The Ted Lasso backlash seemed to intensify on social media last week with some critics balking against a show that’s become so popular and others bent on comparing Season 1 to this new season before it’s even been completed. (We’re six episodes in! Halfway there. Ted and Coach Beard would probably have a Bon Jovi joke about that.)
But Episode 6, “The Signal,” included at least a couple of major developments that could roll through the end of the season. Let’s park the bus and jump into our weekly Ted Lasso group recap.
Big takeaway from “The Signal”?
Jay Rigdon: After last week’s episode put the finishing touches on the dramatic setup pins, this week’s knocked them all down with gusto. There’s certainly a lot to unpack with the following questions, but the main takeaway for me: after Ted himself spent most of the season in a holding pattern while focusing on the rest of the ensemble, we’re finally getting to what looks like his arc.
Michael Grant: There’s a lot to unpack here. Didn’t care for Rebecca’s mother. Understand how she fit into the narrative, but her character was underwhelming. And I’m growing weary of Coach Beard’s on-again, off-again relationship with Jane. Thankfully, Higgins saved the day (maybe?). Overjoyed to see friction fireworks between Roy and Jamie. That brought much-needed juice to the show.
But then, the energy was completely drained by Ted’s abrupt departure from the pitch. (Panic attack?) We knew he was eventually going to wind up in Dr. Sharon’s office. We just didn’t know how. And then there was the ending no one saw coming. OMG.
— pop / ad (@qdamscott) August 27, 2021
Matt Clapp: It’s Ted’s panic attack and finally having the inevitable meeting with Sharon. I was a bit surprised for the series to have a second very visible panic attack with Ted (with the first being last season at karaoke), but it’s also just driving home the point of how vulnerable (and relatable) his character is — especially while being in another country and leaving his family behind (and with a divorce).
Ian Casselberry: I think we got a glimpse of how Ted Lasso is going to end, which has probably occurred to some viewers already. Showrunner Bill Lawrence has said that the plan is for the series to go three seasons. So it’s probably about time to begin planting those seeds.
It’s not clear what exactly triggered Ted’s panic attack. Was it the stress of the Tottenham match? Insecurity over not doing a good job this season? Being reminded of his divorce by Rebecca’s mother? But it was likely the phone call from home that reminded Ted he’s not around to help his son; he’s not part of his daily life. We’ve been getting hints that Ted is on the edge. The start of his day when he has something to say to everyone looked like a guy who’s trying too hard to be positive.
Is Jamie being “a prick” responding to Ted Lasso being about kindness?
IC: Not directly, considering how far in advance this stuff is produced. But maybe there was some “Oh, you think the show is about this, huh?” sentiment among the writers. Apple TV’s marketing has even leaned into the “kindness” thing. Ted’s approach has clearly lifted the entire AFC Richmond operation. But in some cases, being an asshole is necessary to achieve success. Isn’t that really what The Last Dance was about?
MG: Perhaps. This storyline probably made the most sense in the entire episode. Athletes often believe that the reason they’re great is because they are willing to do things that others won’t. Might be the only character trait that Roy and Jamie share, From a competition point of view, Ted’s kindness can only go so far. Sometimes you need jerks to give you that extra edge to win. The reveal of “the signal” was hilarious.
MC: Maybe a little bit, but it’s also just a reminder that a kindness-only method isn’t going to produce a very successful professional sports franchise, sadly. You need an asshole or two as well. While the roundabout way we’ve gotten to this point is certainly odd, having a character like this actually makes for a more believable sports franchise.
JR: I think yes and no. No, in that it’s not a veiled commentary on the all too common (and thoroughly misguided) critique that Ted Lasso is kindness porn. Yes, in that the show has spent a lot of time throughout the first and second seasons demonstrating just how limiting Ted’s philosophy can be, both personally and professionally.
