Spoilers ahead for Season 2 Episode 9 of This Is Us.
Can’t Kate catch a break? This Is Us hasn’t been so kind to the sole Pearson sister, and in “Number Two,” Kate’s very own capsule episode, things don’t necessarily get better. But hey — that’s life. And although she suffered a major tragedy, Kate also gained some very important perspective from her mother on This Is Us.
At the end of “Number One,” Kevin’s capsule episode, viewers learned that Kate had had a miscarriage — the surprise baby that she was trying not to get excited about was no more. Understandably, Toby and Kate are devastated, but instead of feeling those feelings, Kate chooses to go to her singing gig instead. This proves to be a bad move, as she sees a mother and her daughter, can’t handle it, and has to leave (which makes sense). She decides to walk and walk and walk, ignoring her mother’s phone calls, and when she gets home, she lashes out at Toby because she doesn’t know where to put her anger. The flashback part of the episode focused on Kate’s college applications — teenage Randall was dead-set on Harvard and teenage Kevin was going to play football, but where did that leave Kate? As Rebecca discovers, it leaves Kate secretly applying to the Berklee School of Music in Boston with an admission tape of her singing “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess and $50 in cash.
Kate and Rebecca’s relationship is complicated, to say the least. Rebecca feels like her daughter won’t let her in, won’t let her help her, and Kate feels like she grew up in the shadow of her thin, willowy, beautiful, amazingly talented mother. Rebecca wants to help, and Kate thinks Rebecca feels sorry for her, and both women circle around each other, not really connecting. “Number Two” is one of the first episodes in which we see them trying to break that barrier down. After Rebecca finds out about Berklee and she and Kate are in the hospital waiting for Kevin after his knee injury, Rebecca laments about her own mother and the way she wanted to be different from her. She says:
“My mom was tough. You know that. You’ve seen it. She was just, a closed steel door. And even if you could get through, there was a room full of spikes right behind it. And I always wanted to have a daughter because I wanted to do it a different way. I wanted to be the mom that had her arms wide open, just waiting for you to fall in if you needed it. And somehow, I don’t know… we just never got there, did we? No, no — it’s not your job to make me feel better. It’s not. It’s my job. It’s my job to keep standing there with my arms wide open, waiting for you to maybe someday fall inside if you needed it. And if you do, I’ll love you. And if you don’t, I’ll love you, too. Because that’s what it means to be a parent. You’ll see one day.”
Cue the tears. This is the first time we see Rebecca recognize that her relationship with her daughter isn’t the best — and this is when Kate’s a teenager. Surely, we can’t say it’s better now in adulthood. But despite that, the first person who shows up at Kate’s doorstep after she loses her baby is Rebecca. Because now is the time that Kate needs to fall into Rebecca’s arms. Kate and Rebecca have many things in common, but they choose only to see the differences. But perhaps their shared miscarriage trauma could be the place where they start to understand each other. Motherhood is a funny thing, and it can vary wildly in experience, but now Kate can understand what it’s like to love so fiercely that you’d be willing to do anything for your child. She had a miscarriage, but that baby, like Rebecca says, was real to Kate. Kyle was real to Rebecca. The outcomes were tragic, and Kate and Rebecca both need and needed, respectively, to grieve. And maybe now both women can loosen their grips and give into each other, because there’s nothing like that fierce unconditional love to make you forget everything else in the world.