Jack and Nicky Pearson have an unbreakable bond. Jack’s brother entered the picture on the Oct. 16 episode of ‘This Is Us,’ and the cruel twist of fate he suffered was just devastating.
When the Oct. 16 episode of This Is Us begins, Jack is in Vietnam. It’s 1971 and the Pearson patriarch has found his brother. Three weeks earlier, Jack is in the thick of the Vietnam forest. Jack, a staff sergeant, only has 90 more days left before he’s done.
At night, a horrible gunfight ensues. His friend Don’s leg is blown right off. Don begs Jack to give him his foot. Yes, really. Jack holds him through the pain. There’s a moment when Don holds Jack’s face just like he will eventually hold Randall”s. Later, Jack learns Nicky is in a little bit of trouble. He asks his superior for 24 hours to go see his little brother.
Fourteen months earlier, Jack and Nicky’s mom get a letter from Nicky. “I’m not getting out of here alive,” Nicky writes, “I know it.” He says he’s “living in hell on Earth.” Nicky is taking pills to deal with his pain — both internal and external. “I hope to see you again, wherever that may be,” Nicky says. It’s almost like this is his goodbye letter. One year before his letter, Nicky awaits the results of the draft. He is terrified he’s going to get called to serve. Jack, Nicky’s “own personal Superman,” tries to calm his brother’s fears. Jack says he had a plan to get Nicky out of the country. On the night of the draft lottery, the brothers go out to a bar. Nicky has a bad feeling, and his instinct is right. His birthday, October 18, is called right at the beginning of the lottery.
When Nicky and Jack get home, their father says to Nicky, “Make me proud, son.” The. brothers head out on a hunting trip. Nicky thinks his father will never speak to him again if he leaves. The next morning, Nicky is nowhere to be found.
Jack has always been Nicky’s protector, ever since the day he was born. Nicky was almost born on October 19. If he had been, he never would have had to go to war. “Big brothers look out for their little brothers,” Jack and Nicky’s dad says to young Jack. “It’s their only job. It’s the only thing that matters.”
Jack goes to the doctor to get released for duty. The doctor says that Jack has a legitimate reason not to volunteer for the war — an irregular heartbeat. “I just need to be where he is,” Jack says about his brother. Jack volunteers for the war, despite the dangers.
The episode ends with Jack walking up to his little brother in Vietnam. Nicky is unrecognizable with his shaved head and skinny frame. What has happened to Nicky while Jack has been at home? Will Jack be able to save Nicky?! (I’m one of this fans who doesn’t think he’s dead. I won’t believe until I see it!)