For those who said Season 2 of Ted Lasso lacked conflict, how are you feeling now? One of the season’s biggest storylines has moved from the background to the foreground and puts Ted in quite a spot with one episode remaining. Oh, and AFC Richmond has a promotion to the Premier League on the line in its final game of the season.
That sets up a promising season finale next week. But for now, we’re still trying to unpack Episode 10, “Midnight Train to Royston,” and the many questions it raised. Our weekly group recaps aren’t about the execution. They’re about the effort.
Nate, what have you done?
Andrew Bucholtz: To me, this felt more reasonable from the Nate end than from the Trent end. It fits with Nate’s journey here that he’s mad about not getting credit (even though he did get all sorts of “Wonder Kid” credit after the Tottenham match). It makes sense that Nate lashed out further after the Keeley disaster and further reminders about “the suit Ted bought you.” But this also doesn’t seem like a winning move for Nate in the long run. It’s fitting as a moment of anger, but not as a longer Machiavellian play.
Jay Rigdon: Nate, Nate, Nate. It’s a credit to Nick Mohammed that the heel turn has been believable, with Nate operating in a very gray area for most of the season. (The gray hair/gray suit also work as symbolism here, in addition to his hair going gray due to stress brought about by the massive internal conflict.) If anything he hates who he’s become more than anyone else, so he isn’t a complete monster. (Though he does make for a compelling horror villain.)
— Francis Siberini (@FrancisSiberini) October 3, 2021
And it’s another indictment of Ted’s management that we’ve gotten to this point. After taking Nate under his wing last year for some of the more affecting moments of the opening season, when have we really gotten scenes with just Ted and Nate this season?
Michael Grant: The most surprising thing about Season 2 has been the evolution of Nate as a villain. Stunning heel-turn. Given the build-up to this moment, it was not surprising to discover that Nate ratted out Ted. But while this is a diabolical breach of trust, what’s his end goal? Does he think Ted is going to be forced out and Nate will take over? Seems much more likely that Beard or Roy would be promoted.
Ian Casselberry: Nate has taken the “people who are hurt end up hurting others” path to a sinister conclusion. We may not get the full heel turn until next season, maybe if he takes over as manager for whatever new team Rupert buys. (And he’ll probably be working elsewhere, right? How could Ted keep him?)
But what a betrayal. And to someone to whom he owes his coaching career and gaining self-esteem. Revealing something so personal and potentially damaging, presumably out of jealousy, to the press for public consumption is despicable. Not to mention breaking the trust of the locker room and team dynamic.
Matt Clapp: I get what they’re doing with the character, but I’ve officially had enough. It’s also kind of ironic that the alleged “kindness porn” show has turned our sweet Nate into a total shit. Nate will surely snap out of it and get the redemption arc going soon, but not before pissing off a few of his biggest past supporters in the process.
Is what Trent Crimm did ethical sports journalism?
— lindsy || Emmy Winner Jason Sudeikis (@biIasso) October 1, 2021
AB: No, it’s not. Some might argue that Crimm gave Lasso the opportunity to comment before publication with his previous question at the pub, but there’s a big difference between what he posed there and “A source said this was a panic attack, care to comment?” The latter should have come before, not after, publication.
It’s notable that there didn’t seem to be any reason to not ask Lasso for comment beforehand here. In some cases, there’s logic to asking for comment only shortly before publication so the organization doesn’t have time to plant a more favorable story elsewhere, but that doesn’t seem like an AFC Richmond response.
Beyond that, it’s remarkable that Crimm would both find Nate’s account of such value to run it as an anonymous source, but then such little value that he burns Nate as his source without Ted even asking. There’s an argument if “Coach Had Panic Attack” is even notable at all. But if it is, burning a source on it this way is highly suspect. (Unless Crimm thinks that will cause future AFC Richmond drama he can cover, but that also doesn’t really fit with his character.)
JR: Not to me, but the British sporting press operates a lot differently.
MG: Reporters take themselves very seriously. In the real world, there is absolutely no way Trent would reveal his source. That is Journalism 101.
