I say this every week, but if you're still emptying tissue boxes over last Tuesday's "Toby" episode on This Is Us, hi — welcome to my world. Every seven days, the show gets more beautifully complicated. But it wasn't until the end promo — when Kevin found a photo of Jack with a Vietnamese woman wearing Jack's necklace — did I stop crying long enough to say "what the?" So who is the woman with Jack's necklace in Vietnam? Seriously, tell me now.
There isn't an actual answer just yet (sorry), because that's the way the show's designed. However, executive producer, Elizabeth Berger told Entertainment Weekly the woman is "part of Jack's larger Vietnam story and what happened over there." She continued saying, "I think we can all feel that Kevin is inching closer and closer to finally launching that journey and getting himself to Vietnam. We are definitely going to get answers, and we're definitely going to see the way she fits into the larger puzzle." When pressed about who the woman is exactly, Berger added, "I think it’s a really complex story. Any relationship between an American soldier and a Vietnamese woman at that time is going to be so complex, and bring with it so much loaded history, that it is safe to say that it is not going to be the most typical relationship."
While those aren't the most revealing answers, Berger did say TIU fans will get everything they need to put the puzzle pieces together throughout the season — not only about the woman, or Jack and Nicky, but also the theory swirling that "there could be another Pearson out there." I'm sorry but again, what the?
Viewers were first introduced to the mystery woman in Jack's "Vietnam" episode. She was the mother of the young boy who offered Jack his fish. And though it was clear the protective mother didn't want her son interacting with Jack (or any other soldier), she and Jack caught eyes, if only a for a brief moment. If I put my theory hat on, I could say Jack and this woman many have a thing and something tragic rips them apart. Or, Jack and the boy are somehow linked and something tragic happens. Either way, something tragic happens — because it's what shapes Jack into the stoic Pearson he becomes for Rebecca and The Big Three. Also, because that's life and I'm convinced the writers enjoy emotionally traumatizing its fan base. It's cool.
TV Guide backs me up saying, one of Jack's cadets in the episode mentioned in passing that young boy who offered the fish would grow up to fight for the other side [of the war], adding, "this show doesn't shell out throwaway lines, meaning that could be foreshadowing for what's to come for Jack in the upcoming months of the war." I concur, TV Guide. One theory swimming across the webs is that Jack fathered this woman's baby and I can't hop on that train. Knowing Jack, I'm sure he and the woman develop a connection of sorts (hence the necklace gift) but not that. Plus, Milo Ventimiglia (who plays Jack) already dismissed the idea Jack could father another child with another woman saying, "Jack loved Rebecca before he even knew Rebecca." However, there's also this food for thought:
Yeah, mind blown. So many theories, so little time. If you're counting the major mysteries yet to be solved this season, there's the whole "who is her?" thing, the "where is Kate when Toby's in bed alone without his wedding ring?" thing, the complicated "Nicky" thing, a slew of smaller threads about William's past, Deja, Beth's career, Randall's politics, Kate's baby situation, Toby's depression, Jack and Nicky's alcoholic father, Rebecca's derailed singing dreams and, finally, the woman with Jack's necklace in Vietnam. It looks like the writers have some explaining to do.
No matter who this mysterious woman turns out to be, her necklace becomes Jack's and then becomes Kevin's, so there's going to be something significant enough to connect those dots. There's an origin story here that demands an answer. Not to mention, it symbolizes strength and was something Jack turned to when he didn't feel as much — and then he offered it to Kevin when Kev tanked his football dreams with a knee injury. Are you exhausted trying to solve all of these mysteries? Yeah, me either. Bless you, writers. Catch more of This Is Us Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.