'This Is Us' : Chrissy Metz on KaToby's 'Bittersweet' Divorce, Kate's 'Mature' Date with Phillip

"Everybody's up in arms about them divorcing and Dan [Fogelman] has always said, there's going to be a payoff and we will feel content," Chrissy Metz tells PEOPLE

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Photo: Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC (3)

Kate and Toby's marriage has ended but their relationship will continue in a different way on This Is Us.

Tuesday's episode, titled "Katoby," saw Chrissy Metz and Chris Sullivan's characters attempting to fix the problems in their union, but ultimately realizing that they are better as co-parents and friends. Fans last saw Kate and Toby having an intense fight after their son's visit to the emergency room, which sparked motivations to change including Toby's move back to Los Angeles and settling for a job he previously rejected.

Since the season 5 finale, audiences have known that Kate and her music school boss Phillip (Chris Geere) get married in the future after she and Toby divorce. On Tuesday, viewers finally learned how the KaToby relationship evolved over a few years and why their marriage ended. Also, for the first time, details of Kate's early courtship with Phillip were shown as well as more of their wedding day, during which Toby phoned his ex to share well wishes.

Below, Metz tells PEOPLE all about the breakdown of KaToby and teases what Kate's relationships with Toby and Phillip will be like in the remaining six episodes of This Is Us.

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PEOPLE: What was your reaction to the script for this episode about all that leads to KaToby's end?

CHRISSY METZ: When I found out I'm like, "Oh boy." What's beautiful is that Kate knows that they're going to be in each other's lives, and it's all for the better and for the greater good. It's heartbreaking that Toby can't see it at that moment. But as Chris and I talked about this at length, we can't always see the forest for the trees. That's the whole point of relationships, is you are hoping to grow and evolve and change, and you bring that into your next relationship.

What's so bittersweet is that Kate and Toby were exactly the right people to be together. There's a reason why they did meet and they did fall in love and have this beautiful family. So you can't take that away just because they're not together in the future. I think we forget to take all the good away from a situation when we can only see the negative about it. But only in hindsight do we then know, "Oh, this was actually for the best." You just can't always see that when you're in the moment, it's so beautiful in the way the story is told. I think so many people will see themselves in it and that's what's really important because there's no handbook for life.

What Kate tells Toby after they sign their divorce papers — "Our story isn't over" — bookends this episode. Did you find that to be an uplifting takeaway?

Oh, absolutely. Everybody's up in arms about them divorcing and Dan [Fogelman] has always said, there's going to be a payoff and we will feel content. That's the thing with life, while we have joy, we have pain. But we wouldn't know the joy if we didn't have the pain. All of those things, they go together so that's what makes it so heartbreaking. You can see every single aspect of every emotion and it was really emotional. That whole entire episode was. It was quite a challenge and quite a doozy with Phillip, with Toby, everything. But it's just so beautifully told. I really think that people are going to see themselves in it.

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Toby moved back to L.A. and they did 16 months of therapy. Fans learn that Kate and Toby tried and it wasn't like they just gave up. How do you think fans will react after watching how it didn't work out for their favorite couple?

I think they'll understand. The whole point is you never want to say "should've, could've, would've." You never want to say, "Well, I should have gone to therapy. I could have done this. I could have moved back." When you exhaust all efforts, and it's still not working, it's okay. We think we're failures, and we, yes of course, took a vow. It doesn't mean that two people don't love each other and won't co-parent in a beautiful way. Hopefully, if they're both willing. Because there's definitely love there between them. That's clear and apparent because they both went to great lengths.

What's important about anything in life is that we try. We exhaust all efforts and that our best is good enough. If it doesn't seem to be working out, then it's not supposed to — and that's a hard lesson. That's a tough pill to swallow sometimes because we want to bang our head against the wall to try to make something work. But it's like, no, there's a reason why it's not working anymore. They had such a beautiful, amazing relationship. They helped each other grow in ways I don't think either one of them ever thought they would. That's the whole point of being in a relationship, whether it's platonic, romantic or a work relationship. We're all here, as they say, helping each other home right? So it's all in the bigger picture.

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It was surprising to see that Phillip was right there for Kate after she signed her divorce papers, uplifting her and making her feel better.

Yeah, it's funny because I love that their relationship really started out as a work relationship and then became a friendship and that he was there for her when he knew she was going to have a really hard day. Even when she didn't know she needed a friend at that moment. That's such a great turning point for them. When you can be there with somebody during the hardest times, not just the joyful times.

