& # 39; This Is Us & # 39; Creator and Stars Tease the Mystery or What Happened to Nicky (Exclusive)

Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not seen the episode of Tuesday This is us, entitled "Vietnam."

What happened to Jack and Nicky in Vietnam?

This is us devoted an entire hour to Jack's early life on Tuesday, in a deeply shocking and emotional episode that focused solely on the years prior to and during the war in Vietnam. Because much of the knowledge and understanding of the audience of the beloved Patriarch of the Pearsons comes from the night he first heard singing in the bar in "Moonshadow" in 1972, this episode – simply entitled "Vietnam" – has the layers taken away about how his imperfect home life, his relationship with his rarely-mentioned younger brother Nicky and his traumatizing experiences in the war formed his post-Vietnamese persona.

In many of the episodes is what is going to happen regarding the mystery of what happened to Nicky. We know that he died in the war, but we do not know how. We know that he was called by the television lottery; his birthday, October 18, was the fifth to be picked. We know why Jack, who had a tachycardia (which explains the fatal heart attack he would have to endure decades later), originally could not appeal. That he had plans for Nicky to flee to Canada to escape the war, but that Nicky wanted to be the one who saved the day for a change. That an ominous letter that Nicky sent home from Vietnam, where he foreshadowed his own death, led Jack to go abroad so that he could be the protector of his brother.

Their reunion at the end of the episode in Vietnam left much to be desired. Away was the close bond that the two brothers had during their youth and young adult lives. Instead, there was an uneasy tension and distance between the brothers and sisters because they saw each other in the flesh for the first time in a while. While the clock is ticking Nicky's mortality, This is us Creator Dan Fogelman promised that the journey towards discovering what led to the death of Jack's brother during the war would be both poignant and significant.

"It's a big story, it's surprising, it's fair to say that clearly, there's something broken in Jack for Jack in connection with his brother, and I think people will be happy with what we do there, even though they do not always like that, "Fogelman told ET after a screening of Tuesday's episode. "It takes place in a compressed period that was a decisive period for Jack in his relationship with his brother. I think it would be impossible to guess where it is going because it is very specific."

Fogelman revealed that the time in which Jack and Nicky spend time together in Vietnam will be more than 24 hours, and that when this specific storyline picks up again in a couple of weeks, This is usit will be "a direct pickup from where this episode ended" from the unexpected reunion of the brothers and "going linearly through Vietnam."

"It's a few weeks to a month that it really was a decisive amount of time that really created the things that Jack keeps in the Jack we've known over the years," Fogelman teased, adding that whatever events led until Nicky & # 39; s death will be devastating to see. "I think it's fair to say that clearly, something traumatic has happened, it will not happen suddenly not Which."


But is it similar to the traumatic house fire that served as the precursor to Jack's death? Fogelman played restrained, but confirmed that the moment Nicky dies is just as big – perhaps for various reasons. "It's similar to some of our biggest things, because it's going to feel huge, in terms of what it's doing to Jack," he explained. "Jack buried a part of his life when he returned from the war, and what we are going to explore this season is what he buried. "

Although the details will be revealed in due time, Fogelman and Michael Angarano, who made his anticipated debut as Nicky in this episode, explained why they consider the character a tragic hero. As they told it, it is Nicky's personal motivation to try and stand on his own feet in an attempt to get out of the shadow of his brother Jack.

"Looking at how he went to war and why, I felt pained for him," Fogelman said. "This sweet, sensitive, kind boy who was not meant to wage this war, but did it in an attempt to outshone the shadow of the brother and in an attempt to please a father who will never be happy with it his … It is sad, knowing that he has a tragic story there.While he came there, because of the whim of a birthday, by these external forces that were not honest, it is a tragic story. "

"There's one thing you can really see in this episode that really impresses Nicky: that he's Jack's brother," Angarano told ET. "He feels the weight to be the younger brother, always protected, always tired Jack & # 39; s plan. There is that classic sibling dynamic in which the younger brother of: & # 39; Let me go. I can do this. I can be my own person. & # 39; "

"It is also that codependent relationship that he has because he needs it." There is a part of him who does not know if he can stand alone without the help of his brother. There is also the fact that he is accustomed to his father who is inconsistent and negligent and insulting. There will be that effect on his personality that he is not even aware of. The fact that he is chaining and he's sketching and has to take photos and drinks … He does not understand these things about himself. "

