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Milo Ventimiglia, also known as Jack, shares his favorite part about the emotional ‘This is Us’ season finale.
USA TODAY

Where we left off on NBC’s This Is Us depends on when we left off. 

A distinctive feature of the popular NBC drama (returning Tuesday, 9 ET/PT) is its multiple timelines, which present the Pearson family at different stages in their lives. 

One major issue left hanging at the end of Season 1 is how and when Pearson patriarch Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), who is very much alive in past This Is Us timelines, dies before the present one.

Executive producer Dan Fogelman says viewers will get answers about his passing in Season 2. “The first episode has a big, giant piece of the puzzle,” he told TV critics in August.

Jack’s death hovers over the present, too, especially in the way it has shaped the lives of his wife, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and three adult children, Kate (Chrissy Metz), Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall (Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown).

“Jack’s death is the hinge upon which this family swings. It’s at the center of our show,  but also at the center of this television season, exploring that hinge and where relationships fracture, where they come together,” Fogelman tells USA TODAY.

One of the most moving scenes in the Season 1 finale — and that’s saying something for this tear-jerker series — was from a flashback story of a long-simmering disagreement between Jack and Rebecca that results in at least a temporary split.

The Season 2 premiere picks up the next day, after their separation, as Jack and Rebecca explain the disorienting family shakeup to their three teenage children.

In the present, This Is Us picks up a few months after the events of May’s finale,as the Pearson Big Three hit their 37th birthdays. Each is pursuing a dream revealed at the end of last season.

Kate is back in Los…