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This Is Us Exec Producer Says the Finale Will Be "Impactful and Upsetting"

Are we expecting the wrong collision?

Malcolm Venable

Thanks to mounting clues, it's sounding more and more like This Is Us' Season 1 finale may deal less with the ramifications of Jack's (Milo Ventimiglia) drunk driving and more with another devastating development: a big heartbreaking, rift in Jack and Rebecca's (Mandy Moore) relationship.

Of course, the cast and producers have been careful not to give too much away, but caught up with executive producer Ken Olin just hours ahead of the finale to get more insight on what the Pearson family faces.

"There will be a sense of major change that's coming," he said. "The finale will give you a sense we'll be dealing with a major [development] that affects the Pearson family." While that could certainly be interpreted as "dying in a crash," Olin instead paints a picture of what happens when the family meets a major hurdle. (And no, he said, Miguel (Jon Huertas) has nothing to do with it.)

This Is Us finale: Milo Ventimiglia warns we might not get all the answers about Jack's death

As we learned from a page in the script, Olin said the focus tonight is primarily on the beginning of Jack and Rebecca's relationship and then "a point in their life that significantly changes" things. Knowing that we'll see Jack -- someone who's been to Vietnam and is the son of an abusive father -- drunk and on his way to have a forced conversation with his wife, it's probable that the collision we're expecting won't take place on the road.

"As we continue to investigate his character and illuminate some of things that haunt him and his background, some of of these things will be explored," Olin said. "There's no question this person was devoted to his family," yet he's idealized family life, which has made him set up the way things are supposed to go in his mind. Jack finds himself torn between the person he wants to be and the person he is, making for a situation that sounds like an alcohol-soaked fuse ready to be lit.

Rebecca, meanwhile, is what Olin called a very complicated character. "She's not always easily satisfied. She represents women of that period -- they were caught between their mothers' lives and the imperative to have their own lives," as a result of new social values that arose in their generation. "That's a real conflict," Olin said.

This Is Us' Season finale reveals how Jack and Rebecca met

Naturally, Olin knows the big question on everybody's mind is "How did Jack die?" -- a question that, as of now, would likely take skilled hackers to crack. What we do know is this: "It's a really impactful and upsetting episode," Olin said, "because people are really attached to these characters."

This is Us' Season 1 finale airs Tuesday, March 14 at 9/8c on NBC.