Wednesday, January 23, 2019

This Is Us 3.11: “Songbird Road: Part One”

“Your father saw things in black and white, never shades of gray.”
- Nicky

After waiting, we finally know what happened to Nicky and Jack in Vietnam after that explosion. We explore that incident as Jack and the Big Three make separate trips to see Nicky in Pennsylvania. We see that after the war, Jack would get post cards from Nicky and just stash them in a drawer at his office until one day he gets home from bringing the kids in from baseball practice and gets a post card at home. He lies to Rebecca, saying he needs to take a trip the next day for work but in reality, he’s going to see Nicky in his run-down trailer. It is rather sad, given that we see them as young boys and Nicky wants to have two houses on a lake and a boat.

It is pretty clear that Jack doesn’t want anything to do with his baby brother at this point but he sticks around just long enough to let Nicky reminisce about their childhood a little. When Nicky tries to bring up the war, Jack shuts him down completely. He doesn’t want to talk about it or think about it again. I understand that the war was hard on Jack like it was for a lot of the men who served and I suppose knowing what we do now about what went down with Nicky his stance is understandable. In flashback we see Nicky wake up the morning after he was fake shooting people on the dock. The little boy whose foot he refused to bandage shows up and at first Nick is taunting him by eating a chocolate bar but then, the little boy takes Nicky’s glasses and they end up laughing and Nicky takes the boy out on a boat o catch fish. As soon as he started using grenades to stun the fish, I knew it was going to end poorly. Ultimately, he grabs one where the pin is stuck and then he wrestles with the little boy who tries to pick it up. Needless to say, the grenade goes off and the boy dies. Nicky dives overboard just beforehand. Jack obviously thinks Nicky did this on purpose and he exclaims that he’s done with Nicky. Given how shell-shocked Nicky is through this whole situation, I can see why he was sent to a psych hospital upon his return.

In the present, the Big Three head out to find their uncle, leaving Rebecca and Miguel to watch Randall and Beth’s girls (Beth has a bunch of job interviews). Rebecca is having a real hard time with the fact Jack lied about his brother. As we see throughout the episode, even when Jack got back and told her he in fact went to see someone from the war instead of work, she didn’t push for more information. Now, she regrets not pushing harder. Miguel gets rather eloquent about the whole thing saying that Rebecca and the kids were Jack’s light but she’s not buying it. I still love Jack and I think he sacrificed a lot for his family but he definitely has his faults. He isn’t the superhero we all thought him to be in season 1.

The Big Three make it to Nicky’s trailer and he’s an old man and just as crotchety. He lets them come in but he’s not really interested in talking to them. But then Kate refuses to leave because Kevin has been on this journey and she wants her brother to get answers. I thought he would have no clue about the Big Three but before Jack left, he showed his brother a picture of Rebecca and the kids. So at least Nicky knew he had nephews and a niece. But he didn’t know about Jack’s death. Randall drops that truth on him after Nicky explains about what happened back in Vietnam. I found it interesting his little reaction to Randall saying that Jack died of a heart attack from smoke inhalation after getting everyone else out. Because that is the Jack, he remembers I’m sure. The one who sacrifices himself for others. Nicky says he never got to tell Jack that the whole thing was an accident. So yeah, it’s understandable why Jack would think he knew what his brother did given his actions leading up to that point but he died having believed his brother was a lost cause. I went back and forth on feeling for Nicky in this episode. By episode’s end, Kevin recalls a conversation he had with Jack right before he left to go see Nicky when Jack explained that he could either repeat his father’s mistakes or correct them. Kevin has a feeling and they go back to the trailer to find Nicky sitting there with a gun. It seems that this time Kevin will be the one to bring home a long lost relative to try and save.

I thought Nicky had some good points about Jack. He is very segmented in his thinking and he compartmentalizes a lot. I also found it interesting that it seemed Jack took all of Nicky’s problems during the war as a personal failing of his. He couldn’t save his brother and so he just pretended like he was dead because it was easier than having to deal with the reality. It does make Jack more human which isn’t a bad thing but it is interesting to see the cracks in his person. He still has many great qualities as I said before but when it comes to his family especially, he acts like his past doesn’t matter and doesn’t need to be shared. Jack held onto and hid a lot of pain from his life from the people he should have been sharing it with and it has rippled through their lives for decades. I am intrigued to see how Rebecca reacts to meeting Nicky in the next episode and if Kevin is able to pull off a Randall and bring this lost member of the Pearson clan back into the fold.

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