If there’s one thing that This Is Us won’t let fans forget, it’s that the love story of Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) is epic. It transcended Jack’s death by widowmaker heart attack, and even though Rebecca is happily married to Jack’s best friend Miguel (Jon Huertas), it’s clear from the way Rebecca speaks of her late husband that Jack will always be her true love. Now, a new This Is Us theory suggests Rebecca may reunite with Jack — or rather, believe she has — long after her memory is gone.
The theory, which comes from Us Weekly, seeks to answer a question on many fans’ minds: Why is Nicky (Griffin Dunne) with Rebecca in the flashforward moments we’ve seen peppered across season 3 and 4?
In the flashforwards, the extended Pearson clan is gathered at the house Kevin (Justin Hartley) built with Jack’s architectural designs. An older Rebecca is there, sick in bed, while Uncle Nicky — Jack’s brother, whom she only learned existed decades after Jack’s death — sits in a chair, watching over her.
Nicky is a part of the family — Kevin spent a lot of time with him in his house of Bradford, Penn., and invited him to Thanksgiving at Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) home — but thus far, Nicky and Rebecca haven’t formed a particularly tight bond. The fact that Nicky is in the room, where Miguel is not, is a little strange.
The Us Weekly theory suggests a bittersweet reason for Nicky’s appearance: Rebecca, who in the present timeline is dealing with memory loss that is suggested will only get worse, may not think it’s Nicky in that chair. Instead, she may believe it’s her late husband Jack, whom Rebecca previously said Nicky reminds her so much of. Grab the tissues now, folks, because if This Is Us confirms this theory is true, it may break us all.
Jack has had an enormous influence on every single person in the Pearson family. A recent episode revealed just how much Jack’s death affected how Randall relates to his mother Rebecca when he was forced to tell his therapist (Pamela Adlon) how his life would have been different if Jack never died. Jack is the one who designed the house Kevin built. He’s the reason Kate (Chrissy Metz) has such high standards for her husband Toby (Chris Sullivan) as a father. There’s something poetic about Jack “being” with them at the house in the flashforward, even if it’s through Nicky.
Plus, taking care of Rebecca might bring Nicky some much-needed solace. How Nicky behaved in Vietnam is the reason Jack never wanted him to meet Rebecca — Jack never even told his wife that Nicky was still alive. Nicky can’t bring Jack back to apologize, but he can take care of his wife, which is definitely what Jack would have wanted.
Now, the question: Would Miguel be cool with Rebecca believing that Nicky is her former husband, especially if it means that her mind no longer remembers she’s still married to Miguel? How This Is Us will work out this tricky dynamic is unclear, but one thing’s obvious: It’s going to be emotional.
The season 4 finale of This Is Us airs Tuesday, March 24 on NBC.