This Is Us will feature a unique format in the upcoming episode “The Waiting Room.” Instead of the show’s usual flashback/flash-forward format, the episode will play out in one, long near-continuous scene, according to executive producer Isaac Aptaker.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Aptaker described the upcoming 15th episode of the show as “This Is Us: The Play.” That’s because the episode, written by playwright Bekah Brunstetter, will feature all of the present-day main characters in a room for the entire episode as they await the news on Kate Pearson (Chrissy Metz) and her baby boy. At the end of the most recent episode of the NBC drama series, Kate was rushed to the hospital at 28 weeks pregnant after her water broke.
Aptaker compared “The Waiting Room” episode to the intense rehab therapy scene from last season’s episode “The Fifth Wheel,” in which the Pearson family members compared their emotional baggage.
“That was the scene that made us want to do this episode. Seeing what it’s like when you put all those actors in a space and just let them hash it out and act their faces off for, that was like a 10-11-minute scene made us go, ‘Well, let’s try doing one the whole hour.’ So that is what we’re doing here.”
Aptaker described “The Waiting Room” episode as “a spectacular hour” written by Brunstetter and directed by television director Kevin Hooks.
“We just built this waiting room and threw everyone in it. We were so, so excited with how it came out,” Aptaker said.
In “The Waiting Room,” the Pearson family will gather together in the hospital waiting room following a pregnant Kate’s way-too-early water breaking. Aptaker confirmed that, at 28 weeks pregnant, Kate has carried the baby long enough that there is a good chance for the child’s survival, but he acknowledged the situation is “really scary.” Aptaker teased that doctors will try to keep Kate from going into full labor in the episode.
The This Is Us executive producer also pointed out that while it seems as though Kate has been a long-suffering character, from the beginning it was known that her pregnancy would be a high-risk one. Aptaker explained that had Kate carried to term with no complications and had a perfect, easy delivery, it would not have felt real.
As for the fate of the baby, Aptaker promised it will not be a drawn-out storyline. Viewers will get answers by the end of “The Waiting Room.”
Metz previously told Entertainment Weekly that Kate and her husband Toby (Chris Sullivan) will face a bit of an “unconventional parenting situation,” and the actress teased that it is something that has never been seen before on a network TV show.
“It’s going to be challenging for me as an actress, which I’m excited about — scared but excited. It’s something I don’t think we’ve ever seen, at least not on network television,” Metz said.
This Is Us executive producer Elizabeth Berger also confirmed the mystery storyline will mark new turf for the struggling couple, saying it’s “not necessarily something that we’ve seen up close before.”
The This Is Us episode “The Waiting Room” airs Tuesday, March 11 at 9 p.m. on NBC.