Before beginning its two-month hiatus back in November, This Is Us gifted viewers a few cliffhangers to ponder over the holidays. Among the eyebrow-raising revelations was the indication that Kate (Chrissy Metz) got pregnant when she was a teenager and kept it a secret. As she began to tell husband Toby (Chris Sullivan) the story involving her toxic boyfriend, Marc (Austin Abrams), a flashback showed teen Kate (Hannah Zeile) taking a pregnancy test. Upon closer examination, that scene in "Honestly" revealed something intriguing that has become a source of debate amongst theorizing fans: Teen Kate was first holding what was actually an ovulation test box, and then holding a positive pregnancy test.
Was Kate seen with the ovulation test box to hint to viewers that she was trying to determine her best time to get pregnant, and then viewers were next shown the moment in which she took the pregnancy test? Or is that highly unlikely given that she was wearing the same clothes in both moments? Or given that viewers saw Kate take the pregnancy test — which seems to be the intent of the scene — is it possible that the shot of the ovulation box was actually just a mistake?
While This Is Us producers love to see fans speculate in all sorts of creative directions, this is one situation where they're stepping in to offer some guidance. "It'll be good to put it to bed because our fans are so awesome and pick up on every little hint," This Is Us executive producer Isaac Aptaker tells EW. "As soon as we saw that people were misinterpreting, of course it drove us crazy. So let the record officially show: That was [meant to be] a pregnancy test box."
"This one, unfortunately, was just a casualty of how absolutely impossible it has been to make television this year," he continues. "Despite the dozens of people who stared at that scene countless times before it went to air, we were all just so fried from all of the COVID [filming conditions] that we missed that one." Adds This is Us executive producer Elizabeth Berger: "You can chalk this up to Zoom editing. Usually we're all in a bay together looking at these giant monitors. And this is the one where we were like, 'Ah, if we had just been there, someone would have seen it!' But everyone is just working so hard around the clock under these crazy circumstances. And every once in a while, you're going to have an ovulation test when you wish you had a pregnancy test box."
Like the show's fans, Berger enjoys an inventive theory — and she's even generated one of her own to make herself feel better. "I have my own way of explaining this, where I've told myself she was hiding her pregnancy test in her ovulation kit box so that nobody spots her with a pregnancy test," she quips. "It's just how I've justified this in my mind." Chimes in Aptaker: "Her mom finds it and she's like, 'I just like to know when I'm ovulating.'"
With that mystery solved, a much bigger question looms: Is Kate in the process of telling Toby that she had an abortion? Based on Kate's reaction to Ellie (Annie Funke) — who wondered if Kate judged her for (almost) having an abortion — there's evidence to suggest that the story heads in that direction. It's also the most logical option, with an early miscarriage being the second-most likely. That hasn't stopped a few fans from wondering if she might have hidden the pregnancy from her family before putting the baby up for adoption. Berger and Aptaker shy away from revealing that answer, though they do note that it's key for Kate. "It's a really important episode in learning a little bit more about the whole psychology of this woman," says Berger. "The episode is really beautiful," notes Aptaker. "We're so proud of it."
His following comment may even enhance it. Spoiler: You won't have to wait long for answers. "This isn't going to be a lingering mystery," Aptaker says. "We pick up immediately into that conversation with Kate and Toby right when we come back from the break, and then we're going to explain the story of what happened."
This Is Us returns Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.