Also, should this story have been written? Does the public have a right to know that Ted suffers from panic attacks? That is complicated. If the panic attack happened outside the stadium, generally no. But because Ted mysteriously left the pitch in the middle of a match, there is new value there. However, even public figures are entitled to their privacy, especially when it comes to their mental health.
Feelings on how the Dr. Sharon storyline ended?
JR: It was earned. The wordless work from both actors as Ted reads the letter was incredibly well done. I thought it was a nice touch to note that while the work for both characters isn’t done, they’re both in a better place having met each other and both aware of that.
MG: Organic and realistic. Perfectly within character that Dr. Sharon would quietly bolt. Also enjoyed Ted’s reaction. One of the best moments was Ted reading the letter. You didn’t need to hear what Sharon wrote. Just seeing the reactions on Ted’s face was enough. Terrific acting by Jason Sudeikis. Facial expressions can sometimes be more impactful than words.
AB: This worked from the Ted side, confronting her about leaving without talking, showing how much that impacted him and how damaged he still is. Jason Sudeikis played this well; he showed how distraught Ted got, but there’s still some sanity he’s clinging to there, which makes it understandable that Dr. Sharon invited him up rather than running away. I felt this was odd from Dr. Sharon’s side, though. Sure, she may not be “good at goodbyes,” but it felt like someone as smart as her would have predicted that leaving without a verbal goodbye would have set off Ted and that she would have found a different solution.
MC: A bit sooner than I expected, but I thought it was handled well.
IC: Was it naive to think that Dr. Sharon could just become a regular part of the AFC Richmond staff? Judging from her office and apartment situations, I suppose the understanding was that her stay would be temporary. But I’m guessing she’ll be back. Dr. Sharon may have plenty of work to do after Nate’s bombshell!
But this was a satisfying end. There was never really going to be an “end,” either with Ted’s mental health or Sharon wanting a goopy goodbye. What we did get was a wonderful scene between Jason Sudeikis and Sarah Niles with no dialogue and everything playing out on their faces. I wonder if there was anything really written on that letter to which Sudeikis could react.
Will Sam leave Rebecca for Edwin Akufo?
MG: Rebecca is passively-aggressively pushing Sam in that direction. That way she can avoid dealing with her feelings. She can just say that he left for this amazing opportunity. I am suspicious of Akufo. Could Rupert somehow be behind this?
IC: Yep, I think Sam will leave. The opportunity is just too great from the soccer and cultural standpoints, and the situation with Rebecca is too painful. (Plus, it would be smart business for Rebecca to take Edwin Akufo’s money. Higgins certainly thought so.) That might stretch Season 3’s narrative landscape out a bit, but it also allows the writers to grow Sam’s character.
Yet it would be believable for him to return to AFC Richmond. (Especially if the Greyhounds go back to the Premier League.) Maybe the pressure to be a star in his home country will be too great. Maybe he’ll miss his old team and his independence too much. Maybe Akufo isn’t the man he presents himself to be. Maybe Dubai Air will somehow scheme against Sam. So many possibilities!
AB: This situation might be the hardest Ted Lasso one to get a read on right now. Joining Edwin’s club would seem to be a great fit for Sam, and it gets him away from all the lurking issues around dating his boss. But Sam has also found great success at Richmond and has a support network there. Even the problematic relationship seems lessened with how often we’re shown his perspective and how he feels he’s instigating it. There’s a case for both destinations.
MC: Nah. They’ve already done the “major character leaves to join another club” storyline and I highly doubt they go through it again anytime soon. (Unless an actor wants to leave the show, which I’m guessing nobody wants to do just yet.)
JR: This continues to be the storyline that just doesn’t quite work for me. I rarely require Ted Lasso to be realistic on the soccer side, but this feels like a pretty big reach in terms of an offer here, timed just to disrupt a relationship that maybe shouldn’t even be taking place to begin with.
Your take on the Roy-Keeley situation?
— Apple TV (@AppleTV) September 30, 2021
MC: All of these AFC Richmond guys going after Keeley isn’t helping things for them. I just continue to assume it will all work out (they’re the Jim/Pam of the show), but things are certainly a bit rocky at the moment.
