One question has been plaguing This Is Us fans since the beginning — how did Jack die? In the Season 2 premiere, it was revealed that the Pearson home went up in flames, and it's implied that Jack perished inside. But did Jack die in a house fire on This Is Us? There are many unanswered questions on this show — but if this were true, it would bring with it a major connection.
The Sept. 26 Season 2 premiere of This Is Us was a whopper of an episode. Not only did viewers learn what year Jack died (1997), we also learned how he passed (seemingly at least). It all started with the events of the Season 1 finale. Jack and Rebecca have a huge fight about her going out on tour with her band, and they both agree in the morning that they meant the mean things they had said, and they need to "take a break" for a few days. Not a divorce or anything, but a break. That meant that Jack ended up at Miguel's house, sleeping on the sofa and waiting for Rebecca to call, and it was there that he realized a hard truth — he is an alcoholic. He told Rebecca as much when she comes back for him:
Bec, you don't know everything about me. Rebecca, you don't know — I'm drunk right now. I have been drunk all day. I have been drunk for weeks. And I thought I had it under control like the first time, but I have a problem, Rebecca. And I've hidden it from you for a very long time. And I've hidden it from our kids. And I need to get a handle on it before I can walk back into that house. And I'm sorry, baby, I... I am very embarrassed. And I am very sorry. But I need to fix this on my own.
Rebecca, of course, won't let him fix it on his own. She takes him home... but the next shot is of their three sobbing children and Miguel offering condolences on his own couch. Rebecca drives through the roads of Pittsburgh, Jack's effects beside her, and pulls up to the charred remains of the house that Jack built for them, with the Pearson mailbox out front. Cue the sobs (from Rebecca and me and the rest of America).
How Jack's uncharred personal articles are next to Rebecca remains to be seen, though. Why is his stuff not burnt if he died in a fire? Smoke inhalation can kill, but wouldn't his things be burned, also? Or, maybe not if they were on his person. (It's a watch, his keys, and his wedding ring.) Were the kids and Rebecca in the fire, also? Because they look like they are all healthy and well. Did Jack die saving them or something? (See what I meant about more questions?) These are things that the show can't answer (not yet, anyway). A few Twitter users thought that Jack could have passed out drunk and accidentally burned down the house (or simply not noticed it was on fire in the first place).
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, creator Dan Fogelman revealed that he always wanted there to be a fire. "We had talked about the fire and what happened from day one of starting. This has always been the plan," he said. But, that doesn't necessarily mean everything is as straight-forward as it appears. It's This Is Us, after all. "We don’t know the full story," Mandy Moore noted to EW. “We’ll just say that. That’s just a piece of the puzzle.”
The fire also brings up a possible connection to the fireman that brought Randall to the hospital in the very first episode. Nothing on This Is Us is done randomly, and it feels like the show is setting up something else — why else would the fireman get his own storyline in an episode if we weren't going to see him again? The fireman could have saved Randall twice — once when he was born and another time pulling him out of his burning house. The fireman vowed to make something of his life again, so perhaps it was his destiny to save the Pearsons again.
While there are still more questions than answers, one thing rings true — Jack Pearson is dead, and it seems he died in a very tragic way just as he was making amends with his family and on the road to recovery. It's no wonder that the Pearson kids are still so affected. Jack was the center of their family, and now that we may know why he's gone, things on This Is Us will become even harder to watch.