Uncle Nicky’s origins have been somewhat mysterious since his introduction. We know Nicky and Jack were close until that fateful day in the Vietnam War when Uncle Nicky’s mistake accidentally led to the death of a child. That resulted in a separation between the brothers as Jack tried to put his life pre-Vietnam behind him even if that meant alienating Nicky. Last night on This Is Us, we received a glimpse at a happier Nicky and what his life could have been.
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Although he became jaded and secluded in his elder years, Nicky was quite the opposite as a young man. Nicky was a shy, happy, and intelligent guy who lived with his parents and worked at a veterinary clinic. On the day of the moon landing in 1969, Jack, who moved out of the house, visits Nicky and tells him to get out of the house and go out on a date. It turns out that Nicky has the perfect girl to take out in Sally, his coworker.
Nicky and Sally bond over his love and appreciation for the moon. The duo become inseparable as Nicky forms a deep, loving connection with Sally and her van, “Pearl.” One night, Sally asks Nicky to come with her to Woodstock, and then to California to work on her cousin’s farm. Nicky hesitantly agrees at first, but after receiving Jack’s blessing, decides to take the leap of faith with Sally and travel the country.
Unfortunately, Nicky develops cold feet on the night he’s supposed to leave with Sally. After bonding with his father over the moon, Nicky decides to stay, mainly to protect his mother from his abusive father. Nicky noted that he’s “better with her when I’m around.”
The “What Could Have Been” Meet Up
We know that Jack and Nicky met up at least once post-Vietnam when Jack essentially cut Nicky out of his life. It turns out there was a chance for a second meet-up. A few years after Vietnam, Nicky is in bad shape and clearly needs help. His old war buddy tells him about meeting up with some members of their unit to celebrate one of their engagements. More importantly, Nicky learns that Jack will be there.
Despite his fears, Nicky musters up the courage to attend this party. Upon arrival, Nicky notices Jack enter the building, but hesitates to say anything and remains in the parking lot. Inside, Jack receives advice on how to deal with his tough past and how to move on. He’s told to forget about his old life, lock it away, and focus on forming a new life with Rebecca. This advice explains why Jack moved on from Nicky. However, Nicky still had a chance to speak with Jack in the parking lot. Just when he’s about to call out his name, Nicky stops in his tracks when Jack looks at the engagement ring he bought for Rebecca. The brothers then go their separate ways.
Great Uncle Nicky
In the present-day on This Is Us, Nicky surprises Kevin and Madison at their doorstep. He explains how he received an invitation for the twins’ baptism and decided to show up even if the ceremony was taking place on Zoom. As someone with a 90-year-old Grandma who doesn’t use Zoom, I totally sympathize with this mistake.
Anyways, before arriving in Los Angeles, Nicky enlisted the help of Cassidy to prepare for the trip. Nicky is really excited about the trip and even makes two beautiful snowglobes by hand to give to the twins. Unfortunately, Nicky can’t bring his presents past TSA, which leads to Nicky accidentally destroying the presents. This reminds me of Chris Rock’s rant about airport security and how it used to be fun to fly.
In typical Kevin fashion, he starts planning activities to do with his uncle and the twins, which freaks Nicky out since he’s not used to his much love. After debating on pulling an Irish Exit to Kevin, Cassidy talks him off the ledge and encourages him to accept their love.
Late at night, Nicky sneaks into the twins’ room and gives an impassioned speech about his life and how regret and fear have held him back. Nick compares the moon landing to his life, that the impossible became possible. If man could land on the moon, then Nicky could be happy.
This was arguably one of my favorite episodes of the season. Uncle Nicky finally got the backstory he deserved. Hopefully, Uncle Nicky is here to stay.
Did you enjoy last night’s episode of This Is Us? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.