Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley) finally got to the answers he was looking for about his uncle (Griffin Dunne), but it wasn’t a happy family reunion on This Is Us.
There was a reason Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) kept his brother’s existence a secret from his family, and when he learned the truth and found his uncle, it wasn’t the ending he expected. Kevin didn’t swoop in and save Nicky, nor did he find a replacement father figure. It was too much for Kevin to handle: He relapsed at the end of “Songbird Road: Part One.”
“I mean, when you’re telling the story of addiction, it’s so rare that it’s like a one and done…you go to a rehab program, and then you don’t relapse, there’s never any struggle with it. So, we knew that we wanted Kevin to relapse. And it felt like it felt like the right time because he’s been on a season long journey to get answers about his dad, and what happened in Vietnam,” executive producer Isaac Aptaker said. “And now he’s found this amazing piece of information, this family member they didn’t know they had, and then gets this door slammed in his face and gets told, ‘I don’t want to be in your lives.’ This is it. And the highs and the lows of that, right on top of each other, are a body blow for Kevin. And so, he turns to a source of comfort, which is alcohol.”
Kevin found the alcohol in Nicky’s trailer. Dunne, a fan of the show, told E! News he was “heartbroken” at the turn of events.
“I certainly didn’t see it coming. And as Nicky, even though he wasn’t aware of it, I illogically felt kind of responsible. The kid came to me for help and I sent him away. I kind of recognize how much we have in common. This kid came to me to fill in the empty holes in his own life, he looked to me fill in his emptiness that he had previously been dealing with by medicating himself with alcohol and pills. I found that incredibly sad.”
However, Kevin’s not facing this relapse as a single man, he’s getting serious with Zoe (Melanie Liburd) and that just complicates things, Aptaker said.
“I think there’s an extra layer of complication with Zoe, given how we’ve been watching their story progress, and how much of a struggle it is for her to learn to trust him. And she puts up walls, she doesn’t let people in easily,” he said. So, this secret is now “a really scary thing for that relationship.”
“I think especially since Kevin, in the relationship, has sort of played the role of pushing them forward and getting them to take steps forward together as a couple, he feels sort of this extra guilt at the fact that he sort of dragged her in and got her to trust him and now he’s going to have to keep this secret from her,” executive producer Elizabeth Berger added.
Now that Kevin’s journey to uncover the truth about Jack’s life in Vietnam has come to a conclusion in terms of he’s gotten the answers he can get, the rest of his season is “about this sort of feeling of what’s next and this emptiness that he feels a little bit, that it didn’t result in anything more fruitful because Nicky doesn’t want a relationship and we see he’s self-soothing by turning to alcohol, creating new problems for himself that he’s going to have to deal with,” Aptaker said.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays, 9 p.m. on NBC.
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