This Is Us fans absorbed a gut punch in the Season 5 finale when the show flashed forward five years to Kate Pearson’s second wedding. The show, known for its time-traveling plot twists, upped the ante in preparation for its sixth and final season by foreshadowing not only Kate and Toby’s marital demise but also her newfound love with her boss, Phillip.
Though the blow was unexpected at that moment, diehard fans knew something was amiss between Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby Damon (Chris Sullivan). A flashforward scene in the Season 3 finale includes Toby showing up to visit Rebecca (Mandy Moore) on her deathbed without Kate — and without a wedding ring. In the present-day timeline, Toby traveling for work between San Francisco and Los Angeles hints at additional conflict.
We know that divorce will happen sometime in Season 6 for Kate and Toby, but we don’t yet know how it will happen or the ripple effect it will have on the rest of the Pearson family. That said, foreshadowing in the show so far indicates that Metz may be able to draw from personal experience for her upcoming on-screen dynamics with Toby.
‘This Is Us’ Season 6 is building toward Kate and Toby’s divorce
This Is Us continues to build palpable tension between Kate and Toby in the first five episodes of Season 6. Toby is frequently absent while working in San Francisco, and flashforward scenes confirm there is trouble ahead.
The most notable of these moments is in Episode 3, when the adult version of Kate and Toby’s son, Jack, is grilling on a Big Green Egg. “I know it sounds crazy, but every once in a while, that smell hits me, and it takes me back to that day,” Jack tells his wife, Lucy. “You know, you don’t need to keep using that thing. It’s the literal symbol of the day your mom and dad’s marriage blew up,” she says, ruffling Jack’s hair to show a scar.
Viewers get one more blurry memory of that day — Toby warning Jack with, “Don’t get too close, buddy,” followed by Kate yelling Jack’s name — but there are still many gaps to fill. We don’t know how the smoker plays a role in the couple’s implosion, for example, or how Jack got that scar. However, there is hope that some amount of healing might happen over the years.
Chrissy Metz’s and Kate Pearson’s divorces may be a lot alike
There are still 13 episodes scheduled in Season 6 of This Is Us, according to Decider, which means numerous twists for Kate and Toby’s relationship are still to come. However, we can assume that their divorce is at least somewhat amicable, considering Randall (Sterling K. Brown) invites Toby to visit Rebecca during a Pearson family gathering many years in the future.
Off-screen, Metz’s own divorce could serve as a bittersweet foundation for how she approaches this aspect of Kate’s storyline. Metz was married to British screenwriter Martyn Eaden from 2008 until 2015 when the pair officially divorced. In her 2018 memoir This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today, Metz opened up about her divorce and how she aimed to make it as healthy as possible.
If Kate and Toby do remain friendly following their split on the show, it would mirror Metz’s own views on life after divorce. Metz admits to keeping in regular contact with Eaden, including texting him. “We’re just not the right fit,” Metz wrote in her memoir, according to a summary from The Daily Mail. “But I love him, and I’m always checking in on him. I am still working on being a better ex-wife than I was a wife.”
Metz’s views on love could fuel her on-screen relationship
If the rapport between Toby and Randall in the future is any indication, it appears that Toby has remained at least a fringe member of the Pearson family. Perhaps we’ll also get to see Kate and Toby navigate co-parenting and learning to find a new normal following their divorce, which would mirror Metz’s personal philosophies.
“It’s a compromise in any relationship, but that doesn’t mean you have to change who you are,” Metz told People following her memoir’s release. “Just because we got married doesn’t mean that we have to [be] miserable trying to fix it.”
For now, viewers will have to wait to see what’s next for Kate and Toby. This Is Us airs Tuesday nights at 9 EST on NBC.