JR: This relationship has been a strength of the season and this episode was a showcase for Juno Temple specifically. Keeley struggles with self-doubt and imposter syndrome ahead of being recognized not for her looks, but her business acumen.
But Brett Goldstein has such a fantastic handle on Roy Kent’s entire persona and character that he’s able to make scenes like the one at the school feel electric. We get one quick glance from his perspective as Phoebe’s teacher reaches up to hang artwork and then when she gives him an out, he closes his phone and says “I’ve got time.”
That clipped line delivery is one thing, but the character work and acting are such that Roy simply not wanting to not be there is revealing of some form of interest. As to what that interest is, Roy himself seems confused when he reveals the encounter to Keeley.
This moment was so fucking intense and powerful.
Them staying silent and expressing their emotions just with their eyes.
Juno and @brettgoldstein you just killed it in this scene fuckk #TedLasso pic.twitter.com/PJ0EuSQtAa
— Flav⎊ (@Darveyinbed) October 1, 2021
Keeley’s reveal of Jamie’s confession, then, not of something that had just occurred but of something that had been lingering, clearly bothers Roy (Goldstein acting via bulging neck muscle there is incredible). But that also feels very earned; it’s not Jamie saying something stupid, but that Keeley didn’t tell him about it. We saw earlier in the season how that bothers Roy.
AB: The first moment of this was great; Keeley telling Roy about Nate, and Roy shrugging it off. I don’t know that the reactions to the further parts (Roy telling Keeley about the teacher, and Keeley telling Roy about Jamie) fit. Neither seemed like things these characters would really be upset about. But maybe this is just a moment of annoyance and they work it out.
MG: Getting complicated. Three people are lusting after her (Roy, Jamie, and Nate). Tossing Nate out of the equation, it’s a Roy vs. Jamie showdown. While there have been some shaky moments between Roy and Keeley, it still seems like the most stable relationship. Can’t believe Keeley would seriously consider reuniting with Jamie no matter how much he has changed.
IC: I can’t be the only one who thought Roy was going to propose to Keeley, either because the conversation with Ms. Bowen made him realize that’s what he wants or because the moment was just there while talking with Keeley. So I misread that!
Sure, some tension is good for drama and keeping the fans engaged. But breaking Roy and Keeley to break up would be contrived melodrama. (I know, we’re talking about TV!) At the very least, a cliffhanger for us to stew over until Season 3. Like Roy said in Season 1, we don’t like being tricked. We. Cannot. Be. Manipulated.
Favorite scene or quote?
MG: “Like my father used to say, a sad white man is still a white man.”
AB: I really liked Ted and Dr. Sharon playing pinball together. I think something Ted Lasso has done really well is in portraying therapists as people with their own lives beyond their work. (Not many shows have done this, but CBC’s Being Erica is a good one for that.) Ted’s hang with her at the pub was a great culmination of that relationship.
JR: That school scene was really something. Especially the bookend with the other teacher being shut down twice as she tried to interject herself into proceedings.
Nate is so disliked now. Who is a TV character you love to hate?
IC: Ross Geller. While most Friends fans wanted Ross and Rachel to be a couple, I spent most episodes hoping he would get hit by a bus. He’s probably why I’ve never watched the show in syndicated reruns or streaming on Netflix or HBO Max.
AB: For me, the forever and always answer here is Mad Men‘s Pete Campbell. I quite enjoy him falling down the stairs, and the “Not great, Bob!” But Lane Pryce punching him was my favourite moment of the show.
(Credit to Vincent Kartheiser. It takes a special level of acting to portray someone so punchable.)
JR: Game of Thrones essentially built an entire plane out of likeable-but-awful people. For me, this question is less outright villainy, so I’ll say Tywin Lannister, whose arc on the show (and most especially the portrayal by Charles Dance) was impeccable.
MC: Joffrey from Game of Thrones would be the all-time choice.
MG: Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) from Big Little Lies. Celeste’s mother-in-law is a truly terrible person. I totally get that she’s grieving the death of her son. However, that doesn’t excuse any of her loutish behavior. You get the distinct impression that she has been a horror show all her life.