'This Is Us' finally explains Jack's death

Need to catch up? Check out the previous This Is Us recap here. 

I had a feeling of dread, coming into this week’s This Is Us. After all, the episode’s title is “That’ll Be the Day,” and I spent too many long car rides as a child listening to my parents’ oldies station not to know that that jauntily sung Buddy Holly lyric ends with the words, “that I die.”

And yes, my Pearson intuition was right: At last, the episode offers up how the Pearson family home caught fire and killed Jack. Even though we’ve known it was coming, it’s still a blow.

Read on for the hour’s highlights.

ALL WE NEEDED WAS A LITTLE FLIP | An old couple named George and Sally pick through their junk-filled garage. She tells him to throw everything out — the house has been on the market for three months, and it’s not selling. He reminisces with her about how she used to come into the diner he worked in, where “That’ll Be the Day” by Buddy Holly would be playing on the jukebox. She’s not moved, and tells him to clean everything out.

It’s early on Super Bowl Sunday, and Rebecca’s already got her Steelers jersey on. But when she brings Jack his wakeup shot — OJ instead of whiskey — she finds him looking through the real estate section of the paper: He’s taking a very measured approach to Big Three Homes, thinking about flipping a few properties and seeing how it goes before quitting his job. Rebecca seems impressed. They lament that it’s their last Super Bowl with the kids still living at home, but then Kate complains that Randall is taking too long in the bathroom as he primps for Allison’s visit, and it’s back to business as usual.

Downstairs, Kevin is still a jerk and still on crutches. Randall and Allison decorate football-shaped cookies. And Kate learns she’s in the final round of applicants at Berklee School of Music — she just has to submit one more audition tape. It should be noted that all of the kids are terrible to Jack in that way that teens are to their parents: Kevin mocks his dad’s self-built entertainment center, Kate yells at Jack as he lovingly tries to capture her audition on videotape and Randall breaks Jack’s heart when he chooses to take Allison to see Titanic instead of sticking around to watch the big game with the family.

38 PHOTOS
Milo Ventimiglia on 'This Is Us'
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Milo Ventimiglia on 'This Is Us'
THIS IS US -- 'That'll Be The Day' Episode 213 -- Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'The Fifth Wheel' Episode 211 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Mackenzie Hancsicsak as Kate -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'That'll Be The Day' Episode 213 -- Pictured: (l-r) Parker Bates as Kevin, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Lonnie Chavis as Randall, Mandy Moore as Rebecca -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'The Fifth Wheel' Episode 211 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mackenzie Hancsicsak as Kate, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Clooney' Episode 212 -- Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Clooney' Episode 212 -- Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Number Three' Episode 210 -- Pictured: (l-r) Lonnie Chavis as Randall, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Mackenzie Hancsicsak as Kate, Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Parker Bates as Kevin -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Number One' Episode 208 -- Pictured: (l-r) Logan Shorter as Kevin, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Number Three' Episode 210 -- Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Number Three' Episode 210 -- Pictured: (l-r) Niles Fitch as Randall, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'The Most Disappointed Man in the World' Episode 207 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Mandy Moore as Rebecca -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'The Most Disappointed Man in the World' Episode 207 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Mandy Moore as Rebecca -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'The Most Disappointed Man in the World' Episode 207 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'The Most Disappointed Man in the World' Episode 207 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'The 20's' Episode 206 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mackenzie Hancsicsak as Kate, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'The 20's' Episode 206 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Mandy Moore as Rebecca -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Brothers' Episode 205 -- Pictured: (l-r) Parker Bates as Kevin, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- Season: 2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Mandy Moore as Rebecca-- (Photo by: Maarten de Boer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Brothers' Episode 205 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Mandy Moore as Rebecca -- (Photo by Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- Season: 2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mackenzie Hancsicsak as Kate, Parker Bates as Kevin, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Lonnie Chavis as Randall -- (Photo by: Maarten de Boer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Still There' Episode 204 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson-- (Photo by Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Still There' Episode 204 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson, Parker Bates as Kevin Pearson-- (Photo by Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Deja Vu' Episode 203 -- Pictured: (l-r) Parker Bates as Kevin Pearson, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Deja Vu' Episode 203 -- Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Moonshadow' Episode118 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jeremy Luke as Darryl, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)
THIS IS US -- 'Moonshadow' Episode118 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Jeremy Luke as Darryl -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'I Call Marriage' Episode 114 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'I Call Marriage' Episode 114 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson, Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'I Call Marriage' Episode 114 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson, Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson, Wynn Everett as Shelly -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Three Sentences' Episode 113 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson, Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Three Sentences' Episode 113 -- Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson, Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'The Big Day' Episode 112 -- Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)
THIS IS US -- 'The Big Day' Episode 112 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)
THIS IS US -- 'Last Christmas' Episode 110 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mackenzie Hancsicsak as 8 year old Kate, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THS IS US -- 'Pilgrim Rick' Episode 108 -- Pictured: (l-r) Parker Bates as 8 year old Kevin, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'The Game Plan' Episode 105 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'Kyle' Episode 103 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THIS IS US -- 'The Big Three' Episode 102 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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PARENT AS PUNCHING BAG | Oh wait, it gets worse. Kate tells Jack to stop telling her that he thinks she’s beautiful. And when Sophie gets into NYU, Kevin has a freakout about how he’s destined for community college and how he should’ve been playing in the Super Bowl, not watching it with them.

