After finding the postcard, Kevin tells Kate (Chrissy Metz), Randall and Rebecca that he’s planning to visit their uncle. Kate, who’s pregnant and in college, is reluctant, but Randall is totally gung-ho. Ultimately, Kate agrees to join her brothers, but Rebecca has no interest in getting mixed up in this and is emotionally struck by the whole ordeal.
Later, they arrive at Nick’s (played by Griffin Dunne) trailer and knock, but no one answers. Soon after, however, he finds them loitering in front of his place. The Big Three introduce themselves and he asks if their dad knows they’re here. They regrettably tell him Jack has been dead for decades and head inside to get to the bottom of things.
It’s slow going at first and when Kevin finally brings up the subject of Jack and Vietnam, Nick immediately grows upset and tells them to leave. But Kate says no, and eventually Nick begins to open up about his painful memories.
Nick tells them he was drafted and then Jack enlisted to be close to him. Nick admits he quickly became an addict and slowly broaches the subject of the boat.
It started, he explains, when he was sleeping on a Vietnamese beach and met a young local boy. They decided to go fishing on the lake and Nick attempted to introduce the child to his method of fishing: throwing grenades into the water and waiting for the fish to float to the surface.
It worked the first time, but on the second attempt, the boy reached for the grenade and it fell to the floor. Nick yelled at the child to jump off and get in the water, but he didn’t move because he didn’t speak English. Nick jumped off the boat and the boy was left for dead.
Upon hearing the explosion, Jack and several others rowed out to find Nick experiencing shock and tinnitus. Nick looked around, but all that was left of the boy was his flip-flop. Jack told Nick he was done trying to help him. Then, it was up to Jack to return to shore and tell the boy’s mother—who just so happens to be the woman with the necklace.
Nick was promptly shipped out for mental health reasons. Now, in the present, he admits he’ll never forget the mother’s face and worries she’ll be the last thing he sees before he passes.
With Jack’s big secret revealed, there’s one thing left to explain. He asks how Jack died and it’s Randall who tells him about the fire and the heart attack. (Damn you, Crock-Pot!) With that news, Nick tells the Pearsons he’s going to call it a day.
On their way back, Randall buys road trip snacks and Kevin decides that he can’t leave Nick in a “leaky sardine can” like their dad did. So, they return to Nick’s trailer. They knock, but there’s no answer and when they open the door, Nick is sitting at the dining room table with a gun in front of him. It appears Kevin, Kate and Randall caught him at just the right time.
“I never got to tell him it was an accident,” Nick says before breaking down.
The Big Three are ready to work Nick into their family fold, but will old wounds heal as fast as they’d like? We’ll have to wait and see when This Is Us returns next Tuesday, February 5, at 9 p.m. PT/ET.