'This Is Us' finale isn't about Jack's death — it's about how he met Rebecca

NBC

Season one of This Is Us came to a close Tuesday night, and as expected it didn't reveal how Jack Pearson died. However, it did shed some light on Rebecca and Jack's love story — and it's bigger than any of us expected.

The drive to Cleveland

Episode 18 reveals if Jack made it to Cleveland.  Giphy

Episode 18 begins with Jack making it to Rebecca's show in Cleveland — but that doesn't mean that things are okay. He was drinking on the road, and continues to drink when he gets inside the venue. Rebecca's not doing any better. She's nervous about performing in front of such a big crowd, and her bandmate (and ex-boyfriend) Ben tries to comfort her. He thinks that what she's looking for is a kiss, but that's the last thing she wants. Upset by his advances, Rebecca flees backstage. The problem is that Jack is too busy ordering another drink to see her. All she wants is to talk to her husband, but no one is home when she calls the house.

Pre-relationship Jack and Rebecca

As Rebecca and Jack unravel, the finale of This Is Us cuts to a flashback where we see a young Jack — recently back from the Vietnam War — fixing a woman's 1967 Chevelle. All she can pay him is $5, but she offers to set him up with her best friend's granddaughter. Jack's not interested, but he can't refuse her.

What Jack really wants is to open up his own mechanic shop with his friend Darryl. The problem is that he lives at home with his mother and abusive father and can't land a full-time job. Darryl is in the same boat, so Jack decides to try his luck at a high-stakes game of cards. He ends up winning the first hand — a whopping $1,500 — but he doesn't get to leave with it. After refusing to play another round, two guys beat Jack up, steal his money and threaten to kill him if he ever shows his face again.

Meanwhile, a young Rebecca is feeling the heat from her two closest friends. One of them is getting married and the other one is pregnant. They want to be supportive, but they don't think that her singing career is going to go anywhere. After getting a rejection letter from another label, Rebecca decides to go on a blind date.

True feelings come out

Back at Rebecca's gig in Cleveland, Jack knocks back a couple of drinks at the bar before going to search for his wife backstage. He doesn't find her — but he does come across Ben. Realizing that Jack is drunk, Ben tries to keep the situation under control by telling him that it's a "big night for us." That's the last thing that Jack wants to hear, though. After Ben asks Jack not to "punish" Rebecca because he "crossed a line," Jack throws some punches at his wife's ex. That just so happens to be the exact moment that she walks in.

Although Rebecca has been looking forward to the tour for some time, she decides to leave the band and drive Jack home. "It's over, Ben," she tells her ex before leaving. That doesn't mean that she's on Team Jack. They have a brutally silent two-hour drive home and then explode when they reach their house.

Jack admits that he's been drinking for a few weeks, but denies being drunk around the kids. Things only get worse from there. Jack still believes that something was happening between Rebecca and Ben, and Rebecca doesn't feel like she has to respond. She thinks that the real problem here is that Jack doesn't want her to have a life. Jack is not seeing things the same way. While Rebecca sees herself as a housewife with no life, Jack believes that he's doing everything for the family. They end up yelling at each other before Rebecca breaks out the big guns.

"Next time you tell me you love me, make sure it's not out of habit," she tells him.

Rebecca wakes up the next morning hoping to find Jack outside their bedroom door, just like he was when they got into their last big fight when the kids were young. Jack's not there, though. Rebecca finds him on the couch and tells him that he should stay with Miguel to give them "some air."

While they both feel bad about what happened, they did mean what they said, and that's a big deal. But that doesn't mean that their relationship is over. Jack tells Rebecca that him moving out will only be a "blip" on the radar years down the line.

Jack leaves the house, but not before telling Rebecca that their love story is just getting started.

Bye for now, Jack.  Giphy

How Jack and Rebecca really met

Jack and Rebecca were destined to be together and their backstory reveals that. Yes, Jack and Rebecca were both set up on a blind date — but not with each other.

Jack skips his date in order to rob a bar. He thought that a nice guy could come out on top, but getting robbed after the poker game has him desperate. Meanwhile, Rebecca goes on her blind date and meets a man named Ethan who can't stop talking about "mergers and acquisitions." She realizes that Ethan's not the man for her and leaves him to go sing at a bar — the same bar that Jack's trying to rob. 

Darryl calls the bar, which is supposed to be Jack's opportunity to rob the open register. However, he becomes enthralled by Rebecca, who is singing a song called "Moonshadow," and decides not to steal the money. The rest is history.

Kate, Kevin and Randall

Kate, Kevin and Randall had limited screen time in the season one finale of This Is Us, but the episode still delivered some major developments for the Big Three. Kate reveals to Toby that she wants to pursue a career as a singer. Kevin takes a meeting with Ron Howard about his new movie, and Randall tells Beth that he wants to adopt.

Mic has ongoing This Is Us coverage. Follow the main This Is Us hub here