This post contains This Is Us spoilers and potential spoilers as we are going to be digging into some theories about what could be coming. Read at your own risk!
We are just a couple of days away from what will probably be one of the most talked about nights of television all year and no, I’m not talking about the Super Bowl. I’m talking about the post-Super Bowl episode of This Is Us, which has promised to answer all of our questions regarding Jack’s death.
The Pearson house fire has been our framing device all season and the event that everything has been leading up to. It’s essentially what instigates a chain of events that will result in Jack’s death. Now, having been an avid fan since the beginning, I’ve learned that when it comes to This Is Us, it’s always smart to think twice about things. So, the more that I have been watching this season the more I have come to believe that Jack Pearson will not die in the house fire.
At the moment I still think that he will die the night of the fire, just not in it, and here’s why:
This Is This Is Us After All
The entire series of This Is Us worked because of a HUGE twist in its Pilot episode when it was revealed that Jack and Rebecca were the parents of the present day Big Three. Ever since then, writer Dan Fogelman has been no stranger to a good twist – Jack’s brother, Rebecca meeting William in the 80s, Rebecca being married to Miguel, and most recently the bait and switch with the house Jack and Rebecca were going to buy for Big Three Homes and the crockpot. Nothing is ever as it seems when it comes to the Pearson’s and I just can’t in my This Is Us fanatic mind believe that Fogelman would take what is perhaps the show’s biggest mystery, Jack’s death, and outright reveal the cause in the second season premiere.
Even when it came to the actual Pearson house fire there were a few potential seeds that were planted as to what could have been the cause that were just fake-outs. It could have been the family washing machine or the electrical breaker that Jack had been fiddling with during theBig Three trilogy episodes, but it ended up being a crockpot. A crockpot. Something that no one could have ever guessed. So, when it comes to the question of how Jack dies, knowing this show, it has to be something more than just the fire.
The most popular theory goes that Jack will die saving Kate’s dog or Kate who runs in to save the dog, which is a very valid theory considering Kate’s guilt and her feelings towards dogs in the present day, but like I’ve already said, in the world of This Is Us, the most popular theory is probably a red herring.
Let’s dig into some details that could allude to Jack actually making it out of the fire alive that night.
The Bag of Belongings
Perhaps the biggest clue that Jack makes it out of the fire is the bag of his belongings that Rebecca has in the car with her when she pulls up to the burnt house. In the bag, we’ve got keys with an American flag keychain, Jack’s notebook (I think it’s his AA journal), his watch and wedding ring.
On the night of the fire when Jack is cleaning up the kitchen, he’s not wearing a watch and they make an obvious effort to show you that.
We know that Jack always kept his AA notebook in the back pocket of his jeans, but he was in sweatpants both in last week’s episode and in next week’s promo. Not to mention if he died in the fire and these were the belongings on his person, wouldn’t that notebook look a little burnt? It’s plausible that these items were some of the of things that Rebecca is grabbing in the bathroom while preparing to flee the fire, but that wouldn’t explain how they ended up in this little baggie if she just threw them in a duffle bag. Something had to have happened in between that fire and Rebecca driving back to the house where Jack found access to these.
Also, by the time Rebecca pulls up to the house with the bag, it looks like the fire has long been put out and only a couple of firefighters and investigators are there…it really makes you wonder about the time stamp of this scene.
Kevin, in general, is actually a big question mark in this whole scenario. We know that he didn’t get closure with his dad so it’s a safe assumption that Jack does die the night of the fire, but Kevin’s cast journey is sending us all sorts of mixed signals. We saw in “Clooney” that Kevin can wear his suit over his cast but he still has his crutches the night of the fire.
However, at Jack’s funeral service, he doesn’t have any crutches:
And during his Big Three trilogy episode “Number One” he gives a heartbreaking monologue and says:
So, if Jack does die the night of the fire then Kevin would need to be getting his cast off almost immediately after. This is the only theory that could potentially support Jack not dying that same night. Perhaps he could end up in some sort of coma that would still prevent Kevin from making amends? What are your thoughts on this?
This brings us to the scene of Kate and Randall at Miguel’s house after the night that we assume is the fire. There are so many tricks and hints here that it’s a little difficult to fully comprehend ‘when’ we are on the timeline. It’s the biggest hang-up and most difficult scene to make sense of when it comes to looking back at the night of the fire.
The scene first introduced us to Kate and her dog, Randall and his new girlfriend and Kevin and his cast. Randall and Kate are visibly shaken while Miguel hands them some blankets. Editing wise, this is clearly meant to be the night of the fire, but is there a chance that it’s not?
In the promo for the “Super Bowl Sunday” episode, we see Randall in pajamas during the house fire. Now, based on the severity of both the actual fire and the damage after, it seems pretty unlikely that Randall would have time to put on this little number that includes a button up and a pullover sweater. It also seems unlikely that he could have gotten back into the house to get clothes. However, Randall is a planner so maybe he rushed to get some clothes together before fleeing, but that also seems unlikely. We will see if the photo album that Randall has on his lap will come into play while he’s escaping the fire as well.
Kate is also wearing a different outfit then the white t-shirt she has on in the promo. Her outfit matches what she was wearing earlier in the season (“Deja Vu”) to presumably tell Kevin that their dad had died. She’s actually got her bomber jacket and a beanie on when she approaches the car Kevin and Sophie are in, most likely at the “party in the woods” he mentioned in the last episode.