It's so funny because Chris Geere is just this light of energy, sweet and funny, and is really wonderful to work with him. I can't imagine coming in the sixth season of a show like ours and then having to be the guy who's the new husband. I just commend him so much for doing his beautiful work and coming in on the sixth season of this show, that is no easy feat.

Kate and Phillip's first date at the Mexican restaurant was memorable and felt grown.

It was really mature of her. How often do we get into a relationship and we can see ourselves outside of ourselves? We're like, "Wait, wait, wait, wait. What am I getting myself into?" Because Kate doesn't need a boyfriend, she doesn't need a man. She's a great, wonderful mom and living her life in the way that she always wanted to.

That's what's so powerful. After everything she's gone through, she's like, "Wait a minute. What are you doing? What are your intentions? Are we playing games? What's happening?" You look back at that really sweet, flirty conversation between Toby and Kate at the weight loss group, it was very flirty, but she never had the confidence to say, "You know what? Hey, I don't think I'm ready to be in a relationship." And now, I think she's like, "I'm not doing this again. You might be sweet and charming, funny and wonderful. But what are your intentions? And let me let you know that I have agency over myself. I need to know what's up."

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How eye-opening was finding out about Phillip's backstory that he was a widower after his first marriage?

For him to be so vulnerable, sweet and honest about what his experience is, just goes to show that you never know what people are going through. And why they are jaded or acerbic in their delivery. Whatever he brings to every single scene prior, it's like, oh! He was dealing with something that we didn't even know about.

Even when Kate says, "I'm not a toothpick and you only dated toothpick-sized women." And Phillip's like, "Oh, you're not?" Even that honesty I feel you don't always see in relationships, at least in the beginning. When you have somebody who's your friend, you can be honest with them in ways that maybe with a romantic partner you might not feel comfortable. They've always been very honest, which is too super cool because that's one of the things that she learned from being with Toby is you can't harbor resentments. You can't hold on to things that don't serve you because you're only hurting yourself. So it's a lot of growth in a very, very concentrated scene. Yeah, a lot was going on in that scene for sure. It's nice to have a backstory and understanding of what's going on, but also to see Kate basically tell Phillip, "I don't need you so if you're not going to step to the plate, bye."

I didn't see that Chumbawamba song coming either during the post-divorce signing karaoke.

Right?! Neither did I. [Laughs] Literally, I was like, "Of all the songs? This is so funny, this is so funny." It's interesting, right? Because "I get knocked down but I get up again." It's that very, very dry British humor, and that's the song he chose. Then for her to get him back at the engagement party, it's just really fun and a little inside joke. But also everybody knows the song so it's inclusive. Yeah, I didn't see it coming either.

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At the end of the episode, it was nice to see that flashforward with Toby and his new love as well as Kate and Phillip still together. They're all supporting their son Jack (Blake Stadnik) during his early music career. Was that also the satisfaction that Dan was talking about?

Yeah, it also just goes to show that you can come out on the other side of something and it's going to be okay. We don't always think it's going to be okay when we're in the moment. They are co-parenting. They do have such a love for each other, and obviously for their son who is doing very well.

It was very emotional, too, to shoot that. To see us all in our old age prosthetics and wigs and everything. Even as the actor on the show, I'm like, "Oh, this feels warm and fuzzy." Yeah, I think that's part of what Dan was talking about, but there's also a lot to come.

Can you tease what's to come?

It's a lot to do with the Big Three and Rebecca coming up. Then we do see, peppered in, how Kate and Toby are co-parenting, and that they still have such a love for each other. They still joke with each other, and they're still very much there for each other. Then also, where Kate is going and I think that is not only a testament to her growth, but also in the way that she feels supported by a great co-parent like Toby and by her new husband Phillip.

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I hope we get to finally see Kate at Kevin's future house.

You know, I hope so too. I don't… Where is she? What's happening?!

Lastly, do you have your eye on anything to take from set? You've mentioned the Pearson piano before, but Mandy Moore also mentioned wanting it.

Definitely want the piano. I've already made it known to everybody on set. There are two pianos. There was one, at least, in Randall and Beth's that William (Ron Cephas Jones) played. Then there's one in Kate and Toby's home. Regardless, I'm getting that puppy.

I've taken Kate's hospital bands and stuff, but I want something substantial. That piano, obviously, has a lot of wonderful, incredible memories in the show. I would just love to have it so we'll see.

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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