The actress also drops hints about Kate & Phillip and the upcoming Kate-centric episode that she co-wrote.
This Is Us - Season 3

This Is Us will bid you farewell at the end of season 6, but before that, Kate Pearson will deal with a painful goodbye or two of her own.

A flash-forward in the season 5 finale of NBC's hit family drama revealed that Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) are no longer married. In fact, she is saying hello to romance with her grumpy music school colleague Phillip (Chris Geere), whom she marries just a few years from now. How will her relationship with Toby deteriorate? When will one with Phillip blossom? What does Kate 2.0 look like in this final season (which kicks off Jan. 4)? Chrissy Metz — who also hosts Discovery+'s Meet Your Makers Showdown and will co-host the 133rd Rose Parade on New Year's Day with TIU costar Susan Kelechi Watson — tackles these questions in this preview Q&A.

She also teases the key Kate-focused episode that she co-wrote, and drops hints that health issues will play a huge role this season, and that viewers will see two "very important" characters reach the end of their journey. (We know that Rebecca is ailing, but who else might she be referring to?) Read on to see what Metz had to reveal about the "most emotional" season yet.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about what viewers will see in the final season?

CHRISSY METZ: Oh boy. Well, they're going to see a lot of closure, which is interesting, because when one door closes, another one opens. So there's a lot of closure, but there's also new beginnings. There will be a lot of things tied up — beginnings and endings, maybe of people's lives and relationships. And ego and pride. [Laughs]

Using a superlative, how would you describe the season versus other seasons?

I do think, as a whole, it will be the most emotional. Because we are seeing so much take place, whether it's with Rebecca or a relationship such as Kate and Toby's. Also, there's already heightened emotion because it's the last season, so I definitely think it will be the most emotional. But also there's going to be a lot of contentment.

Let's talk about Kate. When we talked after the season 5 finale, you were hinting that Kate was going to continue to show up for herself, but in a different way in the final season. She's making herself a priority. Now that you know more about this season, what can you say about the Kate that we'll see in season 6?

She is definitely making herself a priority, and understanding that everybody that's put in our lives has a significant impact. And, of course, Toby has [done that] with Kate. She's a better person for knowing him and loving him. She also is realizing that she's a mother, but she's a woman and her own person too, and that there will be a turning point when she chooses herself. And I don't think she's really, truly done that. She has gone through everything she's gone through in order to say, "Yeah, this isn't working for me, and I have to make my own decision for myself." And I think that is such a testament to how far she's come and how she walks into this next chapter of her life.

Speaking of that next chapter, there was a big bomb dropped in the finale, about her winding up with Phillip. Among the first photos of season 6 is one of Phillip staring at Kate, with a look on his face that indicates that he will be changing his tune on her. But how soon do we start to see even the seeds of that relationship? And more importantly, how soon does Kate's relationship with Toby start to fall apart?

Not too early. [In] the early episodes of the season, she's getting to know him and seeing things that she didn't remotely understand about Phillip. You can see them getting along, but there's definitely no romance — yet. The episode that I got to co-write, which is [episode] 9, which is Kate's episode — that's going to be a massive turning point for Kate and Toby.

This Is Us
Chrissy Metz as Kate, Chris Sullivan as Toby on 'This Is Us.'
| Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

You also had mentioned in the spring that you and Chris Sullivan hadn't talked about the split to come. Over the summer, Chris said that you still hadn't talked about it, because it was just too sad. Are you talking about it more now?

It makes us very sad. Even when we're doing those foreshadowing scenes of what the relationship is going to become — or lack of relationship — it's sad. I trust Chris so much, and he's just been such a good friend and co-worker and costar and scene stealer. It's really hard. We definitely both try to avoid it. It's like [moans in pain]. We know it's there, so let's just not put salt in the wound. [Laughs]

What has it been like to work with Chris Geere? He's coming into a very interesting situation, one in which people have strong feelings about the Kate-Toby relationship.

It's funny because he's like, "I'm coming into this world already with the odds against me." And I'm like, "That's what happens with new men coming into the Pearson women's life. Sorry." But he's such a great guy and he's so fun, and it's really nice to have someone who just comes into the fold in such a perfect way. We haven't had a ton of time together, but he's great.

