Tonight we learned a lot about Jack's death on This Is Us. We learned a lot about Jack period. We learned that the return to drinking we saw last season on Valentine's Day was not the breaking of sobriety we thought. Jack's been an alcoholic, and he's been one for a long time, hiding it from everyone. But then that was blown out of the water. After Kevin tells Toby Kate had to be the one, at 17 to tell him their father was dead....we see that night. Did Jack die in a fire on This Is Us?
As Rebecca pulled up to a burnt out shell of a house... a burnt out shell of *their* house, and began to scream and cry, we knew. Whatever happened, whatever Jack did to try and get sober, Rebecca choice to bring him home again was the wrong one. Because that's where he will die.
Holy smokes. (No pun intended y'all.) So, let's just review what we learned tonight because that was some heavy stuff the show dropped on us.
Jack dies when the Big three are 17. Right now (in the past, well most of the past that we saw) it's March/April/May-ish 1996. The kids turn 16 in August. That means, as of the night Rebecca comes and does the exact wrong thing for an alcoholic (more on that in a second), Jack has approximately one more year to live. He will die sometime after August 1997, but not long after. In fact, I think it's safe to say Jack dies in 1997.
Why? Check out what Rebecca is wearing in the car? A Steelers jersey. Now, I'm not a big fan of sportsballs, but I know most people wear their jerseys in the Fall, and usually on Sundays. (Sometimes Mondays and the occasional Thursday notwithstanding.) But we can assume that it is football season. Therefore Jack is going to die most likely on a Sunday night in the fall of 1997.
No then, about what happens. This we can't actually be sure of. There were theories that Jack would die when Miguel's house burned down -- or maybe saving Miguel's family in some manner. Those theories are definitely off the table. He died alone in his own house when it caught fire and he either was too drunk or knocked out and did not wake up before the smoke inhalation killed him, if not the fire itself.
Why was he alone in the house? And why could he have been drunk still? Isn't Rebecca taking him home, so they can fight this together? Ah yes, let's return to that point.
Alcoholism is a very difficult disease to fight, especially in the US where drinking culture is not just legal, but in many ways highly encouraged. Taking Jack home, instead of checking him into rehab is the classic mistake many who have never had to face this issue make. They assume that a loving family, a sense of place, people who love you can solve the problem. They don't understand that someone who has a problem at the level Jack just revealed already knows just how easy that place is to manipulate.
If Jack is so good that he has been hiding a drinking problem this severe from his wife, and three noisy teenagers, then he's already got the manipulation he needs to get his next drink on lock there. Rebecca probably doesn't even know all the ways she enables him every day.
In short, bringing him home is a disaster in the making and a single terrible accident (like passing out drunk and the house burning down from a cigarette or a joint) away from killing someone.
At least, that's my theory. Until next week.