Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from This Is Us Season 4 episode “Storybook Love.”
This Is Us just gave fans a new mystery to ponder, circa the late 1990s. And now a producer for the NBC drama says viewers should have “a healthy amount of concern” for a key character.
At the end of the flashback-heavy episode “Storybook Love,” viewers learned a bit more about teen Kate’s (Hanah Ziele) record store boss-turned-boyfriend, Marc (played by recurring guest star Austin Abrams), who turned up at a Pearson family dinner uninvited after getting Kate’s address off her job application.
While a young Kate is smitten with her slightly older man, Kevin (Logan Shroyer) and Randall (Niles Fitch) don’t like him right off the bat. And it appears their instincts are right.
A flash forward to present day showed Kate (Chrissy Metz) and mom Rebecca (Mandy Moore) looking at old photos, including one of Kate with Marc that was taken the night of that family dinner in 1998. The two women exchange concerned looks, and then Rebecca drops an episode-ending bombshell.
“I was trying so hard to hold it together that year after your father died. And I wanted to believe so badly that you kids were happy, I didn’t see what was happening.”
“I didn’t see it either,” Kate admitted.
So what does this eerie feeling scene mean? Kate’s TV dad Milo Ventimiglia — who, incidentally, directed the “Storybook Love” episode — told TV Line the scene was designed to give fans a “what the?” moment.
“Oh my God, Kate in the very ending,” Ventimiglia said. “We need the audience to ask the question: ‘What the f*ck happened?!'”
The This Is Us star also confirmed that Kate and Rebecca’s concern when seeing the photo of Marc is “100 percent a thing.”
But This Is Us executive producer Isaac Aptaker went a step further when talking about the scene. The co-showrunner told Entertainment Weekly that fans should definitely be concerned that something bad happened during the Marc era of Kate’s life.
“Fans should have a healthy amount of concern. 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.”
Aptaker added that in some ways, Kate’s first boyfriend “really changed the course of her life” the year after her dad Jack died, and he teased that there were so many factors contributing to what ultimately is a “pretty substantial weight gain that we know comes from her.”
This Is Us executive producer Elizabeth Berger also weighed in on how 18-year-old Kate’s 23-year-old boyfriend showed up at the house for dinner without being invited.
“That will definitely prove to be symbolic of Marc’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. And we do feel like that is a little bit of a tell for where we’re going and what this guy is all about.”
Berger added that the relationship with Marc was “a very formative relationship” for Kate.
Of course, This Is Us viewers had plenty of opinions on Kate’s boyfriend mystery. On Twitter, the general consensus is that he was abusive to Kate. Other fans described his behavior as that of a stalker. Viewers will likely have to wait awhile to get answers as this unexpected part of Kate’s past plays out.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.