The Woman In Jack's Pictures From Vietnam On 'This Is Us' Complicates Everything

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Jack Pearson is just one big pile of surprises, isn’t he? Just when viewers (and his own family, frankly) think that they’ve gotten a better view of the Pearson family patriarch, another curveball comes out. The first curveball of the Oct. 23 episode for Kevin was that his father wasn’t just a mechanic in the Vietnam War — he was in charge of a whole squad of men, and he even saved the life of one. But who is the woman in Jack’s picture on This Is Us? He could have had a great love before Rebecca.

From the Season 1 finale, Jack Pearson has maintained that he didn’t see combat in Vietnam — he was too busy fixing up Jeeps and trucks and sending them back out to the front line. Now, though, we know that’s not the case. An entire episode of This Is Us featured Jack’s time in Vietnam from the beginning until the time he found his brother, Nicky, again, and it shows that Jack is a strong leader who, even if he’s scared, he doesn’t show it.

Jack’s detachment from his time in Vietnam isn’t particularly strange — he lost his brother in Vietnam, he lost friends in Vietnam, and he is probably suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder in the years following. But what if Jack’s inability to talk about his time in Vietnam was because of a woman instead?

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Kevin set out to find Robinson, who is the only person that served with Jack that Kevin has any sort of lead on, and Kevin found more than he probably bargained for. Namely, that his father was a hero and a brave sergeant. But this is all stuff viewers knew. What we didn’t know — and what was new to Kevin — was that there is a picture of Jack with a Vietnamese woman during the war, and that Vietnamese woman is wearing the compass necklace that Jack wore after the war and that Kevin wears now.

Say what? One theory is that Jack fell in love with a woman in Vietnam and then had to leave her behind when he came back and she gave him the necklace. Another is that he loved her and she was killed in the way. But given that Jack fell in love with Rebecca so fast after he came back from combat, is it possible that he got over this woman as quickly? Another option is that the woman had something to do with Nicky, Jack’s deceased brother. Perhaps he fell in love with her. Perhaps she is the reason he died. There’s a whole lotta mystery shaking on This Is Us.

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

And don’t worry if you needed a good cry — Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin, told Entertainment Weekly that all of this Vietnam information would be “super heartbreaking” and “shocking.” Neat! “It’s not what anyone is expecting,” he told the magazine. “No one is going to see it coming. It’s ambitious stuff… At the end of Season 3 when you go back and watch the beginning of the series, you’re going to [be] like, ‘Wow, it all works,’ but you never would see any of this coming.”

This means probably that all of my theories about this mysterious Vietnamese woman are wrong, because the This Is Us writers have a master plan that viewers aren’t yet privy to. But still, that photo leads us to speculate — who is she, and why was she so important to Jack? Stay tuned to This Is Us and find out.