It’s the 20th anniversary of Jack’s death on This Is Us, and each Pearson honors the man in a different way in this episode, titled “Super Bowl Sunday.” In the past, we learn exactly how Jack Pearson dies the night their home burns down, something every fan has been waiting for in season 2. And fans even get a glimpse into the future.

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It’s Not Just a House

Somehow, Jack wakes up and notices smoke coming in through the door. He sees that the house is on fire and quickly wakes up everyone else. He rescues Randall first, and then Kate, suffering burns along the way. He manages to get everyone out the window to safety and goes back in when they hear the dog barking from inside. As the fire rages, the family looks on in horror, until Jack comes out the front door with the dog and a sack full of photo albums and VHS tapes of memories.

The first responder urges Jack to go to the hospital, so Rebecca says they will drop the kids off and then head to the ER. The doctor tells him that he has second-degree burns on his hands and a lot of smoke inhalation, so he needs to be monitored. He jokes around with Rebecca, so she heads out to make hotel reservations and check on the kids. Unfortunately, she doesn’t notice all of the nurses running into Jack’s room behind her.

After she gets a candy bar from the vending machine, the doctor comes to see her to say that the smoke affected Jack’s lungs and heart, which sent him into cardiac arrest, and they couldn’t save him. She is in complete denial and starts eating the candy bar. The doctor repeats himself to say that Jack has died, and she gets up to go see him. Of course, when she enters his room, she sees that he’s dead.

Staying Strong

Rebecca goes through the motions as she takes Jack’s personal items and leaves the hospital alone. When she gets to Miguel’s house, where the kids are, he meets her outside. She tells him that Jack had a widowmaker’s heart attack from the smoke. Miguel immediately loses it. She tells him to pull it together because she needs to stay strong for her kids. Then she heads inside and breaks the news to them. As she steps outside to get some air, Kate finds Kevin so she can tell him about Jack herself.

Despite putting on a strong front, Rebecca is devastated as she drives by their burned home and clutches to Jack’s belongings.

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Honoring Jack

In the present day, each of the Pearsons is remembering their father on Super Bowl Sunday in a different way. As Randall explains, Kate wallows, Kevin avoids and he celebrates. First up is Kate. Her tradition is to play the video that Jack took of her performing her audition for college. However, this year, the VCR eats the tape and she freaks out. But Toby is there to save the day. He brings the VCR to a guy who not only fixes it but also digitizes the video so it can live forever in the cloud.

Kate opens up to Toby and tells him that Jack died because of her. She tells him that after his death, she didn’t think her family could come back. But then she realizes that the rest of her family could, but she couldn’t until she met Toby. She tells Toby that he made her believe in herself again, just like Jack. She adds that Jack would have loved him.

Over on the East Coast, Rebecca tells Kevin that Miguel usually gives her space on Super Bowl Sunday. She tells him that her tradition is to make Jack’s favorite lasagna and eat it while she watches the game. She adds that every year, she always gets a sign from Jack that makes her laugh.

Despite Rebecca’s invitation to join her, Kevin decides to confront the day head-on this year. He heads to his father’s tree and has a chat with him. He apologizes that he wasn’t there the night that he died and that the last words he said to him were so awful. He tells Jack that he feels he’d be disappointed in him but says that he’s going to do better and be a better man. He wants to make Jack proud of him.

Kevin calls Rebecca to find out if she got her sign this year. She says she didn’t get it yet. But then as they chat, Kevin makes her laugh and tells him that this year, Jack sent her him.

Lastly, Randall is throwing a Super Bowl part for the girls, despite them not being into football. Things take a quick turn when Annie’s new lizard goes missing somewhere in the house. Unfortunately, Beth accidentally steps on the lizard in the kitchen, killing it. As Randall holds an impromptu funeral for the lizard, he gets emotional about his death, and Tess storms off.

A Father’s Love

Randall goes to check on Tess and apologizes for getting emotional. Tess confesses that she’s been taking the phone off the hook because that’s the line that the social workers call. When Randall asks if she doesn’t like them fostering children, she says, no, she likes that, but she feels as if with all the new changes going on in his life, she thinks Randall wants a new life. Randall assures her that she is his whole life.

Randall then explains to Tess that he always wanted to be an amazing father like Jack and that, when she was born, he had no doubt that he’d be a great dad. Finally, he tells her that he can’t wait to see her grow up into a young woman.

As Randall and Tess chat, Beth gets a call from Deja, who is waiting outside their door. As her parents find out what’s going on with Deja, Tess looks on, possibly excited to have Deja back in her life.

And in a glimpse into the future, a grown-up Tess becomes a social worker, helping a little boy, who looks like a little Randall, find a foster family. Randall comes to visit her and is proud of the woman she’s become.

What an emotional roller coaster, as usual for This Is Us. Jack’s death is pretty emotional, as it’s a tease when he makes it out of that burning home. To see Rebecca’s reaction, and how much in denial she is, is painful. Seeing Miguel break down, and having Rebecca tell him to pull it together, is amazing and shows us just how strong she really is.

I’m very eager to see what happens after Jack’s death and how the teenage Pearsons deal with it in their very different ways. It’s Jack’s death that is so pivotal in shaping them, so it will be very interesting to see that. I’m also eager of the possibility of going into the future with Randall’s children. That was such a nice, refreshing surprise. Randall’s children have almost taken a backseat for a while, so his touching moment with Tess on such an important day clearly steered her to take a job in social work.

Did you get all of your Jack death questions answered in “Super Bowl Sunday”? Were you surprised that he died of a heart attack? Are you happy that Kevin possibly got some closure by speaking to Jack on the anniversary of his death? Do you think Kate will continue to shed some of the guilt of Jack’s death as her relationship with Toby continues to grow? Do you want to see more of grown-up Tess? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC. Want more news? Like our This Is Us Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of NBC)


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV