That’s a wrap on Ted Lasso, Season 2! Nate has turned to the dark side and AFC Richmond earned promotion back to the Premier League, where a new (old?) adversary awaits. Please join us in breaking down Episode 12, the Season 2 finale, “Inverting the Pyramid of Success.”
Thanks to all of you who followed along with our weekly group recaps. There are plenty of places online to get your Ted Lasso post-mortems, but we tried to be a bit different with roundtable discussions and taking a more sports-oriented view. We had a lot of fun doing these and look forward to coming back for Season 3. Let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see. Onward. Forward.
Nate’s villain turn is now complete. Was it darker than you expected?
Matt Clapp: Much more so than his hair! But yeah, it was a bit much. They went full Cobra Kai and I just wasn’t quite buying it as a viewer of this particular series, with this particular character.
Every image of him being cranky on the sidelines and then walking away angrily as they won just made me roll my eyes. No professional coach would be that petty right in front of a packed stadium and television cameras in a massively successful moment for the team. The storyline was bizarre enough and then went too over-the-top in its execution, in my opinion.
Michael Grant: Yes. Nate’s Anakin Skywalker-to-Darth Vader transition was one of the strongest elements of Season 2. And now we see that Rupert is playing an Emperor Palpatine role by putting Nate in charge of his new club. Not completely surprising since the two talked at the funeral.
The confrontation between Nate and Ted was jarring but also featured fantastic acting. You feel Nate’s (misplaced) rage. You don’t need Dr. Sharon to figure out that Nate’s hostility towards Ted stems from a complicated relationship with his father.
Andrew Bucholtz: I think this worked. It made sense for Nate to think at this point he’s strong enough to coach a team himself (even though he doesn’t seem to have the interpersonal skills), and it really made sense for Rupert to be the one hiring him. Other Premier League teams would probably want someone a bit more proven. But this is some vengeance for Rupert, and that feeds into Nate’s desire to get back at Ted and Richmond and show what he can do. I’m looking forward to seeing Nate v. Ted in season three.
Ian Casselberry: I suppose I didn’t expect Nate to go that dark at Ted. That motherf***er tore up the “Believe” sign! But Nate held in that resentment for so long that it would naturally burst out once he turned the faucet on. Maybe he was also loaded for bear, expecting to be confronted once the panic attack story was published. And Ted not addressing it right away surely fed into Nate’s increasing jealousy and abandonment issues.
I'm still thinking about this scene, this moment really tore my heart in two just like Nate did with the Believe sign.
Right there and then Ted knew he lost Nate for good. So sad. #TedLasso pic.twitter.com/OioU6hyXjV
— Flav⎊ (@Darveyinbed) October 9, 2021
The build-up to that scene was nicely done too, showing that Ted’s way doesn’t work for every situation. Rather than wait for Nate to come to him, he should’ve been more proactive as Beard was encouraging. But maybe Ted was still trying to understand how Nate could betray him, questioning how he let this happen. Regardless, I hope Nate’s hair turns completely white, not just grey, in Season 3. Like Anderson Cooper. Or an anime villain.
Jay Rigdon: I think it was about as dark as I expected. The show really did this about as well as it possibly could have, showing the work as much as telling it. This was the first scene with just Ted and Nate all season, giving us the same sense Nate would have had of a diminished relationship. The earlier episode demonstrating Nate’s family issues also built him up in our eyes. All that combined to make a heel turn not only believable, but even plausibly empathetic.
Will Keeley and Roy still be together when he returns from Marbella?
AB: I’m curious to see where this goes. I’m not sure they did enough work to build up these seeming Keeley-Roy tensions. But there is maybe an interesting story to tell around how this relationship works while things are taking off for her and not as much for him.
MG: I think so. As people change relationships change. Keeley’s professional life is about to take off, and you wonder if Roy is going to evolve to be fully supportive of her. This might just be new relationship territory for Kent that he’s trying to figure out. This couple is too adorable so hopefully, the two will stay together.
