This Is Us fans don’t miss a trick. Viewers of the NBC drama have been clinging on to every clue that has been given in the show’s first 15 episodes, so no one was completely surprised when patriarch Jack Pearson’s (Milo Ventimiglia) alcohol problem came back to haunt him in the most recent episode, “Jack Pearson’s Son.”
Now, fan theories are rampant that Jack’s impending death will be alcohol related—possibly via a car crash on his way home from that lonely Valentine’s night bender.
Anyone else think Jack dies from drinking and driving? Just a theory from the last scene #ThisIsUs— Christina Frazier (@ChristinaFraz18) February 15, 2017
Hope that Jack's death wasn't caused by a drinking & driving accident. Were the kids around that age during the funeral scene?— JH (@RandomTh1ngs) February 15, 2017
I believe jack starts drinking again while Rebecca is on tour, Kate needs him, he drives drunk to get to her and has an accident #ThisIsUs ????— Lauren (@LaurenFrAc) February 15, 2017
#thisisus jack dies from drinking and driving when he got that drink at the end he looked to into it— Travis (@mister_T_86) February 15, 2017
Wait so Jack went back to drinking, I'm assuming this how he died in an drunk driving accident #ThisIsUs— Dominick Renna (@dominick_renna) February 15, 2017
Jack drinking is no good. It has to lead to either his death or a divorce. #ThisIsUs— Shan (@ShanMR42) February 15, 2017
This Is Us producers have given just a small glimpse at Jack’s struggles with drinking. A flashback to 1980 showed him and his wife toasting the Steelers and the Super Bowl, and everything seemed fine. But flash forward eight years, when in the second episode of the hit drama, the character went out for drinks after work and returned home late, causing his angry wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore) to give him an ultimatum: Their family or the booze. Jack ultimately made a promise to quit drinking, and he sealed it with a gift of a moon necklace to his wife.
In a subsequent episode, the Pearson clan headed out for a day at the local pool, with Jack assuring his wife that he didn’t pack any beer in his cooler. Other than that, it has just been assumed that Jack is a dedicated family man who doesn’t hit the bottle anymore.
Fast forward to “Jack Pearson’s Son,” which ended with a marital blowout that culminated with Ventimiglia’s character heading alone to a favorite restaurant for a cheeseburger, onion rings, and a few Makers’ Marks on the rocks.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, This Is Us executive producer Ken Olin said Jack’s issue with drinking will be thoroughly explained by the end of the first season.
“The drinking, that’s another thing that will be dealt with by the end of the season — whether or not the drinking is, in fact, a symptom of a disease, that we’re dealing with real alcoholism,” Olin told EW.
“Or we are dealing with some fundamental weakness on Jack’s part, meaning some of the fears or insecurities that he has, that he uses alcohol to self-medicate? But it certainly is a significant issue. This is a person that hasn’t been drinking for six, seven years, and he clearly makes a choice because of the things that are happening with Rebecca that he needs to have a drink in order to soothe his anxiety.”
While This Is Us fans have touted Jack as the “perfect” father and husband, Olin explained that Ventimiglia’s Super Dad persona was created as “a veneer that covers a person who has some real insecurities, some real damage.”
“We’ve seen that as a child he was the son of an alcoholic, and we’ve seen that every once in a while, we’d get glimpses of his anger,” Olin said. “And then Rebecca represents, in his mind, a kind of salvation for him. He is deeply in love with her, and she makes him reach for his best self. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all those issues and all those demons don’t exist anymore.”
Indeed, in an interview with Television Critics Association members, This Is Us star Mandy Moore reminded fans that Jack and Rebecca’s marriage was far from perfect in that late 1980s flashback scene earlier in the season.
“We learn in the second episode [about] the alcohol,” the This Is Us star said. “We’re shooting episode 15 right now and there are definitely issues that come to light that are not pretty. Frankly, they are traits that Rebecca is not attracted to and does not like at all.”
Of course, no one knows Jack better than Milo Ventimiglia, and in a recent interview with E! News the actor said his character doesn’t like change, so the revelation that his wife is about to hit the road for a five-city tour with an ex-boyfriend doesn’t sit with him very well.
“Having a routine of so many years, of having the kids and just the possible repetitive nature of things, he enjoys it,” the This Is Us star told E! “He loves it…Again, I always go back to Jack feels like a very simple person…very black and white.”
Milo added that when Jack’s wife informs him that he held her back from her singing career for the past 16 years, it triggers something in him. Ventimiglia also revealed that after the Pearsons’ V-Day blowout, Jack left the house knowing he was going to have a drink.
Take a look at the video below to see the explosive This Is Us scene.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]