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This Is Us - Vietnam - Review: Breathe + Poll

"We're so scared that we're going to die, that we forget to do the thing that keeps us alive."

Just like Nicky was pondering right before making the biggest decision of his life we first see him close to the end of it and we go backward from there, to the beginning. We finally get to see some of what Jack went through in Vietnam, we see him as a Sargent, taking care of a soldier called Donnie (presumably the one Kevin will talk to) when their squad got blindsided and they lost a friend, Squirrel, and his own leg. When Donnie is about to be taken home he asks Jack if he never gets tired of pretending he's not scared but Jack says he's been doing it his whole life. Donnie tells when he was little and was afraid his mom would remind him to just breathe, hence what Jack will teach his own kids later.

After the whole thing went down they send him on security duty which is close to Nick who's apparently in trouble for reckless endangerment, it seems Jack's assignment is to "pacify" a little ville of mainly women and children that might be riddled with Vietcong sympathizers he asks permission to go visit his brother and it seems he won't get the go ahead but he motivated his guys just in time to make an impression and he gets some leeway. This is clearly where the story will go next, it was noticeable that Townie didn't take the loss of Squirrel that well and is overly aggressive to the natives which I'm pretty sure will play a part in what's to come, I'm also expecting a lot of tears when we see Nicky die.

We learn Jack enlisted to go be with his little brother even though his tachycardia allowed him to skip the draft the first time. We also learn Nicky always felt insecure about having to be saved by his big brother, his own personal superhero, and once his number is called this along with other factors lead him to go fight a war. Jack has a plan for Nick to go start over somewhere new and avoid fighting but his father's words about never looking out for himself and his order to make him proud are clearly resonating in his head when he and Jack are heading towards the border, we know he wanted to be a doctor, and he talks about training to be an army medic as well as some existential questions about his own life, including how much perspective it would give us if we saw it all in reverse. They stop at a motel before crossing the border and when Jack wakes up he realizes Nicky to go back and face the war.

We see a flashback of the Pearson brothers after playing, Nicky says he doesn't like his glasses and Jack says he's like Clark Kent, a superhero in disguise, so that night, emboldened by his brother's words Nicky decides to do something about his father's behavior towards his mom, things seem to be about to get ugly for him when Jack shows up, protecting him once again and they hug their mom who says their dad wasn't always bad. And though we might be inclined not to believe it we get to see that as well. When they were at the hospital, at the beginning of Nicky's life, we see their father sober, he clearly has a complicated relationship with his own drunk father but he doesn't drink yet, and ironically when Nicky was born and it was he himself that told Jack looking out for his little brother was his only job, little did Stanley Pearson know at that time that it was him the one Jack would be protecting Nicky from.

"I'm not going anywhere."

What did you think of the episode? I look forward to your comments and I leave you with the poll.


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