You can shut the bedroom door all you want, Beth: When Mom and Dad are fighting, good luck hiding it from the rest of the family. Along those lines, it’s no surprise that This Is Us‘ Tess, Annie and Deja have at least an inkling that their parents’ marriage has hit a rough patch — a dynamic that series star Eris Baker says will continue to play out in Tuesday’s season finale (NBC, 9/8c).
“In any family, if the parents are arguing, [you and] your siblings feel the horrible vibe in the room,” she says during a recent visit to TVLine’s New York offices. “You guys are going to see how we, as sisters, are going to feel some type of way. For example, having breakfast at the dinner table, it’s going to feel weird, because there’s a vibe or a connection that just feels off.”
The network’s official synopsis for the season-ending episode, titled “Her,” teases that “Randall and Beth consider how to move forward” after their angry, hour-long, unresolved blowout last week. Meanwhile, Uncle
Jesse Kevin and Zoe look after Tess and Annie (perhaps spurring another conversation about their own potential kids or lack thereof?), and Rebecca helps Toby and Kate care for their preemie son Jack.
Baker previews that the episode also lightly revisits the matter of Tess’ fledgling sexuality, which first was raised in Episode 9 of this season and which earned the actress a Performer of the Week honorable mention. The character’s first admission that she thinks she likes girls was “definitely a challenge” to act, Baker recalls, in part because she’d never cried on camera before. “I did lots of research. There’s not many young girls coming out on TV, and I just had to think about all the emotions and all the hatred that’s going around in this world, and really put that into the scene.”
In addition, the actress says, she talked with a friend who’d come out to her parents and who’d feared their reaction, even though the family relationship was strong. “So it just showed how, even if you’re close with your family… sometimes you just never know if you’re going to be accepted or not,” Baker says. “That kind of drove it.”
Tuesday’s hour contains a “powerful” scene in which Tess wonders exactly how cool her parents are with what she’s told them. “She was in that stage like, ‘OK, my parents, they’re accepting me, but I’m still confused. How are they going to handle this? How am I going to handle this? Who am I?,'” Baker previews, smiling. “She’s really confused, and just talking about her confusion. I can’t wait for you guys to see it.”