WARNING: This story contains spoilers about the “This Is Us” season finale.
The long-stewing marital tensions between Jack and Rebecca on “This Is Us” finally came to a full boil in the emotional season finale. But one of the show’s central mysteries has been left to simmer at least until Season 2.
The final hour of the season picked up right where the last episode left off: with Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) hopping in his car and driving to Rebecca’s big performance after having several beers. The moment had left fans wondering whether Jack’s decision to drive drunk would lead to his death, but he made it there safely.
In fact, the episode didn’t reveal how Jack died at all.
“Sorry. Gotta wait a little longer now,” Ventimiglia said at a panel in Los Angeles after a screening of the finale. “I’ve gotten in the habit of telling people, ‘Lets not focus on how he died or when he died, lets focus on how he lived.’”
The episode certainly did that. It showcased Jack and Rebecca’s marriage in peril and, in earlier flashbacks, told the story of how they met.
Executive producer and Season 2 co-showrunner Elisabeth Berger said creator Dan Fogelman had the idea for the episode “very early on.”
“This is one he saw very clearly,” she said. “We tried to lay along the way little clues that we were going to build to this sort of emotional break.”
In the lead up to Jack and Rebecca’s big fight, Jack and Ben (Sam Trammell) scuffled after Jack learned Ben tried to make a move on his wife. Rebecca had rejected Ben’s advance, but didn’t get a chance to tell Jack that in the moment. Instead, she left her big gig to drive drunk Jack home.
Once back home — again, safely — the couple aired all their grievances.
Rebecca was mad that Jack was still drinking. Jack was mad Rebecca had, as he saw it, put her band before her family. Rebecca accused Jack of resenting her taking time for herself. And Jack dealt a devastating blow when he said he didn’t see her singing as a “career.”
Everything each character had suppressed during the season was finally out in the open for the other to see. And it wasn’t pretty.
In the end, Rebecca asked Jack to move in with his best friend Miguel. Jack agreed, but not before making a big, Jack-like proclamation of love.
“I think it ends on an inherently hopeful note, for sure,” Moore told CNN.
The couple’s children, Randall, Kevin and Kate, weren’t seen much during the finale. But nuggets were planted for Season 2.
Kevin went to his meeting with director Ron Howard, leaving questions about his future with Sophie. Kate told Toby she wants to pursue professional singing. And Randall dropped a bomb on wife Beth: He wants to adopt a baby.
While some may have thought the climax of the episode would be a classic TV-style disaster, cliffhanger or the aforementioned reveal, “This Is Us” subverted expectations.
But how much longer can they really drag out the truth about Jack’s death?
Chris Sullivan, who plays Toby, had an idea.
“If we stretch out the reveal for 7 or 8 seasons like that Neil Patrick Harris show… we can call it ‘How I Killed Your Father,’” he joked.