So, it makes you wonder how if this was the night of the fire, why are these two not only wearing different clothes, but also their own clothes, and why is Randall’s girlfriend already there? The only snag I’m hitting with this little nugget is that Kevin is wearing the same outfit in all three scenarios: the episode where Kate approaches the car, the montage at Miguel’s house, and the day of the fire/ Super Bowl Sunday from last week. That’s the only hangup I’m having for this being two different nights.
Bottom line is that something seems fishy about this scene altogether in relation to the night of the fire and while I can’t grasp the clothing change just yet, I can touch on the fact that Rebecca isn’t there with them. Could she be at the hospital with Jack?
Here’s where my theory stands at the moment: What I think will happen is that Jack will be the superhero that he is and get his entire family out of the house. What happens after that I’m not entirely sure, but there’s a part of me that thinks that something will happen and Jack will die at the hospital – the place where everything began.
Some Other Fan Theories:
The Kevin Theory:
Many believe that Kevin is going to be playing a much larger role in the fire then we initially realized. Just recently we had the episode titled “The Fifth Wheel” that was all about how Kevin never felt like part of the family. Well, here is one of the most defining moments of the Pearson family and who isn’t there? Kevin. We also have been seeing a lot of Jack’s “your my purpose” speech in the Previously On… as well as in next week’s promo. Kevin always felt like Jack didn’t care about him as much as the other two, so what if Jack’s final moments were related to Kevin?
This theory goes that Jack maybe doesn’t know that Kevin is sleeping at Sophie’s. When he comes downstairs to find Randall the night of the fire, he says “I thought you’d be Kevin” and when he writes the note on Kevin’s door it says “you owe us an apology” – even though Kevin had already apologized to Rebecca. So perhaps somehow Rebecca didn’t relay this information to Jack?
Now, this could go a couple of different ways – the first being that Kate is the one who tells Jack that Kevin is still inside as they seem to have been separated from Rebecca and Randall. If something were to happen to Jack while he was trying to rescue Kevin, Kate could have told everyone that he saved the dog in order to save Rebecca pain from not telling Jack about Kevin and Kevin pain from knowing that Jack died looking for him. This could also tie into Kate’s weird feelings about dogs and her ultimately feeling “at fault” when she learns Kevin was actually with Sophie.
Another possibility is Jack gets everyone out of the house safely and Rebecca tells him Kevin is at Sophie’s house, but Kate is the one who tells them that he’s in the woods. Something could happen to Jack en route to get Kevin, but since we see Rebecca in the family car in front of the burnt house – a car accident does seem a little far-fetched.
The Dog Theory:
The more that I have thought about the dog, I have found myself wondering what if the dog was something positive and special for Kate? I’m thinking that the dog could probably play a part in waking people up to the fire since we saw Jack saying goodnight to him downstairs before the fire broke out. Plus, we already know that he survived the fire based on the scene at Miguel’s. However, Kate seems to be holding him in an almost thankful way, rather than a “my dad just died to save you” way. So, what if the dog somehow helps get Jack out of the fire?
Or maybe Jack hands Louie to Kate and then something happens and that’s the last memory she had of Jack alive? Handing her her dog?
The Titanic Theory
Some people were quick to pick up on this theory after Randall tells Jack that he’s taking his girlfriend to go see Titanic, a movie where the character Jack dies at the end saving Kate Winslet’s character…Jack dies saving Kate. Obviously, that’s enough to explain Kate’s guilt, and if she decides to run back in to save her dog that would settle that as well. However, the Jack dying while saving Kate’s dog theory seems way too obvious to be true at this point.
The Battery Theory
In an interview, Creator Dan Fogelman gave us this little nugget: “Kate had a very specific relationship with her father, and a lot of what she’s looking back on in this night is stuff of the cause of the incident, and how she blames herself.” This quote kind of fits with another possible theory floating around that Kate’s guilt stems from her bad behavior at the mall, which distracted Rebecca from remembering to buy batteries.
Another battery theory is that Kate took the battery out of the fire alarm for her walkman, which she is shown listening to once the fire breaks out. If Fogelman is saying that some of her focus is on the “cause” of the incident and the family not being alerted by the alarm, she could also think that the fire was her fault.
There are just so many options and theories as to what happens to the Pearsons on this fateful night, and as much fun as it is to dig around for clues (clearly), at the end of the day it’s the surprises and the jaw-dropping twists that really make This Is Us special. While a lot of us are ready to finally learn how Jack dies, I don’t think that anyone is really ready to watch it happen. Either way, we can’t wait to watch the brilliant and magical This Is Us storytelling unfold this Sunday and discuss with all of you afterward about what happens!
What are your Jack and the fire theories? Have you picked up on anything that I hadn’t mentioned yet? Let us know in the comments!
Having studied Media & Writing at James Madison University, I always knew that I wanted to do some type of creative writing, but being able to write about zombies, Starks, and superheroes on a daily basis for Fan Fest is my actual dream. While I probably shouldn’t be as proud as I am to be so similar to Nick Miller, I do hope to one day write my own “Pepperwood Chronicles’.