This Is Us hero Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) did NOT die in the fire that destroyed the Pearson home, thanks to a some faulty Crock Pot wiring and the lack of a working smoke alarm. After saving his wife, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), and two of the three children at home, Randall and Kate, Jack went to the hospital where he was treated for some burns on his arm and smoke inhalation.

While Rebecca went to a pay phone to make hotel reservations for the family, various medical personnel at the nurses station were seen rushing off toward the examination room. Rebecca ordered a candy bar from a vending machine and turned to see the physician who treated Jack. His ashen face did all the talking but Rebecca didnt quite comprehend what he was sayingthat the smoke inhalation put pressure not only on Jacks lungs but also his heart. He died of a massive heart attack.

Still disbelieving what she had just been told, Rebecca, eating her candy bar, walked over to the examining room where, in the reflection in the glass partition behind her, we see Jacks lifeless body in the bed. It was one of the more restrained moments in this celebrated shows history. In its less successful second season, the producers have resorted to the occasion bathetic moment to drive home the point that Jacks death has had a long-lasting effect on the family.

Some of the plot elements, designed to pad out the hour following the Super Bowl, were simply silly. Why on earth would Randall (Sterling K. Brown), who is usually pretty smart, decide to throw a Super Bowl party for his daughters and their friends? Because his father loved the game and he DIED on Super Bowl Sunday. Note to show: its overkill.

And poor Kate (Chrissy Metz) nearly had her 19th nervous breakdown of the season when an electrical glitch prevented her watching a videotape of her and dear old dad. Her exasperated boyfriend Toby tried his best to fix the problem and she turned on him and said, Let me beat myself up on the day my father died.

The supposition is that had Jack not gone back into the inferno to save Kates dog 20 FREAKING YEARS AGO, he would still be with them, rooting for his favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The shows tendency to turn potentially tender moments into melodrama indicate some problems with long-range planning in the writers room. Its only an 18-episode season. Must each one of them focus so much on death? Season 1 was all about the relationship between Randall and his biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones). Jacks death was still a mystery, teased out over several episodes that left many viewers frustrated. As we near the shows second season, the writers have finally resolved Jacks story but where does the show go from here? It seems stuck.

That said, the episode seems designed to win an Emmy for Ventimiglia, a much admired leading man who set the tone for the show. Good luck to him.