This Is Us’ recap: ‘Vietnam’

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This week’s episode of This Is Us is one for the books, giving us the flashbacks we never knew we needed, the emotions that started it all for Jack Pearson and an incredible episode featuring only one of the main characters.


That’s right, this week’s episode was focused on Jack and his past. We started to find out why he was the way he was and how he ended up so incredible, especially after years of struggle.

The episode starts off with Jack in combat looking for his little brother, Nick.

We then rewind a bit to the weeks leading up to him finding his brother where he’s leading troops through a forest.

Jack and his friend, Don who was going home in just 90 days and he was ready to play some football and end some stars careers on the field.

We move back to base where two soldiers, Townie and Squirrel are throwing a football when Jack tells them to stop for the night.

Without listening, Townie tells Squirrel to go long, as he walks backwards, he jokes that he couldn’t throw that far – when suddenly he stepped on a hidden bomb and they were under attack.

The troops move in and try to defend each other and unfortunately, Don was hit.

His foot was shot off and Jack sat with him hugging him until he was safe.

Before Don was sent home, 90 days early, he told Jack sometimes it’s okay to stop hiding fear. He told him his mother reminded him when he was young to “breathe,” because when you’re scared for your life, sometimes you stop doing the thing that is most important to living.

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The troops commanding officer relocates them to a village that ends up being closer to Jack’s brother.

He got his troops to buckle down and work by cleaning up and making the space safe, so he could get permission to visit his brother for a day.

We move back in time again to before Jack was in the war. We see his mother getting the mail from the mailman when he looks concerned – we then see her black eye and bruised face which she credits to falling.

She reads a letter from Nick who was moved to an isolated site for being a danger to himself in combat.

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Jack goes to the doctor one afternoon and he tells the story of how Nick wanted to be a doctor and would always try to treat him when he was sick.

He tells his doctor that he wants to enlist.

We then find out the reason he wasn’t enlisted in the first place was that he has an irregular heartbeat. He explains that he has to be there for his brother and his doctor tells him how to get around the physical tests.

A year earlier was the morning the draft birthday lottery was being picked at random.
Jack and Nick go to the bar for the lottery, but before they leave, their father makes a rude comment.

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They say Nick has always been a lucky kid and Jack reassures him there’s no way October 18 is going to get picked – but it did.

Jack tells him they can get him out of there and escape to Canada, so he won’t be sent away.

They return home and their father comes up to Nick, grabs his shoulders and says, “make me proud son.”

The next morning the boys say goodbye to their parents to leave for what they said was a hunting trip.

While on the road, Nick thinks about everything, wondering if life would make more sense going in reverse.

They head to a motel for the night and when Jack wakes up, Nick is gone.
Nick left a note thanking Jack for always taking care of him and being his Superman, signing the note “Love CK.”

A flashback to when they were both young starts as Jack tells Nick to go catch a football, but he misses, getting a bloody nose and breaking his glasses.

As Jack fixes Nick’s glasses, he reassures Nick that he’ll take the blame, so their father won’t be mad. Nick tells him he doesn’t like the glasses anyway because they make him look weak.

Jack tells him they make him look tough, like Superman and when Nick says Superman doesn’t wear glasses, he calls him Clark Kent, who’s a tough guy in disguise.

Later that night, Nick woke up to hear their father yelling at their mother and took off his glasses and went to defend his mother.

Jack steps in as the father starts to approach Nick and they run to hug their mother who tells them it wasn’t always like this. She notices Jack’s heart is beating very fast and he tells her it happens all the time.

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There’s then a flashback to the night Nick was born, October 18, a day before their grandfather’s birthday.

Jack and his father are sitting in the waiting room having fun while they wait for the newest member of their family. His father is happy and kind and sober.

Jack’s grandfather then walks in, drinking. He offers Jacks father a drink – but he reminds him he doesn’t drink.

After hours of labor, Nick was born at 11:58 p.m., just two minutes shy of not being drafted.

As Jack and his father look at Nick through the glass, Jack is told his only job is to look out for his younger brother, always.

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The episode comes to an end with Jack finding Nick during the war.

Do you think this episode of This Is Us filled in a lot of blanks, or did you miss the rest of the cast?

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