If you heard that This Is Us was planning three episodes on the Big Three — that is, an episode each on Kevin, Kate, and Randall — and said, “Wow, those sound like an emotional minefield,” well, you were right. This Is Us was at its most This Is Us in the Nov. 14 episode. Kevin took center stage, and the episode shed some light on why he is the way he is, especially in regards to dealing with Jack’s death. And it left viewers with an important question — did Jack's brother give him his This Is Us necklace? And did Kevin ever get Jack's necklace back?
Kevin’s had a rough season — he has increasingly become more and more dependent on the painkillers he’s been taking for his knee, and it's clear he has an addict personality like his father. Even more unluckily for Kevin (and anyone who doesn't want to cry while watching the episode), Kevin has been invited home to Pittsburgh to get an award from his old high school. Of course, he stops at his old house, which has been rebuilt from the fire and now contains a man that wants to know what the hell a random guy is doing standing on his lawn, staring at his house (this is the correct reaction, by the way). Flashback, and we see that as a teen, Kevin thought Jack was an embarrassment because he was in Alcoholics Anonymous. Kevin also was incredibly cocky and especially disrespectful to a football recruiter because he thought he was too good to play for that school.
Then Kevin blows out his knee, and, while getting the news he’ll never play football again, Jack gives Kevin the necklace he always wears — the wheel pendant on a chain — and says that someone very important gave it to him in “Vietnam.” (Let’s get to that in a second.) Back in present-day Pittsburgh, Kevin, overcome with all the feels of being back on the field, takes home a classmate who had a crush on him way back when. She’s a doctor, so he takes a page of her prescription pad (Oh, Kevin), and bails. Except he leaves the necklace behind, and she won’t let Kevin back in to retrieve it. He sobs on her lawn, saying the he just “needs help” and the necklace is “the only thing [he] has left” of his father. (Cue all the audience tears.)
But, let’s back it up a bit here. We as viewers know that Jack fought in the Vietnam War — he claimed he was a mechanic — but other details are scarce. Since it’s been revealed that Jack’s little brother, Nicky, was also overseas in Vietnam with him, the guess can be made that Nicky gave Jack that necklace. Nicky is seemingly dead, so it makes sense that Jack values that necklace — it’s potentially all that he has left of his brother. It’s just a necklace, but sometimes a talisman is all that’s necessary to make its wearer believe in what he needs to. Jack passes it to his son, so that whatever strength Jack summoned from it can be passed to Kevin, too. In the scene, Jack is in AA, and he has a sponsor and a serenity prayer to lean on. Kevin, who placed all of his worth in football, has nothing.
In present time, Kevin, now almost 40, is still struggling. It's clear he’s always felt left out or like too much pressure was on him. Rebecca and Jack called Kevin “one” because he was the first baby. And two and three, Kate and Randall, respectively, needed more attention than Kevin did, and so that’s where Jack and Rebecca’s time went. Kevin’s football career was the one thing (besides all of those planes he smashed) he had with Jack, and since Jack died fairly soon after Kevin’s career-ending game, well, Kevin closed up the shop. He pretends not to need anyone, but he really does, since most people wouldn’t absolutely lose it like that after losing a necklace. At the end of the episode, Kevin is about to finally tell Randall about his addiction, and Randall says he already got the news — Kate lost her baby. And once again, Kevin is overshadowed by a sibling. (Not to say that Kate's news isn't important, just that Kevin still needs help too.)
It doesn't appear that Kevin gets the necklace back — he doesn't seem to be wearing it when he goes to see Randall. Hopefully he'll get it back one day, but, for now, losing this necklace is going to jumpstart Kevin into one of two things — he’s going to take it as a sign from Jack and try and ask for help again, or he’s going to take it as a sign that no one cares about him and fall deeper into his addiction. Hopefully, Kevin will come to the realization that he doesn’t need the necklace anymore, just like Jack didn’t when he gave it to Kevin — what he needs is to admit he has a problem and seek the proper channels. After years of addiction, Jack found his serenity. And now it’s Kevin’s turn. Hopefully, he’ll find it before it’s too late.