We knew this was going to be a whopper of an episode after last week closed with Randall (Sterling K. Brown) telling Kevin (Justin Hartley), "Kate lost the baby." We were as gobsmacked as Kevin was after spending the entire hour reliving his glory days and sinking to new lows with him. This week brought Part II of the epic three-part trilogy that wraps up the fall run of NBC's "This Is Us," and it put Kate (Chrissy Metz) and her miscarriage at the center.
The writers and creators challenged themselves to create a single story told across three episodes, one for each of "The Big Three." Just beyond the halfway point, we'd say they've done an amazing job of weaving everything together thus far. We just wish we could have gotten a tease as to what Randall has been up to in the present during this tragic day to unite the trilogy just a little tighter.
One of the strengths of "This Is Us" over the course of its run thus far has been in how real the interactions between the characters is, and in the strength of the dialogue. That's why we've found ourselves spotlighting some of those amazing lines each week as we break down the show's pivotal moments.
But this week, it was in the silences that the story truly breathed and broke our hearts.
As we do every week, we're going to single out the show's most powerful moments, scoring them by how many tissues we tore through just to watch them. This week, we grabbed an extra box because we definitely went through more than we ever have.
"Sometimes It's Hard to Tell the Difference"
Teenage Kate (Hannah Zeile) hasn't gotten nearly as much focus or attention as her brothers, with one a sports prodigy and the other a math whiz, so it was nice to get to spend some time with her ... even if she was every bit as sullen and difficult as teen Kevin (Logan Shroyer) was last week. At least they got the challenges of raising teenagers right, and this line hit Rebecca (Mandy Moore) where it hurt. Kate sees herself falling short of Rebecca in so many ways, and like many kids she fears she'll disappoint her "perfect" mother. So she kept her college audition a secret, and when Rebecca tried to tell her she'd be disappointed for her and not at her if she didn't make it, Kate pointed out how hard it can be for a kid to tell the difference.
"I Am a Large and Powerful Man, Carl, And I Don't Know How Much Longer I Can Stay This Calm"
Toby (Chris Sullivan) is the sweetest man on the planet, and he loves Kate with every fiber of his being. So even while he was grieving the loss of their child, he went out of his way to track an impending package to a massive distribution center to try and stop it from being delivered. He may have had to threaten poor Carl to get the job done, but the time and effort he put into searching that entire warehouse speaks volumes for his love. Can any man truly be this wonderful? We're sure Toby has his faults, just as Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) did, but he's as close to that level of commitment and love as Kate is every likely to find. If you're dad is Jack, you could certainly do worse than falling in love with someone a lot like him.
"It's My Job to Keep Standing There With My Arms Wide Open"
It's a shame this beautiful moment between Rebecca and Kate was interrupted by the arrival of Jack and Randall (Niles Fitch) at the hospital, because Rebecca really had an opportunity to bridge the chasm that had formed between them over the years. Present-day Kate wasn't so off the mark in that Rebecca had perhaps given too much of her love to her adopted child. Kate always felt in everyone's shadow. But even if she didn't quite know how to connect with her daughter, she was at least able to let Kate know that she would always be there. And the line was echoed beautifully in the present when Kate opened the door to find Rebecca standing there just as she said, with arms wide open. And Kate fell right into them.
"Let's Just Go Big, Because That's How You Like to Do Things"
We knew anger was going to be a part of the healing process, and that Kate would throw this back at Toby, because he's the one who helped her start to get excited. Cautious Kate wanted to hold back just in case what happened happened, but was that the right move? There's no correct answer to that, and no matter how it played out, there was going to be anger and resentment. It's hard to process a loss of this magnitude, and even harder to try and process it with the one you love because you don't want to hurt them and another part of you doesn't want to share that pain because that's your pain and no one can feel it like you do.
Toby stood up for himself when Kate said that the miscarriage happened to her and not him. He acknowledged it happened in her body and he has no idea what that experience is like, but to exclude him from the experience like that is completely unfair. Kate has a tendency to push people away when she's hurting and put it all on herself, but rather than just walk away without saying anything, Toby made sure that she heard him. He supports her grief. He will always be there for her. But she cannot deny him his own grief in their loss. She lost her baby, but he lost his baby, too.
"I Want to Get Dressed"
What do you say after you're told you've just lost your pregnancy? These were the words Kate spoke, and they were the words of a woman shell-shocked, lost in the maelstrom of guilt and uncertainty in her mind. It was our first glimpse into the power that silence would hold in this episode, as Toby stood outside in his own storm, holding the curtain. They couldn't have felt more separate in that moment, when they needed each other more than ever.
There were several moments throughout this hour where there simply were no words. Rebecca had none when she showed up at Kate's door. She just knew that's where she needed to be. We got individual moments with Toby and Kate as they flashed back to her collapse in the bathroom that took down the curtain and cost them their baby. In each of them, not only was their no dialogue, but all of the sound was stripped from the scene. It only added to the tragedy of the moment as Metz and Sullivan tore our hearts out with the power of their performances. Throughout this episode, they both reached deep into their souls to express this pain, and we wept right along with them. We wept in anguish at their loss and we wept in joy as they put that shower curtain back up and affirmed that their love-- that they were stronger than this.
Getting another box
"This Is Us" airs "Number Three" of this trilogy -- its fall finale -- next Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.