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It's been more than a week since "This Is Us" aired its first-season finale, and I've been brooding about it ever since.

(Details from that episode are discussed below, so this is a SPOILER ALERT — albeit for a show that aired more than a week ago.)

Big things were expected for Episode 18, and they didn't happen. We got background on the relationship between Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore), but we didn't find out how Jack died. And that had clearly been implied by NBC promos.

We're used to "This Is Us" making us cry. We're not used to it making us mad.

To be clear, we've known that Jack died young, and we've been waiting to find out how. At this point, it feels very much like we're being strung along.

It's not as if the show was perfect. There have been underdeveloped storylines and characters, and unrealistic flights of fancy.

Kevin (Justin Hartley) resolving his romantic quandary by choosing neither of the women he was involved with — and abruptly deciding to try to win back the ex-wife, Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge), we didn't know he had — was creator/executive producer/writer Dan Fogelman and his team choosing shock over believability. And, looking back, it foretold how the season finale would border on bait-and-switch.

Yes, we got our hopes too high. But part of the blame goes to NBC, which clearly (and falsely) implied that the episode would reveal how Jack died.

Fogelman and Co. did that well enough on their own.

In Episode 17, we learned that present-day Kate (Chrissy Metz) blames herself for her father's death. We saw teen Kate urge Jack to drive to Cleveland to make up with Rebecca — and we saw Jack driving drunk, which also featured prominently in the promos for Episode 18.

But Jack made it to Cleveland, and Rebecca drove them back to Pittsburgh without incident.

I wasn't convinced Jack would die driving drunk, because it seemed a bit too obvious. Others were sold — Glamour magazine wrote "How Jack died is becoming painfully obvious," pointing to a drunk-driving accident.

We were being strung along.

There's a fine line between extending a story and teasing the audience — and, in this case, "This Is Us" crossed that line.

The show won hearts by unveiling plot twists as it switched between present-day and past narratives. The failure to tell us how Jack dies broke faith with the audience by breaking its own storytelling mold.

The finale aside, I still believe "This Is Us" is the best new show of this TV season. But there's a big difference between surprising viewers and deliberately deceiving them.

Manipulating the audience is unworthy of "This Is Us." I remain a big fan, and I'm anxious to see where Season 2 takes us.

But if this is where "This Is Us" is headed, I'm not really interested in going along.

Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.