'It’s a very delicate balancing act,' Isaac Aptaker hints of Kate's '90s story
Last week’s episode of This Is Us, titled “Number One,” took us inside the downward spiral that is Kevin Pearson, but just when you thought the lost actor hit his lowest point, he learned that another member of the Big Three was in deeper pain: Kate (Chrissy Metz) just lost her baby.
This week’s episode, titled, yes, “Number Two,” which is the middle installment of the trilogy that focuses on each sibling, will return to the same 24-hour period that an intoxicated Kevin (Justin Hartley) ignored phone calls from Toby (Chris Sullivan) and Kate during his return visit to his high school, but this time the show will focus how Kate’s day took a turn for the tragic. The aspiring singer only recently found out she was pregnant and kept it secret for a while, because she did not want to raise her hopes about this high-risk pregnancy, and now the nightmare is real. “It’s definitely raw, and we see Kate at her most vulnerable,” Metz tells EW. “We’ve not seen her this vulnerable yet. She feels very alone in this journey, until she has help from people who really do love her, and she’s just so uncertain about the whole journey because it’s unchartered territory.”
“Number Two” will sit in the immediacy and aftermath of this devastating loss, and how it affects the bond between Kate and Toby. “It tests their relationship,” says Metz. “What’s so great about [the writers] bringing it to light in our show is that nobody knows how to address the situation, nobody knows how to talk about it, no one knows when to talk about it, where to talk about it. There’s just a lot of shame surrounding it. [She’s] feeling that she’s the only one going through it but your other half actually goes through it too even though it might not be a physical change. He’s definitely feeling the pain and the grief as well.”
This Is Us executive producer Issac Aptaker — who describes “Number Two” as a “special hour of television” — notes that there are repercussions to Toby’s urging Kate to abandon caution when she got the good news. “She was being as protective as possible in terms of getting invested in this pregnancy,” he hints. “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?’”
In the past story for Kate, we revisit the day teenage Kevin injured his knee and see the Big Three in the throes of college application time. “Kevin has such a path that is now upended in [“Number One”]; Randall is the math-science guy and the world is his oyster, he can go wherever he wants,” says Aptaker. “But for Kate, she’s a little aimless and Rebecca is trying, in a totally supportive way, to help her daughter find a path, but as we have seen in the past, when Rebecca tries to be there for Kate, despite her best intentions, it doesn’t always work out. So it’s about that classic mother-daughter relationship when you’re dealing with all the anxieties that come senior year of high school as you’re trying to figure out what the next chapter of your life is, and your parents want to help you, but don’t want to be overbearing. It’s a very delicate balancing act.”
“Number Two” airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC. To see why Justin Hartley thinks that Kevin might not have even hit rock-bottom by the end of “Number One,” click here.