On last night’s This Is Us season 5 episode, we saw the introduction of a brand-new mystery … one all about a photo. We met an older gentleman and his granddaughter throughout the episode, and within it we learned that they occasionally speak Vietnamese, and the grandfather liked to cook for a woman he cared about dearly. That woman, at least based on the aforementioned photo, was Randall’s biological mother Laurel.
So what is going on here? We know that Vietnam holds a special place in this show, given that this is where Jack Pearson served; meanwhile, we’ve also seen Kevin and Zoe travel there in the present timeline. Note that there’s no confirmation that the grandfather was in Vietnam during the episode, but the tie to the location is still there … and it’s no coincidence that it was crafted to make you think of the past.
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Speaking in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, here is what executive producer Dan Fogelman had to say about the decision to make the grandfather have Vietnamese heritage:
That’s certainly purposeful. Not just because of Jack having served in Vietnam. When the story is told to completion, you will see that it has to do with time and real-world history. And the fact that you’re going back into a story in the past, it’s existing inside of the same world and world events that were existing in that same time period when Jack was in Vietnam. So there is connective tissue. I’ve always set out to make the show feel like one of those sprawling family sagas that spans a few generations in a novel, where there’s different chapters, different periods, and different points of connection, even if they’re not direct points of continuation. The Vietnam War could have had a myriad of butterfly-type effects that could have affected the same family’s story in surprising and different ways.
Does this mean that this grandfather knew Jack or someone connected to him? Not necessarily, but this is a show with a very specific soul. Even without making full coincidences, even partial ones can prove fascinating in its own right.
What do you want to see when it comes to Laurel’s history and timeline on This Is Us?
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