Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers from the This Is Us fall finale episode “The End Is the Beginning is the End.”
This Is Us fans got the shock of a lifetime at the end of the show’s fall finale. In the episode “The End Is the Beginning is the End,” it was revealed that Jack Pearson’s (Milo Ventimiglia) brother Nicky (Michael Angarano) did not die in the Vietnam War and is instead alive in the present day and living in Pennsylvania, not far from the Pearson family’s Pittsburgh hometown.
The stunning episode ended with Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley) learning that there was no record of a deceased Nicholas Pearson, 46th Infantry, in the war memorial database. In the final seconds of the episode, a silhouette of an older, bespectacled man was shown entering a trailer. In the scene, a close-up of a piece of mail with a modern-day barcode was shown addressed to Nicholas Pearson in Bradford, Pennsylvania.
“We will be seeing grown-up Nicky relatively soon in the back half of our season.”
But in another surprising twist, This Is Us’ original Nicky, Michael Angarano, will not sit through the age progression makeup process to play a 70-something character like many of his peers on the NBC drama. According to Deadline, the present day Nicky Pearson was played by veteran actor Griffin Dunne, who will return to play the role going forward. Dunne, 63, is best known for his big-screen roles in An American Werewolf in London, After Hours, and Dallas Buyers Club.
This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman teased that all of the big questions surrounding Nicky will be answered in the first few episodes after the winter break, telling Deadline, “What I can say is that there’s a complicated story that’s going to be told very quickly when we come back on the air, and it’s a story about what happened between Nicky and Jack. It’s very complicated. There’s a lot more to be told and it’s coming very soon.”
Fogelman also made it clear that Nicky will become a feature in the Pearson family’s present-day storyline and that the troubled character’s issues with mental health after his devastating time in the war will be addressed.
“We have a big story coming that relates not just to Jack and Nicky, but also to Jack’s grown children,” Fogelman said. “Kevin’s journey of discovery continues when we come back and starts folding into the rest of the family.”
This Is Us returns January 15, 2019, at 9 p.m. on NBC.