Ted Lasso 3.07 team

‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 7 in conversation: What does this situation need?

In Ted Lasso season 3, episode 7, the more experienced Jamie stews away as his teammates fail to properly grasp the concept of Total Football, and Sam’s activism attracts cruel consequences when he challenges a Tory MP on Twitter. Outside of AFC Richmond, the show’s two current romance arcs receive attention as Keeley ponders a potential red flag with Jack and Nate tries to work up the nerve to ask Jade out. Read on for our discussion of Ted Lasso season 3, episode 7, ‘The Strings That Bind Us.’

Although his extra personal training with Roy places him at the head of the pack endurance wise – towing someone around on a bike will do that – Jamie’s prior experience with the Total Football tactic under real life Man City coach Pep Guardiola is overlooked in favour of the coaching staff’s increasingly eccentric drills, culminating in an exercise in spatial awareness that involves tying players together by the penis. Jamie suffers the indignity of an embarrassing injury (in front of the growing audience of Richmond fans, who are now welcome to observe training sessions at Ted’s invitation) but he’s more frustrated by the way the rest of the group are not grasping the tactic or the role that he, as their best player, should be performing within the formation.

When the team is three down to Arsenal at half time, Jamie finally finds he can’t keep quiet any more and pushes through his worries about appearing prick-like in order to properly explain the system to the whole dressing room. It’s a big moment for him as he realises he’s truly being listened to, and, with the team having understood his role as the central playmaker, Richmond is able to get a goal back – and finally “get” Total Football. They still lose the match, but the idea, as Trent Crimm enthuses afterwards, is definitely going to work, thanks in large part to the culture of trust and support that Ted has created at Richmond.

Related: ‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 6 in conversation: This thing didn’t happen to me, it happened for me

But in the lead up to the Arsenal match, another player has been struggling with a graver issue. In a story that echoes several similar events in recent English football history, Sam is made aware of the latest news regarding UK’s brutal refugee policies, and he takes to Twitter to challenge the views of the Home Secretary Brinda Barot – a thinly veiled, Caucasian Priti Patel – about the government’s handling of asylum seekers boat crossings in the English Channel. Brinda hits back with an attack on Sam, a stick-to-football response basically equating to “shut up and dribble,” and as things escalate online, Sam’s restaurant is badly vandalised by people who share her views on footballers using their platform to speak out.

The attack happens right when the restaurant’s namesake – Sam’s father Ola – was due to visit and see his son’s new venture for the first time, and when Sam brings his devastated outrage about both the state of the world and the abuse he is receiving to the dressing room his loving father is luckily there to catch him. There’s no big solve here – Sam’s not able to fix the world one tweet at a time, especially when, unlike the Dubai Air protest, he is going up against a government not his own – but his team have his back and take it upon themselves to repair the restaurant so he can still have a nice time sharing a meal there with his father.

Outside of Richmond, two relationship dramas are occurring. Nate spends the episode going back and forth – literally, right in front of the building – about asking out Jade from A Taste of Athens, and at a family dinner, his mother and sister share a secret that shows Nate and his father have more in common that Nate realised. Nate takes slightly the wrong message from the reveal, but a lorry thankfully intervenes with his original plan, and with nothing left to lose, he finally makes his move – one that’s very well received indeed. And for Keeley, dating a billionaire businesswoman is proving a bit more extravagant than dating even a millionaire footballer. As Jack showers Keeley with expensive gifts and grand declarations, Rebecca worries that Jack might be love bombing her friend, but admits that her perspective may be clouded by the abusive behaviour from her ex-husband. Keeley enjoys the attention at first, but ultimately asks Jack to cool it, which again, is a well-received request, and the pair share dinner at a Taste of Athens as Nate and Jade hit up a riverside restaurant for their first date. Catch up with our conversation reviews about Ted Lasso season 3 so far and read on for our in-depth chat about ‘The Strings That Bind Us.’

‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 7 review in conversation

Natalie: Okay! It’s time for “The Boxes That Bind Us To Ola’s.” Or, as I’m calling it, PEP LASSO.

Megan: Sssh, don’t say that, they’ll change the title a third time.

Natalie: But. Pep Lasso! No, the real Pep Lasso will be when he cameos. He’s gotta, right? After they’ve lavished such affection onto him. Well-deserved, loving, affection.

Megan: When they brought him up on the screen it was almost as exciting for me as seeing 4am Jamie. I really love that man a lot. I can’t believe I tried to compare Boat Guy to him – he’s so much better! If we don’t get a cameo now it’ll be the biggest let down of the season. That’s probably a joke, but I really enjoyed him having his moment.

Natalie: I literally only want to talk about him and his impact on Jamie’s life and nothing else ever.

Megan: No complaints here, let’s go.

Natalie: Alas. We must talk about a few other things too. PEP PEP PEP PEP PEP. Okay.

Megan: Got it out of your system?

Natalie: Ugh. Things other than Pep. I mean, Roy mushing Jamie like a sled dog is pretty good too.

Megan: Jamie has created a monster, teaching him how to ride a bike.

Natalie: I loved how they showcased Amsterdam, but the You’ve Got Mail-style opening on our return to London did make me so happy because they really went for showing London at its Londoniest. For the record, a lot of that location stuff isn’t Richmond. It’s Notting Hill. (Aside from A Taste of Athens in Tooting.) I guess with Ola’s being in South Kensington, Jack could also live in Notting Hill. Roy and Jamie are in training in Twickenham, across the river from Richmond, but I’ve always wondered where Roy himself actually lives. The Kensington area would make sense if he bought during his Chelsea career. His urban pitch, near the flats where he was raised, is also really close to there, in Ladbroke Grove.

Megan: It feels good to be home after the madness of Amsterdam. And I love the Cranberries so I really enjoyed “Dreams” being used over this opening scene – as soon as I heard the opening few bars I was smiling. Really off to an excellent start.

Natalie: It’s very lovely, and interestingly done that we sort of fade out on the music and then catch up with Keeley, Nate and Sam in their moments, then more music. The only part that’s not baked into a further plot is Roy and Jamie, and I mean, that’s just there because they love us. It lets us know that this ridiculousness continues. A nod to what happened last week. But Jamie’s training really does come into play a lot this episode. Actually, we do get to move on to Pep fairly swiftly, because this episode has a MAJOR football arc at the centre of it. Of the characters at Richmond, we have Jamie, Roy and, most amazingly, Ted, all 100% focused on the Total Football situation. No personal drama afoot. Just football. THANK GOD.

Megan: It did make me laugh when they started Beard’s presentation giving the players a rundown of the history of Total Football, which they would definitely all know, but that was obviously more for the benefit of the audience than for the players themselves. And I also laughed at the fact that they’re sticking with the claim that Ted was high on barbecue sauce, not shrooms. I did love the appreciation the footballers showed for Ted dreaming up the concept. Yes, they may have known it already, but they’re happy that their manager is finally figuring this football thing out!

Natalie: I don’t think that going through a presentation is meant to signify that they aren’t aware. They’re all nodding along. It’s just a refresher to the topic. Probably more wondering why they’re being told. Isaac not recognising Cruyff is a stretch, but you know, all people are different people.

Megan: Yeah, that one got me a little bit. But I loved the throwback to season 2 of Jan Maas correcting the pronunciation of his name – made even better by the fact that we now know Beard speaks Dutch, and probably said wrong to throw Jan Maas off course. Apparently he really doesn’t want Jan to find out.

Natalie: Even when Beard started talking about Cruyff going to Barca, I was like…. “Are we… are we actually doing this properly?” Because LAST WEEK I SAID THIS. I said this! City play a version of Total Football! This should be already something they’re dealing with! But I’m actually very excited that we are in fact dealing with it via PowerPoint presentation of all things. Beard’s incredibly passionate about the subject, and his speech at the end about it being all about freedom and intuition was very inspiring, his mother’s vibrator aside. My favourite moment was Jamie nodding along intensely when Beard references Mamet and Pinter. Theatre-fan Jamie has gotta be one of my favourite Jamies, as you know.

Megan: I like to think he’s carried on going to plays even after he and Keeley split up. Maybe by himself, but I bet some of the team would go with him. Sam, maybe. I did think for a second there that it seems weird for them to expect to defeat Man City – a team that plays Total Football – by playing Total Football. But I suppose the genius of this strategy is that it is so much harder to predict what players are going to do, so City’s Total Football will be very different to Richmond’s Total Football. And the reason every team isn’t out there playing Total Football is that it’s very hard to do well, as Richmond discovers throughout this episode.

Natalie: Listen to me. What matters the most is that even though Ted Lasso has referenced Pep before, and even a Pep that learned from Cruyff, there has only been an IMPLICATION that it was the real Pep, not direct confirmation. But now we know this is not some fake Pep Schmardiola.

Megan: It is not.

Natalie: This is meant to be the real deal Pep, the actual person, and he is meant to have actually coached Jamie. And it wasn’t that brief! Pep came to City in 2016. He would have had Jamie for three full seasons before Jamie was loaned to Richmond, then again for the months shown in season 1. Now, there’s a chance that Jamie wasn’t spending much time with the First Team before the loan. It in fact may be WHY he was loaned, that he was outgrowing their EDS but there was no place for him in the First Team. But Pep has been the head coach of City since Jamie was 19, so they had some time together, and I cannot believe how much that fucking MATTERS, both long-term implication wise and in the fucking episode!

Related: What ‘Ted Lasso’ gets right about football, what it gets wrong, and what it should include in season 3

Megan: I loved him miming zipping his mouth shut, like “I am not even going there, guys.”

Natalie: “I’m saying nothing.” Like “Nope, couldn’t be me. Y’all can villianise them, I won’t.”

Megan: He still loves the team! And that just backs up what we said in 3.05 in the lead up to the City match – it’s not about them, as a team. Man City doesn’t upset him. It was all his dad. It all makes me wonder how much of Jamie’s attitude issues started when he first came to Richmond and felt rejected first by City, then possibly later by Roy too. Because Pep would not have put up with Jamie acting the way he does around Ted in season 1.

Natalie: Well let’s talk about this a bit. I feel like we’ve gone over it a bunch and no one paid attention because it was a theoretical fictional Pep. It was a headcanon of ours, how Real Pep affected Jamie. But this IS Real Pep, and we see Jamie refusing to engage with shit talking or booing Man City. So. A few things. Number one, most significantly to the episode – Jamie has trained under Pep Guardiola and he knows more about Total Football than anyone else. This is relevant to the plot in a way that makes me literally cry. We will come back to that, because again, it’s the main plot. But Jamie being included in that PowerPoint presentation is about more than him being a beautiful dum-dum. It’s to clue the audience in to the lineage and to give people some context for why he knows it best, even though Beard doesn’t say that part. Cruyff begat Pep, Pep begat Tartt. Jamie is the central talented playmaker the system will work around. And HOLY FUCK is it satisfying when that pays off. We will come back to it, but it truly… In all my wildest “The way he played with Pep MATTERS TO HIS CHARACTER, PEOPLE” rants, I never could have dreamed of this moment later in the episode in the Arsenal dressing room.

Megan: It was better than I could ever have hoped for. And I did love, throughout, all the little nods to how Jamie’s training with Roy has come in useful, now they’ve switched to Total Football.

Natalie: He’s already ahead of everyone else due to their time together. But there are other reasons why Pep matters to Jamie’s character, and to finally get the chance to discuss this realistically is so exciting. Jamie came on loan to Richmond in the 2019-2020 season. Maybe he’d been there the 18-19 season too, but I don’t think so, for a couple of reasons. Anyway, regardless, he was quite old to be loaned. Pep has been known to be very close with certain young homegrown players and want to keep them under his care, not send them on loan. Phil Foden is the best example. Many of City’s Elite Development Squad, or Premier League 2 squad, are not loaned out – they sign with the club at age 17 and they play on that reserve team, basically waiting to be called up to training or the bench of the main squad. Sometimes, if there is just not room for them due to too many good players already being on the team, but the club wants to make sure their kid is getting a lot of game time and experience, that’s when they get loaned out. But sometimes, Pep has been criticised for NOT loaning – for keeping them close so he can train them personally, but rarely playing them in matches. Jamie did not get this “keep him close” treatment. Or maybe he did for a little bit, but then really got to the point where he was still too old for EDS but there was still no space on City’s First Team. I think being sent away, not getting that First Team spot, probably upset Jamie a lot. It very much could have been why he was acting like such a prick in season 1, resentment of being sent to such a “tragic” team. It could also be that Jamie got a bit of his dad’s poison in him and took it to the City dressing room, because Pep does not stand for ego. They’re an incredibly warm and nice group of people without diva attitudes. If James was telling Jamie to try and dominate, to go against Pep’s process, Jamie could have fallen out of favour at City for not being a team player there too. And then there’s also a slight possibility that Pep KNEW how bad Jamie’s dad was and sent him away to get some distance.

Megan: Yeah, if he could see others from his generation in the academy being kept close and played more, that would have hurt him. And if that in turn led him to listen to his dad a bit, or if his dad was telling him he was too soft to get picked and that’s when he started being a prick and “dominating” then that would definitely turn Pep off him and maybe make him want to send him away to grow up a bit. Because as well as Pep not liking ego on the pitch, City also comes across as one of the more chill, relaxed teams socially. You don’t hear about dressing room bust ups, or huge interpersonal drama among the players. The most drama that we hear is either players behaving badly in their own time, or players that kick off because they aren’t getting as many minutes as they want in Pep’s system, and those players who aren’t happy in Pep’s system will get sold or loaned out to a team that can play them more. So if Jamie was being a dick to the other players, or encouraging shitty behaviour, that wouldn’t be tolerated by Pep.

Natalie: Well, I thought maybe he did it as a kindness. Like if Jamie wasn’t acting up, but was suffering. But this absolutely could also have been a João Cancelo situation.

Megan: If he knew about Jamie’s dad, I could 100% see him doing it as a kindness. It would just depend on how much he knew. I do lean personally towards Jamie getting loaned out as a kindness, because he wasn’t getting the minutes and Pep knew being away from Manchester would be good for him. Because they were so quick to recall him when it looked like Richmond wasn’t working for him.

Natalie: Yeah they clearly really valued their investment in him as a player. And like you mentioned, we talked in episode 5 about how Jamie does not act like City are a trigger for him. I think he fucking loved them and his dad dirtied it. I’ve also talked about how much positional rotation Pep uses, and how Jamie being put in that “one up front” position by George was not actually what he was meant to be doing or how he would have been trained. That seems to now feel like a hard fact within the canon. Going from Pep to George, though. An affectionate genius to a toxic moron. I kind of feel like George is to blame for a LOT of season 1 Jamie.

Related: ‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 5 in conversation: You will not win because of me

Megan: And then to Ted, an affectionate moron – at least when it comes to football.

Natalie: Ted’s not actually affectionate though, not like Pep. Even though Ted’s nice, Jamie is touch starved. Even in season 2, when things are going well. Even when things are going horribly for Jamie and he needs a cuddle. So going from Pep to George to Ted, Jamie has lost a LOT of male affection, and he needs cuddles to function.

Megan: Oh yeah, he would have really been missing the Pep cuddles. The players need hugs from their manager, Ted, otherwise how will they know they’ve done a good job? I agree about George being to blame, because I see George’s mindset as being so similar to the way James thinks Jamie should act and play. So if you have Jamie feeling resentment over being sent away, and then being managed by George who would have just reinforced every nasty thing James had been saying over the years, it really makes sense why he would act the way he did.

Natalie: And add the pressure of being expected to carry the team, when he was never played as an out and out 9 before.

Megan: Yeah, it would have done a number on him.

Natalie: I do think he’s a great striker, but the way this episode pans out makes it clear that he actually has a lot more going on for him and that he has the football intelligence to be a deep lying playmaker and just typing that is almost kind of a turn on. I always fucking knew it. I TOLD YOU ALL, ONE UP FRONT WAS NEVER NORMAL FOR HIM! Even the people Phil Dunster has said he based Jamie’s style on – not his appearance or personality, his playing style – it’s Mason Mount and Bernardo Silva. Creative midfielders. GOD! I could truly scream.

Megan: I think sometimes people get so carried away on who inspires Jamie’s aesthetic style that they don’t actually focus on the playing style, which is so much more interesting. Because season 1 Jamie gets referred to as Ronaldo a bit, and I truly hate that comparison because of how much I hate Ronaldo, but style wise I guess, and then also the egotistical out and out 9 also fits. Ronaldo needed the ball brought to him, he could finish but not create the chances. And then in season 2 and 3 obviously Jamie gets compared to Jack, but the playing style is way more important to me, and I love that getting recognised here.

Natalie: So. In summary, Jamie: Definitely doesn’t hate City or Pep, would have been deeply touch-starved and lacking in positive reinforcement coming to Richmond under George after leaving an adorable stage 5 clinger like Pep, was being used wrongly as a 9 with too much pressure and responsibility on him because George is lazy, would have been wounded about being sent away from City even if it was possibly done as a kindness, and has proven to be a brilliant student of Guardiola Ball, to the point of being framed by Ted Lasso as the heir to the Cruyff-Pep throne, the next logical step. I am going to chew my own face off. Is there anything else you can think of right now that is an important implication of Pep being a big person in Jamie’s life? Aside from everyone going on about how great and sexy he is? Like, calm down Ted.

