Tonight’s episode of This Is Us takes you to the community pool for a Pearson family outing, onto the stage as Kevin (Justin Hartley) auditions for an off-Broadway play, and out for a walk in the neighborhood, where William (Ron Cephas Jones) runs into some trouble and his bond with Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is tested. “The Pool” — which airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC — also explores a hurdle in the budding relationship between Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan), who met in a weight support group meeting. And that hurdle takes the form of the one-time love of Toby’s life, Josie (guest star Natalia Cigliuti), specifically the curiosity Kate has about her, and more specifically, what she does with that curiosity.
“It should be interesting when Toby’s past shows back up unexpectedly in the form of his ex-wife,” says Sullivan. “Kate, of course, knows that he was married before, but she’s a little bit surprised by the type of person that Toby was married to before. It raises a lot of questions for Kate that she didn’t know she had.”
Metz sets up the situation like this: “You know when you’re starting a new relationship, you might not know everything about someone’s past and when you find out that your overweight boyfriend has a hot ex-wife, and not to compare and despair, but you’re like, ‘What? I don’t understand. How did you leave her?’… There’s a lot of fun because Kate goes on a little excursion to find out who this woman really is. And then we find out who she really, really is and it’s heartbreaking because Toby feels betrayed.”
One of the challenges in this couple’s relationship has been Toby’s desire for (fast-)forward momentum butting up against Kate’s protective nature and lack of self-confidence. “What Toby doesn’t understand and what most people don’t understand, it’s not about them,” says Metz. “I think it’s such a beautiful storyline. There’s going to be ups and downs, just like every relationship, and then we’re dealing with weight issues, self-worth issues.”
Toby’s pushy but well-intended enthusiasm (see: the red-carpeted nursing home concert he set up for Kate last week) could pose challenges not just for Kate, but for all guys in the real world trying to get into a relationship. “There are going to be some men who are like, ‘I gotta step my game up because Toby is bringing it,” she says. “Toby is really bringing it — he’s so charming and so romantic. Yeah, you should all be threatened.”
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