This week’s episode of Ted Lasso had a lot going on. So much so that I almost felt like I’d missed a previous episode that would make everything happening make sense. That wasn’t true across the board. There were a few storylines that felt true to form, but others felt like they came from nowhere. This is especially true when it comes to Rebecca.
We find her post-coital, texting away with Bantr boy on her phone, as a naked man named Luca makes coffee in her kitchen. It’s weird that she’s having meaningless sex right after she revealed to Bantr boy at the end of the last episode she’s looking for love. I feel like I’ve got whiplash. And so does Rebecca – but for other reasons. One second, she’s got a naked man in her kitchen and the next, her mother’s walking in the door.
Her mom, Deborah, doesn’t care that there’s a naked man in her daughter’s kitchen. In fact, she kind of likes it. Deborah’s got bigger problems: she just left Rebecca’s father and needs a place to crash. While Rebecca’s surprised at the timing, she’s not surprised by the circumstances. Apparently, Deborah and Dad do this every couple of years like clockwork: Deborah leaves to find herself. Dad buys her an expensive and environmentally conscious gift. Deborah forgives, then ghosts Rebecca for months. Perhaps that’s why Rebecca’s own love life is a mess.
Ted is fired up this week because Richmond’s in the quarter final of the FA Cup. It’s essentially the football version of a March Madness tournament, where every team in the country competes. It’s the opportunity for a David versus Goliath moment. Ted thinks Richmond might have a shot at winning the whole thing, even though Higgins kindly points out that a Premier league team hasn’t won the whole thing in over 40 years. But bad odds have never gotten Ted down before, so why should they now?
Beard reveals that he and Jane are back together and she’s moving in with him, much to the chagrin of everyone else. Higgins calls an emergency meeting of the Diamond Dogs (minus Beard) to discuss how Jane and Beard aren’t healthy together. All of this is weird because Beard and Jane’s entire relationship has been happening off-screen this season. Beard is an underdeveloped character, so why haven’t the writers used his relationship as an opportunity for some character development? Often, the only purpose Beard serves is to explain football rules and speak Lasso. He’s the guy who knows stuff, so making his personal drama a plot point in an episode feels like an odd choice, especially when there’s no groundwork laid for it. I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel because I have no idea what’s going on. Everyone tells Higgins to butt out of Beard’s business and not get involved.
The players are in good spirits this episode now that Roy Kent is one of their coaches. They’ve won their last four games because of him. Isaac calls it “The Roy Kent Effect.” It doesn’t apply to all players though – Roy’s got no interest in coaching Jamie. Ted reminds Roy that he’s actually paid to coach all the players, so Roy hits them both with the hard truth: Ted fucked Jamie up by trying to turn him into a team player. Jamie’s a prick, not a team player. Being a prick is what makes him great. So, Roy gives Jamie permission to be a prick again – when the situation calls for it. He’ll know when that time is because Roy will give him a signal. The time comes in the middle of their FA Cup quarterfinal match. The “signal” is the entire coaching staff flipping him the bird, which is awesome.
It works like a charm and Jamie scores a much-needed goal. This is about the point in the episode where I had a realization: Ted is not a good coach. He’s a good friend, a great father figure, and a fantastic person. He’s making his players better people, but he’s not making them better at football. That’s especially true when it comes to Jamie, which is what Roy Kent points out. The most disconcerting reveal of this entire episode is that not only is Ted doing a terrible job as a football coach, but he doesn’t even seem to notice.
Ted’s preoccupied by his own personal problems, which have been boiling under the surface all season. And they boil over at the most inconvenient time: right in the middle of the game. Ted begins to have a panic attack (reminiscent of Liverpool last season) and has to run off the pitch, leaving the team directionless. So, Nate steps up. As we discussed last week, Nate’s worried that he’s the weakest link on the coaching staff. It’s weird for him to have that crisis of confidence literally the episode after he FOUND his confidence.
This kind of flip-flopping is indicative of something else the show has been struggling with this season: the writers are prioritizing episode arcs at the expense of season arcs, which leaves things feeling disjointed and scattered. That’s why I felt like I had whiplash at the top with Rebecca’s storyline, too. Last season felt cohesive because we were always building to something. This season, I’m not quite sure what we’re building to.
Back to the matter at hand: Nate. Once Ted is off the field, he immediately steps up to the plate and calls a game-saving play. We don’t get to see it though because we follow Rebecca into the locker room instead, where she’s looking for Ted. She saw him run off the field and is concerned, but she can’t find him.
Then team Richmond barrels into the locker room to celebrate their win. There’s a lot happening at once here. Disjointed and chaotic seemed to be the unofficial theme of the episode. Speaking of which, we get some closure on the Higgins/Beard plot when Higgins finally comes clean and tells Beard that he doesn’t think Jane is healthy for him. Beard is appreciative and honestly relieved that someone sees the pain he’s going through. But he doesn’t take Higgins’s advice.
Rebecca calls Ted on her way home from the match, but he doesn’t answer. When she gets home, everything she predicted about her mother comes true. Deborah’s left a note, explaining that Rebecca’s father bought her a Tesla and all is right with the world. She promises to take Rebecca for a spin in it sometime. Although Rebecca’s prophecy has come to fruition, she’s not happy about it. So, she calls Hunky Luca to take him for a spin. Bantr boy texts her that he wants to meet, but Rebecca misses it as she goes to get undressed and wait for Luca.
The episode concludes with two big reveals. First: Bantr boy’s identity. It’s Sam! I have to give credit to fellow Gist writer, John Brown Spiers, who called this weeks ago. My reaction now is the same as my reaction then: cringe emoji face. Clearly, Rebecca and Sam cannot date. Right? RIGHT?!
The second big reveal is Ted’s whereabouts and state of mind. When Sharon goes to leave for the night, she finds him in her office, lying in the fetal position, shrouded in darkness. It seems Ted has finally reached his breaking point and he’s ready to talk. I’ll see you all back here next week to (hopefully) find out what’s on his mind!
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