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A This Is Us Flash-Forward May Have Pointed to What Breaks Toby and Kate

All signs point to the upcoming Pearson family barbecue being disastrous for KaToby.

By McKenzie Jean-Philippe
Kate and Toby having a heated discussion

If there's one thing we've learned from This Is Us it's that a Pearson family gathering never goes off without a hitch. And that's at the forefront of our minds as we prepare for this week's episode (airing on NBC Tuesday, April 5 at 9 p.m. ET), titled "Saturday In the Park." 

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What we know? The episode will chronicle Rebecca (Many Moore) and Miguel's (Jon Huertas) anniversary barbecue celebration in L.A. But viewers have a theory that this upcoming BBQ somehow plays into the demise of Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby's (Chris Sullivan) marriage. Thanks to a flash-forward in the Season 5 finale, we already know our beloved KaToby end up divorced, and Kate remarries and finds love with her music school boss, Phillip (Chris Geere). While we don't know exactly what leads to the shocking split, we've seen plenty of tension between Kate and Toby during this season's Thanksgiving episode and in Episode 9's "The Hill," when Kate visited her husband in San Francisco.

So, how could it get even rockier? We break down the clues, below.

A Jack Jr. flash-forward hints at an accident that might involve a smoker.

Earlier this season, at the beginning of Episode 3's "Four Fathers," we were treated to a flash-forward of Kate and Toby's son, Jack Jr. (Blake Stadnik). We see him preparing meat in a smoker, which spurs what he describes as a "hell of a first memory." He adds, "Every once in a while that smell hits me, and it takes me right back to that day."

Two images of Jack. Int eh first one he is an adult, in the second one he is a baby

At the end of the episode in present time, we see Toby excitedly tell Kate about his latest purchase: The Big Green Egg Smoker. Moments later, we're taken back to Jack Jr.'s flash-forward scene where he's still cooking with what we now know is Toby's old smoker.

Jack Jr.'s girlfriend questions why he still uses the appliance. "It's, like, the literal symbol of the day your mom and dad's marriage blew up," she says, while also looking at a scar on his forehead. "Besides, that day almost permanently deformed that near-perfect face of yours."

So, what does all of this mean? Show writers Casey Johnson and David Windsor broke down the scene to EWwith Windsor saying, "It leads to a bigger storyline in a future episode."

Johnson said, "Well, I think we can assure everyone that the smoker doesn't explode. That's not what happened. We can relax a little bit about that. But it is a moment that has stayed with Jack."

Windsor added, "That's exactly right. Even though it was difficult and literally painful for him, it still had purpose and shaped his life, in a way. Maybe that's the reason why he's got this amazing life and this beautiful house and this huge career. Whatever that moment is served a purpose in his life."

We know the now-infamous smoker will be at the anniversary party.

During "The Hill," Toby tells Kate that The Big Green Egg will arrive just in time for Rebecca and Miguel's barbecue, which puts the smoker at the scene of its (possible) crime.

This Is Us stars hinted that the barbecue will be anything but "normal."

Metz and Sterling K. Brown (Randall) said as much in interviews with People.

"Boy, there's been a lot of stuff bubbling," Brown said. "I think [creator] Dan [Fogelman] and our writers have been interested in showing the different forms of family and giving value to all those different forms of family. Kate gets divorced. It's not a surprise... There have been bread crumbs throughout the course of the season."

Metz was much less cryptic. "Well, there's something aside from the Egg that occurs. Let's just say, it is not a normal party," she said of the anniversary barbecue. "I don't know if the Pearsons can have a normal party, if I'm honest. S**t always seems to hit the fan with the parties. When three or more Pearsons are gathered, s**t hits the fan. I think it's because there's a lot going on under the surface—resentments and stuff that goes on. There's a particular incident that happens between Kate and Toby and Jack that really solidifies their decision of not moving forward."

Well, that basically proves that KaToby fans will not be happy by the end of Episode 11. But all we can do is sit back, try to relax, and watch This Is Us on Tuesday night to confirm our suspicions. 

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. Catch up now on NBC.com.