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What does it all mean?
The This Is Us mystery gods have finally shown mercy on their audience and revealed what happened to Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) that caused his breakup with Rebecca (Mandy Moore). However, having one mystery solved means another must be started. While fans can feel at peace about Jack's fate, they now may have to be very worried about William (Ron Cephas Jones), which sets up another cycle of intense emotion.
We'll start with Jack. Episode 5, "The Game Plan," revealed that Jack passed away some time after 2006, which explains why he wasn't with Rebecca at the end of Episode 2. Kate (Chrissy Metz) was the one to drop the bittersweet truth bomb that Jack was no longer alive when she explained to Toby (Chris Sullivan) why she likes to watch the Steelers games by herself at home. She's not actually alone, she watches them with Jack's ashes which are stored in a golden urn on her mantle.
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The reveal that Jack is dead in the present timeline resolves why we haven't seen him with his adult kids until now, but it doesn't answer everything. How did he die and exactly when did it happen? Were he and Rebecca still together when he died or did she leave him for Miguel (Jon Huertas)? Is there a chance that we'll see Jack with his kids at an earlier point in their adulthood so we can see what that mustache looks like with a few grey hairs?
Unfortunately, the questions about Jack weren't the only ones raised in the episode. The final moments of the hour, set to an empowering monologue about the meaning of life by Kevin (Justin Hartley), revealed Randall (Sterling K. Brown) solemnly packing up a box of William's belongings. It was a "blink and you'll miss it" sequence amid other present and past timeline scenes, making it hard to place exactly when the scene was taking place. However, the strong implication is that William is no longer with the family.
We know that William has a terminal illness, but was the scene foreshadowing an imminent death for what has become a fan-favorite character? It's doubtful that This Is Us would skip over such a pivotal scene as William's death entirely, leading us to believe the scene is from the near future rather than the present timeline. You could be optimistic and believe that maybe Randall was just packing up the things because William finally had a room of his own, but then why wouldn't he be moving his own stuff? The scene is perhaps instead a heads up that the most gut-wrenching and tear-inducing scene is heading our way, and we're not exactly ready for it.
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Jack was able to worm his way into the audience's heart from the very first episode, but it's been a slow build for William to endear himself to us. After a handful of episodes though, the concern for his welfare has not only built within his biological family but with the viewers at home. Planting a scene that implies the audience may lose him is a clever way for This Is Us to show exactly what William means to the show and its fans, and set them up for another emotional rollercoaster now that the biggest mystery of the show has been solved.
What did you think of the Jack reveal and William's possible fate?
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.