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How Kate's Climb up the Hill During 'This Is Us' Was a Turning Point

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I’ve been a die-hard “This Is Us” fan since the pilot aired in 2016, and an especially huge admirer of Kate Pearson (Chrissy Metz), because I see so much of myself in her. However, Kate moved me more than ever in the most recent episode, aptly titled “The Hill.”

Coming on the heels of a rather heated argument between Kate and her husband, Toby (Chris Sullivan) in the previous episode, the couple agrees that their current long-distance marriage isn’t working. So Kate suggests that she should come visit him for a weekend in San Francisco, and he excitedly agrees. The couple spends the first portion of the episode counting down to their kid-free bonding time in the Golden City, and Kate seems in good spirits.

Unfortunately, the weekend ends up being a disaster from the start, and it ends with Toby hinting at an ultimatum for Kate: she must move to San Francisco if she wants to stay married to Toby. In response, Kate, whose weight and body image struggles have been a recurring theme throughout the series, decides to go for a walk up one of the massive San Francisco hills that Toby kept her from climbing the entire weekend.

Kate’s climb up that hill wasn’t just about her weight or her physical health, though: it was a testament to how much Kate’s self-esteem has improved throughout the series.

Since her childhood, Kate has struggled with risk-taking and putting herself out there because of her lack of confidence and low self-esteem. We see proof of it in several of the flashback scenes throughout the episode, just as we’ve seen throughout the series. However, we’ve also seen numerous small victories, like the time she confronted her abusive ex-boyfriend, Marc (Austin Abrams), or when she finally lands a dream job as an assistant music teacher at a school for blind students.

As for the ending scene of “The Hill,” we see Kate push herself to new limits. She not only shows that she possesses the physical strength and ability to push herself, but she also possesses the emotional strength to climb whatever obstacle life throws at her — even if those obstacles include her current marriage.

This climb was a turning point for Kate. She pushed herself to see if she could make it, and she did. She didn’t need anyone (like her dad in the pool) to help her, and she didn’t get halfway up the hill and give up (like she did with the fence). Instead, she just kept going until she made it to the top. Then, when she made it, she took another leap: she called her boss at the school for the blind and asked if he would consider her for a vacant position left by a retiring coworker.

As much as I’ve loved the relationship Kate and Toby share, it’s clear that there are more issues with their marriage than simply living in different cities. I think that, as that climb demonstrates, Kate finally has the self-esteem and determination to live her dreams — with or without Toby.

For the first time in her life, Kate Pearson is no longer scared. She’s no longer mourning. She’s no longer lacking direction and purpose. At the top of that hill, Kate is without a doubt ready to kick ass and take on the world completely on her own. And this is exactly the Kate I’ve been waiting to see the entire time, the Kate who has finally discovered just how strong, capable, and inspiring she really is.

While we may not know exactly how Kate gets from where she is now to where we’ve seen her end up in some of the flash forward moments over the past two seasons, I can say that I know without a doubt that Kate is going to continue to blossom into an incredible woman.

I know this because I am Kate. Every person who has struggled with low self-worth is Kate. Anyone who has ever overcome childhood trauma is Kate. Every woman who has ever freed herself from an abusive partner is Kate.

We’re all Kate, and we can all climb the hill — we just need time to find that strength and determination to make it to the top.

Image via Team Pearson’s YouTube

Originally published: March 28, 2022
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