After This Is Us had its first big reveal of the season — that the disparate group of characters are actually all members of the same family — it was followed up by a new mystery: what happens to the relationship between Rebecca and Jack, the trio’s doting parents? Milo Ventimiglia’s character has been notably absent from the present-day scenes, which have included Mandy Moore’ s Rebecca, and her three children. Viewers know one thing for sure: Rebecca is now in a relationship with Miguel, who was revealed in a flashback to be Jack’s best friend.
So what does it mean? Entertainment Tonight posited some theories, some advanced by fans and others by their editorial team. ET offers three options: Jack’s dead, the couple got a divorce, or Jack is alive but suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The website pointed to Rebecca still wearing a necklace Jack gave her many years later, while with Miguel, as evidence her first husband may have passed away, perhaps related to his issues with alcohol.
Rebecca and Miguel’s one appearance so far, at son Randall’s home, showed there was familiarity with the situation, leading some to assume perhaps Jack suffered from an illness and Miguel and Rebecca had Jack’s blessing to start a relationship. Of course, the many flashbacks have shown tension in the parents’ marriage, as they deal with raising three children of the same age. That could have eventually led to a divorce.
So far, modern-day Rebecca has only appeared with one of her children, Randall, which sheds little light on what her relationships are with Kate and Kevin. In the most recent episode, “The Pool,” Jack counseled an 8-year-old Kate who experienced bullying because of her swimsuit. Their relationship may provide a hint of what’s to come for Jack and Rebecca, as show producer Dan Fogelman told Entertainment Weekly Kate’s experiences with her father are crucial to her later development. Her growing up only becomes more difficult, according to Fogelman.
“It gets rocky. We’re not just talking about body image issues; it’s a character who in the present day is struggling with self-worth and self-belief. A big part of what we’re going to get in the child’s background is how that was formed. She obviously has this loving family and these loving parents, but where did this all stem from?”
“[T]here’s something very special about the bond between Kate and Jack that’s really, really defining for her, and it becomes a huge part of Kate’s story and journey as we move forward…”
While Jack’s location remains a mystery, Randall has been developing a relationship with his biological father, William. His intense need to help him get medical treatment led one Entertainment Tonight commentator to conclude that Jack died of cancer, and Randall wants William to escape the same fate. In “The Pool,” father and son had a bonding moment after his daughter’s school play, which was moving to Ron Cephas Jones, the actor who plays William, as he told Entertainment Weekly.
“I think that’s the first time that I can remember in a scene with Randall, where you actually see how forgiving Randall is, but how all those years of stuff, William has been hurt by the separation also. It’s a very small moment, but it’s a moment of truth that happens – it just touched me to no end.”
Another theory about how Jack may have died, if he is indeed deceased, is connected to his job. Although viewers have not yet seen Jack at work, when the babies were loaded into the car seats on the way home from the hospital, he described them as “cop approved.” If he is a police officer, it’s therefore possible he may have lost his life in the line of duty.
ET also picked up that Rebecca was reading Stephen King’s novel Misery in the past, which has a character under the influence of alcohol driving off a cliff, a potential foreshadow of something to come.
This Is Us airs Tuesday nights on NBC.
[Featured Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]