A writer for This Is Us has explained that the way Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) has handled certain aspects of his life set him up for a troubled future.
Story editor Laura Kenar, who wrote the NBC show’s episode titled One More Step, revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly there were moments beyond the Nicky-centered (Griffin Dunne/Michael Angarano) storyline where glimmers of Jack’s real personality shone through.
Jack was a hovering figure throughout his younger brother’s life. He cared so deeply for his sensitive sibling that he would go to any lengths to protect him, hence his nickname of “Superman” from Nicky when he was younger.
Nicky appeared to lean on Jack for confidence, as a truth-teller, and for overall guidance as the brothers navigated the minefield that was their parents’ troubled marriage.
However, Jack’s good-natured but overbearing concern for his brother led both of them to paths that they may not have otherwise chosen.
Laura revealed that Jack’s past choices led to some questionable future actions as a married man with a young family.
Jack never dealt with his pain
Laura revealed that there were a lot of conversations in the writer’s room about a conversation Jack had with Lt. Sheehan (Scott Michael Campbell), who advised him to bottle up his war traumas, put them in a lockbox, and not tell Rebecca (Mandy Moore) that his troubled brother Nicky was alive.
This discussion came after Jack spoke to his former lieutenant at a VA meetup and told him that he was ready to propose to Rebecca. He admitted he told his girlfriend that his brother Nicky died in Vietnam as he did want their new relationship tainted by the people from his past.
This discussion left Jack feeling ore isolated and alienated and could have led to his turning to alcohol to numb his pain just like his father.
“You just kind of forget about it. You push it down. You don’t dig into it and drive yourself crazy thinking about it. It can also overwhelm your life. And that’s what we see with Nicky. The war never left him — not that it ever left Jack either,” Laura admitted.
Cutting ties with Nicky appeared to be Jack’s biggest regret
Jack felt he had to cut ties with his younger brother and compartmentalize their close relationship to start his new life with Rebecca.
As the writer of the episode, Laura said that this action left Nicky stuck.
“As much as I love Jack as a character and he is our hero, but I think that’s part of what drove Jack’s alcoholism, is this decision to cut his brother out of his life and not knowing what’s happening with him,” she claimed.
“We saw in this episode Jack pushing his brother to live his life and get a girlfriend. He was Nicky’s hero, and the fact that he created this lie also drove Jack crazy. He compartmentalized one thing, but you can’t compartmentalize your family, you know?” Laura concluded.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.