Megan: I can’t believe you’re finally agreeing with me that Pep is sexy, that’s very important to me personally. But no, I think that about covers it. If, after all this, we don’t get a Pep cameo down the line, I may chew my own face off.

Natalie: I’m not, I’m just saying those idiots think so. Even Roy. Jamie would probably disown him if he claimed he didn’t rate Pep though.

Megan: They’re not idiots. They’re right and they should say it.

Natalie: He’s terrifyingly intense but I think they’d be into that.

Megan: Given how much Jamie likes Roy, terrifyingly intense does seem to be on brand for him.

Natalie: Look, they’d all fuck Pep, I get it. I’m just so excited by this development. I can’t BELIEVE people say they don’t watch Ted Lasso for the football. The way these characters fit into the world of football is the BEST PART. I can’t believe that there will be people who watch this and don’t even care that Pep is real, Pep is here, and Pep was Jamie’s coach. I’m shouldering all their excitement for them.

Megan: Nat, there might be people who watch this and think Pep is made up for plot purposes, to link Total Football back to Man City.

Natalie: NOOOOOOOOOOOO. HE’S REAL! HE’S REAL AND HE’S EVERYTHING! I feel a normal amount about this, as you can see.

Megan: There are definitely fans who didn’t realise Man City was a real team before Ted Lasso started, they only knew Manchester United. So they definitely didn’t know who Pep was.

Natalie: I don’t want to talk about those incorrect people. Or the people that keep calling Everton Liverpool. Like yes, they were IN LIVERPOOL. They weren’t playing a game AT LIVERPOOL.

Megan: Ooof.

Natalie: IT’S VERY DIFFERENT. Anyway, I really, really, really think we might get touchline stuff with Ted and Pep at the Etihad. I realllllly think it may happen and I would LOVE him to give Jamie a hug. Like we discussed last week, there’s a chance that Jamie being booed by City fans is because James sold a false tabloid story about Jamie letting his dear old dad starve. If Pep knew it wasn’t true, he could comfort him. He does like to cuddle his former players even when they’ve had a hard match. Or just another team’s players in general, lol. But especially his own, who he once coached.

Megan: We got Jamie hugging O’Gara, the made-up City player in season 2. If we could have him hugging Pep that would be a dream come true for me, personally.

Natalie: He got that hug from O’Gara even after walking out on City for a reality show, which honestly the whole football world should have looked at him in horror for. So I wonder if O’Gara knew a thing or two about why. It seems to be ancient history for the Richmond lot though. A running joke that Jamie is willing to be the butt of.

Megan: I feel like the team Whatsapp group that definitely exists is full of gifs of Jamie from Lust Conquers All that they bring out at opportune moments to mock him. I LOVED his quip about being robbed, and more importantly I loved Roy’s fond little smile at it – no eyerolls, not anymore. I just love how relaxed Jamie is here generally.

Natalie: Jamie’s tone when saying that is so frothy and light, like no indigence, all just big smiles and knowing silliness. And Roy being so fond startled me in a pleasant way.

Megan: Yeah, same. Roy is a little unhinged at times in this episode, but not in a specifically targeting Jamie way, so no backpedalling for their relationship so far.

Natalie: There is very little actual content of them engaging together in this episode, but the title is “The Strings that Bind Us” and it opens on them literally tied to one another. And after that moment, their own red string of fate is very clearly still tied very tight and constantly giving little tugs. Hopefully not to each other’s dicks.

Megan: I was going to say, I don’t want to know where the string is tied. Roy, you need help.

Natalie: But there’s a constant acknowledgement going on, like when they start training, Jamie’s endurance is far beyond anyone else’s.

Megan: Yes! I know we joked about the training just being running, but I think it’s clear that it was more than that, with some of the ways he grasped the tactic, and the running has actually come in handy already.

Natalie: The fans being at training is not exactly the reason I expected, but LOL at more and more showing up each session.

Megan: This was a huge highlight for me actually.

Natalie: Ted’s statement that it’s their team, and that he’s just borrowing it for a little while… hmmmm! And Mae’s acknowledgement that it affects her business?

Megan: I mean look, I had a slight issue with Beard asking if Ted was sure it was a good idea because open training sessions are fairly common in the Premier League. Ted didn’t come up with this, this isn’t something that makes him more special than any other coach. But his quote about it being their team and he’s just borrowing it was really powerful, as was Mae’s comment. Because well, Richmond as a community generally is a bit different than some football towns – it’s part of London and it’s a very well-off area. But for so many places, football clubs form such a vital part of their community. They provide jobs, they’re a rallying point, and when clubs fail or get relegated it has huge knock-on impacts on the town. So Mae’s comment was a nice little nod to that. But I really loved getting to see a bit more of the pub lads and how excited they are to watch training, even when training is just the players running and puking. Frankly, after they watched the string debacle, I don’t know how any of them would have had any faith in Richmond’s abilities as footballers, but they had a good time nonetheless.

Natalie: What I liked about the fan arc is how their access to the team softens their behaviour. There are those jokes about Baz and Paul swapping personalities, and Paul trying to do the string binding, but like… we know they don’t get to go to matches, and even if they did, it’s not the same as training. They’re seeing the boys really working hard, getting more context for who they are as people. Maybe after the session ends, the team comes over and shakes hands with them, you know? The local Richmond fans are getting more invested in the players as real people who struggle and try. We’ve talked before about how dehumanising football fandom is, hating on the individuals for letting down the concept of the club. But letting the fans in, it genuinely seems to change their attitude. They’re kinder and more forgiving, they’re more invested on a personal human level. Did you notice this? Like at the pub at the end, during the Arsenal match. They act COMPLETELY different now that they feel so close to the team.

Related: ‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 4 in conversation: Pain is like carbon monoxide

Megan: Yes! Look, realistically, this will only ever have a finite amount of reach. They can’t get everyone along to a training session, so you’ll always get the anonymous twats abusing players on Twitter. But this does help humanise them. In the scene during the match, I am normally like how the pub lads are now – I have other football fan friends which can be so much harsher towards the players than me and they’ll do a rant and I’ll just chime in at the end with something like “Oh they must feel really shit, poor guys,” and just get them to be even a tiny bit nicer. Hopefully Baz, Paul and Jeremy can be those annoying friends in the Richmond universe now any time they’re watching football with others.

Natalie: I’m keen to see if that new warm attitude carries on but I love it. Going back to the players, It’s interesting how very clear it is from the first session, when Ted is talking about his list and not knowing number 4, that Jamie is doubtful of Ted’s approach. And honestly, Roy being doubtful that they should try it THIS WEEKEND is also very valid. The fact that Roy had expected to incorporate it later on tells me that would be the sensible thing to do. But Ted is at least very eager and engaged.

Megan: Jamie, more than any of them, would know how hard it is to do Total Football well. And while he loves Ted, I don’t think it’s because he thinks Ted is good at coaching the actual sport of football, so I don’t think he’s confident they can get it, or at least not this quickly. But I will take Ted’s somewhat clueless enthusiasm over his apathy any day.

Natalie: I was kind of startled by them not swapping out Jamie’s position. I wondered, is this meant to be an overcorrection? An apology for not listening about Zava? Like, “Let’s keep Jamie our star striker, let’s give him this special treatment after all the Zava business.” Seeing that Jamie is so confused by it, he clearly knows it’s not the right call.

Megan: I thought the same! And I wondered what Jamie thought of it too. Like, did he think they thought he couldn’t do it? Or wouldn’t do it?

Natalie: I think they were being like “We fucked up, we are feeding your ego. You keep doing you.” Which, Roy should know better. But Roy doesn’t have that much control here.

Megan: No that’s true. He’s just there to shout and tie their dicks together.

Natalie: I did slightly eye roll at swapping Moe and Van Damme. Goalies are goalies, they don’t count here. And Moe is the shortest person. But I guess for one training exercise, for the principle of it…

Megan: Same. It was a bit silly, but I think it was just to get them really embracing the idea. All of them except for Jamie.

Natalie: When Jamie goes over to ask about his card, I think he feels very complimented, but he doesn’t really trust the reasoning. He’s kind of like, “This is very weird.” It’s almost a slight to his good behaviour, for them to assume he would have this ego and not want to change? But I think Ted and Beard think it’s a favour to him.

Megan: Yeah I wasn’t sure how complimented he was honestly. His face is really unsure, and his last little “Yeah” as he’s walking away sounds a bit dubious, and a bit judgey.

Natalie: I think there’s a momentary chuffedness, but then very much like “No, this is not the point of this.” He is willing to do the same exercise as everyone else! And he already knows that they’re doing Total Football wrong. He knows it the whole week, from that first eye roll.

Megan: You mean Pep doesn’t train City by tying their dicks together? Who knew.

Natalie: But despite Ted having asked him before to speak up, he never says anything and just tries to go along with it, all week, until the middle of the match. He’s being so fucking good, and maybe he should have spoken up earlier, but I think that him not believing that he can speak even when Ted told him he could is very representative of people like that, in a sort of shaky-ground relationship. Like, just because Ted said he should speak his mind doesn’t mean Jamie feels he can. It can feel like people say “Questions or comments are welcome” just as a technicality but if you actually do pose something, it won’t be liked.

Megan: No, it didn’t work for him last time, so why would he feel like it would do any good now?

Natalie: And it’s tough, because I think they are doing this BECAUSE of last time. They think they’re giving him what he wants. Notably, Roy isn’t a part of this conversation and I don’t think he was part of the decision. It was just Ted and Beard the Kitman.

Megan: God that whole thing was so stupid and I loved it. Will with his fake beard was ludicrous.

Natalie: It’s an absolutely ridiculous moment and Charlie Hiscock is a comedy genius.

Megan: But I do wonder about Roy, because he’s the one who gave the cards out. And you see him flipping through them beforehand, so I do wonder if he asked Ted and Beard about it beforehand.

Natalie: I think Ted just gave them to Roy to hand out. Roy does not OPEN any of them. He’s just looking at them to see where he’s passing.

Megan: So maybe he has no clue at all.

Natalie: On the one hand I’d like to imagine that Roy has some say in the training plans. On the other hand, he didn’t know Ted wanted to run this on Saturday against Arsenal, so Beard and Ted made calls without him. I guess this is the right moment to say that they’re slightly frustrating me with Roy and the coaching right now. Or worrying me, in that I am not feeling him step up and take control of the coaching in a way that means he might become manager. Which, as you know, is what I want and need. They make a joke about him being the drill sergeant, but that’s kind of all he’s being right now. He’s not fully even in the loop with Ted and Beard. It’s kind of stressing me out.

Megan: Yeah, same. He is clearly really invested in Jamie right now, outside of the club, and we’re not seeing what’s happening there outside of the conditioning, but you have to assume there’s more. And he does clearly get the strategy of Total Football, he just didn’t think they wanted to use it this soon on an actual pitch. I don’t know if it’s him being too distracted – with Jamie and other shit – for him to focus up, or if Beard and Ted have kind of dismissed him strategically and put him in the drill sergeant box, and he’s still too new to coaching and full of self doubt about his tactics to question it, but given my dream post-season scenario is Roy being named the new manager, I need them to fix this soon.

Natalie: It’s also like, the 4-4-2 was a good strategy for them! It really was, and there is precedent for it working in a team like this. I really thought it was going to be a thing where Roy knew best and we got a Leicester City. Now, it feels more like they’re saying Roy is the opposite style person to a total football person, or something. But I mean as a box to box midfielder, he would have had a lot of versatility that is relevant here. I don’t know. I can’t tell what they’re doing with him right now, because it feels like a lot of shouting and no actual brainwork. It’s not my fave Roy episode, to say the least. The one thing I’m wondering about is the dick string whiteboard, because it is effectively the same tactic that Jamie insists on later. Without the dick strings, of course, but still a central person feeling the push and pull of the game and directing the flow of everyone around him. So like, best case scenario, Roy also knew that, but why didn’t he fucking say so? Roy is not exerting any power in the room at all when it comes to tactics, or how to use Jamie, or anything. Like I said, I’m sure he didn’t know about the Jamie/Jamie card.

Megan: Yeah I do wonder if up until now, Roy has been thinking about Jamie and Jamie’s role, but the whole team wasn’t in that place yet. And now that Jamie has kind of stepped forwards as the playmaker, Roy can also step forwards and be more vocal about coaching him and getting everyone else on board. If that is the case, on the one hand I wish Roy had been the one to say it, at that moment in the dressing room, but I also did like Jamie standing up for himself. Because the fact that Jamie and Roy’s magnet positioning syncs up so perfectly does make it feel like they’ve discussed it and are on the same page, but I really want them to show Roy being a good, tactically smart, coach. Because I think he is.

Natalie: It’s just not really feeling like it’s going in the direction that I want it to for Roy. The fact that Roy’s magnets are literally just there as a sadistic dick joke with no real meaning, I don’t know. If this is meant to be implying something with nuance, it might be too nuanced for the general audience.

Megan: We did not need the dick joke to continue past the original scene. We didn’t in fact need the original scene either, but it especially didn’t need a follow up.

Natalie: But either for tactics or sadism, I know Jamie is definitely the person Roy would tie everyone’s dicks to. And I would love a moment of him being like “No, no, no! You fuckers are misusing my boy!” But the boy, it turns out, is thrillingly capable of doing that for himself. Not that I ever guessed, at this point in the episode, where this was heading for Jamie. The thing I got from Jamie with the card, most of all, was that he was acting like “Is this a trick? Are you testing me?” Which is extremely understandable for his character.

Megan: Hmm, interesting. Do you mean, like, are they testing him to see if he falls back into a prick persona? Or testing him to see if he’ll challenge them on this not being the right tactic? Or a bit of both?

Natalie: Prick. Like, is this a trap for me to fall into because you think the worst of me?

Megan: Yeah, I can see that. It is a constant worry of his ever since he came back, and he’s always pushing himself to be better as a person. So I think that works, and explains part of his hesitancy.

Natalie: Mind games, you know? I think it’ll be a while before he truly trusts that there are none, from anyone he meets. Even if he isn’t worried most of the time, when he feels unsure he may expect the worst. It’s pretty understandable after what he’s been through.

Megan: Yeah, he expects the worst because he’ll assume everyone expects the worst from him first. It really does make me desperate to know what the other City players thought of him, especially if he was loaned out as a kindness rather than because he was acting out. And players from other teams he’s known for a while too. Obviously he IS known for being a bit of a prick on the pitch, in the sense that he winds people up and gets in their head, but how many people outside of Richmond would think he was a prick as an actual person?

Natalie: I think he’s really well liked as a celebrity! Some people may have found his reality show antics to be prickish, the Amy stuff and all. But those shows are staged! We’ve seen him meet fans outside the TV studio and he was sweet to everyone, adults and kids. He’s sweet and polite to Mae, to his driver… He was a dick to Tommy, the Ussie guy, but you know. Warranted. I think he’s seen as really loveable, public image wise. Cheeky, sure, but not nasty.

Megan: I bet he’s someone that in-universe, when people ask on the Premier League reddit “What player do you think is the biggest wanker off the pitch?” there’ll be one or two people that say him, because of things like the reality show, and then you’ll get a bunch of people with a nice story chiming in and disagreeing. Not that I spent any time on the Premier League reddit, getting annoyed at how wrong everyone is. But I think you’re right about his public image. The yoga mums loved him! I think they’re a good litmus test for wider society.

Natalie: Yes, he was their favourite! I think he must be really likeable, even if a bit naughty. So sad for him that he has to get his dick almost yanked off in front of all the local fans.

Megan: This was so unhinged. Fucking hell, Roy. I mean the dick yanking moment was absolutely hilarious the way everyone acted it. Just ten out of ten for physical comedy. But it was so stupid.

Natalie: I’m not going to say that I think the overall joke was worth the insanity.

Megan: No.

Natalie: Even if Phil Dunster’s pale face and shaking hands were art. I’m still a bit too grounded in reality, I’m like “Roy would not risk their bodies like this.” That’s a great way to get really injured. Not only on the dick, but an ankle, from a fall. A groin pull, like from Colin hopping over the rope. It’s a stupid physical comedy joke for laughs that is extremely well executed by these people on the comedy show. But has NO place in the drama show that Ted Lasso also is.

Megan: Groin injuries are no joke, even if they don’t normally get caused by dick string. But yeah, I agree with you. It had some funny moments, but I really didn’t need it for the episode!

Natalie: Roy’s stupid cartoon laugh. This is just to amuse him. I’m also picturing the logistics when they got in that morning. Like, “Oi! Tartt, Goodman, tie this to your dicks. No questions, just do it.” They could have done waist ties and taken this training exercise seriously, just saying.

