Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from the This Is Us episode “That’ll Be the Day” as well as the upcoming post-Super Bowl episode.
This Is Us fans should prepare for “a very heavy episode” when the show returns for its post-Super Bowl time slot on February 4. Viewers of the NBC drama were left with a major cliffhanger at the end of the most recent episode, “That’ll Be the Day.” The final moments of the show revealed the cause of the Pearson house fire—a Crockpot with a faulty switch—and the flames were raging up the staircase as the episode ended. Promos for the next This Is Us episode show Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) trying to save his family from the raging blaze.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman described the upcoming Super Bowl Sunday episode, which he wrote himself, as “alternately thrilling and brutally heartbreaking and sad,” as well as “surprising.” Fogelman also made one other promise to fans of the NBC family-themed drama:
“If you stick with it and can make it through it, it’s very rewarding.”
Fogelman revealed that when This Is Us picks up for the Super Bowl episode it will be unlike anything fans have seen on the show before. The showrunner described the pivotal house fire scene as “a big moment that’s like out of a movie,” but that viewers should look past the big stuff—”fires and heroism”— for the really small, unexpected moments as well.
The This Is Us showrunner also revealed that producers “spent a fortune” to produce the first 10 minutes of the episode that detail the Pearson house fire.
“We went into the middle of nowhere so nobody would see us, and we built our house,” the This Is Us creator told EW. “We brought in the people who had done Backdraft, and for you, as an audience member, it’s very hard to breathe. It’s extraordinary…. It’s fair to say that [Jack] goes out like he lived.”
Still, Jack’s cause of death may not be as clear-cut as it seems. Fogelman joked that the marketing campaign for the episode could be:
“If you think you know everything, you don’t know Jack.”
When directly asked if Jack Pearson dies in the fire, Fogelman was careful with his response.
“There’s a lot more to the picture,” the This Is Us creator said.
“We’ve seen the cause of the fire. In terms of what happens in the next hour of our television show, there are a lot of surprises, and I think the prism by which you view this family will completely shift on its axis.”
As for the widespread fan theory that Jack Pearson dies trying to save his daughter Kate’s dog, Fogelman admitted the dog does play a part in the upcoming episode.
“We didn’t shy from it,” Fogelman said of the dog storyline. “And then people have theorized, as they have before, that the dog plays a big part in her self-blame about the incident…We know that the dog plays a part — somehow.”
This Is Us fans have some definite theories about Jack’s death after viewing the “That’ll be the Day” episode.
Yep…Jack totally dies saving Kate’s dog in the fire. ???? #ThisIsUs
— Hollie (@tksashooter81) January 24, 2018
— Brittney Wright (@Brittwright28) January 24, 2018
Real talk, what if Jack didn't actually die in the fire, but heroically saved his family and then randomly got hit by an ambulance? #ThisIsUs
— Natalie Abrams (@NatalieAbrams) January 24, 2018
This Is Us Theory: Jack doesn't die in the fire, but in the days after
— Clare (@claresorokes) January 24, 2018
OMG YALL. THEY FORESHADOWED THE HELL OUT OF JACKS DEATH WITH RANDALL GOING TO SEE TITANIC – WHERE JACK DIES AT THE END – NOW JACK IS GONNA DIE ON THIS IS US…The caps are emphasizing how emotional I am at this point..
— Glen Coco (@brianljolly) January 24, 2018
In a separate interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Dan Fogelman said the episode, is one of the best This Is Us episodes to date.
“It’s very special,” he told THR. “I suspect the way it starts, the opening six minutes of it, it’s going to be hard for people to turn it off. Our director and actors did a tremendous job. It’s pretty spectacular and you can’t really breathe.”
As for This Is Us fans’ burning questions, Fogelman promised that all of the big questions regarding Jack’s cause of death, when he died, and why his daughter Kate still holds on to guilt about his death 20 years later, will be answered on February 4.
“Anything involving Jack’s death, you get those answers in this episode,” the This Is Us creator said.
The next episode of This Is Us airs after the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 4 on NBC.