This Is Us is pretty much perfect as far as moving primetime dramas go, but even the show's producer is confessing he has his own remorse about the way Jack Pearson's story was handled. Nope — we're not referring to the goatee (TBH, Milo Ventimiglia totally rocks it) or that time he ran into a burning house to save the family dog. The This Is Us creator's regret about Jack goes back to a flashback in Season 1, so it may not be what you think.
In the second to last episode of the first season, fans may recall Kate revealing that she felt responsible for her father's death. Audiences then watched Jack drive while visibly intoxicated, following a conversation with teenage Kate where he told her he was going to make things right with Rebecca. From the moment viewers discovered the tragic twist that Jack didn't make it to 2017, viewers have made it their mission to figure out the mystery of Papa Pearson's demise. Naturally, that moment coupled with Kate's remarks spawned the plausible theory that Jack died in a drunk-driving accident. As it turns out, it just threw people off more. And now creator Dan Fogleman is expressing that in hindsight, that probably wasn't the best move.
“That was a head fake on our part,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “While I thought it was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool, interesting timing,’ and people might think that’s coming, I didn’t realize the narrative around that moment would get so strong. If I could take back a moment, that’s the moment I’d take back, just to have slowed the spread of our story.”
Fogelman admits that he felt the Season 1 finale would carry its own dramatic weight outside of the whole how-Jack-died saga, as it saw Rebecca and Jack at a heartbreaking crossroads in their relationship that could potentially mean they were over for good. "I thought that was the big kind of twist or misdirect: This isn’t about Jack’s death; this is about something deeper and darker, which is: these two are on different pages,” Fogelman continued to explain.
Dan Fogelman previously spoke about the scene that launched the popular and now-debunked drunk-driving notion, telling CNN that they didn't plan on having it interpreted it the way it was: "Jack did drive having drank that night, and she does feel responsible for her father's death, which is something we're going to see this season. But I understand that could have felt a little bit manipulative. That wasn't our intention."
Until the Super Bowl episode earlier this month that cleared up pretty much everything we needed to know about how Jack's life was cut short, fans were all about the theories and the hunches, even ones based on the smallest of hints. We finally know that it was cardiac arrest brought on by smoke inhalation that killed the Pearson patriarch, resulting from a devastating fire that also destroyed the family's home. This was all at the hands (or the faulty off switch, to be exact) of a decades-old slow cooker.
Now that we've got that squared away, there's fresh drama to get to and new puzzles to solve. And don't fret — Jack is sticking around, even though we already watched his final moments unfold. Milo Ventimiglia recently revealed to USA Today,
Even though we've seen his end, I don't think that impacts the storytelling of wanting to know about other aspects of his life, of his younger years, of being in the war in Vietnam, of being with his wife, Rebecca ... There's still a lot of story to mine and I'm looking forward to all of it.
Bring. It. On. The tears, the heartache, the Miguel — all of it. This Is Us returns Tuesday, Feb. 27 on NBC. #NoRegrets in 2018.