Megan: I know that they have all seen each other’s dicks many, many times and it’s nothing new, but I just feel like this still would have been very strange to them. But I hope they did it in the dressing room, rather than out in front of the fans. It’s very silly.

Natalie: I just hope they had a no phones policy for fans.

Megan: I don’t know that I trust Ted to have thought that through enough. Maybe Higgins did though.

Natalie: I didn’t see anyone using a phone at all, so maybe he did. It was funny to hear Ted talk about the red string of fate in such a ridiculous way though. Like, there’s the title. “The Strings That Bind Us.” There’s so many deeper things that could be said about that concept. It’s usually about soulmate-based romantic love. Not in Ted Lasso, chumps! Just slapstick penis awareness.

Megan: I know! And look, obviously Ted Lasso is very much focused on metaphorical connections and the ties that bind us, but… this was extremely literal.

Natalie: They sure do like to subvert expectations.

Megan: They clearly went on a journey with the title. I guess they decided “Ola’s” was too limiting, or maybe the original script had a bit more space dedicated to him and Sam and that changed, and then “Boxes,” which, yes they talk about being put in one box. But no, they landed on dick strings being the most important thing to highlight.

Natalie: I think “Boxes” actually was the best title.

Megan: I agree, I think it’s the most fitting for the episode overall.

Natalie: Each main story involves a box – Keeley’s and Nate’s literally, the team’s in terms of being put into boxes position-wise, as Ted tells Isaac before his dangerous corner kick. And Sam’s, in a much deeper way, is also about being put in a box, but you know. We’ve got dick strings.

Megan: Unfortunately, we sure do.

Natalie: Trent is close to the action the whole time, really trying to puzzle out what Ted is going for here.

Megan: Look, forget the concern about fans with phones. Trent will be dedicating a whole chapter to dick strings.

Natalie: He questions Ted about whether this is in fact a good idea, even before the DSs. And he’s really curious about number 4. He’s probing a lot, trying to see whether Ted has actually thought things through, partly for his book and partly because he’s invested in the team. Changing tactics mid-season with only one week of training on the new and very complex plan? Trent isn’t so sure. Ted’s very much like, shrug! Could go either way! He’s stressing Trent the fuck out.

Megan: Trent really tries to be objective at Richmond, but he’s really not very good at it. He can’t just observe, he has to get involved. He cares too much now about everyone for that.

Natalie: He’s really trying to get some answers here. I think he’s really curious about Ted, but also very invested. The answers going around the room when he tries to sort of unpack what the mysterious Number 4 is… Beard concentrating on his book, Roy erasing his kinky hopes and dreams from the whiteboard, but just keeping pace.

Megan: Roy letting us know he’s spent a really long time thinking about the players’ dicks was a choice, but he accepted being told no with good grace. At this point I have no idea if Ted knows what number 4 is, if there is a number 4 at all, or if he’s just fucking with them, but I hope this isn’t one of those things that we never find out.

Natalie: Well, by the end it doesn’t seem to matter. But Ted is an enigma. Anyway, to me, number 4 is Jamie. A strong, intelligent, star player who can control the tempo.

Megan: I can get behind that as a theory.

Natalie: They showed us that with Cruyff at Ajax and Pep as a player at Barca, so I feel like he’s the golden ticket, and the episode sure seemed to prove that too. But maybe 4 as a number is irrelevant. I’m really glad Trent is here though, as this helpful, interrogative voice in the room. His presence helps explain things going on to the audience in more detailed ways. I’d love to read his notes about Roy, Jamie and so on. His notes about Ted are probably just surrounded by a bunch of floating hearts.

Megan: He borrows sparkly gel pens from his daughter to decorate them. I want a spin-off more than anything, but I would also really love someone from Ted Lasso to write out the actual Trent Crimm book to be published. I think that’s a pipe dream, but it would be great. As it is, I will settle for him always being there to scathingly ask the questions we would ask if we were there. Beard goes from being agnostic to an atheist pretty quickly, which tracks for him I think.

Natalie: Another point in the Roy Kent is Jewish column for me. God may be around, but he better not be involved with the football.

Megan: Hah, yes! Roy does not need him interfering. Thank you very much.

Natalie: Arsenal being the team featured this week – they had to come along some time, and it makes sense that they’d want to give a nice long feature to the stadium and symbols given Brendan Hunt’s dedication to the club. I have a feeling after this one, Richmond will start winning a LOT, but not this time. Can’t believe his loyalty to his real team is stronger than his dedication to Richmond, yet he forces Spurs into the relegation zone.

Megan: And has Richmond beat Spurs the previous season. He’s very transparent, unlike Brett, who is very realistic when it comes to portraying his team on screen. For a second there, with the little water bottle montage before the coaches’ discussion, I did think the team all seemed very in sync, so maybe they would be allowed to beat Arsenal, but alas it was not to be. They need one final push to Get It.

Natalie: I’m almost mad that they did get it in this game. Because bringing it in so fast is SO stupid. Irresponsibly so. But that’s TV magic, hey?

Megan: It’s true, and hey. Maybe we can just give the credit to Jamie – he does know what he’s doing, and he’s just THAT good.

Natalie: Yeah, because this is literally ALL down to him. Before getting into the details of the half time. What did you think of the Third Kit? It’s about time we saw it.

Megan: It is extremely bright, and I feel like it maybe should not work, but I love it! In its own right, yes, but also compared to some truly heinous other third kits out there. I think I like it better than the bright orange too. But Richmond do go for some very bold colours.

Natalie: I liked last season’s orange, but this one isn’t quite the same tone. They rightfully should have worn this one when they played Man United – it’s too close a clash to have red and dark orange. This one takes the yellow highlight in the traditional shirt and subverts it, so it’s the same theme. Some of the other third kits in the league are… chaotic to say the least.

Megan: The City third kit is so garish, I hated it when I first saw it. But it has grown on me, and I think I might prefer it to their away kit now. I do like that Ted Lasso has gone so far as to include a third kit though. They probably could have gotten away with just using the orange and most viewers wouldn’t pick up on it, so having this level of accuracy for the third season pleases me. Even if they should have worn it for United. But maybe they wanted to debut it in a scene where it could have more focus.

Natalie: I think they had to have one for the FIFA game, so it could be from that. I would have been cool with it just being organically fed in against Man United, but people might get really confused. Not that they “explain” it here either, mind you. Which one I like best is purely down to how hot Jamie looks in it. I’m into the main one due to the white shorts. Those are very good on him. The all-over orange I do like too, because Jamie always has a nice tan and it pops against that.

Megan: I did see some people get confused by the orange kit when that first made an appearance, so I assume this will cause questions too.

Natalie: Sorry, they got confused over an away kit? Even American sports have away uniforms, usually in inverted colours.

Megan: These might have been people who didn’t do any sports ever usually, but yeah a few people asked why they were orange sometimes.

Natalie: Look, moving on.

Megan: Ranking kits based on Jamie’s aesthetic appeal in them seems like a solid system to me. Where does the third kit fall?

Natalie: I’m not sure. He’s very upset while first wearing it, whereas the first time we ever see him in the orange he’s lovely and smiley. So… to be continued.

Megan: That is true, maybe we need a few more scenes to decide.

Natalie: But him yelling and gesturing about what’s going on… Look. This takes me back to season 1 in some ways. He expressed it differently, more prickishly, but back then, the big thing he and Roy had in common was their high level of football intelligence and an awareness of what was going to shit, and an anger and frustration over losing because of it. They were both good, and both mad, because they could see that the team was not working and not winning. In season 1, that’s because George didn’t put any effort into developing any players and was just lazy and awful. But what hasn’t changed is that Jamie is still the smartest person on the grass.

Megan: Yeah. I think what this season is saying more generally is that it isn’t actually a bad thing to have standout players like Jamie on a team – most teams need a few genius players on the pitch to help shape the game – but the issue is the full team has to be strong and in sync. And Jamie was brilliant then, but very isolated. To be fair he’s a bit isolated in this particular scene, but in general very much a part of the team. It’s not a bad thing to know your role, and be confident about it. Just don’t be a prick.

Natalie: Yeah, what I think or hope this episode will show people is that being the best player on the team is not about like, scoring the goals. It actually isn’t. Jamie is the best player on the team because he understands how to play the game better than anyone else. Erling Haaland is not the best player at Man City, for example. People might say that he is because he’s scored one billion goals this season. But he’s not.

Megan: I was just thinking about Haaland! Because yeah, he’s not. What he is, is an incredible goal scorer. But he can’t do that without the likes of Kevin and more often now Jack or Mahrez reading the pitch and setting up those plays. And Erling also has a fair few assists recently, more than you’d expect from such a classic striker. So even he can subvert expectations, and play outside his role.

Natalie: Kevin De Bruyne is the best player at Man City and everyone knows it. And he’s usually the free-roaming player in the middle of Pep’s strategy. There is no one who outstrips him at game awareness. And that’s what it means that Jamie is the best player on the team. He is the most expert footballer.

Megan: And that crucially doesn’t mean he should be captain – not all the time anyway. Kevin isn’t the captain, though he does wear the band sometimes if he starts and Gundo doesn’t. Because it’s two different things. Being Captain is about keeping the team from losing their heads, and being the one to do things like intercede with the ref. For someone like Kevin, that probably gets in the way of his game focus.

Natalie: Kev’s not chill enough to be captain, but I do think Jamie would be a great one, and actually, down the line, a great manager – a future I never really saw for him before this episode, but one I can now picture.

Megan: We do know Sam wears the captain’s armband later in the season. I wonder if we’ll see a discussion about him versus Jamie, once Isaac is benched for whatever reason.

Natalie: I don’t think we will. I don’t know if anyone there currently puts Jamie into that box. But it’s clear to me that it’s in his future.

Megan: I think that’s probably true. They do listen to him now, about football strategy and when he’s trying to gee them up. But they probably don’t see him as captain.

Natalie: Isaac is not really impressing me as captain this season and I do wonder if THAT will be discussed, because when they all start picking on Jamie for not scoring in the dressing room and Isaac is aggro about it, I was ready to fucking throw hands. Even here, I wasn’t prepared for Jamie to take matters into his own hands. I was just seeing all the team being insanely unfair to him when it’s very obvious he knows better than them about what’s going on. Some of Isaac’s comments, “You make me look like a prick, for fuck’s sake what’s the matter with you anyway?” I mean… Dude. And the coaches talking about changing tactics.

Megan: I loved and hated this scene. I hated the rest of the team blaming him. It feels like they’re still stuck in a Zava mindset of getting the ball to the goal scorer and then waiting for him to do the rest, but that isn’t Total Football. And I did love it when he eventually spoke up. But honestly it was not great. Colin and Bumbercatch were at least fairly like, balanced with it – it’s the wrong approach for Total Football, but they do explain why they think that. Isaac is just calling him out for not scoring more, and it’s really shitty.

Natalie: Isaac is being so harsh and I know he lashes out when upset but this is, like I said, back to the season 1 situation of depending on Jamie in a way that frankly stresses Jamie out. It stressed him out then and it stresses him out now. And as the coaches discuss going back to a 4-4-2, maybe, and Ted decides it’s time for a pep talk, (PEP PEP PEP PEP PEP) Jamie is literally doing anxious leg-bouncing. What the guys were saying to him is incredibly unfair and similarly to how I said he treated Ted’s generosity with the striker position as a test, here it felt like he was like…”I feel mad and offended, but I’m not quite sure I have the right to be.” Having been the bad guy in a way that impacted the team a lot, he’s never quite sure whether he has the right to have a negative emotion, you know?

Related: ‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 3 in conversation: I weren’t being ironic, I was being hypocritical

Megan: Yeah. Because it’s hard to not get really defensive when he’s being yelled at, and he isn’t scoring goals this season like he usually does, so he probably does have some anxiety about that. So when you add to that not wanting to be seen as backsliding in any way, I can imagine it’s not a particularly fun time in Jamie’s head right now.

Natalie: He is literally gripping the bench and trying to school his face and madly jiggling through all of Ted’s speech about facial hair. Which was allegedly about the right idea being hidden behind the wrong one. Also rimming. Rimming a yeti.

Megan: He also calls himself a straight man. I’m so sorry Trent.

Natalie: A crushing blow. Honestly this was one of his more convoluted speeches, and aside from feeling incredibly vindicated for Jamie, I’m not sure how I feel about Jamie being the one to take over the tactics. For me, as a Jamie fan who thinks he is brilliant and incredible and smart and the best, yes, I want him to be the victorious one. I love him standing up for himself and the fact he knows best, but he should not have to. This is not actually a victory moment for him to have done this, it’s a coaching failure. For this entire wobbly tactic to depend on a 25 year old player, who’s not the captain, who’s insecure, who is worried about rocking the boat, coming in and being like, “No, this is all wrong, none of you get it, this is how it works…”. It’s weird. I love it. I love him having that responsibility. But he should also not have to have that responsibility. I love that he’s the one it all depends on, but it also feels stressful.

Megan: I think it’s one thing for him, on the pitch, to be the person driving things forward, because as we’ve discussed you need those players, that’s really normal. But I think it’s another for him having to be the one to explain it. Like… that should be the coaches’ job. They should be the ones recognising Jamie’s role and marking it up on the board, he shouldn’t have to do it for himself, because it’s not his job and it probably feeds into his anxiety about not seeming like a dick or trying to make things all about him. And this is different to in episode 2, where he sparked off the conversation about what they needed to do differently, and then Sam and Isaac joined in. This is all him.

Natalie: I loved that he still wouldn’t speak up critically until they gave him the signal. But also hated it.

Megan: Yeah.

Natalie: Because he’s a good person who doesn’t need to be trained like a dog. And he’s smarter and has experience at a higher level than any of the others. Especially with versions of Total Football. It’s a scene that validates his brilliance so much, but also genuinely kind of upsets me. When will people stop wronging him? Can it be now, please? Can like, one person recognise how troubled he is because HE doesn’t believe in his own right to exist as an equal with them? He is so confident in other ways, but he really struggles here. And I can’t help thinking he still thinks… “I got kicked out and I don’t know why. Who knows when Lasso will next decide I crossed a line?” And he’s trying very hard to never find out, but he also has enough confidence in his football awareness to not be able to hide how frustrated he is. His own sense of self, and his smarts, are really strong despite his worries.

Megan: Yeah, no matter how much proof he gets that the team is happy he’s there, and that he’s an important part of it, it can still take a person a really long time to trust that they aren’t going to get into trouble over something they have anxiety about. So with Jamie in this scenario, yes Ted is telling them all to trust themselves and their instincts, and yes Jamie has such a strong sense of self – he knows he’s got the football awareness to do this, he knows he’s right – but him being a prick and saying he’s better than the team is, he thinks, what got him sent away. So it’s hard for him to trust Ted’s words and his own instincts here, because it’s such a sensitive area to him.

Natalie: I knew the way he was like “Yeah, yep, okay” about Ted telling him to speak his mind would come back around, because that moment in 3.03 was so clearly, to me, like “Oh, you’re telling me this so it SOUNDS like I have rights, but we all know I don’t.” And that isn’t just a Jamie issue, that can be a power dynamic issue with any situation. You know what I mean? Like, where the party line is that X is allowed, but everyone knows if someone actually tried X, it would go very badly.

Megan: Yeah, exactly. And you know, I do wish, after Zava had gone, Ted had done more than given Jamie a little nod, because the nod was an acknowledgement, but maybe if Ted had done more, Jamie might have felt able to speak up about them doing Total Football wrong earlier in the week. And honestly, Ted and Beard maybe should have even asked him about it. Like of anyone on that pitch, he’s going to be able to tell them whether their approach is right! Why wouldn’t they ask him about his experience?

Natalie: Yeah, this is something I also wanted to mention – he should have been brought in on the planning sessions! Why would you not use him as a resource? Jamie needing reassurance that he has the right to speak up and be listened to after everything with Zava just makes me kind of sad. It’s amazing that he instantly GETS that validation from the group, but it’s such a stark difference from him speaking up during the Chelsea half-time. Noticing a weakness in the other team isn’t being a prick. Noticing a weakness about your own team when you know, for a fact, that you’ve got it right and they don’t?

Related: ‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 2 in conversation: There’s a part of me thinking maybe I should have stayed

Megan: That also isn’t being a prick, but Jamie will worry they’ll think it.

Natalie: Yeah. And I think he’s also a little worried that he knows how he talks, just naturally how he speaks, can be a bit combative. Like, the way he actually says it. “Fine. I’m not doing it wrong, you’re doing it wrong,” then has to kind of gentle himself. He knows he can sound harsh. I don’t judge him for it at all. Honestly I don’t want him to feel he has to sugarcoat his thoughts because of his past. I like him being a little mean. What can I say? He’s THEIR prick.

Megan: Jamie is a good boy, but that doesn’t mean he always has to be a nice boy. His body language during Ted’s speech is so interesting. He does laugh later at a joke, but the whole way through he is so visibly frustrated and trying to hold things back. I look forward to a time where he feels comfortable to just speak up, without worrying how it’ll land.

