‘This Is Us’ Recap: What Randall’s Breakdown Tells Us About Jack’s Death


Did ‘This Is Us’ just show its cards regarding Jack’s death? As Randall breaks down under pressure, new theories emerge about the Pearson patriarch’s passing.

More from NBC

The internet’s favorite pastime these days deals in theorizing about Jack’s death on This Is Us. And with three episode remaining until the season, we’re approaching critical territory. Will we find out how the Pearson patriarch passed before Season 2? If Kate’s tease and Randall’s terrifying albeit emotionally loaded breakdown offer any suggestions, we can expect the tragic answer in the final three hours. While Randall cracks under the heavy pressures at home, Jack and Rebecca exchange heated words over the secret hidden in her decision to go on tour. Is this the beginning of the end for the Pearson household as we know it?

Fair warning: The following recap features no holds barred spoilers. If you haven’t yet watched the latest episode of This Is Us, circle back to this recap once you’ve shielded yourself from the shots fired between Jack and Rebecca. Now, for those of us still begging Kate to tell us how Jack dies, let’s sort out this episode together. Like always, consider these recaps your weekly post-This Is Us support group. We’re going to need them.

Kate opens up to Toby… almost.

So close, yet so far. After realizing they don’t know much about each other despite planning a summer wedding, Kate and Toby strike up a game of deep 20 Questions. All of this, might I add, erupts due to Toby’s insecurities regarding Duke, who Kate does not sleep with. Rather, she confronts him for momentarily clouding her perception of herself, which gets her kicked out of the weight loss retreat because his parents own the place. All’s well that ends well.

Anyway, Kate and Toby talk about surface-level interests, then dig into the meaty stuff like his depression and her father’s death. She still can’t find the strength to open up about Jack’s death, even though she holds the answers and we were this close to the truth. But as Kate and Toby complained about their relationship and decided to slow down their pacing, I couldn’t help but wonder if we’ll ever explore Kate’s career aspirations or any additional aspect of her life again.

Photo Credit: This Is Us/NBC, Acquired From NBCUniversal Media Village

Jack and Rebecca drown in guilt and jealousy.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t equate the joy of candy hearts and a dozen roses at the Pearson compound, especially since Rebecca’s plotting her escape on tour. She makes a list of reminders for Jack while she’s away, but he reminds her that he doesn’t need them. He also vents to Miguel about Rebecca’s tour, saying the phrase “Who does she think she is?” Excuse me while I go scream into a pillow.

The guilt of leaving weighs on Rebecca when she learns 15-year-old Kevin is having sex with Sophie, Randall’s having panic attacks over Hamlet papers (foreshadowing), and Kate has become too liberal with the eyeliner. How could she leave? And how could she leave out the small detail that she and Ben were once an item for a hot, two-month minute? Jack characteristically hits the roof and our This Is Us OTP sling fiery words at each other. He eats alone at their planned dinner and has a drink. A drink! Could his return to drinking hint at his death?

Photo Credit: This Is Us/NBC, Acquired From NBCUniversal Media Village

Kevin doesn’t not like Miguel.

As if he heard me calling out his privilege in last week’s episode recap, Kevin cleaned up his act this week—mostly. Aside from his hilariously specific nightmare about Katie Couric also calling out his “vapid pretty boy” privilege (kind of offended the dream’s not me slandering his character on the internet, but okay), Kevin channels his nerves for his play into showing up when his brother needs him. However, there’s a but and we’ll get there.

Hoping to talk artist to artist with his mother, Kevin instead endures a meeting with Miguel. He begrudgingly talks his jitters out with his stepdad, who tells Kevin he’s reminiscent of Jack. The Jack comparison calms Kevin down and inspires him to admit he doesn’t hate Miguel. (Is there more to Kevin’s hatred besides the obvious?) Kevin later bails on his play to run to Randall’s side, which brings us to the double-edged sword: How self-important can you be to assume abandoning a two-person play is okay? Of course, though, he needed to be there for his brother since he wasn’t in the past.

Next: 'This Is Us': Why Rebecca Should Go On Tour (Besides Hearing Mandy Moore Sing)

Randall hits rock bottom.

Even while going out for a jog, Randall can’t shake the stress that has been building for months. On top of William’s declining health and work troubles, Beth leaves town to visit her mother. His hands begin to shake and his focus wanes from his tasks with the mounting emotional pressure. In Jack and Rebecca’s story, we see Randall has been experiencing anxiety since he was at least a teenager. Why was his anxiety left unresolved when he later goes blind from an attack?

Kevin visits Randall at work and notices he’s not running on all cylinders. When he confronts William about firing his hospice nurse, we see just how dissociated Randall has become, and it’s frightening. Randall fails during a presentation and calls Kevin to cancel on his play. But Kevin runs to his brother’s side, and here’s what that means about their father’s death: Randall lost the person who talked him through his anxiety, the person who taught him to cope.

That’s why he hallucinated Jack while high on mushrooms and can’t handle mourning the loss of another father. Randall’s breakdown means Jack’s death tore through this family like a million bullets. Like Kevin, he’s Jack Pearson’s son and can make it through anything with poise.

Will the Big Three soon reconcile their feelings about their father’s death? Does Jack’s post-fight drink lead to his demise? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts and predictions for the final three episodes!

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.