As we fast approach the season one finale, there's one question that fans still desperately want answered: how does Jack die on This Is Us? And, trust me. I get it. Of all the many emotional twists that this sublime show has thrown at us so far, the revelation that Jack is dead on This Is Us has been one of the most upsetting. Part of that upset comes directly from the fact that we, as a devoted audience, still don't know how this beloved character dies. In a recent group interview attended by Bustle, however, actor Milo Ventimiglia opened up about Jack's death to reporters, and what he had to say about it may make you rethink how you feel about that character's particular story line.
When asked how it feels to be playing a character that he knows is going to die, Ventimiglia responded, "If you really kind of think about it, in life, we're all eventually going to die. So how do we live our lives?" Which is a fair point. The actor then went on to explain how this thinking informs his acting process on This Is Us, specifically in helping to shape a character who will die soon: "It's not about Jack's death so much it is about his life."
Which, again, is completely fair and also absolutely correct. As fans, many of us have perhaps gotten swept up in speculation regarding the character's end when we should instead be focusing on who he is and what he achieves with his life.
As Ventimiglia further explained to reporters, there's nothing about Jack's death that changes the story or personality of the character. Ultimately, death shouldn't be more defining than a person's life:
"It doesn't impact me or change me knowing that Jack ultimately does die. But, at the same time, it doesn't change the course of events that are going to happen — to him, or to any of us. I know that Jack is a positive man. He loves his wife, he loves his family, and he tries to just do the best he can."
With that in mind, perhaps Jack's death shouldn't be so heavily informing the viewing experience of This Is Us fans. Truthfully, there's no easy way for a character like Jack to die without it breaking all of our hearts. Spending our time trying to pick up on vital clues regarding Jack's death won't change whatever resolution the show will deliver to us regarding that plot point.
While many other TV shows will feature the death of a character and never feature them on screen again, This Is Us comes with the bold advantage of being able to have characters live on through flashbacks. Death is not the end for characters on the show, and, in this sense, that also makes the death of characters on This Is Us feel insignificant in comparison to the story of their actual lives.
For a show that has so far managed to pull multiple shocking twists on it's audience, it would feel a little out of character for This Is Us to give Jack a death scene that didn't feel achingly colossal, unexpected, or tragic in some way. But Ventimiglia's comments are also a touching reminder that the circumstances of Jack's death are also, ultimately, not the most important part of his story.
No matter how Jack dies, it's going to be a heart wrenching scene (and episode). And that won't be just because of how it will happen, but because of the sense of loss we as an audience will experience based on what we know of the character, and his loved ones who continue to mourn him on the show. So, by all means, keep on obsessing over clues in every episode and speculating about what Jack's eventual cause of death may be.
But I have to agree with Ventimiglia. It's the story of Jack's life that's the real focus, and it's where the true tragedy of his death lies.
Additional reporting by Martha Sorren