After a couple of episodes that drew mixed reactions from viewers, Ted Lasso‘s Season 2 arguably got back on track with its fifth episode, “Rainbow.” And as it turns out, maybe it was necessary for the writers and the narrative to take a breath because a lot of story developments are packed in here.
If Season 2 was on the verge of losing some fans, this episode likely won them back. Let’s get into our weekly Ted Lasso recap, this rom-committee, before all the Nespresso machines are taken.
Your big takeaway from “Rainbow”?
Matt Clapp: I’d say there were three big takeaways in an episode that advanced storylines a ton, which was probably necessary after a couple of (mostly) filler episodes.
Roy becoming an AFC Richmond coach — something I expected entering the season — is obviously the biggest takeaway. But then we have Ted and Rebecca seemingly — this was not confirmed, but certainly implied — messaging each other on the Bantr dating app. And then there’s Nate actually showing some assertiveness.
Oh, and on the topic of Roy joining the staff, Nate seemed to either question it and/or feel threatened about his own role in the final scene.
Michael Grant: OK, now things are starting to happen. The band is officially back together again with former star player Roy Kent rejoining the team as an assistant, coaching his old nemesis, Jamie Tartt. That seems like a volatile scenario. Can’t imagine Tartt taking orders from Kent. Plus, Kent is dating Tartt’s ex, Keeley. Yes, Tartt has been humbled and is more contrite in his second tour of duty with AFC Richmond. But how is this going work?
Also, the show seems to be teasing us with some big reveal on Rebecca’s mysterious dating app suitor. And what the hell’s going on with Nate? Is he going to go full WWE heel?
The ode to romantic comedies was a nice touch with hints to Jerry Maguire, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones’s Diary among other films.
Ian Casselberry: What will be the great romance of Ted Lasso? There will probably be more than one. But the past two episodes have shown that one of them is Higgins’ marriage. Last week, we saw how supportive they are of one another when their Christmas dinner became bigger than either of them expected. And this week, we saw two people still deeply in love after being together for 29 years. (It surely doesn’t hurt that actors Jeremy Swift and Mary Roscoe are married in real life.)
A big part of that is Higgins finally being happy at work, being treated like he matters. (Characters finding their power is a theme for virtually every character on this show.) Other shows would just keep mining the joke that Higgins has five kids. But the idea that Rebecca could envy Higgins because of his marriage and is asking him for advice shows just how these people and their stories have progressed.
Andrew Bucholtz: I thought the ode to rom-coms here was particularly delightful, and it showed how good Ted Lasso can be. These references were done in a way that felt like part of the show and its universe, not people acting abnormally for the sake of a reference, and yet they snuck in a whole lot. (I thought this thread was a good look at that for those of us who didn’t immediately get every reference.)
And it impressed me that the show managed to do that kind of a theme episode while also really advancing the stories of Roy, Nate, and Ted. This episode also impressed me with its look at what Ted really brings to the team, particularly in how he helps Isaac and Roy. We’re often told that he’s a great coach, but this actually showed it in a way that hasn’t been as common this season.
Jay Rigdon: The show, uh, showed admirable restraint in keeping Roy away from the team and letting various other dynamics develop at Richmond. It also allowed for plenty of growth for Roy, as he grappled with what it is he truly wants to do now that the only thing he ever wanted to do is behind him, which was nice carryover from the first season. Basically it feels like we just got to the fireworks factory.
Disappointed Roy Kent has already given up broadcasting?
IC: As promising as it was, Roy being a pundit probably went as far as it could go. Though I liked seeing Jeff Stelling’s growing exasperation with Roy saying inappropriate things on air. There was some intriguing stuff about athletes going into broadcasting, which interests me as someone who covers sports media.
But Roy had the final word on the matter, saying that analysis is mostly guessing. Pundits aren’t allowed to say they don’t know. Where could it go from there? Now the show can look at what it’s like to go from being one of the guys to an authority figure.
— Apple TV (@AppleTV) August 22, 2021
MG: Yes, but it was handled thoughtfully. It was good to see Kent drop his tough-guy demeanor for a moment and have an emotional epiphany. That was necessary because at times you worry that Kent might eventually devolve into a caricature of himself. He’s 100% right about sports analysis, too. Often, it’s just people pretending to know when we don’t have any clue because we’re on the outside looking in.
JR: We got just the right amount of seeing Roy in that world; plenty of hilarity and the sense that we could have probably had at least a little more, but more importantly a real glimpse at what motivates Roy. Had he just gone straight into coaching, there might have been an air of “Well, he’s never tried life outside the locker room”, but now we know that he has and it just doesn’t work for him.
AB: I thought this was timed quite well. The broadcasting detour gave us a fun look at that world and provided a way to keep Roy around even after his Richmond exit, but I don’t know that there was much more to show there.
