girls are just down to have fun for any reason, but it all hits the fan when Beth steps on the girls’ pet lizard and accidentally kills him. Randall must break the news, which proves more emotional than he expected, as he remembers his father’s death, and that moment of devastation hits him all over again.

 Randall passed down the selflessness he inherited from Jack to Tell.
Throughout the series, much of Randall’s search for fatherhood has come in the form of William, the biological father he lost soon after he finally met him. So unlike Kevin and especially Kate, we don’t really know how Jack’s death affected him—except that he was obviously touched by his mentorship. But this episode went deeper to show us what Randall was most impacted by—Jack's determination to bring happiness to his family under all circumstances. 

Randall has always chosen to celebrate the anniversary of his father's death by commemorating the one thing Jack loved to do on this day—watch the Super Bowl. So, Randall throws a Super Bowl party for Beth and his daughters, and it soon becomes clear that he is the one most interested in the game. Beth supports the tradition and the girls are just down to have fun for any reason, but it all hits the fan when Beth steps on the girls’ pet lizard and accidentally kills him. Randall must break the news, which proves more emotional than he expected, as he remembers his father’s death, and that moment of devastation hits him all over again.


Tess is particularly affected by her dad’s distance on this day, going as far as to tell him that she thinks his search for William, Deja and a new job means he wants a new life. He assures her that that’s not true. Tess, in turn, assures Randall that she likes fostering, and for the first time we glimpse an older Randall and an adult Tess in the future. Tess is a social worker working with the young boy we've seen glimpses of in past episodes. All this time, This Is Us made us believe the Pearson would be fostering him next. But instead, Tess is guiding him to his new home, with the guiding hand of Randall always at her back.

And back in the present, Randall and Beth welcome an unexpected person back into their home—Deja. There's no dialogue in this short scene, but something clearly has happened that led Deja back to their front door—and it might just be the gift Randall has been waiting for

This Is Us Just Revealed How Jack Died—And Broke Our Hearts This Is Us Just Revealed How Jack Died—And Broke Our Hearts Reviewed by Raam Iyer on February 05, 2018 Rating: 5

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