Natalie: I think that for people who have experienced what he has, it can take a very, very long time. When you’ve gotten in trouble for something you don’t really understand, you never know when it might happen again. I’m not talking about his former prickish behaviour, I’m talking about the perceived consequences of it, being rejected from Richmond after being so vulnerable. But this is a great start.

Megan: Yeah. I’m not someone who necessarily needs to see a scene where he gets told it was Rebecca who sent him away, not Ted, but I do think it would help HIM a lot to know. I really loved Trent’s tentative little flipping Jamie off while rubbing at his face. Like he’s not sure he’s allowed to join in, but he wants to be a part of the team. He is such a bad nature documentaryist.

Natalie: He must have been so confused! I liked Richard’s, onto his nose. For all that I feel this should not have HAD to happen to Jamie, that in real life the smart thing to do would be to grill the players about their experience using the tactic and Jamie, with the most experience, having had ample prior opportunity to share, this is obviously more of a dramatic, special moment, and I love that it’s actually anchored in the football. Like I’ve said before, it works best for me when the actual football is what makes the meaningful moments.

Megan: Yeah I agree. Because that moment in “The Signal” is probably one of the scenes I’ve rewatched the most just as a standalone, it is so powerful from start to finish, and Jamie is so powerful and confident in it. So while he shouldn’t need a visual confirmation it’s okay for him to speak his mind here, I did like what it called back to.

Natalie: It’s a phenomenal performance, the way he rushes up to the board quite determined, like, “I know what I’m talking about,” then realises he’s actually being looked at and listened to. Like he’s so single-minded about knowing what he wants to say, then he processes that it’s actually being respected. It’s incredible. Before he goes over to the board, though, when he says ‘You gotta stop going to me, and start playing through me,” even Ted looks confused. For all Ted and Beard’s research, they apparently missed the fact that you need your best player to control the flow of the game as an attacking midfielder, a traditional “Number 10,” regardless of what shirt number they wear.

Megan: Roy doesn’t look confused, he just looks a bit thoughtful. Maybe he’s thinking “Oh yeah, I probably should have said this earlier instead of tying dicks together.” But I like that Jamie knows he needs to change tack – he doesn’t just try and repeat himself, he goes over to the board and shows them what he means.

Natalie: I’ve seen one or two comments about this moment for Jamie that seem to imply that Ted WAS testing him, the whole week. Like he did with Roy and the bullying of Nate, I guess. Letting things hang and waiting for the person to step up. And I need to express my extreme contempt for that theory.

Megan: Yeah I’m not having that.

Natalie: You don’t risk dropping points against a top flight team over that. You don’t put that on a player, when players don’t usually have the right to pick their spot.

Megan: Ted might sometimes put more value in the lesson over the win than I would personally like, but in this case I absolutely do not believe for a second that is the case.

Natalie: The idea that Ted was willing to do it wrong intentionally and lose the match to get Jamie to speak up is like… It’s so wrong. On all levels. If this was intentional of Ted, it’s a test and a mindgame Jamie does not need or deserve. As mentioned, if Ted knew what needed to happen with Jamie, he should have picked Jamie’s brain on day 1 and said “Hey, I genuinely want to know what you think of all this, compared to what you did with Pep.” That would be a great way to make Jamie feel valued after the Zava stuff. It’s not comparable to making Roy fix a dressing room issue at all.

Megan: Yeah, not doing that was a mistake, not an intentional choice. Ted just didn’t fully understand the tactic he re-invented a week ago. That’s okay, that’s valid! But at this point in time I believe he is committed to the team winning. So he wouldn’t hold back just to give Jamie a chance to step up.

Natalie: Roy possibly should have, but this just wasn’t his week.

Megan: No, apparently this week they really wanted Roy to spend most of his time tying rope around Jamie’s body in new and different ways.

Natalie: He should save that for his personal time.

Megan: Agreed.

Natalie: But obviously I’m still so in love with Jamie having this moment, and in terms of a player rearranging the board to pick out his position, the comparison with what Zava did on the office board… That’s a beautiful parallel.

Megan: Yes! Zava pushed himself forwards, Jamie pulled himself back. I really loved it. Not least because we got to see his little sleeve thumb holes. A favourite style choice of mine.

Natalie: I want to point out, in case anyone misunderstands what Jamie did here, that he was not sidelining himself. Even when Dani mentioned sacrifice, I’m like, “Not quite.” This is not about Jamie pulling back metaphorically, even if his position is further back. It isn’t Jamie demoting himself or ‘stepping back’ aside from literally. He’s still speaking with the assurance that he’s the best player. He just knows that in Total Football, the best player has to be the midfield playmaker who, as the show says, conducts the plays, not the one who always scores when delivered the ball. He isn’t lowering himself or his value. He’s saying “You’re using my superior talent wrong, This is not how you use my level of skill. Stop playing me as a 9, I need to be playing as a 10.” And he’s absolutely, 100% right. I loved that they had him say centre, as opposed to middle or midfield too. That’s loaded with meaning. Making him the centre of the team – the heart of it.

Related: Phil Dunster of ‘Ted Lasso’ delivered one of 2021’s greatest TV performances, and Emmy voters need to remember that

Megan: Yes. He is stepping back positionally, so he can play the team forwards strategically. It’s very Kevin De Bruyne of him. Which I personally love. And it’s not like Kevin doesn’t score his fair share of goals.

Natalie: It was inevitable that Jamie would be their heart, somehow, but this is so good as a metaphor. The fact that it’s a silent, scoreless moment and then the music kicks in when he says “centre?” Chills. He really is the everythingest character.

Megan: I have a few friends who have only recently started watching, and whenever they ask my favourite character and I say Jamie they stare at me like I’m insane, and on the one hand I’m annoyed they’re not watching carefully enough to know he’s everything already, but on the other I can’t wait for that to become crystal clear to them.

Natalie: He’s definitely a lot of people’s favourite character NOW, and on the one hand, good, but on the other, I’m sick of all the tweets and articles being like “Who’d have thought?” “I can’t believe…” “Out of nowhere…” “Unexpectedly…” I really can’t get into it because if I do it’ll become a rant about how people have not been paying attention to what this character and actor have been doing since day one.

Megan: SAME.

Natalie: And I already did one of those last Emmy season.

Megan: Yes, we’ll move on, but I am with you fully there.

Natalie: I am definitely a fan of people loving him, but they need to use different language. Like not saying “Nobody would have predicted.” Just own the fact that YOU didn’t care and now you do. And I will be here to tell you why you should have cared the whole time. Anyway, if he doesn’t get an Emmy nomination this year I will scorch the earth. But the buzz is there. They just need to quit with the hyperbole that him being amazing is new.

Megan: Yeah he’s being talked about SO MUCH, I really think he will get a nomination. Not to jinx it.

Natalie: I still don’t think this is his Big Episode, either. I think there is more to come.

Megan: Agreed, and I cannot wait.

Natalie: And the actual match, the second half, Arlo White making me fucking CRY with his descriptions.

Megan: YES!

Natalie: I love how passionate the commentators get, people might think this sounds dramatic but they really do get like this.

Megan: It was so true to life. And just constantly hearing them say back to Tartt, over to Tartt, Tartt does this, interspersed with all the other players was SO GOOD. Just really showing how much Jamie is at the centre of all the action.

Natalie: Conducting the orchestra. It’s an incredible team goal, I want the passing stats. But I love the fact that it’s Richard who scores, because Richard is the person that Jamie tries to argue with Roy about in 2.07, when he was implementing… Pep tactics. Drawing the opponent out of his path, creating the space. He’s been trying that versatility the whole time, because he’s been better trained, and Total Football isn’t always like, 100% implemented, bits and pieces of the concept can be used within something that starts as a traditional formation. That’s very much how Man City rolls. And that moment when Jamie gets yelled at by Roy, and defends the tactic… yeah. That was about a Richard goal-scoring opportunity. “He’s my teammate, I should trust him to do what’s best.”

Megan: Yes! Honestly Total Football should be an element of every single team really – because yeah you can plan out tactics and formations, but you have to be able to think and adapt mid match. So Jamie will have been thinking in this mindset the whole time he’s been here, but it’s never been the right time for him to really shine at it. Season 1 he’s pushed to the front by George, season 2 he’s holding back at first because he thinks that he needs to be a team player the whole time, and then needs to be given permission to break out of that. Season 3 you can see him stepping up at the start pre-Zava, but then once Zava is there the only tactic is get the ball to Zava. But it finally feels like the conditions are right now for him to really step up.

Natalie: Ted has obviously always been very open with credit, with Nate and stuff. So will we get a moment of Jamie being overwhelmed with praise? Like, people talking about him and crediting him? Maybe a throwback to Ted saying he’s the best athlete he’s ever coached?

Megan: I really really hope so. Oh, I’d love to see some player of the match moments actually as well! Like, him winning it and one of the other players handing the trophy to him. That’d be great for me.

Natalie: Not this week, sadly. That will likely go to Chip Hamilton, who scored the Arsenal hat trick. And is also a huge part of the Ted Lasso team, a producer and nominally Jason’s assistant, but someone who the whole cast credits with running the set. Looking after everyone, organising people. He got a pretty major cameo here as an Arsenal player, LOL.

Related: Football is life: ‘Ted Lasso’ takes on ‘Heart of Stone’ for Mark Milsome Memorial Cup

Megan: I loved that little detail. Not least because I have seen Hamilton play football before. I saw him play a whole match last summer at the Mark Milsome Memorial Cup, the charity football match between two different Film and TV shows cast and crew. Ted Lasso’s team unfortunately lost on penalties last year to the Heart of Stone cast. I’ll be honest… Chip did not play very well on that occasion, so clearly he’s had some top notch coaching from Arteta since then!

Natalie: Well, Jamie deserves many, many trophies, match balls, kisses, cuddles, banners, better songs, and in depth interviews from his coaches about how amazing he is.

Megan: Three chapters minimum dedicated to him in Trent’s book.

Natalie: He’ll get credit for all of this when Trent publishes for sure. This whole night is going in the book. Because this is when Trent finally cracked the code. Honestly, the best Trent moment ever.

Megan: James Lance is such a gift. He is so frantic and enthusiastic and deranged.

Natalie: His epiphany, unlocking what’s been going on at Richmond, and with it, the true thrust of his book. He’s such a WRITER in this scene. So in love with the act of discovery and understanding. Like “I didn’t know what I was writing, but I DO NOW.” I assume the title will be “The Lasso Way,” due to his unhinged rant. The idea being that Ted took the club from a place of deep toxicity, under Rupert and George, to a culture like this one, full of support and trust. Which leaves his players primed for Total Football, due to their deep love and trust for each other. The culture of trust and support was a huge part of the story within the team’s general story this week, when it comes to what’s going on with Sam. Which is, putting it lightly, a story I wish I liked more.

Megan: It’s a really tough one. Because there are some really important elements of this story that are based on real life events – some of which are currently ongoing in the UK right now – but the way it is told really didn’t land for me.

Natalie: It goes without saying that the emotion from Toheeb was great, and our meeting of Ola. The heart is there, and that’s all that really should matter. And the events being discussed sure are real-ish events. But I feel that the way the story was told misrepresented the issues they’re trying to emulate or crib from in a way that I think will lead to a pretty big misunderstanding of these things from an American audience.

Megan: Yeah, all the cast do really well with the content they have, unsurprisingly. It was just too based in real life for me to be okay with the way they chose to tell it.

Natalie: I think we better lay out some of the issues in the general story compared to real life and then come back to the arc for Sam for what it is. But first of all, we did talk about this at the beginning of the season in some ways. We talked about Colin and whether they were going to do any sort of realism with abuse from fans, because they really showed no backlash for Sam, a Black player, taking a political stand with Dubai Air. And yes, there are differences when it’s the British government they’re talking about, but it feels like that early on, they decided to make the Ted Lasso universe more idealistic and non abusive. And now decided, “Actually no it’s really there…” It feels very shoved into this episode, rather than an issue that is everyday and ongoing. If they did want to address this, maybe it would have been better to feed in small things about these issues since Dubai Air.

Megan: No, and it honestly makes me even more nervous about how they might handle Colin coming out. It’s a really sanitised version of the abuse Sam would get. Well, not the physical attack on the shop, that is obviously awful, but it creates this weird split between the violence and horror of people attacking somewhere physical, and the really tame, sanitised language they use when talking about him on Twitter.

Natalie: So yeah, issue number one for me is the Very Special Episode vibes where this feels very shoved in. I understand that Sam is an extremely idealistic character and he’s already been shown as their “activist,” and so his response to people out there being horrible is the most impactful, in terms of developed characters to be put in this position. But if Ted Lasso has just decided to talk about footballers getting abuse for speaking up – the shut up and dribble idea – this should have been an ongoing thing. You and I literally talked about “shut up and dribble” in terms of the season 2 finale and Sam’s season 2 arc. The show has created a world that does not engage with the realistic levels of abuse that players get for using their voice, especially if they’re Black. But they’ve decided, no, actually, this IS a factor of the world of Ted Lasso, but we will stuff it all into this one episode in a way that doesn’t actually make a lot of sense.

Related: Coming out of the dark forest: The ‘Ted Lasso’ season 2 finale in conversation

Megan: And I think “Shut up and dribble” is itself a concept that will make sense in other contexts. Given the American origins, that in and of itself is something that I think most Ted Lasso audience members would understand. But the specific way they’ve chosen to tell this story doesn’t really work. They tried to include too much, and I think used the wrong character to tell the specific stories they’ve gone with.

Natalie: Yeah, because one of the things that doesn’t make sense the most here is that they’ve pulled these stories, quite closely, from things that happened to Black players, yes, but Black British players. Players on the England national team. Sam is not a British citizen, and of course he can criticise anyone he thinks is doing wrong, but the level of impact that story has when it’s an English player directly criticising or lobbying their own government, is a bit different, to say the least, to Sam doing it. I don’t mind Sam being the one this story focuses around, he’s a strong character and it makes sense in some ways. But the fact that so much of the stuff was cribbed from the headlines of things involving the England players makes it really feel a bit of a misstep just in what they made him say and how it was all done. I have a GIGANTIC issue with the fact that when he has that outburst right before Ola comes in, when he’s talking about the people hating and loving him, and how it veers into any time he misses a penalty or a bad match getting hatred or told to go back where he came from… It seemed to tie the abuse against him to the idea of being an immigrant, when Isaac, Moe, Cockburn and others are all right there and have no voice in this moment. Because this issue about racist abuse is not about Sam being an immigrant or foreign player. This is an issue that, in the world of football, has most loudly in recent years been about England players being treated as conditionally English. So for none of the other Black Richmond players who are English to have any role in this conversation did not sit well for me. You could try and say something like, “They all know, it goes without saying,” but that’s honestly not how it looks on screen. It looks like Sam is having a breakdown over something that happens to him as an individual, not an… epidemic of football. Because no one else fucking talks about it or relates to it. Not even Moe, whose whole “bit” as a himbo is his extreme human rights activism. We just have Sam challenging a British MP when none of the British players, of any ethnicity, seem to be equally upset.

Megan: Yeah. And in the Dubai Air storyline there was that moment of solidarity between Isaac and Sam because of Isaac’s Nigerian heritage, but here, there’s nothing to show that the other Black players would be affected, or would be able to relate because they’ve experienced it too.

Natalie: It genuinely reads, to someone who does not know the League, like this is just happening to Sam. Ted Lasso does not acknowledge Black British characters as having faced long standing issues in the game.

Megan: And I think using the small boats issue as the catalyst was a mistake too, because that did bring refugees and therefore immigration into the storyline which might be why they then felt it was okay to use Sam as the focus of the plot. But the league is made up of so many international players, it doesn’t really work.

Natalie: It was quite a messy patchwork, because they’ve literally used incidents based on Black British players, but about different issues, and for me, it’s very different to have an English person yelling at one of their own MPs on Twitter, vs a temporary immigrant. Let’s maybe lay out some of the inspiration for each part of this, because it’s all quite complex. Basically everything that happens here, aside from the small boats being the catalyst, is Ted Lasso’s “tribute” to the stuff that happened to the England Euro 2020 squad (which was played in 2021) down to the politician being challenged, the then-Home Secretary Priti Patel, who happens to be the same person both being disgusting back then and also being disgusting about the small boats refugee crisis now. When Sam talks about the abuse for missing a penalty, or fucking up, or fighting back, that’s referencing the extreme racial abuse faced by Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, and Jadon Sancho when they missed penalties and ended up not winning the Euro final. The show is very on top of that situation: Jason wore a shirt about it to the season 2 premiere. That’s the big example. But Sam doing that tweet challenging White Priti is based on Tyrone Mings, another Black player on the England squad, going after Real Priti due to her lip service criticism of the racial abuse when she had earlier spoken out against the team for taking the knee.

