If you were to search “This Is Us Sibling” on Twitter right now, you would be met with quite a few feverish theories about the future of the NBC family drama. Nearly all of them suspect the Big Three of Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley) Pearson have a secret half-sibling out there who was conceived during their dad Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) deployment in Vietnam during the 1970s.
Then, all of sudden, a new Asian character (Tim Jo) entered Randall’s life in a big way during Tuesday night’s “Kamsahamnida.” It’s likely the fans at home quickly threw on their sleuthing hats to figure out if Randall's new campaign manager Jae-won could somehow end up being a secret member of the Pearson family.
But, that’s impossible. And it’s unlikely anyone will end up being a Big Three half-sibling. This is why.
First of all, Jae-won simply can’t be related to Randall, Kate, and Kevin because he’s Korean, which he talks about in-depth. His adorable grandma (Kim Kim) was born in Korea. He speaks Korean. He seemingly hails from Philly’s Koreatown neighborhood. If Jack Pearson somehow fathered a baby during the war, that child would be half-Vietnamese — not Korean. So, conspiracy theorists, Jae-won is not at all a Pearson family member, sorry.
This Is Us has given fans the painful, tear-jerking unexpected. This is a show that began with a baby dying during labor and teasing out its beloved patriarch’s death over a full season and a half. Since the NBC juggernaut’s beginning, it dropped multiple hints that Jack died due to a drunk driving accident that was possibly kick-started over a breakup with his wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore). There was Jack’s actual drunk driving in season 1, along with glimpses of the Pearson parents’ many tense moments over the years.
Then, “Super Bowl Sunday” came around and proved no such obvious, over-the-top tragedy ended Jack’s life. Rather, a very mundane set of circumstances caused Jack’s death: An ordinary cooking appliance caught fire in the middle of the night, leading to a house-wide blaze. The fact that the Pearsons forgot to run an errand — buying batteries for the smoke alarm — allowed the fire to get out of control without the sleeping family realizing. Jack then succumbed to a fatal heart attack caused by repeated smoke inhalation after a lifelong heart problem. Pain rooted in everyday life is the heart of This Is Us.
This Is Us didn’t start signaling such a fatal twist was ahead until a mere two episodes before Jack’s big death episode. The suggestion that Jack has a secret love child from the war has been going on for weeks, so it feels just like the long-running red herring of yore.
The fourth Pearson kid suggestion seems especially impossible since it would seriously call into question the monument This Is Us has built to its paragon of fatherhood and husbandhood, Jack Pearson. The entire mythology of the series hangs on the life Jack built in Pittsburgh with Rebecca being both his dream and destiny, as opposed to the the vet's consolation prize. Think back to how a young Jack described his life goals to Rebecca in “Katie Girls” — that was a man who never thought he could have a family and desperately wanted one. Would the series really tell us that Jack abandoned the first woman he loved in Vietnam, never looked back, and left his child there, too? The man who ran into a burning building to save his Katie Girl’s dog? That Rebecca was Jack’s second choice after actually falling madly in love back in Vietnam? I think not.
Rather, it’s likely Kevin will learn the full story of Jack’s brother Nicky’s (Michael Angarano) death when he arrives in Vietnam at some point in season 3. And, the older version of the woman from Kevin's photo, named Hien (Porter Duong in flashbacks), will be there to retell the non-love story. Don’t worry Rebecca, Jack only had eyes for you.
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