You somehow made it through William’s passing, and now your tear ducts are being called to action again. Indeed, Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) is going to die. Soon. Like, in-the-next-episode soon. Certainly, losing two beloved characters on This Is Us is a bunch to handle, but once you make it past this tragedy that’s been a year in the making, you can safely put the Grim Reaper in the rear mirror.
Or maybe now you’re nervous that another Pearson will come to pass.
Some fans of the heartfelt NBC drama were wondering that after witnessing a moment between Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Kevin (Justin Hartley) in Tuesday’s episode. The scene plucked a few heartstrings as Randall lamented to his brother that their father “has already been gone longer than we had him.”
But the scene also carried a vaguely unsettling if foreboding feel: Randall explained to Kevin that he can’t picture himself as an old man, and Kevin assured his brother, “[Y]ou’re not going anywhere anytime soon, right?… You got your health, you got a beautiful family… You got a tough-as-nails, kick-ass wife who literally will not let you die on her. You’re not going anywhere.”
After hearing that you’re-going-to-live-a-long-time point hammered in, some fans expressed… concern. A few examples from Twitter:
Yes, yes, yes, it’s extremely unlikely that the show would actually off a third main character. And the invaluable Sterling K. Brown and his ever-growing Santa-size sack of awards aren’t going anywhere. And no, this certainly isn’t Crock-Pot levels of fear. But maybe it’s worth asking This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman if he could just triple-reassure fans that Randall is not in any way marked for early death.
“Listen, I can’t reassure anybody of anything,” Fogelman told EW.
Wait! Don’t worry, it gets better. “I can assure everybody that we’re not killing Randall this season, so everybody can relax,” he continues with a laugh. “I think they would burn my house down. I’ve experienced with a lot of friends, when you’ve lost a parent, particularly for whatever reason a parent of the same sex —a guy losing his father or a girl losing her mother early — there can be a slight mortality clock that kicks in a bit earlier than it does on other people, especially since it was formative. And I think that’s something Randall and Kevin feel.”
And for what it’s worth, Fogelman actually has a bit of a different read on that moment. “Watching that scene between Randall and Kevin, the hairs on my arms go up more for Kevin, how assuredly he talks to Randall about how you’re never gonna die but doesn’t say anything about himself,” he says. “We’re not [hinting at] anybody’s death, but it’s always interesting the way that people view their own mortality.”
So, in conclusion, Randall — and Kevin — you’re off the hook. But if there were a hook, Kevin, it sounds like you’re a little more on it than Randall.
For more from Fogelman on that fiery cliffhanger and what to expect in the post-Super Bowl episode on Feb. 4, click here.
To read hints about Jack’s death from Ventimiglia, who calls it an “absolute soul-crushing event,” click here.