Jack ended This Is Us Season 2 Episode 2 by taking an important step to treat his alcoholism.
With his loving family and wife by his side, he goes to his first AA meeting.
This Is Us Season 1 made us fall in love with the perfect family patriarch, but This Is Us Season 2 was determined to make us realize that perfect doesn't exist and like everyone, he had some flaws. Still, none of these flaws deterred of us from loving him.
In fact, he was still the reliable family man that everyone always looked up to but now, just more human and more relatable. And we were adamant about finding out what led him down such a dark path.
This episode, in particular, sheds light on his first battle with alcoholism revealing some factors that contributed to it, including the expected alcoholic father, Stanley Pearson.
What we didn't expect was what came to the surface when Jack took to the punching bag to battle his demons the only way he knew how a flashback to Vietnam.
If you remember, on This Is Us Season 1 Episode 18, a young and dapper looking Jack is working as a mechanic to make some extra cash.
As he's fixing up Mrs. Peabody's car, she asks him "how did you come back from Vietnam so nice? It seems like most of the boys lose their damn minds over there."
Jack sheepishly replied, "I was just a mechanic. You know, maybe we had a little easier time over there."
When we were watching the episode, we didn't think much of the comment and instead focused on how hard-working and polite young Jack was. No wonder Rebecca fell for him.
But now, this brief flashback reveals that Jack's involvement in the war – which left many soldiers traumatized upon their return home – was a bit heavier.
As Jack hits the punching bag, we're transported back to Vietnam and see him exiting an aircraft in full army garb and holding an M16 rifle.
Does this look a war mechanic to you? A war mechanic would be back at base fixing broken trucks, not running around fields in full camouflage with weapons. No, this screams "I am a soldier going into battle."
And unfortunately, this means that Jack has seen the cruelties of war and possibly even had to kill people, including innocent civilians. That would take a toll on anyone, even the people that are considered "mentally strong."
The placement of the scene is meant to give us an insight into why Jack has these problems and why he's been able to cover them up so well. He's scared that he's going to turn into his abusive father and lose his family over this.
Still, he's not ready to share this side of himself with his family, so he decides that the boxing ring will be his outlet.
Punching out his frustrations seem to be the only way that he can deal with the ghosts of war, his past and the pressures of his job.
It also means that his problem with alcohol isn't simply genetic as we'd previously thought.
It leaves us with a multitude of questions.
Why did he downplay his service? What kind of trauma did he endure in Vietnam? Was he always a soldier and never a mechanic or did they draft him while he was there because they needed more men? Did his friends die? Did he go through PTSD upon his arrival home and try to numb the pain by drinking?
The actor behind Jack, Milo Ventimiglia, revealed that we will be spending some time in the war-zone with Jack to understand what happened down there.
He also believes that Jack preferred to keep his time in Vietnam private because "adjusted his own perspective on life post-war and moved forward."
In other words, Jack buried all of his emotions and bottled them up inside thinking he had a hold on them, possibly not even realizing that all of his experiences, the traumatic and raw things he was a witness too, were negatively affecting him.
Knowing that Jack was an actual soldier in the war also shines a new light on Kevin's movie.
Kevin was cast in a new war epic guest-starring Sylvester Stallone and we'll see more of his time on set in the upcoming episode Highs and Lows.
Hopefully, Kevin's Hollywood version of a war might give us more-detailed flashbacks to Jack's time on the front line.
Did the Big Three and Rebecca even know about his service? Will the role cause Kev to have flashbacks of his father, opening up old wounds again?
Maybe finally meeting the soldier version of Jack and uncovering what happened to him during that time will shed more light why his past still haunts him.
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