The on-pitch plight of AFC Richmond has been a pretty surprising subplot throughout Ted Lasso’s second season. Yes, the Greyhounds were relegated from the Premier League to the Championship last year. But, as I pointed out in an article on Ted’s own win-loss record, EPL teams usually wreak havoc their first year in the Championship. And Jamie, the team’s long-elusive second ace, found himself welcomed into the fold for the first time after he was the first non-Nigerian player to cover the Dubai Air logo on his kit. In short, AFC Richmond should have been destroying its opponents for most of Season 2.
But ease and grace are not dramatic, and thus are not the hallmarks of televisual entertainment. Come Ted Lasso’s infamous Christmas episode, we found out via office white board that AFC Richmond was 4-4-14 on the season. That’s four wins, four losses, and fourteen draws, with 24 more matches to play. You can get into a deep dive on exactly what that means here. The short version is it put the Greyhounds only a couple-three spots away from getting relegated again.
Since then, we know things have gotten somewhat better, thanks to the Roy Kent Effect. A recap of Richmond’s win at the beginning of “The Signal” informs us that the team has won four straight since hiring Roy as a coach. The football storylines since then have focused on Richmond’s FA Cup matches; those are a separate category from the Championship, and don’t count in Championship standings. So far as we knew, the team was doing better — but not great.
Which is why the final scene of “Beard After Hours” made me do a double take. That episode rules, but it only deals with football in that Richmond’s horrible loss to Man City is what sends Beard caroming through London’s darkened alleyways like a pinball in search of its machine. In its very last scene, Beard arrives at his and Ted’s office for the morning film session, drops off everyone’s coffee, settles into his chair…
…and then leans back far enough for us to get another look at that white board. It seems that in the 21 matches since Christmas, AFC Richmond has notched two losses, two more draws, and a staggering seventeen more wins. They now have 79 league points with three matches to go, and are all but guaranteed either a spot in the playoff — for which the winner earns promotion to the Premier League — or an outright promotion with no playoff necessary.
This seems… too easy? I know that might sound hypocritical, since it was only a few weeks ago that I argued Richmond *should* be racking up easy wins, and now we have proof they’ve been doing exactly that. But think about the timeline. At the beginning of “Rainbow” (episode 2.5), Isaac is roaring at the team after a dumb loss in which they played “like shit,” but he doesn’t have any solution for them, and neither does Ted. Roy becomes a coach at the end of “Rainbow,” just as Richmond’s next match is about to begin. Then, at the start of the aforementioned “The Signal” (episode 2.6), we learn about the four-match winning streak. As of that moment, then, AFC Richmond appears to be 8-5-14 for the year.
“Headspace” (2.7) and “Man City” (2.8) are all about the FA Cup Quarterfinal and Semifinal. I don’t remember hearing any asides about Championship wins or losses in those episodes. I’ve tried to keep a running tally of the team’s record through every episode, but I could be wrong. But then the other reason I don’t think I am wrong — about missing references, at least — is Ted has been Going Through It. Usually, Ted’s the person who helps the team bounce back from rough patches. In “Beard After Hours” he does so in hilariously charming fashion, with Benny Hill-ified footage of the Man City match.
And let’s not overlook how Beard seems increasingly frustrated with Ted. Or how Nate, though still full of good ideas, is less focused on the team because he’s becoming awed by his own hype. Or how we haven’t heard a peep about how the players’ increasing confidence and newfound whatever has helped Richmond rack up thirteen behind-the-scenes wins in the three episodes since “The Signal.” That’s a fuckton of success! It would certainly put to bed all gossip about Ted’s job being at risk. That gossip going away would in turn be a presumed relief for one Theodore Laurence Lasso, whose emotional problems and struggle to talk about them have become so prominent that I just assumed Richmond wasn’t doing well, either.
This inconsistency is not a dealbreaker for me. The storylines Ted Lasso is juggling with Season 2 are an unexpected and compelling break from what we got in Season 1. The episodes are getting richer — and darker — every week. If anything, I’m a bit relieved to know that double relegation is off the table for the final three episodes. Should AFC Richmond fail to make it back to the Premier League, so what? That wouldn’t be embarrassing. It would just be one more obstacle for the team to grapple with next year.
Still, I can’t help feeling like the writers’ room exhaled a bit upon finding out they were getting two extra episodes this season. Now that we know Beard and Jane never broke up and are in fact closer than ever, “Beard After Hours” gave us some much-needed explanation as to why. (Cause what we’ve seen of Jane aint great.) And “Beard After Hours” also showed us how AFC Richmond’s been performing as a team. The answer? Just grinding away, tallying up those wins, not making a fuss of things, leading Ted Lasso‘s audience by example.
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