Uncle Nicky is back, and we learned more about his history.
This Is Us Season 5 Episode 11 gave us a Nicky-centered story, following him through two past failures to take risks and contrasting it with his trip to California to visit Kevin.
Our TV Fanatics Carissa Pavlica, Christine Orlando, Sarah Little, and Jack Ori discuss why Nicky didn’t run off with Sally, how his visit might impact Kevin and Madison’s relationship, and what we thought was the most emotional moment.
What do you think was the biggest reason Nicky decided not to run off to California with Sally?
Carissa: I have no idea. I failed to read the situation. I’m looking forward to seeing how others perceived it.
Christine: Nicky had told Jack earlier that things were better for their mom with Nicky there…and in watching the moon landing with his father, things were better for his dad too.
It was probably one of the few moments of contentment and bonding in the Pearson household, and Nicky knew that if he left, it would disappear, possibly forever.
Nicky felt responsible for his parents’ happiness and well-being and chose it over his own. Plus, Nicky was always so scared to make a move, and he generally pictured the worst-case scenarios.
For Nicky, it all made it almost impossible for him to leave.
Sarah: I agree with Christine. I think many factors went into Nicky’s decision to stay, but seeing his parents holding hands and getting along is what solidified it.
He felt that if he left, his father would become abusive again, and he couldn’t, in good conscience, go with Sally. It’s a heartbreaker, that’s for sure.
Jack: That was my perspective as well.
I had the sense that Nicky felt that he was the only buffer between his parents.
I also thought that he hungered for connection with his father, who was so often critical of him. So that bonding moment as they watched the moon landing made him unwilling to give up the hope of a better relationship with him.
Would you like to learn whatever became of Sally, or should that stay in the past?
Carissa: Do they ever introduce anyone not to reveal something about them later?
I’m up for discovering more about her. Didn’t Sally go to California?
Who really ever leaves California after they arrive? He’ll probably bump into her in the grocery store.
Christine: I’d love to find out what became of Sally.
It might be heartbreaking, or maybe she and Nicky could still have a spark.
Either way, I think it would be satisfying for both Nicky and viewers to know.
Sarah: As Carissa mentioned, for all we know, she went to California and stayed.
So, it’s quite plausible that Nicky can run into her there.
I’m not sure if it’s needed. Her reappearance in Nicky’s life has the potential to be interesting, but it would definitely have to be done right.
Jack: I agree with Sarah. I’m curious about what happened to Sally (and especially, as many fans pointed out, whether she was pregnant when she left!).
But I don’t want it to be cheesy or coincidence-filled.
If anyone can pull it off, though, it’s This Is Us. They managed to introduce Jack’s supposedly dead brother and make us love him, so they can do this too if they want!
Did you enjoy the journey through Nicky’s past, or would you rather have seen other storylines in addition to Nicky’s visit?
Carissa: I love Michael Arangelo, so I’m always up for a visit to Nicky’s past.
And revisiting that past resulted in one of Griffin Dunne’s best scenes as older Nicky to date. Very welcome, indeed.
Christine: The hour flew by, so it obviously worked for me.
Nicky’s story is heartbreaking in so many ways, yet there is hope because, after 50 years of isolation and fear, he got on that plane to meet Kevin’s kids. In the end, love wins.
Sarah: I personally love when This Is Us does character-centric episodes.
There are so many characters on this show that it’s nice to let some of them breathe and take more space now and then.
And Nicky is so intriguing since he has been alone for so long due to his terrible circumstances.
It’s nice to see him grow over the years, from not being brave enough to talk to Jack to getting on a plane during a pandemic to meet his grand-nephew and grand-niece.
Jack: Nicky is my favorite secondary character, so I was thrilled with this, especially after his absence in the second half of This Is Us Season 4.
The hour flew by for me, too, and I felt sad it was over so quickly, but I loved the emotional journey we went through with this one.
Nicky called Cassidy in the middle of the night, and she talked him into staying at Kevin’s. React!
Carissa: They’re best friends and understand each other like nobody else. They make each other strong.
It makes perfect sense. They’ve got each other’s backs, and she successfully staved off his fears.
Christine: Nicky needed that. He needed someone who understood him and the desire he had to run, and Cassidy could talk him down.
I hope their friendship continues, even if Nicky chooses to stay in California.
Sarah: Nicky and Cassidy definitely have an unconventional friendship, but it’s one that they both need.
It warms my heart to know that they have each other to lean on and call in the middle of the night to work through their issues.
I doubt we’ll ever see much of Cassidy going forward, but it would be nice to see her pop in now and then.
Jack: I was glad Nicky had Cassidy to talk him out of running away again. What an amazing friendship this has turned out to be!
