'This Is Us' Reveals Jack Knew His Brother Nicky Was Alive, So Why Did He Lie?
By Philiana Ng
Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Tuesday's winter premiere of This Is Us.
This Is Us didn't waste any time uncovering more of the Nicky Pearson mystery.
On Tuesday's winter return of This Is Us, titled "The Last Seven Weeks," Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Zoe (Melanie Liburd) took the game-changing information they received in Vietnam -- that Jack's younger brother, Nicky, presumed to have died as a casualty of war actually didn't -- with a new mission to accomplish: Find out where Nicky is, what Jack knew and what actually happened.
While we, the audience, have been armed with the information that Nicky is alive in the present day living in small-town Pennsylvania, at the start of the episode, Kevin hasn't come close to drawing that conclusion. By the end of the hour, however, he may finally be reaching that point of realization -- that a long-lost uncle he didn't even know was still around is just a plane ride away.
After a roller-coaster effort to try and obtain Nicky's records (a congressman Zoe broke up with over email once, begrudgingly ends up helping), whatever answers Kevin was hoping for must not have reached the lofty expectations he had.
"No real answers," he tells Zoe, disappointed by the lack of revelations after reviewing Nicky's records. All that he's come across is that Nicky "got medevaced in Vietnam in '71 and sent to Walter Reed for a psych eval." Nicky was "discharged a few months later" and signed his papers, "Clark Kent," the nickname Jack gave Nicky when they were younger (an endearing nod to his thick-rimmed glasses).
It's only discovered later when Zoe is rifling through a box of things that she comes across a postcard Nicky sent Jack -- not when they were younger, but well after Nicky had presumably died. "Jack," the postcard read. "Last one. - C.K."
That's when Kevin put two and two together, when he noticed the postcard was postmarked 1992, 17 years after the end of the Vietnam War, and the exact moment he knew Jack was well aware that Nicky was alive. He asked the question we've all been wondering since the fall finale, "My dad knew he was still alive. Why would he lie to us?"
Zoe pointed out the return address in Bradford, Pennsylvania, the same address we saw in the fall finale pointing to the current whereabouts to Uncle Nicky. "Do you think he's still there?" she asked, leading us to believe a road trip was next on Kevin and Zoe's list.
Interestingly, the episode flashed back to a pivotal moment last season between teen Randall (Niles Fitch) and Jack during their Washington, D.C., college trip, when they visited the Vietnam War Memorial. While we thought Jack got emotional at one spot on the wall because he saw his brother's name, Tuesday's episode confirmed that that wasn't the case.
Teen Randall asks his father in the previously unseen moment, "Are you sure you don't want to find your brother's name on the wall?" After a pause, Jack tellingly responds, "No, too sad for me."
Hartley hinted to ET at the Critics' Choice Awards in January that Kevin will meet his estranged uncle sooner rather than later, and their first meeting likely won't be a rosy affair.
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"He's gonna [meet him]. I mean, that's the thing, who's keeping that secret, right? We all know that's happening," he said, adding, "It's probably not going to be all rainbows and butterflies."
"Here's a guy who's lived in solitude his whole life, who we thought was dead, because we were told by our father -- who is dead -- that he was dead. And now it's like, 'Wait, he's not dead?'" Hartley explained. "So, should we be mad about that? Like, what's the deal? Like, why did you tell us he was deceased? There's a huge story behind all of that. [It's] a lot to process."
"I think it's very This Is Us," he said at the time. "Our show doesn't quite operate the same and we do have our family mysteries and history to discover, so I thought it fit very much with how the show usually works and at the same time, it asks so many questions of Jack. I think people at this point are really looking forward to knowing what happened, especially if his brother is still alive."
"Did Jack know that his brother died? Or thought his brother died? We don't know," Ventimiglia coyly added. "It's mystery on mystery but the discovery of that comes pretty quick. Shortly after, when we come back in January, we complete that story."