Sorry, Rebecca, but something very bad did happen on Christmas Eve.
The season of giving gave This Is Us viewers a cliffhanger wrapped up in a bow made of surgical tape: The winter finale of the NBC dramedy, which aired Tuesday, concluded with Toby (Chris Sullivan) on the operating table at the hospital, fighting for his life after suffering a sudden collapse in Randall’s living room. And this happened after Toby flew across the country, showed up at Randall’s doorstep without an invitation, and proclaimed his love for Kate (Chrissy Metz), who had kicked him ever-so-softly to the curb a few weeks ago, but now decided to change her mind after hearing his “I love you more than that brownie thing on the plane” speech.
Sullivan offered his thoughts on the huge life-or-death twist for his character, which you can read over here, but right now, Sterling K. Brown, whose Randall witnessed the Toby trauma with the rest of his family, weighs in on that major medical emergency and the fate of the man in grave jeopardy.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Toby is not looking so good. On a scale of “Oh my God, they killed Toby!” to “Eh, he’ll be all right after an extended hospital stay,” how is Toby?
STERLING K. BROWN: On that scale, I would say… Toby is not in the clear. I can say Toby is not in the clear, but as an actor who very much enjoyed the presence of Chris Sullivan, [I’m] hoping for the best.
What did you think of that plot development? Did that one catch you off-guard?
Sure. The way in which it was left orginally — now it’s been re-edited a little bit — you’re left with a cliffhanger wondering whether or not Dr. K [Gerald McRaney] is going to make it, and/or Toby is going to make it. So we resolved the Dr. K story line in the episode, and leave the Toby one hanging. So, when you first read it, you’re like, “Oh, sh–!!! Are we going to lose everybody??? What the f— is going on???” That was my original reaction to it (laughs), and then when I saw the [final edit], I was like, “Ah, at least Dr. K’s okay. That’s good. But what the f—? Is Toby…?” He makes this grand gesture, flies all the way across the country to dedicate his love and reaffirm his commitment to this relationship to my sister, to all of a sudden, “Maybe he’s not going to make it!”
And in watching it… I have to give Sully all the props in the world because they laid it in very subtly. The fact that he’s a little short of breath, and you think, “Oh, you know,maybe he’s just tired and over-excited and all those sorts of things,” but then when you see what it culminates in, you’re like, “Oh, s—!” And I knew it was going to happen. I saw it happen. But when I saw the edit of it, I can only imagine how everybody else is going to flip the f— out.
What sticks out to you about shooting that scene? You were there in the room. When I interviewed Chris, he said that he didn’t want to use a stunt man. And he said it wasn’t a stunt coffee table.
This is all very true. He had on a little extra padding, so that he had some cushion before he went down, but he did it. I mean, he went full-tilt, each time. I’m just happy that he didn’t hurt himself, because it’s real easy on something that looks innocuous to do something bad to yourself. So, he made it through unscathed, and he probably needs to get some kind of stunt pay for that because he kind of killed it.
I know you can’t reveal whether Toby lives or dies, but if it does not go well for him, is it fair to say that the actors will be picketing outside of [creator] Dan Fogelman’s office?
People will be pissed. If Chris Sullivan does not make it beyond episode 10, I think people will be quite distraught — Chrissy Metz probably being at the top of that list, but not far behind will be Sterling K. Brown and all the rest of the cast.