Photo: C/O NBC
So, Jack has (had?) a brother, Nicky, and it’s all starting to make sense now—not that a father wanting his sons to get along doesn't always make sense, but now we are beginning to see why it’s so important to him. The episode, aptly titled ‘Brothers,’ reveals a little more about Jack's family history and how it is affecting how he raises his children.
Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) takes young Kevin (Parker Bates) and Randall (Lonnie Chavis) on an overnight camping trip. He has a mini outburst in the woods where he grabs Kevin and says, “He’s your brother, Kevin. You should be able to depend on each other more than anyone else, more than anyone else in the world.” Was he projecting his past on his sons? Is there a Nicky-related reason he's so hell-bent on making sure Kevin doesn’t let Randall down?
At the end of the episode, we see Jack pull out a photograph that shows him and Nicky (in a uniform that says “PEARSON” in block-stitched letters). The photo has clearly been buried in a box containing letters and army tags. Can we now assume that the tags we watched Jack place around Kevin’s neck in the hospital during the third episode were his uncle Nicky’s? There isn't enough evidence just yet, but we're hoping for more next week.
The Pearson lineage has been discussed at great length throughout the plot, but we've never heard about Jack's little bro. So, allow me to propose a theory: Jack let Nicky down at some point either before or during the war, and then Nicky died in battle. Jack began drinking as a result. Now, Kevin acts in a war movie, gets injured during a battle scene, and becomes addicted to Vicodin and/or alcohol. After all, Kate told us “He’s just like [Jack].”
Even though things are never what they seem on This Is Us, one thing is for sure: There is still so much more to learn about Jack's character before we lose him.