Forget that he talks out of the side of his mouth and never seems to age. What’s really bugging us about Jack, the Pearson family patriarch, is that we’ve known since Season 1, Episode 5 that he’s dead. It’s been a hot minute since last October, so let’s recap that scene. Toby really wants Kate to watch the Steelers game with him even though she’s totally not into the idea. He pressures her (in that devastatingly kind and sincere Toby way) until she caves, then ends up bringing a friend along. They proceed to chat and eat super loudly over the game and Kate becomes irate and leaves, finally explaining that she used to watch the Steelers all the time with her dad, whose ashes just so happen to be sitting on the mantle.
And in an instant, the stock value of Kleenex shot through the roof.
Since the onset of Season 2, the producer and cast have all reported that we’ll know more about Jack’s death soon, and that at some point in this season, we’ll actually find out how it happened. The biggest shocker of all actually came with this season’s premiere episode, which ended with a stone-faced Rebecca driving in the dark with what appeared to be Jack’s personal belongings in a bag on the passenger’s seat. She pulls up to a house, then turns to look at it. The name “Pearson” is on the mailbox, but that’s the only thing familiar in this scene. The camera pans out to reveal a charred shell of a house, and she lets out a guttural cry.
So that’s it, right? He died in a fire.
Not so fast.
If we’ve learned anything from this show it’s that nothing is as it seems. That, and the fact that the girl who brought us the late-nineties pop gem “Candy” is a surprisingly multi-layered actress.
So maybe it wasn’t a fire. After all, his wallet and watch didn’t look burned in that bag. But if not that, then what was it? Of course, the internet is abuzz with chatter and “How Did Jack Die?” has become our generation’s “Who Shot JR?”
Let’s take a look at some of the craziest ideas floating around on the web.
Miguel Did It
We all have mixed feelings about Miguel.
He looks a little too orangey-tan, he wanted to wear the Pilgrim Rick hat though Kevin clearly wasn’t ready to pass that torch, and he chatted up Rebecca in the early years of Facebook, leading to a chasm that divided her family. But for some reason, we can’t hate him, maybe because we can tangibly feel how hard he’s trying.
That’s why this fan theory just doesn’t stand. First off, this isn’t a murder mystery show in the vein of Pretty Little Liars. Add to that the fact that the writers have given Miguel plenty of redeeming moments as well (remember his talk with Kevin over breakfast where he said he felt like he had his best friend back for a moment?), and we just aren’t buying this one. He may have stabbed a virtual knife in Jack’s back by hooking up with Rebecca, but we’re placing bets it wasn’t a real one.
He Died in the Twin Towers on 9/11
Well, this would have been a twist, but the 2010 Robert Pattinson flick “Remember Me” already pulled it off, and we like to think the This is Us writers aren’t copycats.
With so much anti-plane speak populating Season 1 (Kevin threw away his airplanes after his dad dies and Rebecca doesn’t like to fly), many fans thought for sure the 9/11 terrorist attacks would play a role. Simple logic and a little timeline math debunk this theory, though.
We know the kids were born in 1980, and in the only scenes we’ve seen of Jack’s funeral, Kevin is on a crutch, mending that damn bum knee he hurt the first time in a football game. With the attacks happening in 2001, the kids’ ages don’t line up. We know Kevin isn’t the brightest crayon in the box, but he wasn’t still in high school at age 21.
Kate Killed Him
Back in Season 1, Kate told Toby that Jack’s death was her fault, and that’s why she didn’t want to open up to him anymore about it, and why she wasn’t ready to give herself fully to him.
Taking that remark literally, some fans thought Jack died at Kate’s hand. If this were true, it would definitely have to be an accident. For the longest time, Kate could barely make a little tap at drum-circle camp, so we just don’t see her going full Lizzie Borden on her beloved pop.
But as This is Us aficionados, we’re smarter than that. We know she meant it figuratively and that his death is the thing that’s left her (and her siblings) emotionally wrecked.
The truth is, we could spend days guessing the truth, or at least spend a few mindless hours scrolling the web. The good news? Executive Producer Isaac Aptaker said in a recent interview that Season 2 would tie everything together, so we won’t be waiting much longer. In a way, we’re glad they’re not drawing this head-scratcher out “How I Met Your Mother Style,” but it will be bittersweet to see our favorite superdad meet his fate.
Of course, we have a sneaking suspicion he’ll come back, William Hill style, offering advice and guidance to console his grieving family — and his devastated fans on tear-stained couches across the world.