Toby made it out of the midseason premiere with not only with his life, but also… a soon-to-be wife?

By Dan Snierson
January 13, 2017 at 12:54 PM EST
Ron Batzdorff/NBC
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Toby made it out of the midseason premiere with not only with his life, but also… a soon-to-be wife?

Tuesday’s episode of NBC dramedy This Is Us answered the big Is Toby alive? question at the beginning of the hour, as we watched Kate (Chrissy Metz) anxiously visit boyfriend-turned-ex-boyfriend-turned-boyfriend Toby (Chris Sullivan) in the hospital after he collapsed on Christmas Eve. (He was awake! And wanted to have sex!) In the rush of recent emotion, he told her that he was in love with her, which caught her off-guard, but when he was unconsciously recovering from a second surgery, she poured out her heart and told him that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. (He was secretly awake! And wanted to marry her!)

Indeed, Toby was just pretending to be asleep, and after hearing everything she said, he told her that he’d marry the hell out of her, which she seemed more than agreeable to do. Between this latest rash romantic development and her recent declaration that she was having gastric bypass surgery, Kate is in the throes of major life change. EW spoke with series creator Dan Fogelman about the episode over here, and now we ring up Metz to talk about “The Right Thing to Do,” and see what lies ahead for Kate and her boyfriend (fiancé?) Toby. 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start here: Toby lived.
CHRISSY METZ:
Yayyyyyy!

[Series creator] Dan Fogelman said that the script for this episode came out on the heels of the fall finale’s,  so the cast knew pretty early on that Toby would survive the collapse. But immediately after reading the fall finale, how nervous were you? You previously told us that you were devastated and that you “needed answers.”  What do you remember saying to Dan?
I said, “Listen, I’m not doing this without Chris. Figure it out.” (Laughs) I don’t want to ever work without Chris Sullivan. He’s just so wonderful. (Sighs) I mean, I can’t say enough about him and what he’s done for me and my career and just my everyday life…. [Dan] was like, “Chrissy, don’t worry, don’t worry.”

Chris made a joke about having a heart attack in one of the episodes. When we were shooting an episode early on — I think maybe 5 or 6 — and he was pretending as if he was having a heart attack and proceeded to fall on the ground, and they were like, “No, no, no, wait! That’s foreshadowing!” And we were like, “What? Wait, hold on, what?” And Chris and I were like, “Hmmmm.” And he’s like, “Listen, I’m [No.] 7 on the call sheet.” And I’m like, “Chris… stop it!” I mean, people would be devastated if there was no Toby and Kate. So I was like, “If there’s anything I can do.” And I’m like, “Dan,” and he’s like, “Chrissy, don’t worry.” And I’m like, “Okay, good.”

So I never necessarily was worried, [but] you never know what the writers might come up with in how to move the story along. So after reading it, and then when Toby has to go in and have another surgery, it’s like, “Come on! Are you kidding?” They just like to keep you on edge.

As you were reading in the script that he was going to be having this big surgery, did you become worried again for a second that Dan had faked everyone out?
I did for a second, and then I thought, “He can’t do this to us!” I trusted him, so I was like, “Okay. Whatever you decide as the writers and the creator of this show, I’m going to just trust you.” And then they wrote something so romantic and beautiful! That was probably one of my favorite scenes to do —when Kate professed her love for him. And that happens in situations where you’re like, “If I lose this person, I don’t want this to be unsaid.” And to know that he was obviously awake the whole time is so, so, so sweet and tender. And it was really special to do. And obviously, to work with [director] Tim Busfield was awesome because I’ve been a fan for so long.

Was Chris amused by all the “Is Toby alive or dead” drama?
Oh, yeah. Well, we actually just discovered that Toby has been a ghost the whole time. (Laughs) We just got to the point where it’s been so ridiculous, so many questions. And it’s hard because it’s not like it’s just been a week apart. It’s been the whole Christmas break before the show came back on… I think eventually you just have to start making light of it because you just hate to – I mean, how many lies can you come up with and how many times can you deny what’s going on?

