Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched the second season premiere of “This Is Us,” titled “A Father’s Advice.”
It’s been six months and 12 days since “This Is Us” ended its first season, and the wait was well worth it.
After a cliffhanger that saw Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) parting ways, the second season opened on the Big Three’s 37th birthday in the present day storyline and in the immediate aftermath of the Pearson parents’ blow-up in the past. And before episode’s end, the answer that had been looming over “This Is Us” viewers all last season was finally upon them: Jack Pearson, imperfect patriarch, seemingly perished in a fire. But series star Mandy Moore says “that’s just a piece of the full puzzle.”
Series creator and executive producer Dan Fogelman promises that all of the answers about how Jack died will be given this second season, however, he says they will come over the course of the full season. “They don’t know the details. Did he die in the fire? Did he get out of the fire? But we’re not misdirecting. He didn’t die four years later,” Fogelman says.
It was a plan he says he had in place since day one of the show, and the second season premiere was carefully crafted to reflect as such. “We flash forward to the day Jack died, and what you’re seeing there is the day and night and little pieces that come into play,” Fogelman says. “So you’re seeing a lot of things that will reveal themselves in the course of the season.”
The details of Jack’s family in that last scene — from Kate’s dog to Randall’s girlfriend to Kevin’s broken leg — are things that the second season will flash back to and explore the origins of to explain the events leading up to Jack’s untimely demise.
Although there is still a lot to answer, star Milo Ventimiglia says that having the answer of the “how” and “when” of Jack’s death “helps.” “It’s like a pressure valve release for a little bit,” Ventimiglia says.
The cracks in Jack’s seemingly perfect foundation deepened in the premiere episode, when Jack revealed to Rebecca (and the audience) that he does actually have a problem with alcohol. “There’s always a darker side to the light. The cracks are not cracks but deeper wounds and valleys. Now we get to see why he chooses to be good, why he chooses to fight for his wife and kids, even though sometimes the way in is wrong,” Ventimiglia says.
Honoring Jack has been important to the Pearson family on the show and the show itself since the early season 1 reveal that he passed away. This season, the show will continue that thread not only by diving deeper into the man himself but also through Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth’s (Susan Kelechi Watson) journey to take in an older kid. “It’s sort of like fulfilling the circle of life,” Brown says.
This season Kate (Chrissy Metz), on the other hand, will have a journey that more closely aligns her with her mother. “I think every little girl wants to be like her mom or looks up to her, and Kate never feels like she can fill the shoes of her mom,” Metz says. “And we’ll come to see how and why she feels that way. And neither of them or right or wrong, they’re just feeling their feelings.”
While the premiere saw Kate take a chance and audition for a wedding band, she learned she still had a lot of work to do to be up to par of the professionals who had been training since their teenage years. But Kate is determined to make her dream come true, and the second episode will see more singing from her and even a little from Rebecca, as well.
Meanwhile, Kevin’s (Justin Hartley) story diverges a bit from the sister with whom he has spent his whole life “walking side by side.”I think he’s getting the tools to become a man. He was kind of a man child when we found him, but now he’s getting closer to what his father wanted him to be, which is great,” Hartley says.
“This Is Us” season 2 airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m.