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‘This Is Us’ Directors Open Up About Latest Jack Shocker: It ‘Explains a Lot’

”He’s keeping secrets for a reason, and we’re going to show why,“ John Requa and Glenn Ficarra tell TheWrap

(Spoiler warning: This story contains major plot details from Tuesday’s episode of “This Is Us“)

“This Is Us” has been hitting viewers with surprises throughout Season 2, and this week’s episode is no exception, as fans learned that Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) had a biological brother named Nicky Pearson.

Executive producers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, who co-directed the episode, told TheWrap that the Nicky storyline will not be a major factor in the lingering mystery of Jack’s death, but that it will help reveal more about Jack’s past and how he became the man he is.

“He’s keeping secrets for a reason, and we’re going to show why,” Requa said. “He’s having trouble with AA — he has been a serious alcoholic for a long time and has completely hidden it, and that’s hard to do. [Laughs] I think Nicky is the beginning of that, and that storyline will begin with how that relationship unfolds in the past.”

Ficarra added about the Nicky twist: “It explains his relationship with his father, it explains his penchant for keeping things secret and how he’s raising his children. Nicky explains a lot, and it shows a Jack that can compartmentalize his life.”

Requa said Jack’s determination to get his sons to make peace during the camping trip stems from his “unresolved” feelings about Nicky.

“It’s clear with the father like [Jack and Nicky] had, they were their whole world to each other, and the implication is, the reason he’s such a great father is he basically had to be the father to that boy,” he continued.

The director explained that Jack’s secret-keeping is manifesting itself in Kevin (Justin Hartley), who lied to girlfriend Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) about his addiction to painkillers having caused him to miss the auction.

“Kevin just flips through every excuse in the book, pulling every excuse that a man makes and throwing it at her,” Requa said. “And that’s what addicts are like — he’s exhibiting classical [behavior]. ‘What do I have to say to make this go away?’ Through that reveal at the end of the episode, we learn that Jack was great at being evasive.”

A definite highlight of the episode was Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) delightful reaction to the news that Kate (Chrissy Metz) is pregnant, and the directors point out that a number of the moments in the sequence were improvised, including Toby mimicking the classic drenched-in-water moment from “Flashdance.”

“I wish we had another half hour of the episode, so we could just stay in that scene because we had so much material we shot,” Ficarra said.

“This Is Us” airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.