Rarely does a show endear itself as wholly and as quickly to audiences as NBC’s This Is Us. Despite the fact the family drama tugs on the ol’ heartstrings week after week, fans keep tuning in — not just for the sweet dynamics of the Pearson clan, but also for the intrigue. How did Jack die? It’s the question on everyone’s mind, and one Redditor may just have solved the tragic mystery.
As promised, the Season 2 premiere revealed a tiny sliver of insight into the death of the Pearson family patriarch. It would seem, sadly, that Jack died in a fire that consumed the family home.
However, this is a tearjerking series that loves layers, right?
The emotions This Is Us elicits each episode are multidimensional: happiness sandwiched between sadness and peppered with nostalgia. Basically, just when you think you’re done with the feels, you’re probably going to have to pull out the Kleenex and have yourself a solid ugly-cry session all over your sofa.
This brings us to the brilliant, albeit heartbreaking theory hatched by Redditor ashelizabethmoon, who starts by citing a quote from series showrunner Dan Fogelman. “What causes the fire is going to be heartbreaking. The small movements in our lives, and how big they can become if little things break the right way or the wrong way — I’ve always been fascinated by [the fact that] you could have met your husband or your wife if you had just not gone that way at the bar that night, or the friend hadn’t wanted to set you up,” Fogelman told Entertainment Weekly.
The Redditor then explains that their best guess for the cause of the fire is the washing machine. “At the end of Season 1, Episode 7 ‘The Best Washing Machine in the World,’ Kevin — who had just moved to the basement because he didn’t want to share a room with Randall anymore — yells for Rebecca, screaming that the washing machine is possessed (signaling that it is not working properly),” says the Redditor, pointing out that the time frame fits.
“It is reasonable to assume that fixing it was not Rebecca’s priority given that she was reigniting her music career, and Jack began drinking again at this time,” they elaborated. “It is also reasonable to assume the family’s focus was not on the washing machine once Jack returned home to work on recovery.”
We don’t want it to, but this theory actually makes sense. Even more so when you think about how much deeper the tragedy of Jack’s death becomes in the context of something that was the center of such joy for the family.
“The montages of the Pearsons and washing machines set to Cat Stevens… standing alone, they were sweet and nostalgic. But imagine the scenes — Jack’s promise to buy her a washing machine, Rebecca questioning how they could manage laundry for three infants after their first machine broke, chaos and bubbles spewing from their next washing machine and Jack and Rebecca admiring the best washing machine in the world — juxtaposed with the aftermath of the fire caused by the machine. Chills,” the Redditor wrote.
So why would Kate feel at fault? According to ashelizabethmoon, it’s possible Kate switched rooms with Kevin. At the time, his cast would have made traversing the basement stairs tricky at best. Jack could have been trying to save Kate, or she could blame herself for doing something that led to the washing machine catching fire.
Or, as another Redditor suggested, perhaps Kevin sneaked off with his girlfriend (who we know he is with after the fire), and Kate covered for him by saying he was at home. If Jack thought his son on crutches was stuck in the basement, you better believe Papa Pearson would put his life on the line to get Kev out of there.
And there you have it: a theory you will simultaneously love and hate. Either way, you’ve got to admit that is some seriously impressive sleuthing.