Megan: Yeah. The England team started taking the knee ahead of matches in the Euros as a stand against racism in football. Footballers began doing it in 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, and it happened in both the Premier League – where clubs would do it – and in international contests too. When they took the knee ahead of their first Euros match against Croatia, at Wembley, they were booed by the crowd. Right wing politicians when asked about it refused to condemn the booing, and Priti Patel – whose role in government is the same as Brinda Barot’s in Ted Lasso – went even further and said she didn’t support people taking part in that kind of “gesture politics” and that fans had the right to boo. It was awful, and about what I’d expect from her and the government. Anyway then, as you said, the three Black players who missed penalties, Marcus, Bukayo and Jadon all got tons of awful racist abuse as soon as the match was over, and Priti tried to say she was disgusted by the abuse they got as if she hadn’t contributed to the culture that made that abuse acceptable, both with her words at the start of the tournament, and her own racist policies in government.

Natalie: Ted Lasso didn’t DARE make their take on Priti a POC. The fact that she and current Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who acts similarly, are both children of immigrants and still fighting so hard for this inhumane stance on race and refugees makes it that much more sinister. If they’d cast her more realistically, they would have got so much backlash.

Megan: Agreed.

Natalie: But that’s the sad truth of it.

Megan: Anyway after she tried to claim disgust, Tyrone retweeted her and added the best response. I can’t top it, so I think I’ll just let his words speak for themselves: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.” He’s a smart man.

Natalie: My favourite. But I’ve always felt Sam was very much based on Rashford and Saka in certain ways, Saks for the youthful sense of joy and Marcus for the activism. Marcus has faced this abuse for a long time due to his own activism. He’s campaigned the government for ages about, you know, something really no one should be against – feeding children – and when they lost, another MP said he should have spent more time perfecting his game rather than playing politics.

Megan: Again, as with Tyrone, Marcus proved himself to be way more eloquent than her. His response was to say: “Disappointingly for some, the ‘stick to football’ advice doesn’t cut it where I’m from. I’d be doing [my] community and my family a disservice if I did not use my platform to speak on behalf of the millions whose voices are not being heard.” And I think actually that is another reason why Sam being the voice for this storyline doesn’t quite sit right with me. Because from what we know, he comes from a family with money. People like Marcus, as well as experiencing racism also grew up working class and poor. His whole life would have been actively affected by awful right wing policies around things like benefits and the economy, so that adds a whole other level of personal relevance when it comes to challenging the Tories that Sam just doesn’t have.

Natalie: Ultimately, I think that Sam facing these issues is a valid story, an idea that any Black footballer can relate to, the fact that you are loved when perfectly performing but if you fuck up your race will be the first thing people attack. And I don’t think that’s a separate issue from being told to stick to football when standing up to something. These things really are fair calls about any Black player. But. It is all so specifically ripped from the experiences of Black British players being bullied by their own MPs. These guys being citizens, voters, who have the right to criticise their own government. Yet this episode did not offer any voice to the Black British players at Richmond. And I find it really fucking weird, what’s been implied there.

Megan: Yeah. Even if Sam was the catalyst because of his tweet, to not bring those other voices into the conversation just really sits badly with me.

Natalie: But yeah, the fact that Sam grew up privileged and his optimism sometimes seems naive, is a very different lens to someone who suffered under the British government as a poor family.

Megan: It is hard in other ways though, because of course Toheeb is a Black British football fan, who would have been really affected by the events at the Euros and the discourse surrounding it. So I think Toheeb’s story is far more relevant in that sense to Sam’s. But that would be the same for Kola, and definitely the same for Moe Hashim who played football somewhat professionally.

Natalie: Of COURSE Sam has the right to care about immigration policies, and the right to speak up. But I hope it makes sense when I say that it also feels off, that the story is centred around him in a way that, I think to the uneducated viewer, makes it look like just a Sam Obisanya problem. I just don’t think it’s spreading the message that really gets into the DNA of the issue. And I get that this is just Sam’s moment to be upset about it, and that people like Isaac may be jaded. But for no one to be like, “I know, bruv. We all know.” Like NOTHING, for them to all just stare at him… I just don’t think it tells the story the show thinks it’s telling. It could be that there’s more to this down the line, but it would feel quite odd for Ted Lasso to decide in its last 4 episodes to include a bunch of stuff about football fan abuse when, if it exists in their world, it should have been there all along. They could have slow burned this since the Dubai Air moment. It’s pretty heavy handed here in a way that doesn’t massively make sense. It’s too many different issues pinned all on one character, despite there being so many other Black players on the team, British or otherwise, and it seems like this is a momentary thing and won’t carry on.

Related: ‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 1 in conversation: ‘You ever wonder why we’re here, coach?

Megan: I agree, especially if they don’t ever touch on it again. As with Colin and any coming out storyline, there is definitely a good and powerful story to be told about racism in football, fan abuse, and the reactions when players speak up. But I don’t think the show has given itself enough time and space to do it well, and so what we’re left with does just feel rushed and slightly missing the point.

Natalie: Then there’s the fact that the issue Sam is actually fighting against, the small boat refugees, is like, not something Ted Lasso can solve. It’s like, here’s an injustice! It’s hopeless! We don’t even find out if that boat landed or was turned around. And I mean, it’s good that Ted Lasso wants to tell American audiences about the boat crisis, which we lovingly handed to you guys.

Megan: Yeah, thanks for that, Australia.

Natalie: You’re so welcome. But it’s kind of like… okay, so, what happens now? And yes, in situations like this, there’s not much power that a footballer can wield. Maybe that’s why they picked it, rather than something like Marcus challenging Parliament as a member of the British public with a lot of power. Maybe it had to be something hopeless, because there’s nothing Sam can do.

Megan: Yeah, and it’s the kind of issue that makes people feel so sad and desperate that they do speak up. Ironically, footballer turned pundit Gary Lineker, who has cameoed in Ted Lasso, is very outspoken about the refugee crisis and has gone to battle with the Government over it multiple times. He has actually housed refugees on more than one occasion. So in that sense, there’s another real life example for this issue among footballers.

Natalie: Linekar is an interesting example, because season 3 would have already finished filming when the recent explosion happened surrounding him, but it’s a good example of how much sway footballers actually have in England, especially ones who played at the national level. Football impacts the overall culture of England in an absolutely huge way. More than other kinds of celebrities, I would say. Football impacts public opinion in a way that is unlike anything I’ve seen before. You’re closer to it, would you say that’s fair?

Megan: Yeah, absolutely.

Natalie: And with Gary Lineker, it was so obvious that the government’s fingers being too closely wrapped around the BBC meant that they thought they were absolutely going to win that battle – that as an “impartial” BBC TV host, his social media use could not include calling the government policy Nazi-like and cruel. It was an amazing thing to watch, how the world of football just basically turned around and said “Yeah, no,” and then the BBC had to backtrack. Watching it in real time as they weighed up the impact of the football world vs the government. And Lineker didn’t even do anything else. He just said “No, I won’t delete it or apologise, do what you want. I’ll just stand here and wait.” It ground the country to a halt.

Megan: Yep, it was incredible. The BBC tried to pull him off air for his weekly commentary show Match of the Day, and then every single other football pundit, one after the other publically announced that they would not be appearing on Match of the Day for as long as Gary wasn’t on it. And the clubs, the players, all started saying they’d refuse to be interviewed for MOTD after that weekend’s matches. The BBC completely dug their own hole, and it imploded for them – but also for the Government, who had thought they could promote their awful new small boat policy by attacking Gary as an example of the elites who are out of touch. Except then what actually happened is the football world kicked off, and the narrative changed completely to the extent it distracted from their actual flagship policies. It was such a wonderful own goal from both the BBC and the government.

Natalie: The point that’s significant here is that notable footballers, if they go after a cause in the UK, they often do have a chance of making a real impact. But if it involves the government, the players who generally have more power to do that are British. Sam isn’t, and it kind of makes the whole thing feel much more hopeless.

Megan: I suppose in Sam’s case, it is in character for him to feel hopeless and want to try and do something. That element worked. I just wish they’d gone a different route.

Natalie: Yeah, it’s absolutely in his characterisation for him to be more shocked and upset by the world being shitty than others who are used to it being shit, but I still think that saying he cares more about the racist British policies than Ted Lasso’s British POC do is a misstep. Sam’s emotion was a great moment for Toheeb’s performance but I think it did other people dirty.

Megan: Yeah, I really agree.

Natalie: Like, Kola Bokinni is a series regular now. Give him something to fucking do.

Megan: Yes! I would really have loved to see him tackle this type of plot. Especially as we KNOW he’s getting abuse from fans this season anyway.

Natalie: Yeah, honestly, there were so many parts they jammed in here. This whole episode could have literally just been about Sam missing a penalty and getting fan abuse, and others relating to it, and that would have been a more clearly told story. I get why it wasn’t something like that, they specifically wanted to show the consequences of his activism, but the way they link Black players getting subjected to racial abuse when they slip up, to the actual social issue at hand and Sam’s conflict with the MP felt really convoluted. Or like, not a very good representation of what happens to footballers and who is impacted. I don’t know. They went for something meaningful with the character that most viewers could understand it from the most, one of the main characters, the known activist. But there are some changes they could have made that would have nailed this issue more effectively, and what they ended up with didn’t feel right to me unfortunately. I think largely it’s because I care a lot about those Black England players, Tyrone, Marcus and so on. Seeing little parts of their stories – like how a mural of Marcus was defaced in Manchester, a similar act of destruction – being used for Sam’s story? In some ways I loved it but in some ways really made me feel concerned about the Black British voices being neglected when talking about racist British politics. An MP saying a player should stick to football just hits harder for me when they’re trying to silence a British voter who has the right to voice their opinion about their own government. Someone condemning the acts of another country’s government, like Sam did, generally gets a different kind of backlash that they didn’t tap into or delineate here very well.

Megan: There was a simpler way to tell the story of Sam’s activism and the racism faced by Black players and of how wonderful Ola is without making it too close to the very real and specific stories of the players you mentioned. I’m not keen on the way this ties it all up quite neatly at the end in a way that really isn’t the reality for any of those players. Because how this episode ends makes it seem like Sam will be fine because he’s a good man with good support. The reality is that it never ends, and these players will feel it every single day.

Natalie: Look, let’s get into the actual events of what happens to Sam. It may bring up some more thoughts, but all we’ve said above, I feel bad about saying it because their intention was good, but whatever it was trying to say or represent about abuse in football, I’m not sure they pulled it off.

Megan: Unfortunately I agree, especially if, as I suspect, this is the only episode where we touch on this issue and we don’t revisit it again. Like we’ve said, the cast do a really great job with what they have, Toheeb especially is as wonderful as ever, but it didn’t really work for me.

Natalie: There are plenty of parts that work dramatically, if you were to not be conscious of the complexity of the source material, I guess. But then again, they did it in order to highlight the source material. I actually have no idea how much the rest of the world is aware of Priti, Suella, and the boat people issue. Genuinely no idea. But the fact that they shot this however long ago when it’s got so much worse since… What a time.

Megan: Yeah, it’s been a huge issue here for a couple of years, but it’s really exploded in the last few months or so. It’s one of the Conservatives’ favourite topics to distract from all their many fuckups, so yeah, what a time is about right. Politics aside, it is really nice to see how well Sam’s restaurant is going. The fact that it’s constantly fully booked is great, especially since I really did think maybe it wouldn’t be a success and that was what his plot would revolve around this season.

Natalie: Oh really? That didn’t really occur to me, I thought it would just be like, there, as a new hub for the team to meet.

Megan: Yeah I think there was one interview or article from a bit before the season aired where somebody mentioned that Sam was having struggles at his restaurant. I assumed it would be that it wasn’t popular and successful, but I guess they actually meant racist vandalism. Which wasn’t a plot I had considered before this episode.

Natalie: Yeah. Side note: I was always a bit confused when Ted Lasso had Sam make the claim that there was not one Nigerian restaurant in London. This is… not true at all. Nigerians are one of the biggest groups of migrants to the UK.

Megan: Right?! There 100% will be good Nigerian restaurants here.

Natalie: That’s one reason Sam is connected to this story, too – it’s fair to assume that his staff are English residents from families who migrated sometime in the last however long. Not all migrants are refugees, obviously, but Nigeria, in general, is one of the biggest nationalities that migrate to England. There are definitely plenty of restaurants. But it’s also possible that the Nigerians he’s connected with don’t have as easy a migration story as a wealthy Premier League football player on a visa.

Megan: Yeah, if most of his staff are immigrants, or from immigrant families, you can see why they’d all be concerned with an increase in racist attitudes and awful treatment towards refugees and people trying to come to the UK.

Natalie: The Tory policies about immigration don’t just include the “illegal” boats, it’s generally blocking many forms of migration, especially from certain countries. I do want to say that regardless of the issues I have with this story, it obviously makes sense that all these people would be concerned and angered by what is happening with the government. Sam seems to have a great relationship with everyone he’s hired, and, going by accents, it seems to be a real mix of recent migrants and Black British people, like Simi, who was clearly raised in London. They also don’t appear to be dating… yet.

Megan: No, but they’re clearly pretty comfortable around each other, so I can see that becoming a thing down the line. And she gives him a lot of shit, which I enjoy. Obviously there’s speculation earlier in the season – from us and from Rebecca – over whether or not he’s still single after he dropped out of the Bantr promo video. It does seem like he still is, but they clearly like each other, so I do wonder why they haven’t started dating yet. Maybe he’s a little hesitant about another workplace romance since the last one didn’t end well.

Natalie: There’s definitely a high comfort level there, from the face Sam and Faridah make when Simi is yelling, and the way she is bossy with him, calling him poo-poo head, and kind of negging him about the restaurant being a footballer passion project. Sam’s main concern when he arrived was making sure he could get a table for his dad, but this is when he runs into the refugee boat issue, as Simi is raging about it quite vocally. What’s interesting to me, and I say interesting with a slight twist to my tone, because it’s another criticism, is that Sam actually starts the episode fairly naive. I mean, being naive yet activisty has always kind of been his brand, which is sort of an odd brand anyway. But it’s always like he is fairly sheltered from the horrors of the world, finds out about them, then steps up in his own way, but had not taken the steps to, I don’t know, be aware on his own? Like his dad had to tell him about the implications of endorsing Dubai Air, and Simi told him about this. Sam saying “Why would they send the boat away?” is so incredibly innocent of him and I get that’s his vibe, but I don’t really love it for our alleged activist character. All these characters have personality flaws, right? Roy, Ted, Jamie, Nate, everyone. Well, Sam is amazing, but I would call this his big flaw – his optimistic naivety. I hope it’s intentional, anyway. Being an optimist isn’t a flaw, but being a naive, sheltered one is. I know the wider casual audience doesn’t really recognise Moe Bumbercatch at a glance, but given that his whole “bit” is being an incredibly suspicious and educated activist, it’s still weird to me that he wasn’t looped in on this conversation during the episode. Last week he wanted to go interrogate the Hague!

Megan: Moe really would have been the obvious choice for an episode about this kind of issue. I do think that in this episode, some of Sam’s optimism and naivety has probably been shattered, and I hope with that comes a desire to learn a bit more, and be a bit more aware of things himself without having to be told by others. I get that they were trying to build up to a particular news moment, but one issue I did have with the way Simi introduces the refugee boat angle is that it isn’t really how it works. She says “a refugee boat is coming in” and talks about it as if the boat is going to arrive in a few days, and they have advanced warning of it. That’s not really how it plays out. In reality, these boats – which are more often than not inflatable boats and dinghies rather than anything substantial – will leave France to cross the Channel. The point where they cross is only 20 miles wide, and they often make the crossing at night. So the UK government and the coast guard don’t really get an advance warning that the boats are coming. What actually tends to happen is at some point during the crossing the boats will be spotted, and then brought to shore by the Navy, the Coast Guard or the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. They have to do this under maritime law, but the RNLI in particular is a charity, and one that historically has appealed to an older, more conservative demographic, who now feel betrayed that their safe patriotic charity is helping refugees. The RNLI has gotten a lot of abuse and hate in the last year for saving the lives of refugees and bringing them safely to shore. My mum actually lives on the coast right by one of the places boats often land, and on more than one occasion she’s been woken up by the sounds of drones and search parties. Once they land on British soil, refugees in the boats are legally allowed to claim asylum, and will then be processed and either allowed to remain in the UK, or more often than not, sent back, if the Government can get away with doing so. I will say that, in Ted Lasso’s defence, later in this episode when the boat does land, it comes into Portsmouth which isn’t very common at all – most of them come into Kent. This would be a longer crossing, so maybe they did have more warning than usual, and a new boat would be arriving in the next few days, but this did jar me a bit.

Natalie: My impression of Fake Priti trying to send them away was the idea of preventing them from landing, yeah? Like, not getting to set foot.

Megan: Yeah I think that’s what they’re trying to say, but thanks to a combination of conventions and maritime law, plus the rules around seeking asylum, it’s just not really how it would play out.

Natalie: That’s the Australian policy, turning them around in international waters. They’ve really run with it. And to be clear this policy, when Australia did it, was condemned by the UN.

