The episode did contain some optimism in the repairing of Kate’s relationship with her mother. It was heartbreaking to hear Rebecca tell young Kate, “We never got there,” but they started to get there in the present with Rebecca greeting Kate with open arms at the door. Obviously, every relationship has progress and regression to old habits. How significant is this bonding moment, which seemed to be paved by Rebecca being the one person who would truly relate to this tragedy, based on what happened with Kyle?
BERGER: From the beginning of our season, starting in episode 2, we wanted to set up that this was a season that was somewhat about the repair of this relationship that’s always been so fraught. And honestly, that image of Rebecca showing up at Kate’s door is one of the first things that Dan [Fogelman, the show’s creator] had in his head in terms of this season. That’s something we always knew that we were driving to, so we tried to lay the groundwork for explaining what makes this relationship so complicated and so intense and so messy. For all of us, it’s such a catharsis when she finally shows up and Kate finally is able to fall into her mother’s arms. It felt really nice to get there after half a season’s worth of episodes.
APTAKER: That said, after we come back from the break, we’re kicking into wedding overdrive and that certainly brings up all kinds of new, fun things for a mother and a daughter. [Laughs.]… This is a huge repair for them, and like Elizabeth said, really speaks to what we set up in those early episodes, in that big fight they had. But our show, we try to be realistic and don’t believe you have one beautiful moment with a parent and then all is well forever, so there’s definitely more to do there.
Young Kate says that if she didn’t get into Berklee, it would ruin her, but she truly couldn’t deal with disappointing her mother. Later in the episode, Kate feels like she failed Toby. What is it about Kate that makes her assume a greater burden than just processing her own disappointment or grief?
BERGER: I think it’s someone who we’ve seen carries a tremendous amount of guilt in her body, from the trauma that she’s been through already, which might make her susceptible to feeling a little guiltier than other. And I think it’s also just a very human way that compassionate people feel in relations to people they love. It’s almost worse to let the people you love down than let yourself down, and Kate is definitely a person that walks around with that philosophy.
Both Kate and Kevin are in need of comfort/help right now. It seems that Kate is in slightly better shape to help Kevin, based on the way she comes out of the episode, but what would you say about their relationship in the coming episodes?
APTAKER: Kevin and Kate have both really missed out on pretty major things in each other’s lives. And for a duo that we’ve shown is almost magically connected in certain twin ways, they’ve been absent. They haven’t been there for each other. When they realize what they missed, that’s going to be a wake-up call and they’re going to realize that they need to do better.
You saw the sexual assault allegation that surfaced about Sylvester Stallone [which he denied]. I know you’ve said that you would have him back anytime, though it was a one-off guest spot. Have you had any discussions about this — and would you want him to come back given the allegation?
APTAKER: We’ve had no discussions, honestly. He’s not been part of the plan going forward before these allegations, so it hasn’t really affected our stories at all.
Next week is the final installment of the trilogy, as we focus on Randall (Sterling K. Brown). In the present, we last saw Randall with Kevin at his door. What can you hint about his story?
APTAKER: In the past, Randall and Jack head to Washington, D.C., to go on a college tour and learn some unexpected truths about each other. And in the present… something crazy and totally unexpected happens in Randall and Beth’s life, and to say any more would be ruining it.
“Number Three” is the fall finale as well. Do we end on a twist, cliffhanger, both, or other?
APTAKER: We definitely end on a cliffhanger.
BERGER: We also wanted to feel a completion to this trilogy of episodes that we just told, so hopefully by the time that the third one ends, all three will feel very of a piece and also feel like we’re propelling toward the second half of the season.
APTAKER: It’s that rare blend of everything feeling resolved — and yet completely up in the air. We need a word for that.
To read what Chrissy Metz had to say about Kate’s miscarriage, click here.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.