'This Is Us' Creator on What He'd Do Differently About Jack's Death Storyline

'This Is Us' Creator on What He'd Do Differently About Jack's Death Storyline

Though fans already know how Jack met his end on This Is Us, there were some things surrounding the mystery of the Pearson patriarch's death that should have been done differently, according to series creator Dan Fogelman.

Jack died from cardiac arrest caused by smoke inhalation hours after rescuing his family and dog from the burning house. 

"When I started to write this thing, in my mind's eye, there was a fire at the house, and the patriarch of the family heroically got the family out of the house, and then died in a really small way, without proper cinematic good-byes, hours later in a hospital by himself," Fogelman told EW . "So we were always writing towards that."

While it was intended for Jack to go out in that manner, the hype brought about by the circumstances surrounding his end was something unexpected. Kicking off with the scene in which Kate (Chrissy Metz) showed the urn containing her father's ashes to boyfriend Toby (Chris Sullivan), the mystery of Jack's death continued to play out over the season as Kate reveals to Toby that she's the reason he's dead. In the flashback, Jack calls teenage Kate from a payphone to tell her that she was right and that he needed to save his marriage before drunkenly driving off to seek out Rebecca.

"That was a head fake on our part," admitted Fogelman. "While I thought it was like, 'Oh, that's cool, interesting timing,' and people might think that's coming, I didn't realize the narrative around that moment would get so strong. If I could take back a moment, that's the moment I'd take back, just to have slowed the spread of our story."

"I think that we thought -- and I still continue to think --  that the big shock with the finale to people was going to be, 'Oh my god, this marriage is suffering! America's sweetest couple is in a state of disrepair and separation," said Fogelman, who acknowledges the fans' frustration over Jack and Rebecca's fight taking center stage in the season finale instead of addressing the cause of Jack's death. "I thought that was the big kind of twist or misdirect: This isn't about Jack's death; this is about something deeper and darker, which is: these two are on different pages."

Fogelman says he would have "changed the way we were messaging the big, big thing coming in the [finale], because we were referring to the separation." 

Having learned from what happened, Fogelman was more cautious in plotting future episodes. "We're talking about the third season now, and I'm really excited about that, because we can do things with Jack and learn things about Jack that we really can't with a lot of our other characters.... It's one of the things I'm most excited about -- where we go next in learning stuff about Jack. Which is ironic because the character just died in the most public way on national television," he said.

This Is Us returns February 27 at 9/8c on NBC.

(Image courtesy of NBC)

Tags: This Is Us

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