Megan: It’s definitely what politicians and right wing bigots here want to be able to do, but right now if the coast guard or the RNLI sees a boat in the Channel in danger – and that’s basically any time they see one of these boats, the Channel is extremely dangerous to cross in a boat like the kind they use – they will go and rescue it and bring it to shore. Anyway, this is a bit of a tangent, and definitely not something everyone will have noticed or taken issue with, but as it was the introduction of the plot, it kind of set the scene for me that what they were doing this episode wasn’t quite right.

Natalie: In terms of the characters, Sam being like “Why would Brinda do that?” and also telling Simi “It’s too early to be angry” both sat weird for me. How would you feel if someone said that? It was wild to me.

Megan: Same! I was very shocked. Look here’s the thing, I think in the UK, footballers mostly fall into two camps: ones that are really politically active, often because of their background and upbringing, and ones who are, bless them, cluelessly unaware. That’s a bit of a generalisation, but I definitely wouldn’t be surprised to hear that certain footballers had no clue about government policies. But Sam is someone who I think we’re supposed to assume pays attention to this kind of thing. So I was particularly surprised by him not knowing why Brinda would do it. And he’s supposed to be passionate about issues, so why would he want Simi to suppress her anger? Like you said, he comes across as very naive and optimistic. And that might just be so the later stuff hits him harder, but it felt weird.

Natalie: It looks like the inflatable boat was going to make it to shore, and the live stream said that there were supporters waiting to help them. I’ve always had issues with the way these politicians throw around the word illegal regarding asylum seekers. There’s no such thing as a visa for a refugee before they’ve been processed once in the UK.

Megan: Yeah, it’s never illegal to seek asylum anywhere, because it’s literally a legal process. The fact is to claim asylum in the UK you have to be in the UK already, with the way our asylum system currently works. So if the UK government really wanted to stop these small boats from crossing, they would set up routes to claim asylum to the UK from other countries. But they won’t do that because they are awful.

Natalie: It’s an extremely effective way of turning public opinion against refugees, to falsely wave around words like that. And I know this because when I was a young child, I thought the word refugee was the name of a crime, like murderer or arsonist or burglar, due to the Australian media in the late 90s. I wasn’t going round saying “I hate refugees,” but I thought the term referred to a criminal offence, because of the way it was used, constantly, in Australian media and government.

Megan: Jesus.

Natalie: I had to learn that it was not illegal. It seems to be having the same effect on more naive members of the British public. The government wants to paint these people as criminals, basically.

Megan: Yeah. And they’ve basically completely switched targets now that Brexit has happened. Before Brexit, politicians and the media would just go on about immigrants from the EU, particularly eastern Europe, and how they were coming to the UK, taking jobs, driving wages down and clogging up schools and the NHS. Now of course we no longer have freedom of movement from those countries, because we’ve left the EU, and the Government needs a new group to blame for everything that’s wrong with the UK, and so asylum seekers and refugees it is.

Natalie: When Sam sees Fake Priti talk on TV and like, gives her the benefit of the doubt, talking about better angels and clearly being misguided, I had some issues with that as well. Because I love Sam, but really? You’re going to be The Guy? By all means, voice your opinion about what you think is an injustice. For sure. But the way he says it, like, maybe someone just needs to suggest that she’s got it wrong! Again, a young footballer who isn’t actually a British voter, who has “no say” in the politics of the country? Like, it is probably pretty un- Ted Lasso of me, but being so gentle with someone being so calculatedly evil is naive to the point of insulting to me. As you said, Sam comes out the other side with less naivety, but someone being like “Come on now, I’m sure she’s reasonable,” when, how many thousands of British campaigners have had no impact?

Megan: Heyyyy. I mean, you’re right, but heyyy, we’re really trying. Maybe Sam has an overinflated idea of his own power right now. After all he did manage to get the Nigerian government to do better thanks to a strip of tape and a press conference. Maybe he really thinks all he needs to do is speak out and it’ll have an impact.

Natalie: Sam is just totally disregarding the reality of the situation by assuming Brinda can be, like, impacted by him. Because it isn’t him being like “I have to tell the world what I think.”

Megan: Yeah.

Natalie: It’s… “Maybe I, Sam Obisanya, can appeal to her better angels.” Like… okay. It’s one of those small choices that I think different dialogue could have changed. If it had just been Sam speaking his thoughts and criticising the situation, NOT saying he’s trying to make her less misguided, that would have worked better. I am pretty impatient with the concept of people trying to reason with Nazis, fascists, and those following similar principles in the modern world. Even with the Nigerian government he made a proper accusation Not this like, “oh, be nice Brinda” bullshit. Sorry. Sorry, Sam. Sorry Toheeb. It just… no.

Megan: Same. There are definitely people in the middle who have been swayed by the media, or had shitty experiences that have clouded their judgement or whatever. And those people are worth trying to reach. But someone like Brinda is clearly not about to change her mind because of a tweet from a random footballer.

Natalie: I can see a version of this episode where they made Sam speak out more accusatorily and less in good faith, that would have worked better for me. Simi pushes him to be harsher which doesn’t quite work either, though, like goading him a bit, but I think her cynicism is more accurate to the approach.

Megan: Yeah she’s definitely more realistic about who Fake Priti is. I do think not calling her a bitch was the right choice, but the rest of Sam’s tweet was wrong too.

Natalie: I don’t even have so much an issue with what he tweeted, it’s what he verbalised to Simi when he did it. There are no better angels here. The cruelty is the point. This is a place Fake Priti has come to intentionally. Sam having this “better angels” belief really, really fucking bugged me.

Megan: Yeah. She is being cruel and awful because it will win votes from other cruel and awful people. Sam not realising that really didn’t work for me.

Natalie: I’m also not sure that Fake Priti would say the things she said on twitter so casually. It would be more like “Footballers should leave the politics to us and concentrate on football.” I think that Fake Priti would not actually say “shut up and dribble” in a public tweet, or attack Sam for being mediocre. That’s more like something MPs would say in a Whatsapp chat that gets leaked. The public response would be very polite and official in its awfulness.

Megan: Some MPs do get into quite stupid back and forths with celebrities, but Ministers have to be a lot better behaved, so I think you’re right.

Natalie: And while people have started using shut up and dribble about football, it is SO American that it feels like it was put in as shorthand for the American audiences to immediately understand. That phrase was coined by a Fox News journalist – I don’t think a British Minister would say it. But it is what it is, I guess.

Megan: It’s another reminder that most of the viewers of Ted Lasso are American and they will insist on accommodating that in script choices.

Natalie: A lot of times, a TV script will use some shorthand to help viewers to understand the point of a story they’re telling, and it often works well enough, but this… feels like it was written for Americans so much. Like, “Hey, here’s some vague understanding in your language of a situation in the UK.” Sam certainly escalates his stance to more accusatory, which at least is a view of things without rose coloured glasses, but I’m confused about whether the takeaway from this all is “Sam gets disillusioned, and finally realises that people are worse than he wanted to believe.” Because while I think he absolutely should realise that, it’s a weird message for Ted Lasso. It’s not exactly the message his father gives him, but then again I don’t actually agree with his dad’s advice about forgiveness, so. We’ll get to that in a second.

Megan: I hope the takeaway isn’t that he’s disillusioned. I’d want him to still keep trying to push for things to be better. But maybe he’ll realise sometimes you can’t just be reasonable and expect people to be reasonable back. The fact is Sam has a lot of power and resources, so he could make a difference if he goes about it in more effective ways. That’s what I hope the takeaway will be for him, but I don’t know that it’s what we’re actually being shown.

Natalie: With what I mentioned about people like Isaac not being involved in this plot, I mean, the way the episode is structured also doesn’t have any room to let them be. When Sam is doing his back and forth on Twitter, he isn’t telling anyone else what’s going on. It could have been done differently, someone being like “what’s all this then?” And when he has his breakdown, after he’s late and Isaac tries to fine him, there’s no space for anyone else to talk to him before his dad arrives and he runs to him. It’s not that I think that scene should have been interrupted by Moe or Isaac. It’s just that the whole episode should have maybe handled all this in different ways. But they wanted the heart of it to be Sam getting that great level of comfort from his dad when most needed.

Megan: Yeah and like… They definitely all follow each other on social media. I can’t believe they hadn’t seen Sam’s original tweet, or the reply. This kind of thing would make headlines, so it doesn’t make sense none of them would have noticed or mentioned what was happening. But as you say, that’s not where the episode wanted to go, even if I think it should have.

Natalie: What continues to stick out to me is how Sam talks about that level of conditional love he feels as a Black player. That’s the thing that I feel strongly is not just his story alone, and is something that is weird to not let any other player relate to him about.

Megan: The thing is, while Sam will definitely have experienced racism since coming to the UK, just as a sad and awful fact of life for Black footballers, there’s also the fact that before moving to the UK, I feel like he wouldn’t have? Not in the same way that Isaac and Moe would have. Because he obviously grew up in Nigeria, a majority Black country, and was probably pretty well off. Now that could mean, of course, that the conditional love is something that shocked him when he experienced it, and it’s all built up and this is the final awful straw. But that is a very different circumstance to the players this plot was based on, who are Black Brits. And again, it’s something that would have been good to have seen Moe and Isaac and others talk about. I did enjoy Isaac telling him that he owed £100 for being late, just as a little nod to football club fines, but that isn’t the interaction I most wanted between Sam and Isaac this episode.

Natalie: Yeah, I definitely think Sam comes from a place of more privilege than a lot of the other players and I think that’s why he’s so naive. It’s a tricky thing to portray. But maybe we can assume this is an ongoing issue that these characters have all discussed many times before now, but that Sam is always trying to make the best of it.

Megan: Yeah, Sam could have had conversations with Isaac back when he moved here and first experienced the racism, and asked for advice on how to deal with it that we don’t see.

Natalie: But because we don’t see it, we don’t know.

Megan: Yup.

Natalie: All we see is what looks like a brand new outburst for Sam, about Sam, and tying the idea of the racism against him to immigration – “go back where you came from” – rather than just race. American audiences don’t have a very good understanding of the roots of British racism at the best of times, and this didn’t help.

Megan: No, I think you’re right there.

Natalie: Sam’s privilege also stems from being an extremely loved and cherished child. This is an extremely long term plot and was, in my opinion, the core aspect of Jamie’s shitty treatment of Sam. He hated seeing this happy kid acting like the world is wonderful and hearing about how much his dad loved him. The moment of Sam running into Ola’s arms sobbing while everyone stares speechless is very clearly meant to mirror Jamie being stared at after his father’s abuse, with no one to run to – Roy had to go to him.

Megan: Yeah, and we see Jamie’s reaction in this moment too and he looks stunned as he watches.

Natalie: Even since Jamie has been sweet and good, he’s still been really affected by Sam’s father, like almost killing Colin with the weights because he’s lurking Sam’s phone call. So I’m glad we got a reaction shot of him here that was a bit more significant than some of the other people’s reaction shots. But I’d love him and Sam to actually have an on screen conversation about it.

Megan: I think he’s still jealous Sam gets that and he doesn’t, it’s just that jealousy no longer comes out in the form of bullying and hatred.

Natalie: Sam’s the person at Wembley who really looked the most wretched and ashamed of himself for not standing up for Jamie. I think he was the most shocked that someone’s father could act like that – again, the naive privilege.

Megan: Yeah. He just can’t imagine someone’s parent treating them like that.

Natalie: What did you think of Ola, now that we’ve finally met him? It occurs to me that apparently his name was meant to be a surprise, like it was a reveal to the audience that the restaurant was named after him, but we knew this already just due to the actor credit.

Megan: I have similar reservations about his message about forgiveness, but otherwise I really liked him. In general, for all that I didn’t love the actual plot, Toheeb’s acting is heartbreakingly good in this, and the moments with Ola are really powerful. He is just instantly so comforting and calm and solid! I got my interaction between Ted and Ola, which I’m pleased about, but the surprise highlight was Ola and Rebecca meeting and the discovery that Sam had clearly told Ola about his and Rebecca’s relationship. It made sense once I thought it through – of course Sam is that open with his parents – but I wasn’t expecting it and it was so awkward, the moment she realises he knows.

Natalie: Yeah, I wasn’t surprised he knew but I’m so keen to know what he thought, LOL. Obviously he wasn’t like What Did You Do To My Son, but he made her feel awkward on purpose and then joked later about doing it… I got to say I respect it.

Megan: No! Look, I think if you are a good father and you hear your son is sleeping with an older woman who is also the owner of the football club he plays for, you are probably going to have some reservations. But I also don’t think he is there like, secretly hating Rebecca, or worried about Sam. As you say, he jokes about it when Sam asks if he made things awkward with Rebecca. That isn’t a man who is overly concerned. But the way he went about it was so funny. And I fucking loved Keeley attempting to distract and move things along. What a good egg she is.

Natalie: With Ola, Sam and the restaurant… I just don’t think forgiveness is the right word, you know? I think that reopening despite the attack from the Tory fans who didn’t like this player going against their politics or whatever is good. Shutting down would be caving to intimidation. But reopening should not be about forgiving racists, LOL. It should be about flipping them off like “you can’t stop me.”

Megan: No. I thought he was going to say that the best thing to do is not to let them know they hurt you, and that, to a certain extent, I do think is the right approach. Like, they want to get a rise, a reaction, they want to hurt you or draw you into a debate. By refusing to be drawn into it, you will frustrate them. But that isn’t the same thing as forgiveness.

Natalie: Even saying “Don’t fight back, fight forward” is not saying forgiveness. I don’t get why we had to put forgiveness in there. There’s such a thing as too much compassion. There really is. And anger doesn’t always make you weak.

Megan: I mean there is something about killing trolls on the internet with kindness. I’ve seen that work in a few cases, where people have had horrible DMs about something from some awful person, and rather than responding in the same way, they respond kindly, ask questions, and are so reasonable that they do end up changing that person’s mind. But those cases are the exception, rather than the rule. And that won’t work with a career politician, or the kind of person who would smash up a restaurant.

Natalie: I don’t know, not to go against Daddy Ola, but I feel like forgiving racists is an unwise stance.

Megan: Yeah, look I am personally very pro not forgiving racists, as a general rule.

Natalie: Like, yes, if Sam had caught one in the act and was like “Excuse me, explain why you’re doing this,” they might be like “uhhhhh” and get talked round. MIGHT. But that’s not the situation at hand, pressing a mindless person about their bigotry until they actually think about it. Fake Priti has committed to her bigotry. And the shop smashers, who knows. The fact that he didn’t have security cameras or a metal safety gate was also… I mean, I don’t know how many shops in London do or don’t. But he’s a footballer! Even without bigotry they get robbed all the time. Come on, Samuel.

Megan: He’s very sweet, and very foolish.

Natalie: What happens after the match the next day is very heart-warming of the team, no question about that. I’m not sure heart-warming is the right note for the story of xenophobia, but they’re good boys. But here is my question before we get into that scene. Do you think Sam will quit football by the end of the season?

Megan: I would struggle with it if it did happen. Look, with everything I know about footballers in the real world, and given how young Sam is, and how good a player he’s supposed to be, the idea of him leaving football at this age to either manage a restaurant – which he probably doesn’t have much to do with the day to day running of – or to be a full time activist – which he has not been shown to be the best at so far – is one that I wouldn’t really be able to accept. It just doesn’t feel right to me for a footballer like Sam to do that, especially when so many of them successfully run other businesses or foundations or, as Simi would call it, passion projects, on the side. That being said, I could see Ted Lasso taking that route for Sam to show that there are more important things than football in the world and he’s going to pursue them.

Natalie: There was just something for me about how scathing he was about “kicking a little ball around” when there were bigger things that mattered. I don’t think he will, but I think it’s possible.

Megan: Yeah look, I can see it being a possibility for that to happen. I just wouldn’t like it because of how unrealistic it would feel to me. It would be a hard sell.

Natalie: I’m not sure they’d be concerned with realism

Megan: No, probably not. But I am Nat, I am.

Natalie: But Sam, if he’s sensible, would have a lot more power as a famous footballer than as an ex-player with a few million dollars to put into good causes. An ex-player who, let’s be frank, hasn’t yet achieved much career wise. No national team, no trophies.

Megan: It’s true, he just needs to learn how to harness that power more effectively.

Natalie: The ending, with the team cleaning things up, like, on one hand? Lovely. Good boys, being there for Sam. Given that Jamie is the one who explains, I kind of assume he led that charge for Sam, along with obviously Isaac too. On the other, the fact that this is all sorted out in a wholesome way and that the mirrors are left broken as a reminder that not everything has to be perfect? That’s a bit different than non-matching spoons, you know? What a terrible metaphor for this situation! If you’re going to leave them, leave them as a reminder of what happened here – a hate crime. A reminder of standing up for your beliefs and coming through the other side. It feels like this feel-good clean up sort of relegated the actual issue into the background and it was more about just fixing Sam’s personal problems. And yes, Ted Lasso isn’t going to be presenting solutions to the refugee crisis by itself, but it seemed to change tack on where the hurt is, you know? “The team fixed things for Sam so that his dad could enjoy Ola’s, and that’s what really matters at the end of the day.” They make Sam feel better, which is good, but it doesn’t give me any sense of the ongoing impact of the abuse of outspoken Black footballers. And that line about the mirrors really stood out to me in terms of that emotional pivot.