Is there anything you want to say to fans bracing for the split? How might they co-parent and could they even wind up as friends?
Neither one is right and neither one of them is wrong. It's just people grow apart. So there is this mutual love and respect — and, of course, for their children and the life they created together, but also the one that they want to share, even if they're not together. It's really going to be interesting to watch everybody figure out how the changes will take place, but then also coming out on the other side of it and what it means. In relationships, we want to point fingers and say, "Oh, it's the other person." It's hard to accept our own faults or our own issues, but what is so cool about Kate and Toby is that neither one can really blame [the] other. We're going to get to see that unfold. As much as somebody wants to take a side and say, "Oh, I'm Team Kate" or "I'm Team Toby," it's Team Let's Have a Healthy Relationship Even if We're Not in a Relationship. I think it's going to be really fascinating to watch it unravel.

How much will the long distance take its toll in the early episodes, now that Toby has taken the job in San Francisco?

Early on, Kate feels as if she's parenting by herself, even though Toby's doing everything he can. And this is where it plays to the "nobody's right, nobody's wrong." He's doing it to make sure that his family's taken care of and she's like, "Yeah, but you're not here, and I feel like I'm parenting by myself." And then he feels bad because he's not there and he's missing these big milestones. It's all of that. Anytime any spouse has a job outside of [town], it's really, really difficult. And I think a lot of people will relate to that, especially coming off of the pandemic where people are like, "I just need a job," or in Kate's respect, she's like, "I just finally found a job that I love and I don't want that to change. Why do I have to move?" A lot of very interesting conversations around that. Yes, it plays a huge factor in the relationship.

You've co-written an upcoming episode. A while back, you mentioned that you had the seeds of an idea for a Kate episode. How did this come to life? And can you hint at the revelations in that episode?

I got to write it with [This Is Us writer-producers] David Windsor and Casey Johnson, and I just love them. They're the best partners to write with. Mandy [Moore] is directing the episode, which is even more exciting. I think I'm the one that probably understands Kate the most, and in a very intricate, emotional, deep way. So the way we formulated the whole episode was: Kate's wanting to salvage this [marriage]. She knows there's some sort of disconnect. So she goes to try to salvage it and… we shall see what happens. They both want this beautiful, amazing weekend, but sometimes we don't get what we want.

[This Is Us creator] Dan had mentioned that he wanted to give all of the cast members a chance to direct, and you and Susan [Kelechi Watson] went in the writing direction. Did you think about directing but then decide that you wanted to write one instead?

You know, I always wanted to write one before I directed it. There's so much that goes into an episode, into the scene, into a prop, into a costume. I wanted to understand it from other perspectives before I was like, "Hey, guys, I'm going to tell you what to do!" I know directing is a collaborative art, and the episode Chris directed was so wonderful and he was so awesome as a director, I'm like, "I don't know if my character defects would be glaringly apparent if I directed." I would be so nervous. As much as I want to, I just didn't feel ready yet. I felt like with writing, not only could I understand everything as a whole to eventually direct, but I had a burning desire to write.

What's one cryptic clue you can drop about the final season?

People are going to be on the edge of their seats with characters' health issues. Also, what it means for the family and decisions that have to be made — the dynamic of children in the family. Two very important characters, we will see the end of their journey and that's always just so difficult. It's going to be a lot.

You haven't filmed the series finale yet. You've known the broad strokes, though, so what can you say about how this is all going to wrap up?

I think it's going to wrap up really beautifully. The way Dan and the writers have orchestrated every single episode of every season is so beautifully done and bittersweet. And the taste of life is very, very bittersweet. I know it's going that way, but I don't know any real particulars yet.

Does the mood on the set reflect that the end is near, or is it still too early?

Too early. We don't even like to talk about it. We're pretending right now that it's just another season.

You mentioned that it was going to be the most emotional season yet. What advice do you have for someone sitting down to watch it?

With a very open heart. I really think it's important to feel all the feelings. I think a lot of people don't watch the show because they're so afraid to feel everything that's going to come up. But what is so special about the show is that you can relate. You can either wish you would have said something or wish you didn't say something through these characters. And if you can watch it with just the most vulnerable, open heart, you really are going to get so much from it — and also grow from it.

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This Is Us - Season 3
This Is Us

NBC’s beloved era-hopping drama tells the story of the Pearson family through the years.

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