Angarano focused on the farewell letter that Nicky wrote to Jack, in which he expresses his intentions to report for warfare instead of being a death tamer, as an enclosure of who the character was to him. "That letter and the choice to go [to war] and to not escape to Canada was a very, very personal, intuitive decision about Nicky's part – that he had to do something for himself, "said Angarano. The border between good or bad was so blurry, but it was something he needed as Jack's brother. "

"His heart and his brain are his worst enemy," he continued. "Take that for what it is, but there is a part of you that just wants to be like," Just leave there. Just stop.& # 39; But there is something in Nicky … you can see how he has to physically internalize everything. He is so fragile but also incredibly strong. "


In front of Milo Ventimiglia, he had nothing but praise for Angarano as the new This is us Cast-member kicks off his bow and says it was "great" to see his scene partner "embrace the work and everything the writers are setting up for him and me." although This is us is just scratching the surface of the Vietnamese part of the story, that is true a lot of more to come; currently they are kneeling in filming the fourth episode with a strong presence in Vietnam. Select members of the cast and crew – including Ventimiglia, Angarano and Justin Hartley, whose current story line convinces Kevin to stay abroad to learn more about Jack's war experience – is preparing to fly to Saigon to film on location this week.

"I introduce myself [the episode is] start a conversation. My father and I talked extensively about his experience in Vietnam, so I have already had those conversations. I do not know what this brings forward. I think we'll have to wait in the coming weeks to discover that, "Ventimiglia told ET from his father, who is a veteran in the Vietnam War." I know that when we went to the D.C. Memorial, I went to the [Vietnam] Traveling [Memorial] Wall with my father and I saw the names of his friends on the wall. Which was heavy. Knowing that he has had this whole life, I can not even imagine how his experiences have been. I am certainly grateful that he has made it. & # 39;

As for what is coming for viewers who follow the tight reunification of Jack and Nicky at the end of the episode, you just know that it is worth waiting.

"I'm excited by the public to see Jack and Nicky really lean on each other in a tough upbringing, and while Jack is the protector, there was something that Nicky always gave him, and that was support and love and kindness. when he might not quite understand that, "Ventimiglia said." That's all Jack's looking for in life, and it always feels like he just wants to be part of a loving family. with his brother. & # 39;

"It is as complex as all brothers and sisters are relationships, there is so much love, there is so much resentment, especially Nicky as his little brother," said Angarano. "There is respect as grown-up men who go through this youth together. and they know that they have endured this together and the realization that they are not the same person, that becomes much clearer when the episodes unfold that they come from the same place, but they are very different. and how they deal with the war is very different. "

When it came to playing Nicky's role, a character that was first mentioned in the season two episodes, "Brothers," Fogelman wanted to distinguish the younger Pearson from Jack in personality, looks and behavior. Angarano, who shone most recently in Showtime's two-season drama I'm going to die here, offered exactly what Fogelman was looking for.

"I did not want the character to be just a weakling, to be the opposite of Milo," Fogelman explained. "I wanted him to be handsome and likeable and charming, but in a slightly different way, Michael has a sensitivity, there's a kindness in his eyes, there's something he does when he's acting, even with those big glasses you see them soul. & # 39;

Angarano confessed that he was unaware of the rich background story he had already received from the second season of the show; it was his sister who told the news to him that Nicky was dead when he told her that he was participating This is us. Playing a character so closely connected with Jack comes with a level of expectation and weight, but Angarano said he did not feel the pressure because it was all on paper. "When I read the first script, nothing remained, there was no expectation." The scenes were so clear. It was so tangible that Nicky went through the feeling of fear and that he was like many other boys in the hallway, "he said." At the heart of it, and influenced by that dynamic of his relationship with Jack and his father, it was a very clear character for me. I never felt like I was expecting it. "

"We talked about it [Jack’s] brother already in season two, it has always been that that is the formative figure in his life. The big surprise was to get Michael to come to life and said, "Wow, our world has just been expanded because I care about Jack's brother." You feel it more and more often with episodes that you have not seen yet, "Fogelman noted." When it works like this and you say: "This is really going to work, that is always very surprising and exciting."

This is us broadcasted Tuesdays at 9 pm ET / PT on NBC.


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