Later, though, Kate watches the tape and asks Jack “don’t ever stop” trying to make her see herself the way he sees her. But then she — like her two brothers — bails on watching the game with her folks. So it’s just Rebecca, Jack and the new entertainment center for the event. And Rebecca shows him a perfect property to flip, owned by an elderly couple (and we’re made to think it’s the one we saw in the beginning of the hour). When she reveals that she “got a little excited” and already called the realtor, he has a proposition: “Be my business partner.” She thinks about it, starts to love it, then agrees. They kiss, it heats up, and then they scamper upstairs to have sex.

Kevin, to his credit, calls home to apologize to Rebecca for his behavior. But when she offers to put Jack on the phone, he says he’ll talk to his dad the next day. Then he hangs up and asks Sophie if she wants to go to a party in the woods he’s heard about.

Late that evening, Randall’s return wakes up Jack. They chat in the kitchen about his date. “We kissed,” the boy confesses, all goofily happy. Randall says goodnight and goes to bed, and Jack cleans up everything Rebecca was too tired to address earlier in the evening. Jack scribbles a note — “Kevin, if I don’t see you before work tomorrow, I love you. You owe us all an apology. — Dad” — then looks at the kids’ growth charts on the wall and turns off the slow cooker. (Psych!)

BUT THEN, NO. In a flashback, we see that George and Sally were neighbors to a young Jack and Rebecca, and George gifted them the slow cooker. “You have to fiddle with the switch, but it still works,” he tells a very pregnant Rebecca and Jack, and they’re happy to have it. But that slow cooker catches on fire all those years later, and over a montage of the Pearson family’s happy moments, we see flames start to consume

MEET THE NEW SUPER | Kevin wants to hang with Randall, but his brother turns him down: He and Beth are headed to the apartment building they apparently bought. Randall declares “Do some good, don’t go broke” is the motto of the newly formed R&B Properties, but Beth seems less gung-ho about the venture. And at a meeting with tenants, Randall excitedly starts promising that he’ll fix everything for everyone, prompting Beth to give him The Eyebrow. But before they can hash much out, Kevin shows up and pulls focus. Like always.

Afterwards, Randall acknowledges that he didn’t slow his roll like he promised — and Sterling K. Brown does an excellent, if brief, impression of Susan Kelechi Watson — but Randall knows that he CAN do everything he promised. She’s clearly miffed, and he knows it, as she leaves for work. So bare-armed Kev and Randall unleash the gun show start making good on all of the repairs that the residents request. (Kevin’s knocking down of a wall, complete with female residents pulling up chairs to watch, is hilarious. Also, hi A Different World‘s Dawnn Lewis!)

But when one of Randall’s repairs uncovers a giant cockroach problem, the residents need to be relocated for a few days until the exterminating company can do its thing. As Randall goes back inside to collect Kevin, it’s hard for The Manny to stop work: Like we saw Jack do earlier in the episode, he’s trying to keep busy to stay sober. Also, he notes, he’s trying to make amends and there are some people to whom he just can’t do that.

The conversation soon turns to how they’re growing older, how Jack died young and how he’s already been gone “longer than we had him,” as Randall notes, the realization of which gives Kevin pause. But he recovers, then bucks up his brother. “You’re going to be a great old man, by the way, like your other dad.” It’s sweet.

When Beth arrives at the hotel where the residents are staying for the night, she reminds him that her life’s work has been working with properties like the one they bought, so he might want to listen to her. Properly chastised, he apologizes.

