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I’m Not Emotionally Prepared for Tonight's Episode of 'This Is Us'

Photograph by NBC

In case you missed it, Jack Pearson is dying tonight.

If you don’t know who that is, or why the whole thing is WAY more important than any football game, I’m not sure that we can be friends. I mean, yeah, sure, I’ll be watching the Super Bowl too. But the whole time, I’ll be counting down the minutes, hoping this silly game doesn’t go into overtime. Because as soon as it’s over, fans of "This is Us" will finally find out what actually happened to rip Jack from his children’s lives when they were far too young to have to say goodbye.

For the record, I don’t think it’s going to have anything to do with him running into a Crock-Pot fire to save Kate’s dog.

I'm the first to admit I'm emotionally invested in the Pearsons' story. For one, as a mom through adoption, I deeply appreciate how honestly this show has depicted the complications that can surround that journey. Things most people never even think about have come to light for a general audience because of "This is Us."

So, yeah, I've cried my fair share of tears purely because of how intimately I can relate to how Rebecca navigates some of those additional adoption complications. She's a mother who loves her child fiercely, but who doesn't always make the right choices simply because she doesn't always know any better. There can be a lot of feelings (guilt , fear and jealousy) tied up in adoption that aren't as prevalent otherwise. No other mainstream television show or movie has ever done such an amazing job of portraying how those feelings can play out for an adoptive mother.

That was how the show hooked me. But then, like so many viewers, I also found myself falling in love with each and every one of these characters. Becoming invested in Rebecca and Jack's love story. Seeing that same love story in Kate and Toby. Rooting for Kevin to stop screwing everything up. Wanting Randall to find all the answers he's looking for.

Even though I've known it was coming all along, witnessing the death of one of these characters I've come to know and love is sure to be devastating.

This show is going to pull a move that once again has us shocked by how it all turns out.

The show normally airs on Tuesday nights, but this year, they landed the coveted post-Super Bowl spot for the episode viewers have been waiting for since early on in season one. It works out kind of perfectly, as on the show Jack supposedly died after the 1998 Super Bowl.

That’s right, the creators of this show are so brilliant that they timed the airing of his fictional death to happen exactly 20 Super Bowls after it supposedly occurred. (That’s exactly why I don’t think Jack dies running into the fire to save Kate’s dog. The creators are too crafty for that.)

However, that’s the prevailing theory. Kate has a lot of guilt over her dad’s death and it was revealed to us last week that she has some grief issues tied up in owning a dog. Plus, that fire. We all saw that fire start. It definitely looked deadly.

But this show has been masterful about tricking its audience right from the very beginning, when we all spent the entire first episode thinking we were simply watching a show about unrelated adults who shared the same birthday. I think they're about to trick us again.

This show is probably going to pull a move that once again has us shocked by how it all turns out. Once we know what happens, we’ll also know the answers were there all along. We’ll know the writers just managed to once again brilliantly misdirect us right up to the final reveal. It’s one of the many reasons this show is so addictive, and I don’t expect them to disappoint tonight.

But whatever answers we learn, Milo Ventimiglia, the actor who plays Jack Pearson, recently told Entertainment Weekly that the character’s death would be “absolutely soul-crushing” to viewers. So, yeah, we’ve all got that to look forward to.

I know I’m going to be a mess. I also know that if you’re reading this, you’re probably going to be a mess, too.

Yet, we’re all still going to be tuning in as soon as this stupid football game ends. Because we have to know. Even if it destroys us!

Let's just make sure to stock up on those tissues.

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