— Apple TV (@AppleTV) August 27, 2021
This episode offered a two-pronged punch, with Roy undercutting Jamie’s Lasso lessons and helping the team to a huge win via rough and tumble tactics, and a reminder from across the Atlantic how he’s no longer able to be a part of his son’s daily life thanks to his marriage falling apart. Both of those developments clearly crush Ted on a level he can’t understand, and he’s been pushing the feelings aside for this entire season.
MG: A shocking cliffhanger that probably caused many to tap the 15-second rewind button just to make sure they weren’t hallucinating.
— ash zoeys playlist saved ! (@spectercollins) August 27, 2021
Let me get this straight. Sam protests AFC Richmond’s top sponsor Dubai Air because Ceritihium Oil, which owns Dubai Air, is polluting Sam’s home country of Nigeria. Rebecca does Sam a solid by standing behind him and not releasing him from the team. In comes a new sponsor, Bantr – a dating app with no profile pictures. Rebecca uses Bantr and, unbeknownst to her, is matched to a player on the team she owns? I question the app’s algorithms. This seems implausible. However, I am intrigued.
JR: I loved this twist as I was one of the few people I talked to who wasn’t convinced Ted was chatting with Rebecca, or that if they were talking they’d be a good couple. Sam, though, is a lot of fun, even if the story from here could go wrong in a ton of ways.
IC: I never bought the Rebecca-Ted thing because Ted would be so obviously himself on Bantr. Even Sassy said he was very Ted during sex. Plus, the Rilke quote! Ted is a big reader, but maybe not poetry. When we got the big reveal, I bit my fist because I want to see how the writers are getting out of this. I feel like it’s going to be a crusher for Rebecca, who’s believing in romance.
MC: Well, this is the first time in the series I’ve felt truly shocked. And things are about to get awkward. I’m already cringing for Rebecca.
Favorite scene or quote?
MG: “Boy, I love meeting people’s moms. It’s like reading an instruction manual as to why they’re nuts.”
— Apple TV (@AppleTV) August 28, 2021
JR: It was admittedly a ton of fun to see Jamie go back to full-on JAMIE again at the flip(-off) of a mental switch. The ways in which he immediately begins dialing up tried-and-true soccer annoyance tactics and then calls his shot was excellent, as was Roy’s begrudging respect for it, having seen it all before, presumably from multiple players across his career. It was the epitome of “We’re glad he’s on our side,” a feeling anyone who has ever played sports with a talented asshole knows all too well.
IC, MC: “And that is the last time I ever gave a best man speech.”
Wouldn’t the media be all over the Roy addition and Ted leaving the sideline? Where is Trent Crimm, The Independent?
MC: This was one of my first reactions, how absolutely bonkers the media and social media would go over each thing (fairly or unfairly) in real life. But it’s a TV show and there’s only so much time to work with (and most viewers likely don’t care as much about this as *we* do).
JR: This angle does seem to be a bit underserved, but considering all the balls Ted Lasso juggles as ostensibly a weekly half-hour comedy series, it’s unsurprising that the media group is the first cut. (They tend to pop up when we need a more serious external perspective. Lately, the main ensemble has been dealing with serious enough matters, so we’ve gotten more of the silly pub fan crew Greek chorus.)
"Trent Crimm, The Independent" is a beautiful man with beautiful hair. pic.twitter.com/1jmC1IrF4X
— ?Cindy – Ranting on jsalpod with Women? (@Cinderellaodin) August 25, 2021
MG: Good to know the English media is very much like the American media. It’s all about the results. AFC Richmond won, so that’s all that matters. It’s a sidebar but not a controversy. Plus, everyone can relate to the cover story of a bathroom emergency. Even Trent Crimm.
IC: I realize there’s only so much that can be fit into an episode. The story has to move forward and we love the character stuff. But occasionally, my “OK, what would really happen?” brain turns on and the head coach — or manager — bolting from the sideline during a pivotal time in a match would be a big effin’ deal. Really, I just miss Trent Crimm and his amazing hair.