Warning: This article contains spoilers for the This Is Us episode “That’ll Be the Day.”
This Is Us fans found out why Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley) has so much guilt over the death of his father Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), but if he only knew what we knew. The This Is Us episode “That’ll Be the Day” dove head-on into Jack Pearson’s last day, a day that included a Broncos-Falcons Super Bowl, arguments with his kids, and a crockpot full of mostly uneaten chili. And plans for a future that he would never live to see.
While This Is Us fans were in breakdown mode by the time fire engulfed the Pearson kitchen due to the faulty crockpot (you can see the entire, gut-wrenching scene below), many viewers have focused on teen Kevin’s (Logan Shroyer) blowout argument with his dad right before he left the house to hang out with his girlfriend, Sophie.
Kevin, still stinging over the revelation that his college football career was done before it even started, lashed out at his parents when he got the news that Sophie got accepted to NYU. Kevin’s final words to his parents included the comment that he was supposed to be in the Super Bowl, not watching it like them. Teen Kevin didn’t want to be ordinary like his mom and dad. He left the house in a huff. But at least Kevin felt bad about the blowout later. He called his mom to ask her if Jack was mad but opted out of actually talking to him, saying he would just talk to him the next day.
As This Is Us viewers now know, Kevin never talked to his father again. But Jack, being the doting dad that he is, wrote a note to his Number One son shortly before heading off to bed.
“Kevin, if I don’t see you before work tomorrow, I love you. You owe us an apology. Dad.”
It’s safe to say Kevin never saw the letter. He stayed at Sophie’s house that night and the Pearson house caught fire hours after Jack taped the note to Kevin’s bedroom door.
After the episode aired, This Is Us Viewers were heartbroken over Jack’s final (and presumed unread) note to Kevin.
This Is Us fans already had an inkling Jack and Kevin weren’t in a good place when the Pearson patriarch died. In a previous interview with Variety, This Is Us star Justin Hartley revealed that Kevin never got any closure before his father’s sudden death and that he had a lot of guilt over losing the special necklace his father had given him shortly before he died.
“He never got any closure of his relationship with his father,” the This Is Us star said in November. “And you start to see what he was going through with his father when he died — and they weren’t in a good place. He carries that around with him, and I think that necklace that he wore was the promise of a better day.”
In This Is Us’ present-day scenes, Kevin had a list of people he needed to make amends to as part of his treatment plan for addiction. And while he never saw the note Jack left on his door 20 years ago, Kevin knew he owed his dad an apology. As Kevin looked at his list of people he owed apologies to, viewers saw him check off Charlotte, his old high school classmate whom he ghosted after their one-night stand, losing his beloved necklace in the process. Charlotte clearly received an apology letter from Kevin, and in response, she mailed him Jack’s lost necklace.
After Kevin checked off Charlotte and Sophie from his list (Sophie was a more ill-fated apology), he was left with only one name: “Dad.”
Somehow we think Jack would forgive him.
You can see Jack’s note and the gut-wrenching This Is Us fire scene below.
The next episode of This Is Us airs immediately following the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 4 on NBC.