Megan: Yeah it really kind of diminishes the whole seriousness of the rest of the plot of the episode? Like “Everything doesn’t have to be perfect” so… We’ll ignore refugee boats being turned away? And racism against Black footballers? It’s a very weird choice. Again it could have been written differently to be a more “No, it’s a reminder that we’re here and we’re not going anywhere no matter what racists say or do” type message, which would be powerful. And there are some lovely moments in this scene – Ola’s face when he sees the sign, Richard and his wine, Jamie and his everything. But I just think if they wanted an episode about Sam and his restaurant and his dad and some personal conflict, there would have been better plot choices than this one.

Natalie: Look, I feel terrible talking like this, but I absolutely don’t get what they were hoping for here. The fact that it’s taken from the England players means their version loses the “You’re an English hero until you’re not” element that made their story so particularly painful, so that element got short changed.The “forgive racists” element and the “not everything has to be perfect” lines seemed to handwave this away as a bad day. I just think they tried to do too much with it

Megan: Same. I really do think they wanted to do something here to highlight those awful moments. I think they had lovely intentions. But the execution really didn’t hold up.

Natalie: It wasn’t a Black writer either, not like the Dubai Air episode last season. And that showed.

Megan: Yeah.

Natalie: The episode obviously had so many different stories to cover, but they tried to do too much here in a way that ultimately minimised a lot of the issues they wanted to highlight. It’s unfortunate, but at least we now know why Colin was wearing work shorts and boots and a hard hat in the trailer. I thought maybe he had come from a Village People party.

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Megan: Same. Or the team hosted one to show they didn’t care that he was gay and were all great allies. I didn’t expect it to be this. It’s a really lovely scene to end the episode. It would just fit better if the episode had been very different.

Natalie: I think it’s really nice that the team did this and that this is a moment for all of them, as a group – not the coaches, just the boys. I just think it maybe would have worked better if they’d taken one thread of this and delved better into that thread. Like if this all actually had been about Sam missing a penalty.

Megan: And getting some really bad abuse because of it, and then yeah, they have a conversation. That would have been so much tighter. And would have allowed space for the likes of Moe and Isaac to talk about it too. And Ola could have still come for a visit, could have still comforted Sam, and they could have still had a special party for him.

Natalie: Yeah, and they could have discussed the culture shock of coming from Nigeria to England in regards to becoming a minority and the way racism occurs in English football. Or they could have done the activist element differently, I don’t know. Not every storyline on Ted Lasso has been a winner for me but it’s a shame that this one, which is so clearly intended to be a big social commentary, seemed so off. I do think Sam and Simi will probably end up a thing, though, just a little side pairing that won’t necessarily have a big story. Just due to the repeat of Ola saying the same thing he said to Rebecca in a more positive way.

Megan: Yeah I think you’re right. Which is fine, I don’t love it like I loved Sam and Rebecca, but as I am all in on Boat Guy and Rebecca now, I can get behind Sam and Simi.

Natalie: It’s like, fine. They seem like good friends even if she’s a bit scathing of the football. Maybe after this working bee she will like it a bit better.

Megan: I used to be a bit scathing of football, and look at me now. Give her time, she’ll get there.

Natalie: That potential romance aside, there are two other romance related plots in this episode that keep themselves rather isolated from the football action. It’s a show about football and romance… but when will they give me a footballer romance?

Megan: We have five episodes left. There’s still time. Please let us have it.

Natalie: Well, for now you get two romances that don’t involve any footballers at all. Outside of everything going on at Richmond, there are two other stories, both romantic arcs, for Keeley and for Nate. Keeley’s includes Rebecca as sidekick for once, and plenty of speculation on how this may all tie back to Roy, Jamie, and other elements of the main character stories. But Nate is still off on his own. We haven’t caught up with how things are going with Rupert or the West Ham team, and I suspect that is fully intentional. This is all focusing on Nate and Jade, and things moving forward after their baklava dinner. I kind of have a hunch about how this is going to play out after this episode, but did you have any thoughts about the fact that we are seeing this soft, lovable side of Nate continue to shine, entirely removed from the football club? As in, what it means that we aren’t seeing West Ham?

Megan: My main thought, seeing this side of Nate, where he is, well, not confident, but not self loathing, having nice, relaxed conversations with the people around him, is that it just continues to reinforce how much Nate really should not go back to Richmond at the end. Because I just can’t see him being this relaxed and happy and comfortable to sit with his awkwardness if he goes back to Richmond. I think this is the Ted Lasso writers showing us what Nate is like without the pressures – both real and imagined – he has in his professional role, and I think if we’d seen him at West Ham where he’s trying to be the manager Rupert wants him to be, that would have been too harsh a contrast.

Natalie: I think the contrast is probably the point, in that we will see Jade enter that world or somehing, and be like “What the FUCK is this about, Nathan?”

Megan: Yes! And whether that’s seeing him being nasty and asking what the fuck, or seeing him cower down to Rupert’s twattishness I don’t know. But I think she’ll call him out.

Natalie: We never get to hear much of what Nate and Jade are speaking about on their dates, but I suspect that he hasn’t told either her, or someone like his sister, the actual things he’s experienced and felt with Ted and Rupert. They’re keeping a lens on Nate where we are seeing him “natural,” without those influences, for sure, and I think it’s to shock us when we see him back at work, and then maybe get him into a conversation about how difficult everything has been and how he doesn’t know what to do.

Megan: Yes. I think a lot of people will have softened on Nate over the last few episodes away from West Ham – I actually have, a surprising amount – and so it’ll seem really stark when he’s back there.

Natalie: I assume things are going well, because he does not seem anxious about work, but I think this whole avoidance of Work Nate is very telling.

Megan: Yeah, I think he’s put himself into two very different boxes, and we’re only seeing one version of him right now.

Natalie: Anyway, he spends the episode trying to ask Jade out, walking by the restaurant not as awkwardly as he once might of, just saying hi on his way around Tooting, and wondering whether or not she likes him or is just being nice. Which is in some ways a fair question, but also, she has proven very wholly that she is not nice for pleasantries’ sake.

Megan: Right?! Jade is definitely very happy to make her disdain or dislike known. She spent an evening eating baklava with Nate, I think it’s okay to broach the subject. I really love that she still messes with him though, even though she does clearly like him.

Natalie: This is a small side note, but the text to his mother saying “Mum, it is unplugged” about the internet not working? The constant struggle.

Megan: Nat, the amount of times I’ll be down south and I’ll get a call from my dad because something has stopped working, and then I am expected to fix it 500 miles away. This was a bit too real, actually Jason. Very triggering.

Natalie: Then there’s the text about his father, which I’ll come back to. But how about him asking Siri about whether a girl likes him, where he once had the Diamond Dogs? This bloke really has no friends, does he? And while his coaches like Disco might respect him, he wouldn’t want to be a vulnerable guy who doesn’t know about dating in front of them.

Megan: No, that might fly at Richmond, but not for West Ham Nate. The sad thing is, if he was to ring Ted up and ask him for some advice on knowing if girls like you, Ted would be SO THRILLED. He would happily settle in to talk it over.

Natalie: Ted would absolutely just roll with it, no questions asked. I would WANT him to ask some questions, but he wouldn’t.

Megan: The fact that he has Siri call him Wunderkind is… Oh Nate. If you could just be the tiniest bit more chill, things would go better for you.

Natalie: That’s the kind of thing I picture Jade hearing in a few weeks and just being like “what” about. After Siri, the absolute worst person to “help” him in this situation is Derek. It’s kind of funny to me that Derek is totally oblivious to Nate being awkward. He’s so status obsessed that Nate is just really cool to him. This actor is great at being intolerable.

Megan: He is extremely punchable. If Nate has to be a dick to anyone, let it be Derek. I would like to know if Jade is at school or looking after her mum. I’d like to know a little bit more about her generally. I don’t need a fully fleshed out arc for her, but I’d like her to be more than just the girl who fixes Nate.

Natalie: That’s such a tricky topic, because they are walking right on the edge of that line. They’re using the Jade arc as a way of showing us Nate’s true self or his change, and that’s not quite as bad, but it could teeter into Girl Fixing Him. Right now it’s just a way of us seeing Nate.

Megan: Yeah. It’s what makes me still hesitate a bit. Because I do like Jade, and I do like how Nate is around her, but I really don’t want her to just be a prop for his growth. And I think you can show us who she is a bit more without giving us a huge long character arc, so I hope they do.

Natalie: She’s definitely a vehicle – through showing us the Jade story, we observe Nate. It just depends if it’s going to be like, her being the one to say things to make him act better. And it’s tough, because from her personality, she would. I can see how this could play out in a way that’s valid to her characterisation, having her witness his worse sides. But it would come VERY close to using her as a prop.

Megan: Yeah, watch this space I guess. You could be forgiven for thinking that Jade doesn’t spend as much time thinking about Nate as he does her, given Derek is confused as to why she would ask after Nate, but given we’ve established he doesn’t listen to a word she says, maybe she does talk about him at work.

Natalie: I don’t think Jade talks much at work full stop, due to not being that keen to waste her energy. But I do think she’s interested in Nate – I mean obviously, by the end of the episode. Getting to see Nate’s whole family this episode was interesting, and I’m still SO confused about his dad. There’s this idea that his dad’s harshness has affected his spirit, and that’s there even in the texts, Mum saying “You know how he gets, don’t be late.” But at the family dinner, it does not feel like the mum or sister are intimidated by him, and things turn around to sort of making fun of the dad in a loving way. I understand that people can be really worn down by small, stressful dynamics in families, things that others put up with or aren’t really hurt by. And we maybe see something like that here, with him taking the son-in-law and little girl out and leaving Nate to “girl talk.” But as far as toxic father abuse goes, Mr Shelley is a very mild version of it to the naked eye, and I don’t think we’ll get some big reveal of how horrific it actually is in secret. I did notice the sister, Nicole, doing a bit of an annoyed eyeball as the father cut her off when she was talking about Nate hooking up in front of her daughter. Like, very much “I can choose what I say in front of my own kid, you can’t police that.” I can picture this just being a very regular family struggle, honestly. All families are a bit shit, and people always feel certain ways about that shitness grating on them, and not noticing the things that hurt someone else. Like, Nicole is annoyed at her dad for what he said about her parenting, but laughs along about “girl talk” and doesn’t notice that Nate is a bit eyeball over that. It’s honestly a great, natural, normal portrayal of an imperfect but loving family. None of it seems like it would have a level of causality that led to Nate’s full on meltdown, but… I don’t know.

Megan: Yeah I agree with all of this. I mean, I think it’s clear that Nate gets a different kind of treatment from his dad than Nicole does – calling it girl talk, maybe he is disappointed that Nate isn’t exactly the kind of son he imagined he’d have. And I’m sure there have been many comments like this over the years which will add up to make someone feel constantly judged. I’d be surprised if we discover there’s anything more sinister.

Natalie: It just felt very normal. Imperfect but normal. Not the kind of thing a TV show would usually point at and give as an explainer for someone’s issues, like they did with James Tartt. And that’s not to say that some people aren’t really affected by this in an ongoing way. I just have no idea how they’ll land that in a way that makes an impact. I’d like to see more of the sister, as someone who could maybe see the truth of what’s going on with Nate as a peer. He’s open with her and with his mum the way he was with Ted, letting his thought spirals of a worst case scenario come out.

Megan: This was the one part of Nate’s story this episode that I really disliked because it seemed to confirm my worst fears about how they’ll treat the Keeley arc. I’ve said enough about all the reasons I hated that moment, so I won’t rehash too much, but I really don’t want the way Nate treated Keeley in season 2 to be brushed off as him “misreading signals.” Because the kiss was just one element of why I hated that moment so much. It was how he acted afterwards, using it and her to try and get to Roy that made it really difficult for me to forgive. I’m not ruling out it being addressed, maybe through an interaction between Keeley and Nate down the line, but I feel like this is the only mention it’s going to get, and I almost rather it got no mention than this rug sweeping if I’m honest, as it soured some otherwise really lovely moments for me.

Natalie: Honestly, I didn’t even think he was referring to Keeley there, because that moment with her HAD to be more than misread signals, surely. He knows she was with someone, not single. He wasn’t misreading her in the sense of like “oh, are you into me, are we about to have an affair?” It was more like he just totally forgot all reality. I get why you took it that way, but I didn’t even think of her in the moment he said that to his family because that to me was not a misreading signals moment. It was a lapse in reason. He CAN’T have thought that compared.

Megan: I would much prefer that to be the case, so I really hope so. Obviously this was a plot that really bothered me last season, so I am probably particularly sensitive to moments that could refer to it. That aside, I really loved his relationship with his sister.

Natalie: His further explanation of what bad things might happen if Jade turns him down is incredible. Not in a good way, but just in a way of showing how excessive his spiralling brain is. I have to wonder if he’s always like that, how many of those spirals his sister has heard, or if it’s a newer issue. Maybe he didn’t used to be so open.

Megan: Yeah he’s been in such a bad place recently, I’d be curious to know if that has spilled over a lot into his family time – and how much any of them have noticed. Maybe not his mum and dad, but I could see his sister knowing something is going on.

Natalie: They both saw something of his father in him when he had that uncertainty. That was the biggest surprise to me, them being like “You’re doing what your dad does.” Which seems to be news to Nate.

Megan: Yeah I don’t think he had a clue where this was going! Frankly, neither did I.

Natalie: One of his parents was born in Leeds but raised in Tottenham. Maybe that’s what broke Nate. Being a Spurs fan.

Megan: That’s so relatable.

Natalie: Look, the map is… extreme. And Nate kind of takes the wrong message from it ultimately, because what his mum and sister are saying is that his dad wound himself up into a tight ball of nerves over the prospect of asking out his mum, and couldn’t do it normally, and he had been building it up for years. On the surface it’s a romantic looking gift. But they’re saying “This was stupid. Don’t do this.” They’re saying “Stop waiting, maybe it won’t work but maybe it will. Waiting for years and making a map was not necessary and your dad had the same thought spirals. Don’t make his mistake.” That’s how I took it anyway.

Megan: Yeah, Nate really didn’t get that message. He heard “I should make a fancy box to ask Jade out.” But I think your interpretation is probably the right one.

Natalie: Look, he gave it a red hot go without the box. Didn’t spit or anything.

Megan: The not spitting was huge! I did feel fond in that moment. I was very proud of him.

Natalie: I just wish we knew more about what was pulling him out of that dark place. It can’t just be about this girl. He’s changing and we don’t really see how or why, but he’s gaining a new sense of self.

Megan: I really doubt it’s Rupert. But if West Ham is still doing well, maybe it is confidence from that.

Natalie: Yeah. Maybe. And maybe it’s just… I don’t know. Time? Like, time and distance for him to look at how he’d acted with Ted and be like… “Wow… I really fell far.” He’s had space to realise he was really messed up. But on the surface it kind of does look like it’s just about this girl, and that’s not really good enough. Not when we haven’t seen him taking any actions to be better in other ways, in how he treats people in the world of football. It’s confusing. I don’t think it IS just about the girl. I think they’re just only giving us a glimpse of what’s going on for him. And I’ve been wondering if we might get a Nate episode that sort of tracks all through what’s been happening, flashbacks and stuff, at West Ham, that shows us why he’s doing so much better. Because the last time we saw him interact with Rupert, it was awful.

Megan: Yeah, because look, I enjoyed watching him again this episode, but if Jade is the only explanation we get for that change of heart, I really won’t be impressed. I think we’ll need to wait for the next West Ham scene, but for instance I would be really keen to see how Nate would handle a defeat – both with his team, and with Rupert. I think that would be a lot more telling.

Natalie: I feel sure that it’s got to all sort of come crashing together. I am thrilled he didn’t spit, and I think part of the reason why this plot works is that it’s back in the same bathroom, same mirror. But him deciding that actually what he needs to do is go make a date box, like “I’ll do what Dad did!”

Megan: He’s still not quite ready to be just plain Nate, he still thinks he needs something extra.

Natalie: When he came back with it, what was your reaction? Before the incident. Just seeing that’s what he’d done.

Megan: When I saw him making the box I had a literal physical reaction. I groaned and covered my eyes.

Natalie: I was like “Nooooooo!”

Megan: Honestly it’s a good thing the box got destroyed. I do not think Jade would have been charmed.

Natalie: I was SO happy when it ended up under the truck. Like, thank God.

Megan: Same. Thank God for Nate’s innate clumsiness..

Natalie: And him falling over was also perfect, because it showed us that actually, he can just get back up and get on with it, not spiral in shame or get angry.

Megan: Yes!

Natalie: We talked earlier in the season about Will falling over with the gear bags and how Nate wouldn’t have handled it with grace. I did not expect to get such a literal example of that growth for him.

