This Is Us stunned viewers when it revealed that Jack's brother, Nicky, was still alive, and didn't die in the war like Jack had always said. After discovering their father's secret earlier this season, the Big Three headed to a small trailer in Pennsylvania, and found their uncle in less than stellar condition. It's clear Jack had known his brother was still out there, and chose not to be a part of his life, but the question remains — did Nicky's parents on This Is Us ever try and help him? And how did he fake his own death to begin? It sort of makes no sense.
It seems like Nicky's folks had to have known he was alive after the incident in Vietnam. In flashbacks, their father criticized Jack for not being able to "protect" Nicky, but never explicitly mentioned that Nicky was dead. And perhaps most tellingly, the U.S. military notifies all families if their loved one is killed. There is very specific protocol in place for those kinds of situations, and the Pearsons wouldn't have gotten the official news Nicky had died unless he truly had.
According to the Army's website, military families today are notified of a death in person, but during and before the Vietnam War, the Department of Defense would usually send a telegram with the news. It's possible that Jack could have lied to his parents, telling them that a telegram arrived when it hadn't, or insisting that he was the one tasked with delivering news of Nicky's death. But that feels like a real stretch, and the family presumably would've received another real update about Nicky's removal and psychiatric health.
If Jack and Nicky's parents were completely unaware that Nicky was still alive, at least immediately following the accident overseas, well, the show will have to do a lot of explaining to make that make sense.
As viewers are well aware, Jack and Nicky's upbringing was less than ideal — their father was an alcoholic who mistreated their mother, and never came across like a man with much good in his heart. Assuming he was aware Nicky was back in America, he still never appeared to be the kind of person who would scoop up a struggling son and offer assistance, and therefore may have left Nicky to pick up his own pieces.
Some think that the parents' reluctance to even be a part of Jack's life signals that they definitely wouldn't want anything to do with Nicky. "Pretty sure his parents knew he was alive, but since they never made any effort to contact Jack, who was a stable, successful family man, pretty sure they weren't going to go chasing down the prodigal son who got shipped home from Vietnam under a psych eval after killing a kid," wrote Reddit user curious_chili_baby.
There's also the possibility that Nicky's parents knew he was alive immediately following the accident, kept in touch in the time right after, and lost touch as Nicky's life continued to spiral out of control. And, though it might seem unlikely, perhaps Nicky's parents did try to get him back on his feet after he came back to the States. Maybe they extended a helping hand, and it simply didn't work out. He may have even refused their help, or pushed them away if they approached.
This Is Us should probably answer some of these questions as Rebecca heads to confront Nicky. It appears that she had no idea her brother-in-law was still living, and never questioned if Jack was telling the truth about Nicky's death. She's bound to have a ton of questions for him, and as fans are desperately craving an in-depth Q&A session with Nicky, hopefully all these mysteries will soon be solved.