Okay, it’s safe to say that show creator Dan Fogelman was not kidding when he promised that the second-season premiere of This Is Us (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV) was going to cause more brow-furrowing than smiles. Because after watching the premiere, not only are our brows furrowed but we’re once again dabbing away tears.
The episode, “A Father’s Advice,” started out sweetly enough. The previewed struggles that Beth and Randall were having over the adoption factored in, while William’s poem served as a nice little voice over. Kate went to her first audition, chickened out and then realized she was a grown-ass woman and demanded to be heard. (She got some great feedback on how to hone her craft as a result.) And Kevin had a grand old time shooting his Ron Howard flick, while things with Sophie seemed to be gravy.
No, the real heartache and head-scratching of the episode came in the past storyline, namely in the last five minutes of the show, which were taped at the very last minute to avoid any spoilers leaking. Not one person who wasn’t vital to putting that scene together — including the cast — got to see it in advance.
Leading up to that moment, the past storyline focused a lot on the fallout of Jack and Rebecca’s big fight. We learned some pretty devastating things, like the fact that Randall heard Jack say some of those awful things to Rebecca, or that Jack’s drinking problem really, truly was out of control. If this is a season that begins to showcase Jack as a real man and not just a superhero, the final scene of the night between him and Rebecca was a great start. As she got him into the car to take him home from Miguel’s, though, we couldn’t breathe. Because at this point we know that This Is Us likes to sucker punch us at the end of an episode, and something big was coming.
— Chris Sullivan (@SullivanTweet) September 23, 2017
Sure enough, suddenly we saw Rebecca driving the car solo, this time in a Steelers shirt. We can assume it’s a few months later based on the dialogue, and beside her are Jack’s possessions in a plastic bag. At Miguel’s, teenaged Kate and Randall are bawling, Kevin is off with Sophie, and in the very, very last shot Rebecca pulls up outside the house that Jack fixed up for the family and it’s burnt to a crisp.
Cue the screams from all of us, Rebecca. Cue the screams from all of us.
Okay, so now we supposedly know how Jack died: in a house fire that also ruined the Pearson residence. But are things actually what they seem? Did Jack die trying to save someone? Did he die drunk inside? Was the fire his fault? Was it Kate’s fault, as she said back in season one? Fogelman promised, at an event Tuesday night following the episode, that this season all questions will be answered. In due time, of course.
— Danielle Turchiano (@danielletbd) September 27, 2017
Until then, at least we have a few clues:
- The Pearsons finally got a dog… but it looked like a puppy. How did that come about and please, please, please tell us that Jack did not die trying to save it. (Maybe Kate made him go back inside?)
- Kevin’s leg was broken, and it couldn’t have been that new because plenty of people had signed it. There had to be a reason the cameras panned to that, but obviously he wasn’t around during the time of the fire or he’d be with the rest of the family, right?
- Through our misty eyes we noticed Randall’s girlfriend — was she around during the fire and if so, what does she have to do with the story? Again, these aren’t writers who would just put something in for the sake of putting it in, so this is definitely something to pay attention to.
So many questions, so few answers. Well, welcome to another season of This Is Us, we suppose. Given how much we enjoyed getting answers all throughout the first season of this show, we won’t mind too much if the writers take their time this season. You know, so long as they don’t take too long.