Every moment of Kevin’s journey has led to this road trip. This week, the Big Three take a trip up north to find their long-lost uncle. This episode revealed a lot we didn’t know about the mysterious Uncle Nicky. And what we learned might change this family forever.
The Big Three Road Trip
After convincing Kate and Randall to go with him to find their long-lost uncle, Kevin sets out to complete the final leg of his long journey into his father’s past. The three siblings all feel understandably conflicted about this trip. They know their dad kept Nicky’s fate a secret for a reason. They just have no way of knowing what that reason is or if Jack would even want them to find out.
What’s interesting about this episode is that they chose to parallel their road trip with their dad’s. It turns out Jack knew Nicky was alive and even went to see him once.
Jack chose to turn his back on his brother. And even though he may have had a good reason to, his children still wanted to know why.
The Truth about Nicky Pearson
This is the episode where we finally learn what happened to Nicky in Vietnam. From the moment we found out about his existence, we assumed Nicky had died and that was why Jack never spoke of him. I think the truth about what happened turned out to be much darker than any of us could have anticipated.
We’ve gotten to know Nicky this season and I’m the first to admit he wasn’t exactly the most likable character. Especially when we compare him to superhero Jack Pearson.
However, this episode finally made him sympathetic.
The war in Vietnam seriously messed him up, but not everything is what it seems when it comes to Jack’s younger brother. Although he was very adamant about his hatred toward the war and the Vietnamese people, Nicky wasn’t the bad guy we’d perceived him to be.
We see that during a flashback to the day Jack decided to write him off for good.
Do you remember the boy Jack saved without Nicky’s help earlier this season? It turns out Nicky finally bonded with that same boy one morning. He took him fishing with grenades so they could catch their food more easily. But this led to tragedy because when a grenade fell inside the boat, Nicky jumped to safety and left the boy behind to die.
Assuming that Nicky had lured the boy to his death, Jack decided that enough was enough. Thinking his brother a lost cause, Nicky was sent away for a psych eval and discharged completely from his service.
Jack never really forgave his brother for that day, and he died not knowing it had been an accident. Just when you thought Jack’s story couldn’t get any sadder, right?
Jack’s Double Lives
Nicky tells the Big Three that their father lived two lives. The first was the one he chose to leave behind. That’s the one that Nicky fit into. The second was the life he built with Rebecca and the kids. He made sure that nothing from his past ever intersected with his new family and he did that for a good reason.
What’s sad is that Nicky understood why his brother turned his back on him. He even accepted it, choosing to live in exile.
As a viewer who’s loved the character of Jack from the beginning, it’s a little difficult to reconcile the two men. On the one hand, I never thought Jack would abandon his family. I always thought he could do no wrong. Now I’m seeing that wasn’t always the case. Jack wasn’t the superhero we all thought he was. He was just human. He was a very flawed human — but still human. And that’s okay. He feels more real now than he ever has.
Rebecca’s Conflicted Crisis
It’s one thing for Jack’s kids to find out that their dad wasn’t perfect. It’s another for Rebecca to accept that there is more to Jack than she ever knew. She’s always known he wasn’t perfect. She’d even like to think that she saw him at his worst. But that may not be true anymore.
And now she’s blaming herself for not trying to connect with that part of his life more. She spent her whole marriage in a bubble, never acknowledging that Jack had a difficult life before she came along. I think she’s finally ready to find out the truth about her late husband. I’m just not sure she’s ever going to be ready for the answers that are coming her way.
Kevin Breaks the Cycle
On the day Jack left to go see his brother, he gave Kevin a very important piece of advice. He told him that a son could either repeat his father’s mistakes or correct them. Remembering that conversation from over two decades earlier, Kevin finds himself at the same crossroads that his father contemplated once.
Jack had a choice to go back to Nicky after leaving him alone in the woods. He had a choice to help his brother. He chose to go home to his family instead.
Outside the same convenience store and on their way home, Kevin pauses and decides that he can’t leave his uncle alone anymore. The siblings drive back to the trailer where their uncle lives and find him with a gun, contemplating whether or not to pull the trigger.
Jack couldn’t save Nicky but maybe Kevin will. There’s still so much about Jack’s past that the family doesn’t even know and it seems like only Nicky could provide those answers.
- The family Skype call cracked me up.
- The Big Three’s road trip was the biggest highlight for me. I love those three together. We don’t see them onscreen as often as I’d like because Kate lives so far away.
- Randall’s pep talk to Beth was totally relationship goals.
- They made finally made me feel sorry for Nicky. I no longer hate him, I guess.
- That moment that Nicky found out Jack had died twenty years earlier broke my heart. He thought he had time to tell his brother what happened that day. It seems like he was hoping that Jack would return one day.
- I completely understand why Rebecca feels so conflicted but she really can’t blame herself for Jack keeping that part of his life a secret.
- Tess asking if her dad was going to bring Uncle Nicky home like Grandpa William because he does that. I can’t wait for the next episode because everyone will assume bringing Nicky back was Randall’s idea.
- This was totally the first part of a two parter. It ended so abruptly. I’m a little nervous about the second part when the rest of the family has to confront Jack’s past.
This Is Us will return Tuesday, Feb. 5th at their normal time for part two of ‘Songbird Road’. Check out the trailer for that here: