(Spoiler alert: Please don’t read ahead unless you’ve seen Tuesday’s episode of “This Is Us.”)
We haven’t even seen the Season 2 finale of “This Is Us” yet and already we know it will be the most emotional episode the series has ever aired. Why? Because the promo (featured above) promises us something completely different: an old and grey Jack Pearson.
As every fan of the NBC drama now knows, Jack died on the special post-Super Bowl episode in January. Our favorite Steelers fan went into sudden cardiac arrest due to smoke inhalation while being checked out for burns at the hospital, after saving his family (and the dog) from a house fire started by a very old Crock-Pot with a faulty switch. So this teaser shook up many a worldview when it aired after Tuesday’s episode.
In the brief clip, Jack is old, grey and not dead while standing next to his wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore) at their daughter Kate’s (Chrissy Metz) wedding to Toby (Chris Sullivan), asking her, “Where’d the time go, Bec?” So this begs the serious question: huh?
Here are our best possible explanations for why creator Dan Fogelman is taunting you with an elderly Jack Pearson.
1. It was all a dream.
One of the easiest possible answers, but definitely the most boring. Yes, of course the entire Pearson clan must regularly fantasize about having Jack alive and well and aging (gracefully, might we add) along with his family. And what better day to cook up a happy dream like this than a big wedding — or a season finale?
2. Alternate timelines.
What is this? “Westworld”? Well, no. But hear us out. The series isn’t of the sci-fi or supernatural nature, but it has been playing tricks on you since day one. Remember when your brain first exploded at the end of the pilot, as it was revealed how many storylines were at work here and how they were all connected? And remember how in a recent episode we shot into the future to see an old-man version of Randall (Sterling K. Brown) taking his grown-up daughter Tess for a bite after work? One of the best theories here is that the drama is deciding to show us what life would be like in another universe where Jack didn’t die. Of course it’s gonna make it harder to live in this cruel world, but them’s the breaks.
3. Someone is tripping out again.
Remember when Randall was mad at his mom for lying to him about his birth father for all those years, so he got really high at a cabin in the woods? Ya, it was a great episode, and not just because Brown plays an excellent stoned person. While he was taking his trip, Randall spoke with a vision of his father. However, that version of Jack was middle aged, just as he was when he died while the Big Three were teenagers. So is someone going to get baked at Kate and Toby’s wedding and hallucinate an elderly Jack? God we hope so.
4. Rebecca is dying.
If Rebecca is sick and about to pass on (and let’s be clear here, we don’t have any intel that says Moore’s character is in ill-health), she might be getting a little too close to the other side at the nuptials. That’s why she is able to see a vision of her dearly-departed husband. But we like this one about as much as a Crock-Pot. Don’t go into the light, Bec!
5. Jack isn’t actually dead.
How? How? HOW? Ya, this theory is really a stretch and even as we type it we don’t buy it. But when looking at Jack with his spectacles and salt and pepper goatee, you have to admit you are kinda hoping against hope there is some way Papa Pearson will kick this death thing and reunite with his beloved family. No offense, Miguel (Jon Huertas).
The Season 2 finale of “This Is Us” airs Tuesday, March 13 at 9 p.m. on NBC.