In the beginning of the episode, teenage Kate (Hannah Zeile) introduced her family to her new boyfriend Mark (Austin Abrams), after he unexpectedly arrived at their house — with flowers. However, the mystery came later when adult Kate (Chrissy Metz) discovered some old Polaroids from that night. Once arriving at a photo of her and Mark as kids, she looked extremely upset … as did Rebecca (Mandy Moore).
“I was trying so hard to hold it together that year after your father died,” Rebecca said. “And I wanted to believe so badly that you kids were happy, I didn’t see what was happening.”
Kate then responded, “I didn’t see it either.”
After the episode, executive producers Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker shed light on the new mystery and what it all means for the future. “Fans should have a healthy amount of concern,” Aptaker told Entertainment Weekly. “I mean, there’s something ominous looming there, the way that Rebecca and Kate are speaking about that relationship in present day. And although he seems like a sweet guy now, it certainly seems like that did not end well for Kate.”
He continued: “I think Kate’s at an incredibly sensitive, potentially vulnerable time in her life, a little bit aimless, searching for meaning and searching for our plan in the wake of her father’s death. And she meets this guy at a time when she’s incredibly impressionable, and we’ll just have to see what happens there.”
Additionally, there was a moment during the episode that fans should remember: The fact that Mark showed up to the house uninvited.
“That will definitely prove to be symbolic of Mark’s larger personality. He’s obviously somebody that goes for what he wants and feels entitled to show up to a place even when he’s not invited,” Berger said. “We do feel like that is a little bit of a tell for where we’re going and what this guy is all about.”
The character, who Kate is definitely drawn to, also has a “darkness” and “creepiness” about him, although he hasn’t done anything wrong — something the Euphoria actor brings to the table.
“You totally understand why Kate is enamored with this guy,” Aptaker added. “I think he’s just threading that needle so, so well.”
As for if Mark is part of the reason Kate’s issues with her weight amp up, the producers add that there are many factors to that. ” I think in some ways he really changed the course of her life,” Aptaker said, with Berger adding, “I think that first boyfriends and first loves make a lasting impression, and it’s not always the best impression. And in this case, it certainly had a lifelong impact.”
This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.