‘This Is Us’: Griffin Dunne Reveals Jack May Have a Part in Rebecca’s Flash-Forward Afterall

This Is Us has some explaining to do. Of the bigger mysteries in season 4 is Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) looming health crisis that may, or may not, lead her to that flash-forward death bed. Previous theories suggested either she and Miguel (Jon Huertas) divorced or Miguel died. But, a glimpse at the Nov. 19 episode revealed that may not be accurate.

The big mystery now? Why is Rebecca’s estranged brother-in-law, Nicky (Griffin Dunne), the one at her bedside? Turns out, it might have something to do with good, old Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) after all, according to Dunne. Minor spoilers from the Nov. 19 episode ahead.

Nicky’s at Rebecca’s bedside in the flash-forward, not Miguel

Griffin Dunne as Nicky Pearson on 'This Is Us'
Griffin Dunne as Nicky Pearson | Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Most die-hard Jack fans aren’t too concerned with Miguel’s absence, or what it means for the state of the family’s dynamics in the future. However, it’s key to understanding why Nicky is next to Rebecca in his place.

Series creator, Dan Fogelman, previously told Entertainment Weekly he couldn’t talk too much about Miguel just yet adding they have “exciting stuff” coming for Huertas.

Fogelman isn’t known for getting into specifics, but fans have a lot of theories.

It’s no secret at this point that Rebecca’s going through something. It’s not clear what ails her yet, but after the Nov 19. episode, her prognosis doesn’t look good. Her aches and pains added with memory problems make us all a little worried about what’s to come. Hasn’t the woman been through enough?

The show’s premise lies in red herrings, misdirects, and big reveals. It’s easy to conclude Rebecca’s experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s or Dementia, but some suspect it could be something brain-related (remember that car accident years prior?).

The point is, Miguel is M.I.A. in the flash-forward and while Jack fans don’t care where he went, it could reveal more answers about the Pearson story as a whole.

Griffin Dunne explains why the family needs Nicky around

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As reluctant as Nicky’s been to become one of the Pearsons, he’s starting to find his place. In the Nov. 12 episode, “Sorry,” Kevin (Justin Hartley) had flashes of Jack when speaking with Nicky. Clearly, Kevin needs this father-type in his life to make amends on some level with Jack.

Dunne recently spoke with People saying there are more “very emotional moments” to come as it showed on the Nov. 19 Thanksgiving episode.

“It ends up where they both kind of saved each other. I don’t think that’s something that Nicky had ever done before of having that kind of care about somebody else,” Dunne said.

“Not since he got back from Vietnam did he invest actual feelings in another person. Nicky’s a cranky old guy who, in this very episode, realizes how much he cares for Kevin and how difficult, yet grateful, he feels to accept that he needed help. That’s sort of like [Nicky’s] turning point.”

Nicky fills the void that Jack left

The two share the commonality of sobriety. They’re good for one another, even to Nicky’s chagrin.

“One of the things that Nicky is most struck with is one of the things he comes to terms with: a sea change happens in him from being so angry that his brother Jack told everybody he was dead. He was just ignored by Jack,” Dunne carefully foreshadowed.

He stressed that the way the family relates to Nicky on Thanksgiving opened the door to some kind of new beginning.

“It brings it home to go to a family that didn’t know you existed and see all their family portraits and see there’s nothing of you. And it’s as if you were invisible all these years.”

He said that Nicky will work to understand why Jack did what he did, “taking responsibility for his brother doing that and kind of grateful that he’s got a family.

“There really is a family out there for him.”

Ultimately fans want to know if Nicky gets any kind of closure regarding why Jack told everyone Nicky died. Dunne stayed mostly tight-lipped, as expected.

“How that comes about is very emotional and beautifully written,” he said.

Is Jack involved in Rebecca’s flash-forward?

As for the big question as to why he’s next to Rebecca at her life’s end, Dunne played coy like Fogelman.

“I think Nicky ended up at that bedside presumably because Rebecca and Nicky grow very close,” he said. “I’m not quite sure how Nicky got there to that bedside. I know a little bit, but I gather that it starts with that Thanksgiving and it going well enough for him to allow himself to be part of this new family.”

Fans have already speculated that Rebecca’s memory problems might eventually lead her to believe Nicky is Jack in the future. To add to the speculation, Dunne hinted that Jack will remain “everpresent. Do with that what you will.

“Jack took great care of us both when he was alive when Nicky was a little boy and he was an older brother,” he said. “So Rebecca and Nicky definitely share something, someone that we both miss very much.”

Does that mean they’ll develop a bond like no other relationship on the show? Possibly. It definitely means Jack really was Superman to his Clark Kent, and now, Nicky’s time with Rebecca is his chance to pay it forward.