DOG DAY AFTERNOON | After Kate finds Toby looking at dogs on Petfinder, she visits a local shelter and — thanks to the help of a shelter worker (hi, Master of None‘s Lena Waithe!) —

finds a beautiful pup named Audio to adopt. At the last moment, though, Kate realizes that the dog “comes with a lot of baggage” and, crying, backs out of the adoption.

At home, Kate tells Toby what happened at the shelter, describing Audio as “crazy cute, like if-Jacob-Tremblay-was-a-dog cute.” Ha! She tells him she backed out of the adoption… then turned around and went back, because she knows how happy having a pooch will make Toby. And it does. And for the record, that dog IS insanely cute.

Kevin waits outside Sophie’s door, but she’s not happy to see him. “If you really want to make amends, just leave me with something. Just leave me with the past,” she says, fighting tears. “Let me remember you at 10 or at 17 or 20. Just let me remember you when it was good.” OUCH. But he says she wasn’t just a name on his amends list, “You were the name.” It’s heartfelt, but it doesn’t change her mind; she bids him goodbye and goes inside, alone.

MAKING AMENDS | Back at his mom’s house, Kevin opens an envelope and finds his pendant, sent by Charlotte, to whom he wrote a letter of apology. Yay! But there’s still a name left on his amends list: Dad. And just seeing it makes Kev cry.

25 PHOTOS
Milo Ventimiglia through the years
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Milo Ventimiglia through the years
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 23: Actors Milo Ventimiglia attends Wizard World Comic Con Chicago 2015 - Day 4 at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on August 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage)
Milo Ventimiglia (Gilmore Girls) (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)
Milo Ventimiglia at the Academy Theatre in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Presenters Jared Padalecki, Alexis Bledel and Milo Ventimiglia for Choice TV Reality Scariest Moment (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
Milo Ventimiglia during 20th Century Fox Emmy After Party At Morton's at Morton's Restaurant in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by J. Merritt/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 1: Actor Milo Ventimiglia and actress Alexis Bledel speak during the EIF's Women's Cancer Research Fund honoring Melissa Etheridge at Saks Fifth Avenue's Unforgettable Evening on March 1, 2006 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Milo Ventimiglia during 5th Annual Tribeca Film Festival - 'Civic Duty' Premiere - After Party at BED Nightclub in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jason Kempin/FilmMagic)
HEROES -- Pilot -- Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Peter Petrelli (Photo by Mitch Haaseth/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Milo Ventimiglia (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage)
Antonio Tarver and Milo Ventimiglia during MGM Pictures, Columbia Pictures and Revolution Studios present the World Premiere of 'Rocky Balboa' at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by E. Charbonneau/WireImage for MGM)
Milo Ventimiglia during 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals at Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
HEROES -- 'Five Years Gone' Episode 20 -- Aired 4/30/07 --Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Peter Petrelli, Ali Larter as Niki/Jessica Sanders (Photo by Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Milo Ventimiglia at the Cabana Club in Burbank, California (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 19: Actor Milo Ventimiglia arrives at the party to celebrate 'The Circle' and 'Welcome To Your Crisis' author Laura Day at ONE Sunset restaurant on June 19, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JULY 23: (U.S. TABLOIDS OUT) Actor Milo Ventimiglia makes an appearance on MTV's Total Request Live on July 23, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Actor Milo Ventimiglia arrives at the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on September 16, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Emmys/Getty Images for FOX)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actor Milo Ventimiglia attends the Race To Fight Epilepsy event which started off at the Skirball Centre by celebrities driving off in Lamborghini's on November 14, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 15: (U.S. TABS OUT) Actor Milo Ventimiglia appears onstage during MTV's Total Request Live at the MTV Times Square Studios April 15, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - AUGUST 10: Actor Milo Ventimiglia attends the Whaleman Foundation Benefit Dinner at Beso on August 10, 2008 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Charley Gallay/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 19: Milo Ventimiglia arrives at the Heroes For Autism Event at the Avalon Hollywood on April 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 17: Actor Milo Ventimiglia arrives at the One Club's 2nd Annual One Show Entertainment Awards on February 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - JUNE 04: Actor Milo Ventimiglia arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'That's My Boy' held at Regency Village Theatre Westwood on June 4, 2012 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 21: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Milo Ventimiglia Visits 'What's Trending' on February 21, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 03: Actor Milo Ventimiglia attends the Crackle's season 2 premiere of original digital series 'Chosen' held at the Pacific Theaters at the Grove on December 3, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 21: Actor Milo Ventimiglia attends Wizard World Comic Con Chicago 2015 - Day 2 at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on August 21, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage)
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