(And I did appreciate that we only briefly saw the broadcasters talking about AFC Richmond on-air through all this; that felt reasonable, as compared to if all of a sudden they’d developed a huge fixation on a Championship club.) I do love Roy’s honesty as a pundit, and I wish we saw that more in our world.
MC: If it was to do anything else, yeah. But it was a fun run that perhaps would’ve gotten a bit old after a while. And his coaching will likely make for great television going forward. It’s a natural fit for a no-nonsense former player that was known for his smarts and competitiveness (putting aside how hilarious he’ll likely be as a coach too).
Uh-oh, Nate. Will Mr. Shelby, er, Shelley “get big” with Ted? (Or Roy?)
MG: When Kent returns, Nate is unhappy to see him. Curious that he felt immediately threatened. Is it because he feels like his role will be diminished? Looks like a possible showdown or at least a very uncomfortable moment. Am beginning to wonder if Rebecca and Keeley will regret giving Nate lessons in assertiveness.
JR: The Nate storyline has simmered near the surface all season without really giving us any hints as to why. Ted Lasso has earned the benefit of the doubt that it will eventually show the work, and this was an important week there, giving us multiple scenes of Nate outside the club environment (or with people at the club he has no conflict with, like Keeley and Rebecca), along with some family backstory that helps show where he gets his lack of confidence.
BREAKING: Assistant Coach Nathan Shelley opens up about the team’s newest tradition. pic.twitter.com/TZIkILmzXC
— AFC Richmond (@AFCRichmond) August 17, 2021
IC: Nate’s adjustment from always being overlooked and underrated to someone with value and self-esteem is now becoming a major storyline. But as the spitting at himself in the mirror shows, this might take a darker turn that someone finally mustering up the courage to speak up for himself to a restaurant hostess.
Maybe something happens at home between Nate and his father, who seems terrible. I’m guessing there’s a confrontation with Ted (who dismissed him as a “big dog” earlier in the episode) over Roy joining the coaching staff looming. It might provide Dr. Sharon more material for her notes.
MC: I’m guessing yes – and on the topic of Roy as an assistant, as I alluded to earlier. Nate is clearly not comfortable with that. He’ll surely go to Ted first over challenging Roy (otherwise Nate is REALLY a different person now).
AB: I liked this episode’s Nate storyline for A. showing where he was coming from with his insecurities, B. Rebecca coaching him up, and C. not providing an instant fix (the waitress isn’t immediately moved; it takes perseverance). And I think I like where this might be going with a potential Nate-Roy conflict; it would be easy to say “Nate’s solved his confidence and everything’s better now!” but this show doesn’t seem set to take that road, and it may even show us some of the downsides of that confidence (beyond what we’ve already seen of him yelling at the new kit man).
Favorite scene or quote?
MG: “I have five boys. I never look over anyone’s shoulders to see what’s on their screens.”
— Ashley (@Ashley_schafer2) August 20, 2021
MC: The entire scene of Roy leaving his TV gig to become a coach was incredible television and will go down as one of the best moments ever on this show.
IC: Dani – “Jennifer Lopez!”
Ted – “That’s a great call, Dani. And not at all a beat too late.”
AB: I loved the When Harry Met Sally opening interview reference in the stands, and that fit in so well with the amazing montage of Roy’s run/cab/bike adventure to get there.
JR: Roy – “I dated Gina Gershon once.”
Ted – “That makes me happy.” (Both deliveries are perfect.)
What’s your favorite romantic comedy?
MG: Going old school. Really old school. Like before World War II old school. The Philadelphia Story (1940) is one of the first great rom-coms, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart all at the height of their powers. Their performances are boosted by an intoxicating redemption story about a recovering alcoholic crashing the wedding of his ex-wife.
MC: Let’s consider it a tie between Jerry Maguire and You’ve Got Mail, both of which inspired some scenes/storylines/quotes in this episode.
IC: I do enjoy the Richard Curtis romcoms that were referenced in this episode. But I’ll go with another that received a homage: When Harry Met Sally. I’ve always loved it because it wasn’t goopy, romantic fantasy like so many of these movies are. But as I get older, it speaks more loudly to me about the importance of friendship in relationships.
AB: Michael and Ian picked two of my favorites here. Beyond those, one of my favorite movies isn’t entirely a rom-com, but it’s definitely romantic, definitely a comedy, and wound up referenced here with the “As you wish.”
The Princess Bride is incredible, regardless of how you categorize it. The other one I’d toss in isn’t a conventional romantic comedy either, but the relationship between Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) in the Thin Man series of detective movies is incredible, and there’s plenty of comedy in there too.
JR: It’s more recent so there’s always the risk it doesn’t age well, but Palm Springs is one of my favorite movies in recent memory, of any genre. It works as a comedy, as a romance, and as a light bit of Twilight Zone-esque science fiction, and it sticks the landing, too.