On a scale of “They’re done” to “Who doesn’t like a third chance?”, where do Kevin and Sophie stand?
We’re very aware that their story is unresolved, and they had that very shocking breakup on the front steps. And for a relationship that spans so many decades and is so deep, that there is a final chapter there that has not yet been told. At the same time, Kevin has a lot to do before I could ever recommend, were Sophie my friend or my sister, that she take him back.
Alexandra Breckenridge, who was made a series regular this season, is pregnant in real life. How might that impact how you are telling that story in the second half of the season? How much will we get to see her?
She’s due very, very soon. It’s definitely doable now, due to some very creative framing and very expensive but beautiful-looking digital effect that they can use to take out the pregnancy. We’ve been able to work around it, so nothing’s off the table with her.
Let’s go to the powerhouse moment on Charlotte’s lawn near the end of the episode. His first attempt to call out for help was his whimpering into the night when no one could hear him. How did you decide to make that the moment that would break Kevin — the word pathetic comes to mind to describe him there — and what were the different ways that you discussed to “break” him?
We knew it was always going to be the necklace. And we had a couple of different versions of how he actually would come to lose the necklace. Because the house burned down, this probably isn’t a family with a lot of artifacts and a lot of mementos. So this necklace takes on an added significance in how rare it is; it’s his only real physical manifestation of his father. So we knew when he lost that, that would be his “Oh my god,” his low point. And we came up with the idea of Charlotte [Stefanie Black] early on in the episode, and it’s very dark — it’s one of the darkest things I think anyone on our show has ever done. He sleeps with a woman to basically steal her prescription pad. But what would really get through to this character and be the wake-up call is losing that one artifact from his father.
That may be the darkest moment, but we were worried that it was going to get even darker when the homecoming coordinator student shows up on the field and says, “Do you wanna party?” Then we cut to him in bed with someone and we think, “Oh, no…”
It could have gotten a lot worse, I know. [Laughs.]
We’re actually relieved to see that he’s just using this doctor for a prescription pad.
Which says a lot about how far Kevin has fallen that we’re relieved that he’s sleeping with an adult to get her prescription pad instead of sleeping with a high school student.
Poor Kevin. Just when he finally reaches out for help — and we think maybe we’re going to get a mirror of the scene from “Jack Pearson’s Son,” where Kevin will be crying in Randall’s shoulders this time — he learns that Kate is in even worse shape: she’s lost the baby. How will he react to this news? Is he in danger of stuffing down his feelings and plea for help because his sister is in a huge time of need?
That’s yet another wakeup call to Kevin of how absent he’s been to other people around him. I mean, we’ve seen how much he’s hurt Sophie. But I don’t think Kevin even realizes how disconnected he’s been from his family and especially his twin sister. So when that bomb is dropped on him, it’s another, “Oh my god, I’ve been in this hole of a downward spiral, and I haven’t even realized that other things are going on in the world and with the people that I love.”
What can you tease about what happens next to him — and how he’s going to prioritize his own care?
We certainly hope that he’s able to see that as another “Oh, wow, I need to fix myself, I haven’t been there” and ask Randall for the help that he came to his house to get. But at the same time, that’s a big bomb to be dropped, and Kevin is not in a great state of mind to receive news like that.
Are Randall’s hands about to be more full than they’ve ever been?
You’ll see what’s going on in Randall’s story in two weeks. All of our Big Three have had an incredibly trying couple of days in this weekend before Thanksgiving that these episodes are all set on.
Can you hint at how Kate react to this tragedy of losing a child?
That’s next week’s episode. [It’s] a special hour of television. This is one of those issues where once you started talking about it, every single person in our writers’ room either had experienced a miscarriage or a sibling or an incredibly close friend who experienced a miscarriage, and yet it’s something that you so rarely see dealt with on network television. We just tried to do an incredibly honest story of what it’s like for a couple experiencing this really, really difficult time.
She kept the pregnancy a secret for a while because she didn’t want to get her up hopes or anyone else’s hopes. She dealt with a different dynamic in Toby, who was so excited, and then she started to let herself invest in it just a little bit, and now it’s gone. How will that impact her?
That’s really tough. She was really, really reluctant to tell anyone. She didn’t want to let herself get excited. She was being as protective as possible in terms of getting invested in this pregnancy. And Toby was the one who broke her open and said, “No, this is exciting. We have to believe in this, and we have to get psyched about it.” So, for now, to have to go the other way, there’s certainly a lot of resentment she’s probably going to be feeling toward Toby, about “How could you do this? How could you get me excited and now it’s gone?”
While we knew that Kate’s pregnancy was positioned as high-risk, the tragedy in this story line is happening a lot faster than we would have expected. And we find out this information in someone else’s story line. It’s a surprising and powerful moment at end of this episode, but how did you decide to reveal that there? Were you worried about taking away such a dramatic reveal in Kate’s story next week?
It’s really an unusual way of telling the story. It speaks to what we’re trying to do with these three episodes, where the whole idea is you think you’re watching one thing, and then you don’t realize that the way that someone else is experiencing the same exact period of time completely different. So, it was important to us to connect the episodes. Each one is framed with the home video of the Big Three, and it’s about how you can become so fixated on what’s happening in your life that you miss what’s happening around you. So if you go back into Kevin’s story, there’s that moment where Toby is trying to call him, and he totally misses it. So you’ll see next week what’s been going on in California and what was happening when those phone calls were placed. You’ll literally be on the other side on the phone, and see how these days are connected to each other.
What is your one-sentence tease for “Number Two”?
It’s a beautiful depiction of how a relationship can survive and really, really be tested.
To see why Justin Hartley wonders if Kevin has even hit rock-bottom, click here.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.