What’s Andrew’s secret in ‘Back’? Let me hijack the fansite for a moment to bring you my theory: I propose to you that Andrew Thomas Donnelly is in fact the real Stephen Nichols. Dun dun duhhhhhhhhhh!
Firstly is Stephen a foster child? Well I think he is. Obviously he was surrounded by foster children throughout his childhood, so much so that he has ‘no memories of Andrew’ which I think is a very important fact. Stephen is nothing like his family and his personality seems to be at odds with them all. Andrew was with the Nichols for 5 months, ‘the happiest of his life’ odd that he was moved on so quickly considering he was Ellen’s ‘favourite foster child’. I think during this time Andrew and Stephen became very close, in fact I don’t think Andrew was called Andrew at this time. I think he was also called Stephen.
So there were these two Stephens in amongst a sea of other foster kids. The Nichols, although loving, certainly don’t seem to be the most clued up bunch to be capable of keeping track of all their foster children. Stephen, adopted at a very young age, would have been wantonly oblivious to the fact that he might also be a foster child himself, and the Stephen we know as Andrew may have become aware that one of them was about to be ‘moved on’ while the other adopted into the Nichols family. So what does Andrew do? I believe he finds a way to swap their identities to give his beloved brother a better shot at a happy life totally unbeknownst to our oblivious Stephen.
So does Ellen know about Andrew’s true identity as the real Stephen now? The son they intended to adopt? I believe she does. In episode one Ellen tells Stephen Andrew was ‘in touch with Laurie on Facebook’. I think during this time Andrew reached out to the Nichols family. On Facebook Andrew explained what he did as a child and as a result ‘Andrew’ gets left 5% of the John Barleycorn and is welcomed back with open arms as we’ve seen, on the condition perhaps that he won’t tell Stephen the truth.
Why would ‘Andrew’ do this? Well we know Andrew to be desperate to please people and although he seems furtive now, at 10 years old a simple genuine love for his brother could easily have spurred him on to do this. Although Andrew comes across to us as dangerous and unstable, he’s actually very passive to Stephen. But he also wants his place in the family. His place ‘Back’ in the family I would say, his place as what he should have been all along – the Nichol’s adopted son.
I’ve run two polls on the fan site twitter after each episode asking simply: Is Andrew evil? They both came back with a roughly 80% Yes result. (We had about 50 votes each time by the way! Cheers for the support guys!) So is it that simple? I think Andrew has certainly done some bad things. It’s been hotly debated if he did actually intend to kill that man on the plane in episode 1. He appears to be a con man as his attempts to impress and help rarely have any substance behind them and I have no theories as to what the ‘missing 18 months’ are about. There must be a reason Andrew came back to the Nichols, something he’s running away from…
Okay let’s look at the series finale’s plot synopsis from the channel 4 press office:
A revelation that will change everything? Implying something that will change Stephen’s life as well as Andrew’s? To me it feels like this would be the ultimate irony for Stephen: He spends the entire series believing Andrew is trying to steal his life and in the end, it turns out that all along he stole Andrew’s.
But that’s just my theory. I want your theories! If you have a theory then get in touch with us!