The mystery surrounding Jack’s death on “This Is Us” had become a central part of the series, but as the show has progressed, hardly a defining one. With the characters’ well-established connection to football, NBC’s Super Bowl showcase felt like an ideal time to give up those details, which the producers did in an emotional episode that nevertheless managed to play with expectations.
Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) didn’t literally go out in a blaze of glory, as many had no doubt imagined, after rescuing his family — including the dog — from a fire that burned down the Pearson family house (and for which the Crock-Pot shouldn’t be entirely blamed).
Yet he did succumb to a heart attack brought about by his heroism, an outcome confounding and arbitrary enough to help explain the varying degrees of guilt, grief and pain that his three children have carried into adulthood.
Written by series creator Dan Fogelman, the episode went out of its way to create strong individual moments for each of the key characters, none more so than Mandy Moore, who had to deal first with the inexplicable loss of a one-for-the-ages romance, and then breaking that news to their kids.
Fogelman also introduced a new wrinkle — by looking into the future — although it’s pretty clear at this point that “This Is Us” doesn’t require any “Lost”-esque innovations to further cement the bond that it has forged with its audience.