This Is Us’ Creator Would Take Back One Moment In Jack’s Past If He Could
This Is Us has done an amazing job so far of bringing the pasts of those in the Pearson family to light for audiences very slowly and in ways we could never predict. However, there is one thing about Jack’s life that series creator Dan Fogelman wishes he could take back. And, surprisingly, it relates to Jack’s death. Here’s what Fogelman had to say about that moment in Season 1 where we all thought Jack was going to die because he was driving drunk.
That was a head fake on our part. 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.
Anyone who’s been with This Is Us since Season 1 will, undoubtedly, know which moment Dan Fogelman is talking about as a “head fake.” In the penultimate episode of the first season, after knowing for several episodes that Jack died when the kids were teens and waiting to get the details of his demise, Jack steps out of a bar after getting pretty drunk, calls a teenaged Kate from a payphone and then gets in his car and drives off. After waiting for the better part of a season to find out how Jack died, this seemed like a giant red flag to fans that he would end up getting himself killed during that drive.
Of course, that’s not what happened at all. Instead of Jack drunkenly wrapping his car around a tree or crashing into a bus, the final episode of This Is Us‘ first season simply showed Jack and Rebecca getting into a massive fight. In his talk with Entertainment Weekly, Dan Fogelman admits that the timing of these marital troubles turned out to be highly frustrating for viewers who are both used to getting big deaths in season finales and felt that Jack’s death was nigh. And, he feels the show used up a bit of good will by handling things the way it did.
I think that we thought — and I still continue to think — that the big shock with the finale to people was going to be, ‘Oh my god, this marriage is suffering! America’s sweetest couple is in a state of disrepair and separation. 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… People are preprogrammed that characters die in finales, so that was something I hadn’t really contemplated to the same degree. We didn’t lie about anything. Kate feels very responsible for Jack’s death, and that [was] explored in this season… but you don’t want to use up your favor in that way.
I suppose I can see how Fogelman and those in the writers room might have been in the dark about just how big a deal the cause of Jack’s death had become to fans by the end of Season 1, especially considering that they were plotting things out several episodes ahead of what viewers saw on a weekly basis. So, while the big reveal for the Season 1 finale was only that Jack and Rebecca were at a crossroads in their relationship, at least we know that it wasn’t actually planned as a fuck you to fans who were looking for the ultimate answer to how Jack died.
This Is Us returns to NBC after Olympic coverage is done on February 27 at 9 p.m. EST. In the meantime, you can get all the details of Jack’s tragic death and why he needed to die the way he did. For more on what you can catch in the coming weeks, be sure to head over to our midseason premiere guide.