The much-anticipated but bummer event of This Is Us finally happened: Jack's tragic death, and the manner in which it happens, was finally addressed. For something so big, the series used its big post-Super Bowl slot to show it, but they also used the opportunity to go even bigger. This is This Is Us, and after revealing how Jack dies, the episode ends on a big twist: a flash-forward. Obviously, spoilers follow!
The whole episode sees the present-day Pearsons dealing with the 20th anniversary of Jack's death amid flashbacks to the sad day. Kate keeps re-watching the tape with her dad, Kevin visits his tree, and Randall is in a joyful mood, celebrating Super Bowl Sunday. Things go sideways when the new family pet gets out and squished (RIP Mr. McGiggles) and Tess retreats to her room, dejected. Randall has a heart-to-heart with her, where she admits to keeping the landline off its cradle because that's the line where they family would get calls to foster another child. Randall gets through to her and shares the kind of future he envisions for her, and Tess realizes that what her parents are doing as foster parents is actually great.
Then comes the big twist: the cutie-pie boy being prepped by a social worker during the episode is actually not the new foster kid coming to live with the family (that's actually Deja!): the social worker is Tess in the future.
We're tipped off when the young boy meets a couple we've never met — and then older Randall (Sterling K. Brown, you're rocking that aging makeup) shows up to meet Tess for lunch. Clearly, Randall's words that day touched her so much that Tess pursues a career working in foster care. It's a beautiful twist given her family's and father's experience, but it means much more than that in terms of the show. First of all, it's an homage to the pilot, where you meet Randall, Kate, Kevin, Rebecca, and Jack, but have no idea the timelines are 36 years apart until the final scene in the hospital, when its 1980s setting is revealed.
But more important is what this sets up for the future of the series: we've just opened a door to see the lives of future Randall, Kate, and Kevin. Will the rest of the season explore more of this? Will it be saved for the next season? And what other reveals will the flash-forwards have in store for us? It's actually a pretty exciting thing to explore with so much potential . . . plus we can't wait to see how everyone in the cast looks aged up!