It was established in Tuesday's episode that the Pearson patriarch is dead in the present day, with his ashes in the golden urn on the mantle in Kate’s home. As it turns out, the first five episodes of the NBC family drama have actually provided major hints at his fate -- and some were right under our nose.
ET has compiled a list of the clues from the first five episodes that we should have kept in mind.
In the opening scene of the series, Jack is in his birthday suit (aka butt-naked) and ready to celebrate his 36th birthday with his uber-pregnant wife, Rebecca. When he requests his birthday dance, she jokes, “Your funeral.” After he chuckles following her not-so-sexy routine, she says, “I will gag you dead with that towel.”
Clue No. 2: The Man-ny Moment
Deeply frustrated by the lack of substance in The Man-ny scripts, Kevin turns a comedic moment with his TV father (Alan Thicke) into a dramatic one, prompting the audience (and Thicke) to applaud after the scene ends. In the scene, Kevin’s character has unfinished business with his dad, who has been in and out of his life for the 30 years. Though it’s a fictional moment for the show, it’s clear from the way Kevin plays it that there may be unresolved emotions about his own relationship with his father, Jack, which, as we discover later, may not have been in the best place when he was alive.
After Jack finds out the devastating news that they lost one of the triplets, Dr. K (who himself is a widower -- foreshadowing?) wisely guides the heartbroken new father with a beautiful speech about turning the sourest lemons into lemonade. It’s this telling line, however, that brings added meaning once we learn what happened to Jack: “I’d like to think that maybe one day you’ll be an old man like me, talking a younger man’s ear off explaining to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned into something resembling lemonade.”
Clue No. 4: The Chat With William
Randall talks to his biological father, William, about his adoptive family. William says to Randall at one point in the conversation, “Your dad must have been very proud of you.” That’s a line that seems innocent enough, but it’s the way Randall reacts -- not correcting him, taking off his glasses and wiping away a tear -- that serves as a major clue.
Clue No. 5: The Twins Reflect
Kate drops a line to Kevin after he has his on-set meltdown on The Man-ny that’s as telling as William’s remark. “Do you remember what Dad used to say when something crappy would happen to us?” she says in almost a reflective way, before they reiterate the lemonade speech.
Randall spends the entire episode trying to get William to a doctor’s appointment for his Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, but it’s his desperation in getting his dying biological father to try and hear another opinion that speaks volumes. (Randall’s desperation continues on through to the third episode.) Why else would he be so dead-set on trotting William around if he didn’t already go through a similar situation with Jack?
Clue No. 7: The Phone Call
At a Hollywood party, Kevin calls Randall for advice after reaching a crossroads in his professional life, asking him if he should continue selling his soul on The Man-ny or if he should suffer the repercussions and move on. Randall initiates their “Big Three” mantra from childhood that Jack regularly said as a mode of inspiration. Though subtle, Kevin and Randall share a moment of fond reflection on the cheer their dad used to lead, their eyes welling up.
After apologizing to Rebecca for his drinking and not pulling his weight as a parent, Jack gifts his wife a moon necklace. Upon receiving the piece of jewelry, Rebecca says, “I’m never going to take it off.” Sure enough, she hasn’t, as it’s revealed that Rebecca is still wearing the moon necklace in the present when she pays an unexpected visit to Randall’s home with Jack’s best friend, Miguel(!!). It would be a bit left of center for Rebecca to be wearing another man’s necklace if something tragic didn’t happen to Jack.
Rebecca and William have a prior relationship leading all the way back from that day at the hospital, but it’s Rebecca’s passionate and emotional plea to William that he “better be worth” all the effort, time and money Randall is putting into his cancer diagnosis that is particularly telling. Could this be because it’s a repeat of what Randall went through with Jack years prior?
Maybe Randall had an ounce of hope that there was a way to battle William’s Stage 4 cancer, but once the doctor gives him the news he’s dreading -- that there is no hope -- Randall physically and emotionally crumbles. It’s already tough enough losing one father, but two? When his wife, Beth, drops the unfortunate reality that they’re running out of time, it sure leads to endless possibilities on how (was it sudden? unexpected?) Jack died.
Episode 4, “The Pool”
Clue No. 11: The Song
When 8-year-old Kevin nearly drowns in the deep end of the pool (and his parents are unaware), the song that plays over the moment, Alexi Murdoch’s melancholic ballad “Someday Soon,” is foreboding. “I love my father and I love him well, I hope to see him someday soon,” Murdoch croons, with the themes of loss and uncertainty of life running rampant throughout. The song also returns at the end of the episode, after Randall is told by William he’s doing “everything right.”
Rebecca spends the day reading Stephen King’s 1987 thriller novel, Misery. If you take a deeper look at the premise, it’s eye-opening. The protagonist, a successful author of a romance series, has an alcohol-addled drive (it’s no secret Jack had a drinking problem), resulting in a crash that leaves him seriously injured. Interestingly, the author in the story has killed off the main character in his latest novel, and the woman who saves his life, forces him to write a new book by bringing back the character from the dead to her liking. Hmm… The episode is uplifting, so it seems to set up trouble to come.
Episode 5, “The Game Plan”
Clue No. 13: The Sunday Ritual
Before Kate reveals the urn containing her father’s ashes to Toby, they have a conversation about her weekly tradition of watching the Pittsburgh Steelers “alone” (only, she’s not really alone). Toby makes a quip that her Sunday ritual “is sad.” She responds with, “Not to me.” Now we know why.
What other clues did you spot? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or tweeting us at @etnow!