In the heightened frenzy of emotion, and with Kate feeling bad that she didn’t return Toby’s “I love you,” she professes her love and they kinda-sorta get engaged. Do you consider them engaged? And can we say that this was partly romantic but mostly too soon?
I do think it’s very romantic and partly too soon at the same time. But I think that whether or not you know somebody well, you know well enough that you could love them for a lifetime, or enough to get married. There’s a lot of people who are betrothed, and they eventually come to love each other. It’s a relationship that continues to blossom and they learn a lot from each other.

Yeah, it’s pretty soon. But yes, they’re engaged. However, where’s the ring, right? No, I’m kidding. You’ll come to see that.… I hope we can see wedding dress sketches soon. And if there’s a wedding planner who’d like to contribute, that’d be great… I think that they are starting to realize that they have to do things for themselves. Toby had to really think about having that surgery and taking care of himself, not only for himself but for the love that he has for Kate. It was unexpected for me when I read that. I was like, ”Wow! The first season’s not even over yet.”

NEXT: Metz discusses Kate’s upcoming surgery and Kevin’s love triangle

What is the next step in their journey? Are they going to be second-guessed by certain family members who might say that this all happening a bit fast?
I don’t even know if they will be outwardly [unsupportive], and if they are, I don’t know how vocal they will be about it. But I think that also you discover that she’s still grappling with the gastric bypass decision because she just saw Toby go through these two really close calls. They’re both going to learn from each other, but also know that they have individual issues that they still are contending with to make their engagement and their marriage the best that it can be.

Kate now has two big decisions that she’s made, one perhaps rashly — to get engaged — and the other was to have the surgery. She’s taking on a lot of life changes, very fast. Is it more than she can handle? And what kind of struggle will she go through trying to wrap her head around all of this?
It’s sort of happens that way in life — and not negatively, but when it rains, it pours. There’s a lot that you face all at once. I think that Kate has been not delusional, but she hasn’t really wanted to face these demons, and it’s going to just cause her to have to do it because this is real life stuff. Her brother’s gone, her fiancé is dealing with a lifestyle change he has to make because of his surgeries, and, of course, that’s going to force her to have to be on the straight and narrow for herself as well and not to tempt him. Yeah, it is a lot. But I think that’s when you really find out what you’re made of, and she’s a tough cookie deep, deep down, even though she’s very sensitive.

In other news from the episode… do you have a rooting interest in the romantic triangle involving Kevin (Justin Hartley), Olivia (Janet Montgomery) and Sloane (Milana Vayntrub)?
Personally? No. I think that Kate understands Olivia after she got all pissy and fled the cabin. I think she understands Olivia in that she’s really misunderstood. And, you know, hurt people. But I think that Kate’s rooting for Sloane because she’s just a really sweet girl, and she genuinely likes Kevin. And Olivia seems to be interested in personal gains, as far as her career or bettering herself as a person to make herself a better actress. So I would say Sloane.

It’s frustrating to watch because you’re like, “Kevin is doing the right thing! He’s doing it!” And then, “Oh, no, he messed it up.” As Dan said, “He’s just not good at being good, even though he is good.”
Right. And because I think he’s never really had to. He hasn’t really exercised those muscles. And also, a lot of the time, we believe that one decision is better than the other, for whatever reason, whatever our motivations are. And I think he’s like, “Oh, well, Olivia is the deep-rooted amazing actress who’s really respected,” and he wants to be in that company. So I think it’s his motivations, and I don’t even think he realizes what he’s doing yet. And also we want things we can’t have, right?

William (Ron Cephas Jones) told Randall (Sterling K. Brown) that the medication wasn’t working and he wanted to stop chemotherapy, which would accelerate his end. What was the cast reaction to this?
It’s really devastating.

Did you go into the writers’ room and say, “It looks like you guys are going to need to come up with a new miracle drug”?
“Yeah. Figure it out, Dan Fogelman.” He’s taught Randall in such a short time, so much, and the family so much. And it’s one of those things that you go back to the previous episodes and you think, “Oh my gosh! All of these words of wisdom and all these experiences that he got to share with everybody, it just makes it that much more important and urgent and poignant. But it’s like, “Wait a minute! No! Wait! Can’t you convince him?” But of course, you can understand that it’s about the quality of life at this point. Yeah, it’s devastating.

Kleenex-wise, it seems like this is a stock-up situation.
Oh, yeah! Did you think any less?

To read a Q&A with Dan Fogelman about the episode, click here.

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