For those of you still mopping up the puddles left on your living-room floors after watching Kevin Pearson hit rock bottom, I have news. Yes, the Kate-centric This Is Us episode deals directly with the aftermath of her miscarriage, but it doesn’t totally make you want to put on your oldest, grossest pair of sweatpants, close all of your curtains, and shut out everything because the world is a hellscape. “Number Two” has its own moments that completely gut you, but it ends on a hopeful note. That’s not a typo! There is actual hope in the Pearson universe. Of course, to get to that hope we first have to go through all the gutting and such, so maybe don’t put away those old, gross sweatpants just yet.
While Kevin is watering his one night stand’s lawn with man tears, Kate is at home being very cute with her unborn child. She’s singing goofy songs, making jokes about its dad, and making a very detailed list of questions to ask her doctor. She is undoubtedly excited. If you recall, getting excited was the very last thing Kate wanted to do. Due to her age and weight, her pregnancy is high-risk and many, many things could go wrong. As Kate goes into the bathroom to measure the tub for the very fancy Swedish baby bath being delivered, we hear a crash and Kate calls out for Toby. The thing she feared the most comes to pass: Kate loses her baby.
They are both stunned and devastated, but handle their grief in different ways. Kate mainly ignores it, and just 12 hours later, she heads out to a singing gig. Toby tells her she should take it easy, but she’ll hear none of it. Left alone to process his emotions, Toby throws away their shower curtain — a reminder of his fiancée grabbing for it in pain and the loss that followed. Knowing Kate is hurting and there’s nothing he can do about it is crushing Toby. Turns out, there is one thing he can do: Toby heads down to the distribution center where their Swedish baby bath is about to be dispatched from, commandeers a very nice man named Carl, and the two spend the afternoon trying to locate the package. Eventually, Carl finds it. Carl is a prince among men. Do you think in season five, we’ll flashback to Carl’s perspective and find out being able to help Toby inspired him to repair his relationship with his sister? This Is Us, feel free to send me a check when it’s convenient.
Meanwhile, Kate is falling apart. She gets overwhelmed in the middle of her set after seeing a mother dancing with her child and she gets the hell out. She almost eats her feelings at a Chinese buffet, but ends up going home. Mostly, she spends the afternoon trying not to cry and avoiding calls from her mother. Finally, unable to take it anymore — and in desperate need to talk to someone — Kate answers her mother, tells Rebecca she lost the baby, and then hangs up. She isn’t ready to hear what her mother has to say.
It’s not surprising, since we are well-aware that Kate and Rebecca have a tense relationship. We do get a reminder of this through the flashbacks to the late ’90s. Yes, we’re back around the time Kevin breaks his leg, to see things from Teen Kate’s perspective. If “Number One” was very focused on Kevin’s relationship with his father, “Number Two” is all about the ladies. Rebecca is worried Kate might feel discouraged since her brothers know exactly what they want to do with college, and Kate is insulted that her mother thinks she is passionless. The argument is all for naught anyway, since Rebecca finds out that Kate does have a plan: She is secretly applying to Berklee College of Music. Of course Rebecca brings it up, praises Kate’s audition tape song choice, and generally beams with pride for her daughter, because Rebecca just can’t help herself.
Teens are very good at being sweet one second and then stabbing you in the heart with their word daggers the next. That’s exactly what Teen Kate does as she and Rebecca wait in the hospital for news of Kevin, post-football-game injury. Kate apologizes for not telling Rebecca about Berklee, but Kate knows she wouldn’t be able to handle Rebecca’s disappointment if she doesn’t get accepted. Rebecca tries to tell her little bug that she’d only be disappointed for Kate, not for herself. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, says Teen Kate. See what I mean about the word daggers? Teen Kate and Teen Kevin are so mean to their parents, no wonder they like Teen Randall the best. Teen Randall hugs them! In public!
Anyway, Rebecca does a terrible job trying to hide her hurt. She gets real with Kate. Rebecca’s relationship with her own mother — you know, the racist? — was, to put it nicely, not great. Rebecca always wanted a daughter so she could do things differently. She wanted to be the mother standing there with her arms wide open, ready to catch her daughter should she ever need help. Except Rebecca and Kate don’t have that type of relationship, and Rebecca knows it. She says this to Kate not to make her feel bad, but to make her aware that no matter what, Rebecca will always be there to catch her daughter, should Kate ever need to fall into her arms.
Obviously, we are going to see Rebecca make good on that promise 20 years later. Back in 2017, Kate’s had enough of Toby telling her how to feel because this happened to her, not him, and Toby gets upset because he doesn’t deserve to be written off just because it physically didn’t happen to him. He storms off and Kate sleeps on the couch that night. (Sorry, Tobes, but even if you’re the one to storm off, your fiancée who just had a miscarriage should get the bedroom.) Kate wakes up to discover Toby has left to “get some air,” and there’s a knock at the door. It’s Rebecca, of course! And Kate falls into her mother’s undoubtedly toned arms right there in the doorway.
More than just being able to offer Kate comfort as her mother (let’s be real, sometimes that’s all we need), Rebecca understands what she’s going through. And then we get this lovely, important scene that is simply two women talking about how it feels to lose a child they never got to meet. Rebecca talks about Kyle, how she never even held him but he was so real to her, about blaming herself, and how sharing her grief with Jack was the only way she got through it. Kate echoes the idea of feeling so unbelievably sad over a person she didn’t even know, and feels guilty for taking away Toby’s chance to be a father. Rebecca encourages her daughter to talk to her fiancé. They drink tea, they hug, they cry, Mandy Moore holds Chrissy Metz’s face and calls her bug. Is it possible for a person to edit herself into a scene? Asking for a friend.
Kate follows her mom’s advice. Toby comes back and they comfort one another. In the end, Kate goes and gets that shower curtain from the garbage (I hope she washes it?) and they hang it back up. They promise each other that this isn’t going to break them, and that they’ll try again once they’re ready. Breathe it in, folks. That’s some real, live hope right there.
This Is the Rest
• As Rebecca opens up to Kate about Kyle, she tells a story about going to the grocery store when the Big Three were only six weeks old and having a complete grief-induced meltdown over yellow onions. She wears a pink beret (her second hat of the episode!) in it, so you know it’s an extremely important moment.
• Does Kate have a job aside from intermittent singing gigs? If so, that’s cool, but I continue to be confused about what happened to her assisting that woman with her charity and angry daughter. I just want justice for Jami Gertz, that’s all.
• It’s not a coincidence that Kate and Kevin are experiencing some of the lowest points in their lives at the very same time. Their twintuition is a little wonky since both are dealing with their own pain, but hopefully VERY SOON Kate will realize her brother needs her. I’m very stressed about Kevin, you guys.
• Who is your favorite Rebecca? Right now, mine is Late ’90s Rebecca. Lady is holding it down for all the Pearsons.