I was also relieved that this was Cassidy’s role. There were so many rumors floating around about her coming with Nicky and wanting Kevin back, and I would not have wanted that to happen.
Do you think Nicky’s visit will cause tension between Madison and Kevin?
Carissa: I don’t.
If the traumatic beginning of her childbirth and rearing twins as first-time parents who hadn’t even established their relationship at that point hasn’t caused tension, I don’t see it coming.
Christine: No. Madison and Kevin are pretty easy-going people.
Madison knows how much Nicky means to Kevin.
Heck, they named one of their kids after Nicky!
There may be some hiccups and awkward moments, but I don’t foresee any real problems popping up, at least not anything they can’t handle.
Sarah: Madison is proving to be a force to be reckoned with when raising her children and just dealing with life in general.
I highly doubt that the wacky uncle from Pennsylvania will faze her. But it will be interesting to see how the dynamic between Madison and Nicky plays out.
Jack: I don’t think it will cause tension per se.
But I do think that between Nicky’s social awkwardness and Madison and Kevin needing some time alone to decompress while raising twins, there may be some wrinkles to iron out now.
It will be an interesting dynamic for sure!
Discuss anything not covered above.
Carissa: I was so upset that my heart hurt when Nicky discovered he couldn’t take his beautiful globes on the plane. His distress was palpable, and when those beautifully created figures were on the airport floor, I wanted to cry.
Kevin’s kids deserved them, and Nicky deserved to deliver them.
John Grisham does not make up for it!
Christine: I can’t believe Cassidy knew Nicky would have to take his shoes off but not that he couldn’t bring wrapped packages or anything more than 3 ounces of liquid on the plane!
Also, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Jack’s friend giving him advice about withholding his feelings about Vietnam from Rebecca.
There was a whole part of Jack’s life that Rebecca knew nothing about, which doesn’t seem fair to either of them.
And I’d love to see Nicky get a dog if he stays in California. He obviously has quite a love for animals, and it would be a nice way for him not to live alone anymore.
Sarah: Let’s just say I will never look at a snow globe the same way. Hopefully, we’ll get to see Nicky make some new ones while he’s in California!
All of that aside, both portrayers of Nicky were absolutely magnificent on this episode, and I hope we get to see them get Emmy nominations for it.
Jack: Ooh, I would love for Nicky to get a dog as well.
My heart broke for Nicky, too, when he couldn’t bring his snow globes on the plane and ended up breaking them. I was glad he didn’t get into any trouble with airport security for how he handled that whole incident.
I had to crack up both times he referenced that this country is full of idiotic rules, though. So typical Nicky.
What did you think was the most poignant scene or quote from this weeks This Is Us?
Carissa: When Nicky was talking to the babies and how they made the impossible possible again.
I jotted down some things for you. No great words of wisdom but when you’re an old man and you’re looking out the plane window, you think about all the mistakes you make in life. I lived alone, every day same routine for 50 years. But then I got an invitation to meet you two, and you know what it got me thinking about? It got me thinking about the moon and July 20, 1969. I watched a man walk on the moon. One day, we’d never been to the moon. It was impossible to fathom even walking on it. And the next day we’re walking on it. The impossible became possible just like that. For 50 years, I lived in a trailer, a trailer that went nowhere. Whatever the opposite is of an astronaut, that’s what I became. And then I got that invitation in the mail for a Zoom, whatever the hell that is, but an invitation to meet my great-nephew and my great-niece. My big brother’s grandchildren. I went a really long time, and I’ve been stuck. Anything good that would ever happen to me, it just seemed impossible. But here I am. I made it. You two are my moon.
How friggin’ beautiful is that sentiment? And did anybody else expect Kevin to be listening in on the baby monitor?
Finally, it wrapped up with one of my favorite songs. This Is Us is kicking musical ass this season.
Christine: Yeah, hands down, Uncle Nicky talking to the twins was the most heartwarming scene of the hour.
I also loved that Kevin found that photo of his Dad and Nicky. Whether Sally knew it or not, she gave them all a special gift by taking that photo.
Sarah: I totally thought they were going to cut to Kevin or Madison listening in on the baby monitor!
But, yeah, it’s three for three at this point. The last scene between Nicky and the babies was downright magic. Nick and Frances are Nicky’s new moon, and he is going to kick butt at being their uncle.
Jack: It’s unanimous!
I started tearing up during that scene, and then when Kevin found the photo… all I can say is, well done, This Is Us! I thought that whole sequence was one of the most emotional and beautiful things ever.
Your turn, This Is Us fanatics! Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know your answers to these questions.
Our favorite family series returns on April 6. While you’re waiting for a new episode, you can watch This Is Us online right here on TV Fanatic.
This Is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST.