“Hey, little brother.”
This week This Is Us opted to tell a heavy, but necessary story about the other Pearson brother, Nicky.
And more importantly, the bond between Jack and Nicky and their time serving in the Vietnam war.
The season has been alluding to the storyline with Kevin’s heartbreaking realization that he doesn’t know much about his father’s time in the war.
The anticipation to it has been almost as intense as it was during season two when we early awaited to see the cause of Jack’s untimely death.
The writers didn’t roll out the timelines in a sequential order and though I found it a bit odd at first, I quickly realized that per usual, there is a method to it all.
Instead of a chronological order, the episode started with Jack’s tour in Vietnam, finding his brother, and then moved back in time to when Nicky was drafted, when they were children, and finally, to Nicky’s “lucky” birth.
The episode, arguably the strongest installment in this brief season, answered almost all of our lingering questions.
We didn’t find out fully why he refrained from talking about the war, but I’m guessing seeing his unit member’s leg being blown off, and subsequently ruining any chance at a professional football career upon returning home, would be one of them.
The other? The fact that the last scene of Jack finally arriving at Nicky’s station may have been the last time they ever saw each other. The war really did a number on him, but at least he “made his [father] proud.”
The backstory also reveals the reason behind Jack’s parental nature, a previously undisclosed heart condition that may have played a bigger role in the smoke inhalation that ultimately took his life, and a side of his father that we haven’t seen before.
All of these revelations will have profound effects on the rest of the storyline.
During This Is Us Season 3 Episode 3, Kevin reached out to one of his father’s war buddies, Mr. Robinson, to get some information about their time in the war.
Mr. Robinson will undoubtedly have only good things to say about his longtime friend.
The heart condition that kept Jack from being drafted in was tachycardia, an abnormally rapid heart rate, which, yes, could have contributed to the fatal heart attack.
It’s surprising that Jack’s condition was never brought up previously, however, I’m not surprised they ignored it and allowed him to enlist.
Like the doctor said, only a crazy person would want to volunteer for such a war, which also goes to show you that Jack wasn’t any regular brother. He truly was Superman.
We’ve known him only as Superman dad and Superman husband, but Superman brother is also a good look on him.
In a surprising twist, Stanley wasn’t always the monster we’ve seen him be throughout Jack’s adult life.
At least his mother wasn’t in complete denial when she told the boys “he wasn’t always like this.”
As we see when Nicky was born, his father was a doting husband, a loving dad who gave young Jack sound advice about being an older brother, and most importantly, a man who didn’t drink.
So what changed between then and a few years later where he resented his children, beat his wife and couldn’t be seen without an alcoholic beverage and a cigarette in tow?
Did he take an example from his disengaged and boozin’ father?
Did the pressure of providing for a family get to be too much?
It seemed like he got his dream of being a father to two boys, so why wasn’t he actually a father?
They always say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and though it might have been the case for Stanley and his father, it certainly wasn’t for him and Jack.
Jack may have picked up the drinking habits, but his caring, fatherly nature was honed when he was a Sarge and took care of his men in battle, and throughout his whole life when he came to Nicky’s defense and protected him.
- I’m ashamed to admit that this episode was a bit of a crash course in war terminology for me. I googled “Toe Popper” shortly before it was demonstrated on-screen.
- “Don’t you ever get tired of pretending you ain’t flat out scared.” Jack was always wise beyond his years and accepting of his fate.
- It wasn’t enough for the episode to deliver a moving story of brotherly love that carried them through the war, they also had to make you cry your eyes out with the scene of all the lucky kids born on 10/18. All those boys, as Stanley pointed out, were eventually drafted into that very gruesome and deadly war.
Are you satisfied with “Vietnam.”
We found out much about Jack’s time in the war and more about his family.
We’ve still to find out what ultimately led to Nicky’s death, but it’s very clear that neither of them were just “mechanics.”
I would say, they were two tough guys in disguise.