[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Tuesday's episode of This Is Us. Read at your own risk!]
If you thought you were done crying over Jack's (Milo Ventimiglia) death after last week's This Is Us, think again. Fans may already know why Jack isn't in the present timeline of the show, but Episode 6, "Career Days," served to prove that Jack Pearson is currently the best dad on television, which makes knowing he's going to pass away that much harder to take.
While "The Pool" focused on Jack and Rebecca's (Mandy Moore) relationship with all three kids, this episode focused on Jack and Randall (Sterling K. Brown). Jack has a fear that Randall feels like he stands out too much already, being the only black kid not only in his family but in his entire social circle. He's in danger of feeling even more secluded when Jack and Rebecca are informed that Randall is academically gifted and gets a recommendation to attend an even more predominantly white private school where his talents can be properly fostered.
Randall's situation brings up Jack's own fears that he'll spend his entire life stuck at a cubicle — a life he doesn't want for any of his children. However, when Jack witnesses firsthand how smart Randall really is, he realizes he can't let his own fears hold his child back. Jack puts starting his own business ("Big Three Homes," sob) on the back burner and takes a promotion to ensure that the Pearsons have enough money to pay for Randall's school. In the present, we see that choice has allowed Randall to grow up into a confident man who loves his math-centric job and wears a tie to work because he wants to, not because he has to like Jack did.
This is Jack Pearson at a 12, topping Rebecca's parenting scale to ensure that his children have the best life they could want. The episode didn't give us much insight into exactly how Jack died yet, but it did show how deeply his death must have impacted his kids and gave the audience even more reason to mourn as they saw the lengths he was willing to go to for the Big Three.
The emotional pull of the episode also helps to push past the need to get the answer to the mystery. In a lot of ways, finding out the emotional weight of Jack's death will only amplify the power of the audience finding out exactly how he died. We can see how Jack's influence shaped Randall's growing up and how he treats his own family. We know that Kevin (Justin Hartley) didn't eat for a month after Jack passed away and we know that Jack is the one person who has always believed in Kate (Chrissy Metz).
We know we're going to have to say goodbye to Jack eventually — and will need a Costco container worth of Kleenex when we do — but we sincerely hope he makes it out of the cubicle and that he gets to see the amazing people he helped raise into adults.
Other important notes from "Career Days"
- We know that Jack died "a long time ago," and Kevin threw away all of the model planes they worked on together in protest.
- Kevin slept with his co-star in the play, but it turned out she only had sex with him to help him engage emotionally with the script. Ouch.
- Kate and Rebecca "barely speak" because Kate took out her own weight struggles on her mother because Rebecca was always thin. This feels like a tragedy.
- Randall is going through a mid-life crisis, "but just a little one." He is taking piano lessons and has a recital in the spring, which we can only pray gets shown later in the season.
- Randall "trades weather," but still no one really understands what that means. He has a cool office chair, though.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.