This Is Us hit fans with a particularly difficult episode to watch this week, as it followed Kevin Pearson even deeper into his self-destructive issues with pill and alcohol addiction. Season 2 Episode 8 also gave us more glimpses of how these issues developed in Kevin, and a better look at what his relationship with his father, Jack, was like in the days leading up to his death. One of the biggest reveals was that we now know what that necklace Jack gave Kevin on This Is Us means, and it has a really sweet significance.
Spoiler alert: Don't read on until you have seen Season 2 Episode 8 "Number One" of This Is Us. We first got a glimpse of the mysterious necklace that Jack gave to Kevin when he was a teenager a couple of episodes back. Fans of the show knew that the necklace must be important, but had no clue how. There has been a ton of debate among fans about what it could be: Is it Jack's army dog tags from his time in Vietnam, or is it a medallion of some sort of patron saint that is meaningful to Jack and Kevin, or maybe it is Jack's sobriety chips attached to a chain as a constant reminder of the struggle with addiction that both Jack and Kevin share. A lot of these theories sounded convincing, but the newest episode of This Is Us finally revealed that none of them were right. It's actually a medallion with the Buddhist term for "purpose" written on it.
Although we still haven't actually gotten a real good look at the necklace, it is most likely that the medallion contains the Dharmachakra on it, which is a symbol that looks like the wheel of a ship and represents perseverance in the religion. Jack gives the medallion to Kevin when he is in the hospital after breaking his leg in a football game, and finding out that he will not be able to use his athletic talents to get into a good college anymore. The symbol is particularly powerful for Kevin in that moment, given its message of continuing to persevere and not give up.
The new details about the meaning of the necklace also add another interesting layer to the present-day portion of the new episode, which ends in Kevin accidentally leaving the necklace at the house of a woman he has a one-night stand with, and her (understandably) refusing to give it back to him since he's like, a total jerk. We've learned that Kevin has kept that necklace on throughout his entire life, inspiring him to keep going no matter how difficult thing have gotten. But recently, with the onset of his self-destructive pill addiction, things seem to have gotten more difficult than ever before, and the loss of his necklace could also symbolize that Kevin is giving up. Let's hope that's not the case.
So now that we know the meaning of the necklace, let's get into the other important and potentially telling aspect of it: Where Jack got it in the first place. Jack reveals that he got the necklace from "someone important to him" while he was serving in the army in Vietnam, and that it was a constant source of motivation for him to keep fighting. Could that "someone important" be Nicky, Jack's brother that we only recently just found out also served in the army with him? That seems to be the obvious guess at this point, and if it's true, then it means Kevin was even more bonded with Jack than he probably even knew.