Milo Ventimiglia promised that the final two episodes of This Is Us Season 1 would stress us out, and once again, the man was not lying. Tuesday's penultimate episode, "What Now?," revealed that we have arrived at the night of Jack's death and the foreshadowed cause is unsettling to say the least.
Who placed their bets on a drunk driving accident? We listed it as an option, though we gave Jack the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn't be the drunk driver. The closing shot of the episode showed the Pearson patriarch on his way to Rebecca's (Mandy Moore) first show of the tour to apologize for his passive-aggressive behavior before she left. It was a relief to see Jack going to fight for his marriage after a couple of rough episodes for the couple, but the sight of him chugging beers as he made his way onto the highway was absolutely no source of comfort.
We don't know for sure that a car accident is how Jack will go. There's still time for the show to make an unexpected move, especially considering how deftly the drama has tackled twists before. Maybe it's not Jack's fault he dies. Maybe it's not a car accident at all, but it's the best guess we have with the information we have right now.
The bigger problem here is that it wasn't Jack's idea to go make things right with Rebecca (it should have been, though). The inspiration came from a teenage Kate (Hannah Zeile), who pushed Jack to go to ensure that his marriage was as stable as he claimed it was. It took another beer and a nearly salacious conversation with the flirtatious Heather (Megan West) -- who we definitely hate more than Miguel (Jon Huertas) -- for Jack to figure out that he needed to get on the road. Thankfully, he eventually called his daughter and told her that he was on his way to do the right thing.
Flash forward to the present day where an adult Kate (Chrissy Metz) confesses to Toby (Chris Sullivan) that she's the reason that Jack dies. Even if we still don't know the full details surrounding Jack's death, this is a crucial development for Kate. She has internalized the blame for losing the most important man in her life and buried the guilt with food. It explains why she hasn't allowed herself to get close to anyone before Toby and the vicious cycle she's created by feeding her feelings and allowing her weight to keep her safe from having to be vulnerable with anyone else.
Of course, it's not actually Kate's fault. Jack made the choice to get in the car. He absolutely made the choice to be drinking beforehand, which is a baffling choice if he was on the way to mend fences with Rebecca. Why did he need to be drunk to do it? That doesn't make any sense. If Jack dies because of his own reckless actions, then This Is Us may have succeeded in finally tarnishing the savior image of him they created, but this doesn't feel like the right way to do it.
We have our fingers crossed for a twist to come in the finale and that Jack gets the "goodbye" that he deserves.
This Is Us concludes its first season on Tuesday, March 14 at 9/8c on NBC.