This Is Us -- How Jack Became Jack
And it wasn't the crockpot...
Last week, Rebecca chose between her first love and Jack, while Jack made his Mom leave his abusive dad. Kevin began his search to discover what happened to Jack in Vietnam. Randall decided to run against the councilman who won't do anything to help the community center, Beth got fired from her job and Kate's procedure was a success.
This episode has been promoted as how Jack became Jack, and it didn't disappoint. There's also a big revelation about Jack that makes you think about the episode where Jack dies that explains why it happened.
The episode timeline starts in the present where Jack is in Vietnam and his reunion with his brother, Nick. From there the timeline gradually goes backwards to explain how we get to that moment. It's also unusual due to the fact that Jack is the only regular character to appear in this episode.
We go back three weeks earlier. Jack is in the jungle. A land mine is found. The company sets it off. Later they're under attack by the enemy. One of the men, Kyle, gets his leg blown off. He asks for Jack to give him his severed foot and he cradles it to his chest. Jack holds the man in his arms as he cries. He was planning on joining the NFL when he got to go home. Jack tells him he's going home instead of having to wait for 90 days. He asks if Jack ever gets tired of pretending he's not scared and he says he's been doing it his whole life and doesn't know how to do anything else. He offers Jack his severed foot. He holds Jack's face in his hands and tells him to remember to breathe. I'm guessing Kyle is the guy Kevin wrote to about Jack that we saw reading his email at the end of last week's show.
Afterwards, Jack gets sent to a place near to where his brother is stationed. The place is occupied by women and children. He's supposed to pacify the village. It's a cushy detail, Jack is told.
Jack brings his men a crate of goodies, but first he says they have to secure the camp, first. A helicopter lands with his superior and Jack asks if he could go see his brother whose in trouble because of article 15, whatever that means. His superior won't let him leave for 24 hours. However, when he sees how Jack whipped his men in shape he changes him mind and lets him go.
We go a little further back in time. Jack's mother has a black eye as she goes through the mail. Jack sees his mother crying reading a letter. It's from Jack's brother, Nicky. He got his rank busted for endangering his men. He says he knows he's not coming home. That he's going to die there, but will do it on his own terms.
Jack goes into his brother's room. Then he goes to their family doctor. He wants to join the service. He wants to do it because of his brother. Only problem is Jack has tachycardia so he didn't have to go, so he wants the family doctor to give him some way he can pass the physical without them finding out about his health issue. He tells the doctor his only job is to take care of his brother. The doctor tells him to do a hundred push-ups before taking his physical and take a deep breath and tell the doctor he's just nervous. [Another person telling Jack to breathe.] Ironically, it was breathing in smoke coupled with his heart problem [which he probably never mentioned to Rebecca] is what ultimately kills him when he breathes in too much smoke during the fire.
We go back a year before his brother went off to the war. Nick is terrified his birthday is going to be chosen and he's going to be drafted. Nick says he always needs to be saved and Jack is his Superman. Jack says he has a plan if it comes to that.
Jack's father taunts his mother and Jack for always looking out for Nick. His brother starts drinking heavily as he panics about his number being called. A special report has the draft lottery with the birth dates of the people that will be drafted. Nick's birth date is picked just like he feared. Jack suggests that Nick flee to Canada. Jack says it's going to be okay.
When they get home daddy is waiting. He tells Nick to make him proud. Jack and Nick head off on a hunting trip. His mom says goodbye to him. Maybe she knows what they're planning to do. Nick broods about their father never speaking to him, again. Jack says it's not Nick's job to fight their dad's demons. He wonders if you looked at everything in reverse to see where you are and how you got there if things would be different. Much like they're telling this episode in reverse.
Jack and Nick get a room on the border. Jack wakes up to find his brother gone. Nick decides to enlist instead of fleeing.
Now its 14 years earlier. Jack trying to teach his brother to play catch. Jack tries to fix Nick's glasses and says he won't let their father touch Nick. Jack says Nick is Clark Kent and it's just a matter of time before they realize he's superman. Their father comes home and tells them to clean up their toys. Later, Nick hears his parents fighting and goes down to stand up for his mother. When his father is about to go after Nick Jack steps between them and that stops their father. Afterwards he leaves and their mother hugs them. She notices Jack's heart is beating fast and he says it always does when he's excited.
7 years earlier when Nick is being born. Jack's father is vastly different. He's not the nasty thing he becomes. He's holding Jack in his arms like he treasures him. Jack's grandfather comes to the hospital. His father says they'll name the new baby Nick or Noreen. His grandfather likes the juice, too. Back then Jack's father didn't drink. The grandfather leaves, so his father had a bad relationship with his father, too. Jack's father tells Jack his only job is to look after his little brother. He has no idea how those words will guide Jack's life.
Back to Jack's reunion with his brother. And that seems to be where it ends, this week.
So there was a time Jack's father was a good father, then he changed. The question is what made him change and turn to his father? Jack's grandfather was a dick to his father and he had a drinking problem and Jack's father ultimately turned into Jack's grandfather, but even though Jack also developed a drinking problem he broke the chain and was a good father to his kids.
Kevin says Jack was always hard on him. Was it because he coddled his brother and blamed himself for what happened to him? Did he do that so Kevin wouldn't turn out the way his brother did. Kevin resembles Nick and maybe Jack saw Nick in Kevin.
One other thing. For all those people hating on their crockpots for killing Jack, it wasn't the crockpot, Jack had a bad ticker since he was a child and that's why he died. It just had to be said.