Season 5 of This Is Us began with Toby (Chris Sullivan) unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Worse, he discovered he wasn't cut out for stay-at-home dad duty. The penultimate episode of the season saw him taking an interview with a startup in San Francisco, and the finale opened with the news that he landed the job. Kate (Chrissy Metz) attempted to be a team player by resigning from her teaching job, but her boss, Phillip (Chris Geere), wouldn't hear of it. And as the Episode 16 flash-forward hinted, this decision by Phillip on This Is Us may be what changes everything.
Warning: Massive spoilers for This Is Us' Season 5 finale follow. Going into the finale, viewers were pretty sure they would get a glimpse into the future. (The season finales are known for this.) Most fans assumed it would be another jump to 2034, perhaps revealing who it was in the car Randall and Deja saw pulling up to the house in Episode 9.
So, of course, This Is Us had to zig instead of zag. There was a jump to the future, but it went to 2026, a scant five years from the present. After Kevin’s wedding with Madison failed to happen, here he was again, practicing his Princess Bride "Mawwaige" impression. However, this time he wasn't the groom, even though Madison was in the bride's hotel room. But she wasn't getting married either. Kate was.
And the groom: Phillip (or at least the show makes it seem that way).
One wouldn’t blame viewers for feeling a touch of whiplash at discovering Kate had traded way up from Toby (who critics have argued is the worst partner on This is Us) for a blonde man with a hot British accent. After all, Phillip hasn’t precisely been a central character. He’s barely been on the show thus far.
Fans met Phillip only four episodes ago, in Episode 12, “Both Things Can Be True.” He’s the lead music teacher at Jack’s school and had been looking for a classroom assistant. But he hadn’t wanted to hire Kate. He was saddled with her by the principal, who decided to hire Kate without so much as asking Phillip his opinion. His role in that episode was pretty straightforward: He was the doubter who couldn’t see past Kate’s lack of experience and education at first, but by the end of the scene, he was impressed by her natural talent with children and her musical skills.
Since that one subplot, Phillip hasn’t been seen again. Kate’s been back to the classroom since, (in Episode 14, “The Music and the Mirror,” when she brought Rebecca along to meet her students). But Phillip was nowhere to be seen; perhaps he was off teaching a different class while Kate worked with a choral group singing “Big Yellow Taxi.”
So now, fans are floored to discover this unlikely pairing looks like it will turn into a romance for the ages. With mysteries like this to unravel, and the promise of unexpected romance, This Is Us Season 6 can’t come soon enough.