Jack Pearson, please don’t go.
Warning: Spoilers for the first and second seasons of This Is Us ahead.
After nearly two full seasons, This Is Usfinally revealed how the life-changing fire at the Pearson family home started, and ever since we’ve been hardcore Randall-ing out.
In Tuesday’s episode, titled “That’ll Be the Day,” fans learned that a finicky old Crock-Pot is to blame for the destructive blaze that may (or may not) end Jack’s life. But as the house went up in flames the episode left viewers on perhaps one of the most painful cliffhangers in the history of television.
As we anxiously await the remaining episodes, which promise to answer some of our most long-standing questions about Jack’s death, we can’t help but agonize over how our favorite TV dad is about to die.
So in direct defiance of Milo Ventimiglia’s that we all stop obsessing over how his character died and instead celebrate his life, here are four of the most popular theories that could explain how Jack Pearson will meet his demise.
1. Jack dies rescuing Kate
“You remember when I told you I couldn’t talk about my dad’s death? … That’s because I… it’s my fault. I’m the reason he’s dead,” Kate said.
With those words in mind the most plain and simple scenario would be that Jack dies attempting to rescue his daughter from the fire — but when has an episode of This Is Us ~ever~ been simple?
In the dramatically heartbreaking preview for “Across the Border” (S2, Ep14) we see Jack rushing to lead his wife and children to safety as the fire spreads throughout their house. Kate appears to be trapped behind some burning wood, screaming “Dad!” so this could theory could wind up playing out, but we have a feeling there’s a lot more to it.
2. Jack braves the fire to rescue the dog
For those who find the first theory a bit too predictable, consider this: Jack dies rescuing the family dog, Louie.
As we’ve come to learn from past episodes Kate absolutely adores this dog, so it’s possible that after the family makes it out safely she breaks down after realizing the dog’s still inside.
We could totally see Jack risking his life to save a dog. (Heck, we could see him risking his life to rescue that tape he recorded of Kate singing into her mirror for goodness sake.)
More clues that support this theory popped up in Tuesday’s episode when viewers saw a present-day Kate nervously considering and eventually adopting a new dog. In flashback mode we also saw a heartfelt moment where Jack pet Louie right before the fire started.
BTW, we already know the pup survives, as he was shown in a flashback with a shaken-up Kate and Randall at Miguel’s house, after the fire.
3. Jack dies attempting to save Kevin (???!)
Though viewers are made aware Kevin is spending the night at his girlfriend Sophie’s house from a phone call seen between him and his mom, Rebecca, Cosmo suggests Rebecca forgot to inform Jack that Kevin wouldn’t be returning home that night.
Later in the episode when Randall came home from his date Jack said to him, “I thought you were Kevin,” which leads us to believe Jack was still expecting Kevin to arrive home later that evening.
Then, before going upstairs to bed Jack wrote Kevin a note explaining if he didn’t see him before heading to work the next day he loved him, and that Kevin owed him and Rebecca an apology for the way he acted earlier.
The theory suggests that if Jack was under the impression Kevin was downstairs in his room as the house burned (with his leg in a cast, don’t forget,) he could die attempting to save him.
(Though if this were actually the case, why would Kate be blaming herself for Jack’s death?)
4. Jack doesn’t actually die in the fire
Things are rarely what they seem on This Is Us, so bear with us while we ponder that maybe, just maybe, this fire isn’t technically what kills Jack.
We know the house burns down, sure, but do we really think this great man is just going to burn alive at the hands of a Crock-Pot?! We wouldn’t put it past the writers to have everyone make it out safely only to have another tragic event happen, like a car accident on the way to the hospital, or something that would further tear our wounded hearts to shreds.
Back in October, Bustle also brought up a very good point that when the house fire occurs Kevin has a cast on his leg, but he doesn’t appear to have the cast on at Jack’s funeral — a possible indication that some time passed between the fire and his death.
Unfortunately, the end is near
If Jack were to get out of the fire alive what would that even mean? Would smoke inhalation land him in the hospital for a while? Would he fall into a soap opera-like coma for a few weeks?
No matter how it happens, it’s coming up fast.
All we know for sure is that Rebecca returns to the family’s decimated house as a few firefighters are still on the scene. She’s wearing the same Steelers shirt she wore earlier on that fateful Super Bowl Sunday, and a bag of Jack’s belongings — including his wedding ring, wallet, and more — is next to her on the passenger seat.
For some concrete answers, be sure to tune in to the next revealing episode, airing directly after the Super Bowl on Feb. 4. And for the love of all things worth waiting for, don’t forget to set your DVR for additional time in case the game runs long.
Also, remember to buy extra tissues on your Super Bowl snacks grocery trip. And batteries! ALWAYS BATTERIES. Okay, bye.
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