This Is Us Teased The Mysterious Cause Of Kate And Toby's Divorce
But there's still so much to unpack.
Ever since Toby and Kate got married, This Is Us fans have been waiting for their relationship’s inevitable disintegration. The series has teased their divorce ever since Toby was introduced in the 2034 timeline; it was just a matter of how and when it would happen. With Kate's second wedding revealed at the end of Season 5, fans knew Season 6 would hold the answers. But no one expected a Big Green Egg would somehow be at the center of it. So, how, exactly, does the smoker lead to Kate and Toby’s This Is Us conclusion?
Warning: Spoilers for This Is Us Season 6, Episode 3 follow. In a story about four fathers struggling to connect with their kids, fans were surprised to see the episode jump ahead to 2050, when the now-grown Jack Damon was making dinner out on the patio with an ancient-looking Big Green Egg smoker.
For those who have never heard of this brand, it’s a purveyor of kamado-style charcoal grills. Kamado grills originate from Japan (the word translates as "place for the cauldron") and are surrounded on the inside by ceramic plates that allow the dome-shaped cooker to reach seriously high temperatures. They've also, in recent years, become something of a cult item to own for the backyard grilling enthusiast, both as a status symbol (they're expensive!) and for proving one is a master of fire.
So when Toby suggests getting one to Kate at the end of Episode 3, he's right in step with the times—and, apparently, dooming his marriage in the process.
Considering the Big Green Egg's reputation, it's very probable that most of the family men Toby works with in the tech industry have one. Like Kevin and the dinner table, it's evident Toby is trying to play out a particular fantasy of himself as a father. An expensive, high-end ceramic smoker lets him imagine himself as the old-fashioned father lording over the backyard grill on a Saturday. For Kate and Toby to get a Big Green Egg in 2022 is not unlike Jack and Rebecca being gifted a crockpot in the late 1970s, which was a symbol for a busy suburban mom who needs to feed lots of kids at once.
This Is Us fans remember how crockpot ownership turned out for the Pearsons. Apparently, tragedy via expensive cooking devices runs in the family, as Jack’s memories of the Damons’ Big Green Egg ownership aren’t good ones. He’s got a nasty-looking scar on his forehead, and the smell of the charcoal triggers something that’s clearly a bad memory. His wife, Lucy, suggests that perhaps he doesn’t have to use it; after all, there are other types of grills — and besides, it nearly ruined his face as a child. But Jack is determined to keep it around; after all, it is one of his earliest memories, even if it’s a bad one.
In the present timeline, Baby Jack is right at the age when the earliest memories are formed, so whatever happened with the Egg is coming up soon. Moreover, as anyone who owns one of these things knows, they’re not exactly kid-friendly. The lid is super heavy and slams down hard. The legs are spindly, and although the outside doesn’t get super hot, inside, it does, and they can heat up fast if you’re not careful. There’s also the seal around the lid — if you don’t “burp” the grill before opening, a fireball can result. Add a baby who learns by touch instead of sight, and one can see where Toby’s idea might not run so smooth when the steak hits the grill.
Even though Jack and Rebecca manage to turn around the memories of their triplets after a bad day at the movies, sometimes the day really is over when your kid ends up in the emergency room. Fans will have to wait and see exactly how the Big Green Egg smokes Kate and Toby's marriage. This Is Us: The Final Season continues with new episodes every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC and streams the following day on Hulu.