‘This Is Us’: Zoe Returns; Why Did Kevin and Zoe Break Up?

When This Is Us Season 5 returns tonight, Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley) runs into his ex-girlfriend, Zoe Baker (Melanie Liburd). Kevin and Madison (Caitlin Thompson) have newborn twins and are busy planning a wedding. So, fans worry that the appearance of his ex-girlfriend might cause ripples in his new family.

This Is Us Zoe and Kevin holding hands
‘This Is Us’ Justin Hartley as Kevin Pearson and Melanie Liburd as Zoe Baker | Ron Batzdorff/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/ Getty Images

Who is Zoe on ‘This Is Us’?

Viewers first met Zoe Baker in the This Is Us Season 2 finale. She attended Kate Pearson (Chrissy Metz) and Toby Damon’s (Chris Sullivan). Beth Pearson (Susan Kelechi Watson) is Zoe’s cousin but grew up with her like sisters. She attended the wedding as their photographer. We found out more about Zoe’s backstory in This Is Us Season 3. Growing up with Beth, she was an angry teen since her mother abandoned her.

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Zoe and Kevin began a casual relationship in season 3 following Kate and Toby’s wedding. The couple ventured to Vietnam to find out more about Kevin’s father, Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia). They grew closer throughout the season, even working through Kevin’s alcoholism. Zoe opened up to Kevin about her father and let down her guards so that they could move in together. 

Why did Kevin and Zoe break up?

It wasn’t Kevin’s drinking or lying that destroyed his relationship with Zoe on This Is Us. The problem arose during couples therapy when they realized they wanted different things in life. Kevin wanted to have children; however, she didn’t. Initially, Kevin told her that he wanted to be with her. He didn’t care if they didn’t have children. 

However, Zoe realized the truth even before Kevin.

“We need to talk about this,” Zoe began a conversation with Kevin. “You want to be a dad. Maybe not now, but someday. You should be a dad. You should raise 500 perfectly symmetrical kids. You’ll be amazing at it. I want you to have that. I want you to have everything you want, but I don’t want that.”

Kevin insisted that he chose their relationship over children already.

“I think you made the wrong choice,” Zoe explained. “You think I’m going to change, and I’m not.”

At that moment, Kevin realized that did eventually want kids, and he thought somehow Zoe might change her mind. The couple parted on good terms and remained friendly, realizing they didn’t want the same things in life.

Why is Zoe back on ‘This Is Us’?

In the This Is Us Season 5 Episode 14 trailer, viewers found out that Zoe Baker returns to the show. She’s on a video call in a conference room that Kevin walks into. He looks happy to see her, but then a clip of Kevin’s expression looks sad. 

Viewers guess that the call is career-related since Zoe is a documentary filmmaker and Kevin is an actor. However, she also could be the photographer he wants to hire for his wedding to Madison. Whatever the reason, viewers on Reddit think that the sneak peek indicates that she doesn’t interfere with Kevin and Madison’s relationship.

What else is Melanie Liburd in?

Since leaving This Is Us, Liburd starred in the Television special, Make It Work! as herself. She also has a lead role in the drama Power Book II: Ghost as Caridad “Carrie” Milgram. The series is a sequel to the crime drama, Power, on the Starz network.