The audience found out that Kate lost her baby at the end of last Tuesday's episode, "Number One," but "Number Two" took us through the devastating event and Kate's trauma after the fact. Initially, our stubborn middle Pearson refused to acknowledge just how devastating losing her baby really was, but over the course of the episode This Is Us broke down her walls and delivered a vulnerable Kate, stronger than ever before.
"Number Two" not only went a long way in showing how strong Kate and Toby (Chris Sullivan) have become as a couple, but it dug deep into Kate's relationship with her own mother, Rebecca (Mandy Moore). The two have been at odds since Kate was a small child, with Kate always using sarcasm and resentment to keep Rebecca at arm's length. The loss of a child is an intense emotional battleground though, and Rebecca was able to use the death of her own child to bridge the gap between herself and her only daughter.
TV Guide talked to Chrissy Metz about the heartbreaking episode and why Kate is ready to move forward instead of backsliding after such life changing trauma.
How long did Dan Fogelman let you think that Kate was going to get to keep this baby?
Chrissy Metz: It was never discussed. When we had our pre-production meeting before the season began, we knew this was going to happen but we didn't know how far along she was going to go. I don't know if it was from prior experience from one of the writers or [if] K.J. [Steinberg], who wrote the episode, knew somebody that had experienced that amount of time being pregnant. I know they couldn't have let it go so far, because that creates something else. It was never really specified to us how far along Kate would be before the miscarriage.
There were several points in this episode where Kate could have backslid and it would have been completely understandable, like with the buffet and not letting Rebecca in to help. Were you surprised to see how much progress she's made over the past season and a half?
Metz: I think it's great to see that progress, but at the same time, everyone handles their grief differently...Knowing through the weight loss immersion camp that you can't eat your feelings because it just causes more pain, then more guilt. It's cyclical. I think that [Kate] was just so broken, so disappointed. A lot of her disappointment was shame and there's a lot of shame around miscarriage. It's really great that they are bringing this to light and we are able to have conversations about it.
A lot of what her deflecting and explanation from previous episodes like, "Don't think this is going to happen!" is because she felt that because she was overweight and older, that it was her fault. Whether that played into [the miscarriage] or it was just natural because miscarriages are natural, as weird as it sounds. There was so much pain about her being overweight that she can't make the problem worse. I don't want to start bingeing again. I don't want to go to food, but that's one incident. Who knows what's going to happen? When you're filling the void with something, that's one hurdle. Who knows how many times she's going to be able to [say no]? Once is better to get over the hurdle than none. I was glad she decided not to because it was only going to make matters worse at that point, but who knows moving forward.
She decides at the end of the episode that she does want to try again to get pregnant. Is that going to lead into another obsessive need to lose weight because she feels like her weight contributed to the first miscarriage?
Metz: I hope that she has a healthier attitude. It hasn't been written specifically, yet. Because her and Toby come together and they discuss that this really difficult time in their life is not going to break them or break their relationship, I think it's going to be more about really getting to the root of the personal problems, the issues they might not have really gotten to. We know that Kevin has an addiction and that stems from something. Kate is still focusing on losing weight, but still hasn't gotten to the root of it all, because it's layered and it's complicated.
I don't think she's going to obsess. Hopefully, she'll have a better understanding of what's going to be beneficial for a short term/long term conception again. Hopefully, it won't be a crazy weird obsession. The way that a couple of these episodes that we've just shot have been written, there are going to be bumps in the road and there are going to be ebbs and flows. The food is not going to be perfect. You're not going to make the best decisions and that is sort of showing the audience that you can't beat yourself up for making mistakes. You just get back on the wagon again and you don't give up.
Speaking of staying on the bandwagon, I was surprised and happy to see that Kate wanted to try again and it was her own decision. Toby didn't push her into it. What do you think that says about her and where she is on her journey?
Metz: I think that came from her conversation with her mom, who of course surprised her and was there for her without judgement, without pointing any fingers. She realizes that, "Yeah, terrible things can happen, but that doesn't mean it has to break you. It's all about how you react to it." Okay, the good news is that she did conceive. If she did, you could do it again. Her doctor is then very supportive and loving. She has a support system around her and now she's made a concerted effort to show up for herself. She spoke to Toby in the kitchen and was very frank with how she felt and, whether it was right or wrong, she communicated her feelings. Throughout the whole process, she realizes that it's created a closer relationship with her mother and of course with her fiancee. Whether or not if they try right away or eventually, or if it happens or not, she's hopeful because she showed up for herself. She stood up for herself. She went through this really hard, really devastating loss, but it didn't completely break her. A lot can be said for that. A lot of what we go through is how do we show up for ourselves?
How significant was this moment for Kate and Rebecca? We've seen them struggle and try to get closer without it really happening. Do you feel like this is something that finally allowed them to be on the same page so they can really improve their relationship going forward?
Metz: Yeah! I think so much had to do with Kate being so devastated that she didn't have that wall up. She didn't have that anger. I don't think she thought that her mom was going to show up. When she did at the door, without explanation. Mother and daughter dynamics are always difficult but when we discover that Rebecca never held Kyle and that losing a triplet while in birth — I can't even imagine processing that. Forty years later, when she can sit there on the couch with her daughter and say, "Listen, this is what I went through. As women we are more alike than you think. As mother and daughter, we're more alike and we have gone through all this grief: losing a father and a husband and losing a child." Even though, of course, Kate wasn't pregnant to term.
When you drop your guard and have all of that vulnerability, you're just exposed, all the anger goes away. You can actually get to a vulnerability. Kate has never been vulnerable with her mom, ever. She's sort of sarcastic and angry...It also shows how strong Rebecca is and what she's gone through. Then Kate realizes, "Oh my God, I never gave her enough credit." There's a new foundation of respect and love that was never there before. Kate was just very angry [at Rebecca] because she felt like she was misunderstood.
This was obviously a huge event in Kate and Toby's relationship. They say they aren't going to let it break them, but will this be a struggle going forward?
Metz: I don't think that they've ever had a person to show up that each of them have for each other. You start to really trust that person. When you're vulnerable and you've gone through such difficult — I mean a heart attack, surgery and now a miscarriage. There's a lot going on. They do find levity throughout their journey together, but yeah they are very committed and very much in love. We see the life is not perfect but it's who do you want by your side on that imperfect journey. I think they are really great for each other in that way.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.