The mystery surrounding Jack Pearson's death has been solved, but his family will continue to process their loss in the Tuesday, Feb. 6 episode of This Is Us. According to a Deadline interview with series creator Dan Fogelman, Jack's This Is Us funeral episode will revolve around something totally unexpected. And yes, that means there will likely be more tears in your immediate future.
Despite being on-air for just two seasons, This Is Us (series writing: Jas Waters) is already earning a reputation for using unusual storytelling devices. Not only does the show deal with multiple timelines every week, it also loves to play around with episode structure — think the trilogy of episodes devoted to Kevin, Kate, and Randall. While the next episode will be about Jack's funeral and the pain the Pearsons are feeling on that day, the story itself with involve multiple flashbacks to trips the family has taken in their trusty car. In fact, the episode is titled simply "The Car."
Fogelman explained the concept to Deadline. The writer said of the episode,
"It revolves around Jack's funeral, but the episode is framed by the Pearson family car. Every act tells a different story involving the family car, as the family heads to/attends Jack's funeral in the same vehicle."
The concept is simple, but immediately touching, because few things hold more memories than family cars. When families all pile into a car together things can be tense or happy or end up with everyone screaming, but the familiarity is always there. By using memories of Jack, Rebecca, and the kids all in their car together over the years, the show has the perfect imagery to juxtapose against Jack's absence as they drive to and from his funeral.
Don't start crying just yet — you'll probably need all of your tears for Tuesday. In addition to explaining how the episode will use the car as a framing device, Fogelman also revealed that it will feature the return of Gerald McRaney's Dr. K. Viewers are treated to a small glimpse of Dr. K's return in the trailer, and it's just enough of a tease to make longtime fans emotional. Dr. K truly has been with the Pearsons every step of the way, so to know that he attends Jack's funeral is both beautiful and utterly heartbreaking. That appears to be what This Is Us is going for.
Fogelman revealed to Deadline that "The Car," written by co-showrunners Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, moved him "at fundamental core level." He explained,
"It's a real showcase for Milo [Ventimiglia] and Mandy [Moore], as well as our young teen actors who I'm very proud of. The ending is one of my favorite things we've done — it's cathartic and it's decent and it's wildly hopeful after a very hard two episodes."
Hope is something This Is Us could use a big dose of after finally giving fans the answer to how Jack died. It's time for the show and the Pearsons to move forward, and since the show introduced an entirely new timeline in the Super Bowl episode, it's given itself plenty of room to tell stories that don't revolve around the devastating loss of Jack.
Before the show can truly move on from the loss of the family's patriarch, there's one more story involving Jack's death that must be told. There's really no chance that Jack's funeral isn't going to be just as hard to watch as his passing was, but knowing that the show will at least feature scenes from happier times is a relief.
Jack will never sit in the Pearson family car again, but no one can take away all of the beautiful memories Jack, Rebecca, Kevin, Kate, and Randall shared there. And ultimately that's the point — even though Jack's gone, he'll never truly leave his family or stop being a major part of the fabric of This Is Us.