Season 3 of Apple TV+'s comedy series Trying has been delivering what feels like a hug week after week with its sincerely heartwarming storyline and underdog tale of a couple attempting their very best at parenthood. But if the latest episode is any indication of how tough parenting can get amid adoption dilemmas, audiences should buckle up. In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, series stars Esther Smith and Rafe Spall, who play the adorable new parents Nikki and Jason, opened up about that "heartbreaking" twist in Episode 5, and what it means for the lovable TV couple. [Spoilers ahead for Season 3, Episode 5: "Pick a Side" are ahead.]
As Jason tries to avert his fiancée Nikki's attention from their tenant trying to sell the flat and upholds the lie until he figures things out, Nikki works her hardest to get closer to Princess (Eden Togwell). The mother-daughter pair head out for some shopping in Camden with the pre-teen's two friends. But as Princess asks to buy a bracelet and Nikki is forced to say no after her conversation with Jason about not being a pushover, the new mom finds herself not fitting in with her daughter. With the three young girls treating themselves to ice cream and Princess requesting for Nikki to sit away from the three so she can spend time with her friends, the new mom is heartbroken but finds herself soon in the company of an older woman named Bev, played by Clare Higgins.
As the two chat, Nikki opens up to Bev, confessing all her secrets and worries about being a new parent while Jason attends a football viewing at the pub with his son Tyler (Mickey McAnulty) and best friend, Freddy (Oliver Chris). While celebrating a victory for his team, Tyler runs over to his dad for a hug but ends up slipping and falling flat on his face. Meanwhile, Nikki is deep in conversation with Bev, who stresses the importance of family and how she would fight tooth and nail to protect her own. As they speak, Nikki pulls away from the conversation for a quick phone call from Jason, who explains he is at the hospital with Tyler. With Bev eavesdropping, Nikki learns Jason had been drinking and took a cab to get there, concerning the new mom over a possible child services review.
However, by the episode's end, things turn out just fine for the couple albeit a brief theft incident by Princess of the bracelet she wanted, ultimately bonding Princess and Nikki over a birthmark the child is insecure about and wanted to cover up. Proving her love for her daughter and how she would do anything for her, Nikki takes her to a tattoo parlor where the doting mom gets one that looks just like Princess. When they get home, Nikki tells Jason all about her day and begins to unbox Tyler's items to help the children get settled in, which includes a collection of photographs. While looking through them and sticking a bunch to the fridge, Nikki is taken aback when she sees a photo of Bev with the children and is left staring into space.
While speaking about the episode with PopCulture.com, Smith admitted she was most definitely taken aback by the twist. "Do you know that I found that really heartbreaking, that whole storyline?" she told PopCulture. "Just because, that's another human being who has a connection, a relationship with these two children. It's kind of out of her control and all she wants to do is be this grandparent in the way that she probably thought being a grandparent would be within her life, but that is completely out of her control and she's having to have this battle, which I can't even imagine. I have so much empathy for both sides of that."
For her own personal familiarity with these emotions pulled in by all sides of a family, Smith adds how listening to podcasts about adoption really opened up her perspective and understanding of the pain and "tension" these situations can sometimes spring up. "It's another part of this journey, which is truthful, which is a representation of certain people's experience," she said. "It's such a brilliant character and it was so lovely to have that kind of extra part of it. And, also there is humor — there was humor within that as well then, but also just yeah, incredibly painful moments."
Spall praises Higgins for not just her role as Bev, but the depth of her emotion she brings to the series, and audiences will see leading to the season finale. "We've got such a rich theatrical tradition in this country and one of the reasons that I wanted to be an actor is because I loved theater and my dad [Timothy Spall] used to give me a theater allowance every week when I first expressed the desire to want to go and be an actor, and Clare is one of our great theatrical, sort of British theater legends — she's won like four Olivier Awards, right? She's played like every huge female Shakespeare part."
Sharing how she was part of the Royal Shakespeare Company with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, Spall applauds her for being a "theatrical legend," and an honor to work with. "That's one of the cool things about our job, is that we get people coming in and playing characters on our TV show that I grew up going to see in the theater and she's coming and doing this great little character in our show," he said. "But I'm like, 'Wow, man. You've really earned your stripes!' You are part of the firmament of this British theatrical culture that is so important to the identity of our country, really, and so it was really wonderful to have someone like her come in and play that part."
Trying Season 3 is now available to stream on Apple TV+, with weekly drops every Friday until Sept. 2. Seasons 1 and 2 are now available worldwide. For more on the show and all your favorite stars and streaming series, stay tuned to the latest from PopCulture.com.