Season 2 of This Is Us wrapped a major chapter of Jack's story when it finally revealed the details of Papa Pearson's death, but as devout fans have figured out by now, Milo Ventimiglia is far from being axed from the show. Season 3 will continue its jumps into the past, including to other points of the Big Three's young life, but the upcoming flashbacks will jump even further back when it comes to Jack's storyline. This Is Us Season 3 will show more of Jack in his 20s, but it won't exactly be a carefree period of his life.
As the Season 2 finale hinted, new This Is Us episodes in the fall will eventually trace Kevin's journey to Vietnam, seemingly to follow in the steps of Jack's time serving in the Vietnam War. The details of Jack's war experiences are fuzzy to viewers, and we don't quite know how much the rest of the family knows about his time at war. Thanks to the Season 1 finale, we know that Jack was initially wary of talking about being a soldier, as he lied to a neighbor and said he was a mechanic in Vietnam. We also know that he served alongside his brother, who was seemingly killed while overseas. Speaking to PEOPLE, Ventimiglia reassured fans that Season 3 will introduce more of Jack's time in Vietnam, saying:
We’re definitely going to see Jack in the Vietnam era. At the end of the Super Bowl episode when people were ultimately confronted with how he passed away, there was a trailer to show Jack in a helicopter over Vietnam in uniform. We’re going to explore that side of Jack’s 20s and what brought him into the man that we all knew.
Exploring that side of the character will be particularly personal for Ventimiglia, whose father is actually a Vietnam veteran. Even before this element of Jack's history was addressed, Ventimiglia chose to view Jack as a Vietnam vet as well, telling PEOPLE last year:
I would love to explore that era of Jack when he was a young man in Vietnam. I feel like there’s 50-some years of this man’s life and we’ve only seen 18 hours of it. Before the conversation even came up about Jack’s real history — even outside of his bad childhood with his father — in my mind, I’d always seen Jack as a Vietnam vet. My dad is such a great man… I know even though he presented himself as put-together, I know that war impacted him and affected him. I would start to pull those feelings I saw from my own father into Jack.
I have plenty of questions about Jack's Vietnam past that I hope are answered fairly quickly once Season 3 starts. How did Jack and his brother Nicky end up in the same unit? Wasn't there a rule established after World War II that brothers couldn't serve together? Did Miguel serve in the war too? Does he have his own internal struggles as results of his experiences? Was there a woman in Nicky's life before his (presumed) death?
In Ventimiglia's eyes, Jack was able to manage his feelings about the war as he grew older, but, as we saw in Season 2, his guilt about his brother seems to have thrown him for the loop every now and then later in life. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly last fall, Ventimiglia said that Jack is still holding onto "a lot" from his time in Vietnam, explaining:
Anyone who is in the theater of war is experiencing things that a civilian on the streets has no idea about. War is horrible, and if you’re right there in the middle of it to see the atrocities, you can’t not be impacted by it. So only getting a glimpse of Jack hopping out of a helicopter with an M16 rifle, looking like he’s in the s—, he wasn’t just a mechanic. Or he was just a mechanic. But also, I think Jack in his younger years saying he was just a mechanic is just a way to put off other questions, because Jack had adjusted his own perspective on life post-war and moved forward... It’s nothing anyone can ever expect to have, but Jack was fortunate enough to have a clean perspective moving forward and manage whatever emotional distress he experienced while he was over in Vietnam.
We'll be the judges of Jack's emotional trauma in Vietnam whenever Season 3 provide us with further insight into his war experiences. Maybe we can even expect a tearjerker flashback involving Kevin walking the same exact steps in Vietnam as a fighting Jack had. Yup, that'll destroy my tear ducts.
Season 3 of This Is Us premieres this fall on NBC.