Warning: This recap contains spoilers from the “Number Two” episode of This Is Us.
It was Kate’s turn to take the pole position on This Is Us this week as the series continued its Big Three-themed trilogy of episodes to close out the first half of Season 2. And while her episode certainly (and expectedly given last week’s final line of dialogue) started on a super depressing note, “Number Two” ended in a much better place than Kevin’s episode.
It also seemed to contain far fewer clues, callbacks, or Easter eggs than her brother’s installment. However, it did offer a whole King Buffet plate’s worth of insight into Kate and Rebecca’s mother-daughter dynamic as well as take a thoughtful look at the very common yet under-discussed topic of miscarriage and the effects it can have on the grieving couple.
Here are the standout moments to store in the memory bank as well as a few questions we were left with afterward:
1. Although it doesn’t do much more than reaffirm the Pearson family love of football and establish that this episode starts on the same day as Kevin’s, Kate happens to be watching the same Sunday Night Football broadcast as she is taking her prenatal vitamins. It is interesting that she is already singing to and talking to her baby bump just as Rebecca did with the triplets when they were in utero. Kate’s also seen happily and obsessively making a list of questions to ask at her next obstetrician visit. It is the opposite attitude she has toward making a list of potential colleges as a teen when her mother asks her to do it as a way of not “putting all her eggs in one basket.”
2. Already allowing herself to be in nesting mode, Kate goes in to measure the bathtub for the fancy baby basin she ordered when miscarriage strikes. She falls in pain grabbing at the shower curtain to catch herself and cries out for Toby. At the hospital, she’s disconnected and barely listening to the doctor when she says they can try again in four weeks. However, it seems she did hear the part about there being “no reason [she] can’t go back to living life” as she is up, dressed with a full face of makeup, and has an Uber on the way to deliver her to her lunchtime singing gig downtown. Toby is flabbergasted, “I think you’re overdressed for a day of watching sitcoms and trying not to cry. This is insane. We just had a miscarriage.” She immediately claps back with “I know. I was there.”
3. Rebecca attempts to chat with Kate once again about college and Kate wants none of it. Rebecca assumes she is avoiding the list because she doesn’t know what career path she wants to pursue. Easy to see why she would come to this conclusion given that Kate does not let her mom in very often and because of the stark comparison to Kevin and Randall, who both have their futures mapped out. But Kate takes the passion comment as an insult and storms out. Rebecca finds and listens to her audition tape for the Berklee School of Music and is simultaneously proud of her rendition of “Summertime” and hurt that her daughter did not ask for her help given that music is her wheelhouse.
4. Back in present day, Kate freaks out when a young girl starts dancing by the stage and her happy parents start encouraging her and taking a video of her sweet moves. She feigns illness and starts aimlessly wandering around town until she finds herself making a giant plate of Asian delicacies at King Buffet, ready to console herself with binge-eating like she’s always done. But in a moment of true growth, she pushes it away and leaves the table without even taking a bite.
5. Meanwhile, Toby has driven to the distribution center to try to intercept the infant tub delivery because “the hardest part about seeing someone you love in pain is not being able to do anything about it except trying not to make it worse… [and this] package should it arrive on our doorstep would most certainly make it worse.” (Seems like this sentiment might come into play once they all figure out that Kevin is battling addiction.) The clerk eventually finds the tub, which Toby gifts to him, and Toby tried to call Kevin to no avail (as seen in last week’s episode).
6. Toby is really worried when he goes to retrieve Kate at the gig only to find out she is not there and isn’t answering any of his calls. When he returns home to find her sitting there, just after she had quickly broken the bad news to her mom whose calls she had also been ignoring, they have another fight. Kate harbors ill will toward Toby because she wanted to play the baby thing cool and close to the vest for fear that the other shoe would drop but he convinced her to “go big” and get “excited.” He reminds her that they didn’t lose the baby because they got their hopes up and that he was also in pain and then she really unleashed, “Did you have a few emotional hours? Were you put out? It happened to me.” We’re happy to see Toby stick up for himself because, in the end, he is a pretty great boyfriend to her. “I will be your entire support system through all of this. I will hold your head in my lap and stroke your hair and tell you everything is going to be OK until the cows come home,” he said. “What is not fair for you to do is tell me that I wasn’t a part of this. Yeah, it didn’t happen to my body. I’m trying to be strong here because that’s the gig. But it happened to me too and it hurt.” He stormed away and they slept in different rooms.
7. Rebecca confronts Kate while in the stands at the football game that will live in infamy and tried to give her the money for the application. Kate is peeved that her mom snooped and threatens to use the money for a bedroom door lock instead. When disaster strikes on the field, neither of them were watching. (Thus reiterating Justin Hartley’s theory that Kevin has to go through everything alone). They continued the conversation in the hospital waiting room and Kate explained why she didn’t tell her mom about singing and Berklee. “If I don’t get in, it will crush me. But I just could not deal with disappointing you on top of that.” When her mom claims she would be disappointed for Kate, she says sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. This certainly explains a lot about their relationship and how Kate still keeps things from Rebecca including not really wanting to talk about the miscarriage in detail. Rebecca admits that she was hoping she’d have a daughter so she could right the wrongs her unaffectionate mom perpetrated. “I wanted to be the mom that had her arms wide open just waiting for you to fall in if you needed it. Somehow we just never got there. It is my job to keep standing there waiting for you to fall inside if you need it. If you do, I’ll love you and if you don’t, I’ll love you because that’s what it means to be a parent.”
8. While Toby is out getting air, Rebecca shows up to finally give her daughter that wide-armed hug and Rebecca makes Kate feel better about being so sad over a baby she hadn’t even met or held but recounting her struggle to say goodbye to the triplet she lost and her battle over whether she had done something to cause him to be stillborn. She came to accept that it was not her fault and reiterates to Kate that it was not hers either. Kate also admits she feels like she took it from Toby. Rebecca again recalls her experience and how she held her grief from her Jack for so long that it exploded at a grocery store over the last bag of onions. “Talk to Toby, bug. You need to share all this. Eventually, I opened up to your dad and that’s what gave space in my heart for you and Kevin and it made space in my heart for Randall too.” Trying to lighten the mood and take a stab at their super-close relationship, Kate jokes, “A little too much space for Randall if you ask me.” (This reminded viewers that we will be hearing from Randall next week.)
9. Kate admits that she lashed out because she felt like she had failed Toby. The couple then decided to march forward together and seemingly stronger. They put the shower curtain back up, hugged, and both allowed themselves to say that they wanted to try again eventually. “We will not let this break us,” she promised.
10. It was established in Kevin’s episode that Randall had heard about the miscarriage, but we never found out who told him. Did Rebecca say something before she booked a ticket or did Kate call after her mom’s visit, but before Kevin crossed Randall’s threshold? It is interesting that in the video of the big three learning to walk, Randall is told to give his sister some space.
11. The Pearsons are an NBC family but apparently, they watch a lot of ABC. Toby is watching a rerun of Mr. Belvedere and the hospital TV is playing Dharma & Greg as Rebecca and Kate wait for Kevin’s MRI results.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.
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