On the latest episode of This Is Us, viewers were finally given answers to one of the biggest questions that has plagued this season. Spoilers ahead for the Jan. 23 episode. A crock-pot set the house on fire, as it turns out, and audiences were soon met with a heartbreaking montage of fire tearing through the home while flashbacks of happy Pearson family moments burst through. Another small detail of that night, though, could be another huge clue, even with one major mystery solved. Kate was wearing headphones on This Is Us as she went to bed that night, listening to her audition tapes before she fell asleep. Could this explain why she blames herself for Jack's death? If Kate was slow to react to the fire breaking out, causing Jack to go retrieve her, that could be why she thinks she's responsible.
She also told Jack to "never stop" trying to be a good dad to her, which is a harmless sentiment, but juxtaposed with the horror of Jack's death, could likely sting a bit in hindsight. It's worth noting that not only is teenage Kate not in the hospital after the fire occurs, she appears downright physically uninjured at all, suggesting that Jack was quick to reach her if he did have to rescue her in some way.
We've known for a very long time that Kate blames herself for Jack's death — she told Toby that piece of information long before viewers were even close to having solid answers about Jack's death. If this headphones theory proves correct, it would certainly explain why she feels that way. Obviously, Kate shouldn't hold this responsibility over her own head — she wouldn't ever do anything to intentionally harm Jack, and everyone knows it. Jack loved Kate, and was always quick to come to her aid or give a reassuring hug, making his loss all the more devastating. But Jack also would never allow a child of his to be in harm's way, no matter the risks it would put on his own safety. It could just as easily have been Kevin or Randall wearing headphones during the fire, if this is indeed what happens.
Of course, there's also the dog to think about. Kate's dog has long been hailed as one of the major clues surrounding Jack's death, leading some to believe that perhaps Jack ran inside the home after initially escaping because the dog was still inside. As Kate is apparently the one who chose to keep the dog, she would likely still harbor guilt if that was the case. It seems like too much of a clue, though, that Kate had those headphones in while laying in bed. As we've seen, even the smallest detail could be relevant.
No matter what, Kate is in a prime position to push through her misplaced guilt as an adult, and that's what actor Chrissy Metz hopes she does. "We know that her life has been sort of dictated by the trauma and the guilt that she’s held for so long," Metz told Entertainment Weekly ahead of the Season 2 premiere of This Is Us. "And at the weight loss immersion camp, [she] discovered that she had to start talking about it, to even get to the guilt and the trauma of it all to actually overcome it. So everything that Kate is doing is to push through the pain, to be courageous, and to really speak up for herself and really draw her boundaries, and having the life that her father always believed that she could have."
Jack definitely would have been Kate's biggest cheerleader if he was still around throughout her adulthood, especially with the sometimes strained relationship Kate has with Rebecca. Forgiving herself for what were truly just unfortunate and uncontrollable events would no doubt be what Jack would want for her if he was still alive today.