We knew it was coming. In fact, fans of NBC’s This Is Us have been waiting not-so-patiently for it. The “it” we’re referring to is, of course, a deeper look into Jack Pearson’s past by way of his time serving in Vietnam during the war. On Tuesday, fans finally got to see Jack before he was Rebecca’s husband or the Big Three’s father — and to be honest, we’re all still wrapping our heads around the revelations.
There was a lot to unpack in this week’s Jack-centric episode, but let’s start with the heart of the matter, which is quite literally Jack’s heart. As it turns out, Jack had a preexisting medical condition that almost made going into the military impossible. Naturally, this is significant because it could — we’re not saying it definitely does, but it could — help explain why Jack perished following the house fire that struck the Pearson home (which we saw play out in season two).
This Is Us fans didn’t hold back when they connected the dots that Jack’s death wasn’t as random as we once thought; Jack was always in danger.
"It always beats fast. I'm fine" Jack had the heart condition since he was a kid and then the fire I'M 💔 #ThisIsUs
— 💫✨ (@grimeshelby) October 17, 2018
Woke up and I’m still processing the news that Jack had an underlying heart condition.
Adds another layer of tragedy to his early death. 😭 #ThisIsUs
— Kristin Pratt (@Pratt_Kristin) October 17, 2018
A big secret that changed the course of everyone’s life.
— Tana (@TanaGolob) October 17, 2018
So this is why Jack had the complications after the house fire, isn't it? His heart? Oh man. Who are the writers for this show? Every single one is real, is human, compassionate, funny. I want to see them. It goes without saying Tim O'Brien is a master writer. #ThisIsUs
— Jane★E (@Zen_of_Life) October 17, 2018
I said to myself 'THIS is why Jack died'! 😢
— Debra 🦋 (@deflep1969) October 17, 2018
I can't believe he still went in the house for the dog!! Especially now that he has heart problems
— Sam | Happy GIF-tober (@sammyslion) October 17, 2018
The doctor’s comment about his heart hit me like a ton of bricks. Instantly thought of after the fire. Man, the writing on this show and the connections made that you never expected! 😭
— Kara Costello (@kaziecsouthie) October 17, 2018
Take a minute if you need to. We know we did.
What exactly was the problem? Tachycardia. In a scene during Tuesday’s episode, a young Jack can be seen telling his longtime (since he was 6) doctor, “I want to enlist, doc. I need to be there with him.”
Which brings us to another revelation! Jack vows that his “harmless irregular heartbeat” won’t keep him from being there for one of the episode’s other big reveals: Jack’s little brother, Nicky.
Although Nicky is alluded to and even seen briefly in previous episodes (and at different ages), the first real introduction to Jack’s brother occurs when Nick gets his draft notice. Clearly unnerved by the news, he leans hard on Jack to help calm him. In flashbacks to their childhood, we see how Jack was always Nick’s rock — supporting and protecting him in the moments their father lost his temper. Then, finally, we see Jack show up in Vietnam, catching his brother off guard.
There’s more to come from these two, but in the meantime, we are wrecked by these reveals about Jack’s past. How does This Is Us always know precisely what heartstrings to pull to turn us into emotional puddles?