MC: Hmm. That’s a good question. I’ll lean yes, but it’s easy to see that not being the case. I at least think they’ll be fine by the time the season comes to an end.
JR: Uh, I’ll say yes but that things are still very much in flux. The Ted-Keeley relationship could go any number of satisfying directions from here, and it’s nice to be able to trust a show to deliver no matter which one they choose.
IC: I realize healthy romantic relationships are boring from a dramatic standpoint, but it feels like the Lasso writing staff is contriving tensions between Roy and Keeley.
Yet it’s intriguing that Roy feels insecure about Keeley thriving without him (overlooking what support he’s providing as pop culture’s favorite boyfriend). Or maybe Roy is worried that Keeley will realize she doesn’t need him after encouraging him to get back into soccer after retiring. We’ve seen how clingy he gets. Ted Lasso has many things to say about masculinity, toxic or otherwise, and this is another example.
Favorite scene or quote?
MG: “The universe told me to marry your mother and to buy Bitcoin in 2009. 2009!”
IC: Edwin Akufo’s tantrum after Sam declines his offer provided a much-needed laugh. Maybe it would’ve been more interesting if Akufo left Sam to question his choice, but throwing a manchild tantrum cut that off decisively. Now, he could be another villain for Season 3. But really, I just relate to someone who views pooping on an enemy’s cherished items as the ultimate indignity, especially when he’s a billionaire who could do something much more sinister.
— Nicole Abarca Powell (@MyCouchHasADent) October 8, 2021
JR: Ted cycling through his phone as various friends check in on him, and then finally leaving and being picked up by another friend. Ted Lasso isn’t always aiming for realism, but scenes of friendship, support, and the benefits of outreach really shone through there.
— Heather Rachelle Fox (@ForFurryFoxSake) October 9, 2021
Any chance Trent Crimm, Independent takes Keeley’s PR job?
JR: Not sure I’ve ever felt more connected to a storyline than this one, which I kind of predicted before the finale.
I'm choosing to take it as Trent feeling incredibly dirty having written that piece knowing how he's furthering mental health stigmas and how Ted is a good guy at heart.
Trent probably feels burned out in the industry, not caring about protecting sources for info down the line.
— Jay Rigdon (@jayrigdon5) October 3, 2021
I wish Trent nothing but the best at The Athletic.
MG: That would be a natural progression. That way we could keep Trent Crimm’s fabulous hair around for another season. Although, he might be better served doing an Inside AFC Richmond newsletter. Maybe he’ll go Substack or be on TV.
MC: That would certainly make sense and be a convenient way to keep him in a regular role (perhaps even a much more expanded role if he’s in-house, of course). And we know he’d be good at it. (At least if he doesn’t cross the ethical boundaries this time around!)
I am a journalist. And I am married to James Lance AKA Trent Crimm (The Independent). Burning sources has been a hot topic for us this week. Over the breakfast table, doing the dishes, in the petrol queue…you can imagine #tedlasso pic.twitter.com/wV5ORioWiW
— Kate Quilton (@katequilton) October 8, 2021
AB: I’d love to see more of Trent, but as Michael mentions, he may not be ideal for a PR job. That would be a real hard swerve from where he was. I’d love to see the show retain him, though, and this show’s take on a Substack personality covering a team.
IC: Trent Crimm taking Keeley’s PR job seems like a natural fit. But wouldn’t Keeley’s new firm just take on AFC Richmond as a client? Wouldn’t Rebecca prefer to keep working with Keeley? I don’t know the financials or logistics of employing a PR firm versus having someone in-house. Plus, Crimm seems too, er, independent to do PR for a soccer club.
My prediction is ol’ Trent will work on a book about Ted, “The Lasso Way” or some such, that will still let him snoop around and dig up stuff on the Ted-Nate feud or Rebecca-Sam relationship. All-access allowed from Ted, of course.
Worst thing about Season 2?
