On November 13th’s Season 3 Episode 7 of This Is Us, titled “Someday,” flashbacks to Jack’s time in the Vietnam War and his first road trip with Rebecca reveal a new character from his past: Roger.
Toward the end of the episode, Jack, who has just driven with Rebecca to Los Angeles so she can give her demo CD to music agents, shows up at the door of a couple we’ve never seen before on the show. When they answer the door, he reveals who he is, and says that it is his fault that their son died.
As he sits on their couch with the couple to explain, he reveals that the accident that killed their son happened while they were playing football. He let his guard down, throws a pass, and their son stepped on a land mine when he ran to catch it. While Jack emotionally tells the story, the episode cuts in and out of flashbacks from the fatal scene, a sequence that concludes with the explosion that ended Roger’s life.
It is a devastating, but illuminating, moment for Jack’s character, who up to this point has revealed very little about his time in Vietnam (in this same episode, in the present day, Jack’s son Kevin travels to Vietnam in an effort to understand the part of his father’s life he spoke so little about). While it has been assumed that the source of Jack’s PTSD was related to his little brother (which likely still has a lot to do with it), tonight showed reader’s that before he lost his brother, he lost a younger member of his squad who he, as the superior, was responsible for. In a moment of levity, during which Jack allows himself the casual companionship of throwing a football around in a field, he fails to consider the threats of their environment, and watches a young life lost.
Though he blames himself and has clearly carried that guilt with him, Roger’s parents forgive him, and assure that it was not his fault. After that encounter, he allows himself the release of crying in front of Rebecca as she sings to him, a sign that her presence in his life is bringing back light that was lost because of that haunting time in the war.