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All Your Questions About Nicky on This Is Us, Answered

Isaac Aptaker: Tim brought us the idea of grenade fishing, which was something he saw a lot of the guys do in his experience. So it didn’t feel like too big of a leap of the imagination to see how it could go terribly wrong.

Before we get to what happened in Vietnam, the episode starts with Kevin and Randall already having told Rebecca and Kate about Nicky. Talk about the decision not to show their immediate reaction to Nicky being alive.

IA: Oh, interesting. This has been so much Kevin’s story for the season; he’s been the one on this quest to reconnect with his father by learning about this part of his life, so it felt like he was front and center here and we could have him filling in the family as a catch up.

EB: But we’re definitely going to be delving into the reactions more, especially Rebecca’s as the season continues to play out.

Nicky had no idea that Jack died. For someone who wanted so badly to talk to his brother, why didn’t Nicky try to track him down again in the remaining six or seven years of Jack’s life?

EB: I think that interaction we see between the two of them was sort of the end of Nicky following Jack and sort of the progress of Jack’s life. I think it was obviously an extremely loaded and extremely painful interaction for the both of them, and I think there was something about learning about Jack’s life and the future that he went on to have that hurt so much that Nicky sort of let it go at that point.

IA: I don’t think Nicky was big on Facebook or anything. [Laughs] He’s not the kind of guy that is going to get that kind of news all that readily. He’d have to really seek it out, and like Elizabeth said, that was sort of the end point there of him wanting any answers.

You mean he’s not like Miguel where he’s finding people on social media?

IA: Yeah, I don’t think he has like 1,000 friends or anything. Maybe Nicky loves Instagram. [Laughs]

It makes sense that Jack didn’t want Nicky around his kids, but it’s still infuriating that he wouldn’t allow him to explain. Do you want viewers to be upset with Jack right now?

EB: I definitely think it’s OK to feel like it was a very complicated decision and to feel frustrated by him. He has a lot of really upstanding qualities, but he’s also human. He’s limited in some ways. I think we’ve seen there is a part of Jack that sees everything in black and white, and this part of his life exists in such a terrible gray area that for whatever reason it was just too painful for him to figure out how to make it work with his present day life. We tried to show that’s what’s interesting about Kevin making a different decision than his father and trying to do better as the next generation carrying on a piece of this story.

NBC/Ron Batzdorff

IA: I think that Kevin moment [at the end] shows that even though Jack may not have made the right decision in the moment, he was able to raise kids who do one better than him, which I think is the ultimate goal.

Right. Because it’s like, why drive all the way out there if you’re not going to hear what your brother has to say?

IA: Right, I think that’s fair. I think it also speaks to how Jack compartmentalizes his life. He’s not able as a person to reopen that chapter, and he doesn’t want to take in any new information because it was so painful; the only way he could function in the world was to bottle up and plow ahead.

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