Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from the This Is Us Season 3 episode “The End Is the Beginning is the End.”
This Is Us fans will have a lot to chew on over the show’s six-week hiatus. The NBC drama threw a major curveball at fans with a cliffhanger ending that revealed Jack Pearson’s (Milo Ventimiglia) beloved brother Nicky (Michael Angarano) is alive and living in Pennsylvania.
While the This Is Us writers have long hinted that Nicky Pearson died in the Vietnam War, the fall finale episode ended with a shot of an older, bespectacled man living in a home in Bradford, Pennsylvania. A close-up of a piece of mail addressed to Nicholas Pearson confirmed that Nicky is alive, shortly after a present-day Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley) was told by a Vietnamese guide that there was no record of a deceased Nicholas Pearson, 46th Infantry, in the war memorial database.
It is unclear if Nicky Pearson faked his death or if his brother was in on it. But in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, This Is Us star Michael Angarano said the biggest tragedy from the storyline is that Jack Pearson may have died believing he was unable to save his brother.
It’s no surprise that This Is Us fans had a huge reaction to the shocking Vietnam War twist and the possibility that a broken-hearted Jack died with the belief that his brother died in the war. Others pointed to a scene last season in which Jack got emotional when looking at a name at the Vietnam War memorial.
You can see some of the social media response to the latest This Is Us twist below.
Wait, what?! @NBCThisisUs I don’t even know what to think right now ???? Did Nicky fake his death? Did Jack think his brother died and blame himself, but Nicky didn’t die?! Did Jack “sneak” him back to the US? And the whole Randall/Beth plot twist! ????— Alexandra Bitonti (@AlexandraMarieB) November 28, 2018
Danggg.... Nicky Pearson is alive??! And Jack thought he had died?! And now Kevin's gonna build the relationship with his uncle that he never had with his dad... this is too much ???? #ThisIsUs— Diana (@archanimal92) November 28, 2018
Wait...didn't Jack go see Nicky's name at the Vietnam memorial?? #ThisIsUs— comrade pickles ✊ (@hla254) November 28, 2018
WAIT when Rebecca tells Tess that she kept things from her husband....... what if she knew Nicky was alive??? Or was she just referring to William???? I am so conflicted #ThisisUs— ellie (@mockiingjen) November 28, 2018
If Nicky somehow faked his death & Jack did not know & carried the guilt of his brother dying under his watch his whole life don't even bother showing me his story...I hate him already...then again the writers somehow made me fall in love with Miguel so idk anymore ????????♀️#ThisIsUs— Julie Montoya (@_julesmontoya) November 28, 2018
This Is Us executive producer Isaac Aptaker told the Hollywood Reporter fans won’t have to wait long to get the remaining pieces to the Pearson brothers’ Vietnam story, revealing it will play out “pretty immediately” when the show returns in January.
“We’re going to pick right up in the New Year with Kevin continuing on this quest to get answers. He’s armed with this tiny shred of information that he’s gotten from this hotel clerk, that his uncle didn’t in fact die in Vietnam. It’s about what he does with that nugget of information to start peeling back the layers of this mystery and trying to get some answers. That’s the immediate drive of our first couple of episodes back.”
Aptaker also confirmed that viewers will see an elderly Nicky Pearson before the third season of the NBC drama ends.
“We will be seeing grown-up Nicky relatively soon in the back half of our season.”
As for why Nicky and Jack may have never spoken to each other again after the war, Angarano told EW, “You’re going to find an answer to that question very soon…. I think Jack carries enough guilt with him to never mention Nicky or want to speak about the situation. This ends in a way in which Jack never wants to talk about it ever again, and rightfully so.”
You can see the surprising ending to the This Is Us fall finale episode below.
This Is Us returns to NBC on January 15.