Warning: This post contains spoilers from This Is Us‘ fall finale. Proceed with caution.
Right from the beginning of this season, This Is Us‘ showrunners say, the series planned to reveal that Jack’s brother Nicky hadn’t actually died during the Vietnam War.
And now that Tuesday’s fall finale let viewers in on the secret, the question becomes: How long did Jack know — if he knew at all — that his little brother hadn’t perished when he thought he had?
“There’s definitely a possibility that Jack knew more than he was letting on to the family over all those years,” co-showrunner Isaac Aptaker tells TVLine. “We will be on this mystery with Kevin as he tries to uncover what happened to his uncle, what his dad knew about it, and where [Nicky] might be in 2018.”
Aptaker and co-showrunner Elizabeth Berger fielded more of our fall finale-related questions, including whether “she” and “her” in the flash-forward refer to the same person (what? we like to be thorough) and what significance a children’s party game might have in the Pearsons’ future. Read on for their answers.
TVLINE | Is the midseason finale the last of the Vietnam-set scenes, or will there be more?
APTAKER | There’s more after the holiday. We’re going to tell the completion of our cliffhanger, of Jack jumping into the water when he heard that explosion and learn more about what happened over there.
TVLINE | Will we see what happened to Nicky after everyone believed he’d died?
BERGER | Yes, we will actually be seeing him in more than one time period, post-war, and we are definitely going to be meeting him in present-day.
TVLINE | Is Kevin’s discovery something that Kevin will share immediately with his family? Or might he hold onto it until he’s got more concrete information?
BERGER | That’s a good question and it’s one Kevin will definitely be grappling with. Obviously, the Pearsons are a close-knit bunch and they can be high-drama so I think he knows once he lets them into this it could have repercussions and obviously everybody will bring their own viewpoints and opinions to it. But at the same time, they are an incredibly close family, so it’s hard to imagine him not letting them into this at some point.
TVLINE | Let’s deal with that flash-forward. Beth mentions that they’re going to see Randall’s mother. We’re talking about Rebecca there, right? Can you put a fine point on that for us?
APTAKER | Yes. It’s so funny — this is a total accident on our part. We thought, “Let’s give a really clear answer. We want people to know what this is.” And everybody is wondering if that’s what she meant. It never even occurred to us that she might mean Randall’s biological mother, because she has been [dead] for so long… But yes, we can confirm: You heard it here first, she is speaking about Rebecca.
TVLINE | I don’t take anything with this show for granted anymore.
APTAKER | [Laughs] That’s smart.
TVLINE | So the “she” that Toby refers to in the flash-forward also is Rebecca?
APTAKER | Yes. The “she” and the “her” is Rebecca.
TVLINE | The facility that we see Beth in, she’s working there?
APTAKER | Yes, that’s her place of work.
TVLINE | What can you tell me about how things stand with her and Randall at that point in the future?
BERGER | That is one where people are going to have to stick around for the journey of what happens between the two of them. Obviously, we’re leaving them in our present-day in a very tense moment. But [a lot of time passes] before we get to that moment in the future. We’re not quite saying yet what has become of them. But we will be revealing everything as we move through this season and the next seasons.
TVLINE | The Pin the Tail on the Donkey appearance had me casting back into all of the This Is Us lore I know — it’s something that was played at The Big 3’s birthday parties.
APTAKER | Very good!
TVLINE | Is there a significance to that game beyond what’s happening in that scene?
APTAKER | There’s definitely a significance to that game. The full significance of it we have not totally explored or revealed on the show yet. But yes, it’s something that was in their childhood growing up that we’ve seen them playing at the birthday party before. So it’s not a new, out-of-nowhere game for the family. It’s something that’s part of the fabric of their childhood.
TVLINE | How long will we have to wait before we get another update on the flash-forward? Will we get another this season? Might there be more than one?
APTAKER | Yeah, we’ll be checking back into the future again this season. It’s something that we’ve had since the beginning with Dan [Fogelman, series creator]. And the thing that we spend hours debating with our writers is when it’s time to dole out another piece of that future timeline and give some more answers. We’ll definitely be back there this season — not a ton.