Fans of This Is Us wept after Jack's death, but they get almost no time to recover before his funeral.
Two days after the big post-Super Bowl episode revealing the cause of Jack's (Milo Ventimiglia) death, a tragic heart attack due to smoke inhalation, the NBC family drama is back on its regular timeslot Tuesday, and the episode will be a tearjerker.
“I think that it’s more gut-wrenching than [the Super Bowl episode] because people knew what to expect,” Mandy Moore said to Entertainment Weekly. “They were like, ‘All right — this is it.’ You’re bracing for impact. You know that this is the episode where you get all the answers that you’ve been asking since the show started. [With 'Across the Border'], in typical This Is Us fashion, they’ve found a way to meld really beautiful stories from the past to highlight what an incredible example of a man and a father and a husband that Jack was in every sense. They highlight every one of his most winning attributes and couple that with us going through the steps of burying him — of saying goodbye to him.”
“It’s rip-your-heart-out sad." she added. "I thought when we were shooting that this was even more challenging, as an actor.”
Not all will be tragedy however, as the episode will see the return of fan-favorite Dr. K (Gerald McRaney), as Rebecca (Moore) and the children try to cope with the recent tragedy. The episode will also spend some time in flashbacks, exploring the Pearson family dynamics through the memory-filled history of the family's Grand Wagoneer.
“Jack stars in six one-act plays in the course of an hour of television, each with a different member of the family,” This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman said of the episode, serving as a reminder that despite the character's death, Ventimiglia will remain a series regular on the series.
Fogelman said that both episodes, "Super Bowl Sunday" and Across The Border," can be seen as one installment of the series.
“If you look at the episodes together as a whole, I find the end of the second episode to be so soaring and sweeping and strangely optimistic and hopeful and good and decent in the midst of this really bad thing that has happened,” he said to EW. “For me, it’s one of the most exciting things we’ve done on the show yet. When people think of the worst times of their lives, they’ll often point out or remember the beautiful moments, or the laughs, or the laughter through the tears that broke something open — and then the strength of the people who move forward. I think we really captured that.”
But Ventimiglia does warn that as beautiful as the episode is, it'll still lead to lots of crying.
“There is still another level of… pain,” Ventimiglia said. “The audience is going to experience living through the funeral of Jack, and living through what Rebecca and the kids are experiencing immediately after — partnered with the levity of this car that represents their family and what it meant to them to have it, how they got it, and where they went with it. God, it’s such a beautiful episode.”
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.