JR: The backlash to the early part of the season from people who didn’t understand the show at all. Or the backlash to the show overall from people who had never watched it before. For all the media asshole types who termed it “kindness porn” and lumped it in with Brooklyn 99 and Parks & Rec (both excellent shows, but you aren’t going to see Jake Peralta get slapped around by his father or Leslie Knope tell Ron that he’s a fucking joke), go watch the Ted and Nate scene and get back to me.
AB: The most disappointing thing for me was that we didn’t get to see more of the team. We got a bit more on Isaac, including the lovely story with him and Roy, and we saw a bit of the players in the Christmas episode. But I would have loved to see more exploring each of these players’ personalities.
MG: No major complaints. The only thing that felt off-key was “Beard After Hours.” Appreciate that they tried something different. But it felt so out of place. Wrong tone. You could have cut it out and it wouldn’t have affected Season 2 at all. Plus, Beard’s relationship with Jane is annoying.
MC: The Nate storyline. I also think the show could’ve used more around Ted’s coaching methods and the actual soccer season happening, etc. There were several things this season that I think could’ve been handled better, which is something I didn’t feel after Season 1.
I’ll also say that it’s probably better off that this series only goes three seasons as they’ve intended. It was hard enough to even make a series out of this character (Ted) and concept, so naturally it’s going to be hard to make several seasons out of it- and I think that showed a bit with some choices in Season 2.
IC: I don’t see what the point of the Rebecca-Sam romance was. Sam could’ve realized he should stay in Richmond to find his own identity without that. The same could be said for Rebecca. The question of who she was flirting with on Bantr was fun and the mystery man being Sam was a great surprise. Maybe the writers will get around to addressing the problems of the boss-employee dynamic of that relationship in Season 3. But for now, it feels like the show prefers to move on.
Best thing about Season 2?
MG: The funeral episode was the height of storytelling. So moving and so rooted in honesty. Everything about it was fabulous. It should earn Hannah Waddingham another Emmy. She runs through a gamut of emotions from joy to heartbreak to anger and general confusion – all in one show.
Another great thing was the redemption of Jamie Tartt, a guy who is trying to find himself after years of being a jerk. Would love to see where this goes in Season 3.
And finally, the emergence of Sam as a dominant character. He’s the player most like Ted because he’s a fundamentally decent person. Love that he remains calm during Edwin Akufo’s meltdown. And his romance with Rebecca was the season’s biggest surprise.
JR: The mental health discourse was well-timed, and the show handled it very well. The importance of communication in all relationships was also a constant theme, and well done. Plus, Brett Goldstein’s performance. He gets more out of his neck muscles than a lot of actors can do with their entire body.
AB: My favorite thing here was Ted finally breaking down and talking to Dr. Sharon. And I really liked the way the show combined that with Rebecca’s comments about her father, and then resolved it with Ted showing up to help sing Rick Astley. Making a Rickroll into a heartfelt moment is a huge degree of difficulty, but Ted Lasso pulled it off.
MC: The Roy and Jamie storylines — and their relationship together with all that.
IC: The slow build of Nate’s villain turn. Nate was a lovable underdog to root for in Season 1 (though maybe there were some hints that he held some resentments, such as when he roasted the team). But the story provided increasing examples of his inferiority complex and how getting some acclaim created a monster. Most of us likely know someone who was bullied becoming a bully, indirectly taking revenge on his or her oppressors. It’s ugly, and the show didn’t shy away from that. Now, there’s no question of conflict for Season 3.
Additional suggestion from Michael: The “Panic at the Lasso” headline was gold. Do you have a favorite tabloid headline?
MG: “Headless Body in Topless Bar” from the New York Post is the gold standard. However, the one that I love is “Cloak And Shag Her” (also courtesy of The Post), which refers to when CIA director David Petraeus quit after admitting to an extramarital affair.
IC: Probably not the most creative — or funny — but I enjoyed the New York Daily News‘s Oct. 1, 2013 “House of Turds” headline when the government shut down.
JR: I’m counting this one:
— The Onion (@TheOnion) February 15, 2021