Megan: Right? Though to be fair, most of his interactions with Jade have featured some kind of humiliation, so maybe he’s just gotten used to it. Either way, something has changed for him, and I hope we do get to see what. Jade asking if there was an animal in the box was very funny. She didn’t seem like she’d have been put off if he’d said yes, to be fair.

Natalie: I think she would appreciate the charm of a box for her birthday or something, once they’re dating, but I loved that this one got destroyed, and the way it freed Nate. He had just embarrassed himself after all, falling in the street. Which, more than a lot of other circumstances he’s had, is a truly upsetting experience for a lot of people. It felt very good to me that it just clicked for him there to get over it. And if she said no, well, he’s ALREADY embarrassed.

Megan: Oh that is true, isn’t it? It’s like he thinks “Well, it can’t get any worse. I might as well just ask.”

Natalie: Yeah, and that gives him genuine confidence. He doesn’t second guess at all. Bit of a weird week for Jade, with Nate coming and going.

Megan: God, for all that I don’t want her to be a prop to fix him, I do think her hearing about some of the stuff that’s happened would be television gold.

Natalie: I do think the way they’ve established her personality, it will work really well for her to be a barometer of his life.

Megan: Yeah, I just don’t want that to be all she is or the only reason he changes.

Natalie: Well, they go on to seem to have a perfectly normal date – not at Taste of Athens, of course. I don’t know how long Nate waited before getting anxious about being stood up. I predict it wasn’t long.

Megan: 90 seconds tops.

Natalie: But when she shows, he’s GREAT. He actually says, with a smile, “Sorry I got nervous.”

Megan: I have to assume she picked the restaurant, since he doesn’t know any others.

Natalie: Nah, I think he picked it. But it was probably a challenge.

Megan: Yeah he lets himself be a bit vulnerable with her, he doesn’t put on any of his weirdness here.

Natalie: It’s extremely interesting, and I do really wonder how they’re going to use this as we go on. Because it’s like they’re selling us on Nate again, making us fond, while he’s having this personal story. But this personal story is NOTHING to do with anything related to his downfall. It feels like a diversion tactic. And I’m just so curious how they’ll bring this back together with the awful behaviour he has to atone for, or whatever. I wonder if it’s meant to be a distraction for him, as well. Focusing on things going well in this way, and not unpacking the things with Ted.

Megan: If this one thing is going well, and he’s being normal and good here, maybe he doesn’t have to worry about how he acted at Richmond. He can pretend that was just a blip.

Natalie: I don’t know. It’s got to come back to facing the past at some point soon. But I feel sure Nate’s story is something that’s stacking up towards his endgame in a positive way. The other romantic plot, Keeley and Jack, is less clear to me in terms of intention. I feel quite unsure about what this whole thing is supposed to imply, actually. It could be taken a few ways. It addresses some issues in their relationship that are absolutely understandable as red flags, but whether that is going to get worse despite this resolution, or whether the red flagginess was more about Rebecca being unable to stop projecting her fears and wounds onto other people, I just don’t know. I kind of feel like we don’t have time for Keeley and Jack to turn into an abusive relationship and have Keeley get out of it, you know? I was still assuming that Keeley is going to end up back with Roy, but maybe not, now. Maybe she and Roy will end the series single. I can’t quite imagine that this Keeley/Jack relationship is an endgame thing, yet this episode is all about navigating a problem and then getting even more serious, yet I still feel like everything that happens COULD be taken in the worst possible light and that the show is saying “Haha! Tricked you! It looks good on the outside but actually it’s really bad!” I just feel like there’s not time or space for Keeley to deal with a toxic relationship and sufficiently get over it before getting back with Roy, and getting back with Roy feels inevitable. I really didn’t ever expect the thing with Jack to get this intense in either a good way or a bad way.

Megan: Yeah, I went really back and forth on what I feel Ted Lasso is telling us this episode about Keeley and Jack’s relationship. I still don’t read Jack as actually bad – though the line about getting jealous is a bit of a red flag – and I think Rebecca is just quite vigilant to these things and wants to make sure Keeley is thinking about it all. I actually wonder if the level of intensity is what will make her end up with Roy again. Because I wonder if Jack going all in so early on will make Keeley realise that this was supposed to be something light and fun for her, not a rebound, and if she was going to be in a serious relationship, it would be with Roy still, and that then leads to her reaching out to him and properly trying to understand why he broke up with her. Which would work if Jack doesn’t get actually toxic or abusive, and takes being broken up with okay, but if things do get dark with Jack then I’m with you, I don’t think there’d be space for Keeley to overcome that AND get back with Roy.

Natalie: It’s extremely confusing to me, but I suspect that line about getting jealous is going to come back around. My gut tells me that what is going on is not good, despite it seeming resolved. I think we’ll know next week how things are headed, but here… really no idea.

Megan: We know that Keeley isn’t always the best at being honest about her feelings, so I can see this getting messy.

Natalie: Well, she doesn’t like being smothered, and it seems like Jack is doing that. But then again, she doesn’t say anything about their time together, just the expensive gifts. I really could see this going a few ways, and it all depends on who Jack is as a person. It could be that she’s someone who tires of ideas and people quickly, affecting both Keeley and the companies she invests in. I don’t necessarily get that vibe, but it’s possible. It could be that she is used to getting what she wants, and turns nasty, very possessive. One thing I am conscious of is that in a show about rich people, Jack is UBER rich. She’s wealthier than Rebecca or Roy, who would be multi millionaires. Maybe wealthier than Rupert. It’s hard to tell exactly, but Keeley and Roy already had wealth disparity. Everyone in Ted Lasso is somewhat rich, right, but Keeley, as a successful glamour model, would not be as rich as Jamie when they dated, that’s the whole WAG deal. And Roy would be far wealthier than Jamie, due to his age and career – unless he drained all his funds by giving away rolls of cash to cab drivers. Jack is going to be WAY richer than them, and apparently willing to spend large chunks on a whim, for little presents. She’s happy to devalue a signed Austen novel by defacing it. Roy is wealthy but still has a working class brain, like Keeley. He would never do something like that. I mean no one should do something like that, it’s really crazy. But what I’m saying is that Jack’s wealth and privilege could mean she is careless about things in a way she doesn’t realise. Until she’s like… “Oh shit I’m doing the thing again aren’t I” in a more innocent way. That’s what I think the episode is saying on the surface, but I worry that it’s worse than it looks.

Megan: Yeah that’s the biggest difference between the way Jack’s wealth plays out and the way Roy’s does when it comes to being in a relationship with Keeley. Roy and Keeley’s backgrounds will be really similar, they’ll have a similar approach to each other, and yes, Roy has far more disposable income than Keeley, but day to day, the way he’d spend it wouldn’t be too different to her. With Jack, I really hope it’s the innocent, not thinking about it, way. I think this is going to be one of those plotlines that, until it’s played out, I’m just going to have to hope it’s the surface read, because I really don’t want it to be anything deeper or darker.

Natalie: It’s interesting that at the start, Keeley is pleased, she’s very much like “I love somethings!” – it’s only when she stops to kind of think about it, or as things escalate, that it feels like a problem. And then there’s the way it ties into them telling the office they’re a couple. This was also a really tricky situation. When Barbara discovers the book, we get a little bit of that classism element come through, because yeah, collecting first editions is (at least on paper) a posh, wealthy habit. I could go into how rare book collecting is actually very accessible to anyone with a tiny little bit of money, and how there’s all sorts of options if it’s your passion, but what Ted Lasso is saying is that this is a high culture/low culture divide. Which is, I don’t know. Possibly important, regarding Jack and Keeley not being that well matched, but ultimately, very confusing to Barbara as a gift from a colleague.

Megan: I did like the little indication that things are generally going well for Keeley work wise though – for once Barbara doesn’t actually have a problem! Force of habit meant she thought she did, but it turns out everything is fine because things are going well at KJPR. In my worst imaginings about Jack I did think that Barbara throughout seems a little concerned about their relationship, and it did make me wonder if Jack has a habit of this – getting involved with the people she invests in. And if Barbara has seen this before, then maybe that’s a flag. And then the other thing was the way Keeley says “She’s not really my boss, right? She’s helping me execute my vision.” Now I do believe this is true, and don’t have concerns about their relationship in that way, but it sort of sounds like that is something Keeley is repeating from Jack in some ways. I don’t know, it all feels so much more potentially messy now than it did back in “Signs”!

Natalie: Oh, that could be REALLY interesting if true. Babs sitting Keeley down being like “Look. This has happened six times.” But I think she felt more confused. I’m not sure if Keeley is repeating a line from Jack there, but it feels like she is very anxious about people knowing the truth, like she thinks maybe it’s something wrong. But when she and Jack actually discuss that, it sounds like that anxiety is coming from her not thinking Jack is in this properly, she didn’t think JACK would want people to know.

Megan: Yeah it could be she has overthought it because she doesn’t want people to judge. If she wants to be taken seriously, she might worry how it looks, people knowing she’s sleeping with her investor.

Natalie: I’d wondered if the issue with the gifts might be that Keeley just didn’t feel that seriously about her and was like “Wow, she is more in this than I am” but that doesn’t fit with the chat they have about telling the office. It’s all EXTREMELY confusing and I can see Keeley doing almost a Nate style spiral, like, “My instinct is to be open, but I’m worried about this, or maybe I SHOULD be worried about this, because maybe she would think it’s inappropriate…”

Megan: I will say the scene with Jack in Keeley’s office was very funny. Keeley freaking out about the blinds, and Jack being SO confused and then being like, “Oh…well this is easily sorted? We can just tell everyone.”

Natalie: The blinds was just… very funny, but I really believed Keeley here in the sense of she actually doesn’t care but was anxiously second guessing due to not being sure if JACK would. Like, keeping it a secret stressed her out, and she would prefer not to, but didn’t know if Jack was as serious as her. That doesn’t really fit with the idea Jack is more into her than she is Jack! It does, maybe, have a small red flag that Keeley automatically feels like she has less control, but honestly I think this is a “both people have to agree” situation. To tell the office, that is. Keeley doing it without discussing with Jack would not feel right either,

Megan: Yeah it’s very mixed up. I do think Keeley really likes Jack and is fine with people knowing, just doesn’t want to be judged for it, or for Jack to be judged for it. But I do think it can also be true that Jack has gone all in a bit more intensely than Keeley, and that could have issues down the line. I do like the way Jack spoke about her and Keeley to the office – like, it’s new, but we didn’t want there to be any weirdness or secrets, you can talk to either of us or Barbara – who clearly would rather not be talked to actually – if you have any questions or concerns. Jack handled it pretty well, but you’re right, Keeley probably wouldn’t have felt able to make that same speech without speaking to Jack first. It’s funny, I felt so confident about them getting together, like we obviously both called that development very early, but now this episode has left me completely clueless.

Natalie: I’m really second guessing every moment of this because I just don’t understand where it is going. Keeley’s concern that they could get into trouble feels, more than anything, like she is still unused to being in any kind of position of power.

Megan: Yeah, because while Jack does have more power than Keeley, Keeley is a CEO in her own right now! But in her mind probably doesn’t feel on that level yet.

Natalie: Ultimately, I have no fucking idea what Ted Lasso ACTUALLY thinks about workplace power imbalance in relationships. Because with Sam and Rebecca, Rebecca had initial concerns, but the takeaway was still “two consenting adults” and the reason they broke up had NOTHING to do with any of that. The thing is, it’s a workplace show. It is a story about people who work together. So if there are romances, they are going to generally be with people who work together. But they haven’t really gone for that in a lateral way, like two colleagues in different departments, aside from Roy and Keeley, I guess. Sam and Rebecca had more of an age gap, but less of a direct power impact than Jack and Keeley – Rebecca couldn’t affect Sam’s job without quite a lot of interference from quite a lot of other people including Higgins and Ted. She couldn’t really touch his contract. Jack could much more directly affect Keeley’s work, but Ted Lasso itself does not seem to be saying that about any of these romances. Their standpoint seems to be “two consenting adults, it’s fine…” unless of course they’ve been tricking us the whole time, and making certain people root for certain ships, even Ted/Rebecca, only to be like “HAHA, you’re all twisted sickos! This is so wrong!” That would be pretty sloppy though. Nothing they’ve done makes it feel like that, LOL.

Related: ‘Ted Lasso’ lacks queer characters, but the show may be hiding them in plain sight

Megan: I can’t really see them pulling a double fake like that! Maybe if it was a different kind of show, but Ted Lasso definitely wants us to think most people are generally good and decent and you should believe the best of them, with a few exceptions. Jack could be an exception. Before this episode I would have said nah, but it has thrown me significantly off balance where I now believe anything is possible.

Natalie: It’s also like… so… okay. It’s not that a queer relationship can’t be as equally shitty as a bad het relationship. All people can be shitty, or abusive, or so on and so forth. But I would really question the Ted Lasso writers if they were doing it this way, like, “Oh, Keeley tried to move on after Roy, but the Bad Woman was Bad to her. Better go back to the smothering of the Good Man.” And while I think that in the grand scheme of the world there is room for that sort of Lesser Rupert story that Rebecca predicts, to be told about anyone regardless of gender… I dunno. I just can’t see it here.

Megan: When this is one of two queer relationships shown on Ted Lasso so far, and the only one with two women, it’d be nice for it to not go to an abusive bad place, rather than just a light and easy rebound place, or even a queer endgame place.

Natalie: When Keeley talks about how she feels anxious about being secretive because she’s used to knowing everything about her life, though. Did that sort of ring any alarm bells for you, or make you say “No, Keeley, you have a right to privacy?” Like you know that attitude has got to have come from being a WAG influencer who is tabloid fodder. I think like, “I’m a public figure, people always know who I’m dating” is okay. Even like “I’d prefer not to hide things as I’m more comfortable being open.” But “I’m used to everyone knowing everything about me” could go a few ways. It could be a good thing, just like, she might mean, within her general circles, she’s very open. Or it could mean, “I am used to being public property and somehow that’s my comfort zone.”

Megan: By itself, Keeley saying she’s used to everyone knowing everything about her wouldn’t have set off immediate alarm bells. I think she likes to be very open about herself in her personal life – and I think that’s a healthy attitude to have – though I do get the impression she was never as publically open as a celebrity as say Shandy probably is. But the fact that she then followed it up with “I don’t want us to get in trouble” did set some to ringing. Because, whether or not she’s thinking about anyone other than her employees finding out, it did make me think about the fact that “former glamour model and WAG dates rich heiress investor” is the kind of article the Daily Mail would love to write. We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the ethics of their relationship, and while we’ve landed on it being fine – depending on the outcome of this love-bombing arc – any articles about it could be damaging for Keeley and her company.

Natalie: That’s potentially true, but I think their decision to tell the office also implies they’re fine with the public knowing. They kiss on the street a bunch of times, for example. And Jack can have people killed. I mean her bringing up the money about that, even as a joke, was a bit “If anyone tries to make a thing of this I can get rid of it?” For me, everything Jack says could be taken as perfectly fine and harmless and it could also be taken in the worst possible way. That’s why it stresses me out.

Megan: Yeah I was in two minds about that too! Because it was funny, and it did make Keeley laugh and relax a bit. But it was just another reminder of the disparity between them. At this point, Keeley hasn’t spoken to Rebecca about love-bombing, so I don’t think it flags anything for her, so I think she just finds it funny. But it just really adds to the whole confusion.

Natalie: There’s just all these things that could be totally flippant. Or could be genuinely like “Well, I can fix that so no one bothers us” in a genuinely dodgy way. The way that Jack tells the office is very confident, and on the level, very open, like, if you have concerns about this affecting the work, talk to us. But Keeley doesn’t speak at all there, does she?

Megan: No. Her face goes on a journey, from a bit like…anxious at the start, to very fond by the end, but she doesn’t say anything.

Natalie: Do you think she should have? As in, is it another red flag that Jack dominated that moment?

Megan: Yeah. I think the employees all found it very charming – except for maybe Barbara – but for me, if Keeley had been able to say anything in that moment, and have more control over the narrative, it would have set me more at ease about how much power Keeley has in the situation.

Natalie: I feel like Babs may be the person who holds the answers here. I don’t know why but I feel like she’s going to be the one who comes through for Keeley at the end of the day.

Megan: Honestly, same. I think she would be able to sit Keeley down and give her a bit more of a blunt warning than Rebecca does. And I think it’ll be interesting how she approaches it with Jack, because she has some sycophantic tendencies – especially towards Rebecca – but she has also not hidden her disapproval in front of Jack about things like the decision to keep things small and boutique in “Signs.” I really don’t want this to end with a big dramatic explosion, and I also really don’t want it to end that way, and for Roy to immediately swoop in and make sure Keeley is doing okay in a rescuer kind of way.

Natalie: Yeah, I’m kind of getting to the point where if this carries on any longer I’m not sure I want to see Roy and Keeley reunite. Just because it’ll feel a bit… off.

Megan: Yeah.

Natalie: They’ve really shown nothing to indicate them getting back together aside from our, you know, ongoing awareness that Roy was stupid and is now sad. No rebuilding, no contact at all.

Megan: Yeah similarly in some ways to Ted and Rebecca, if we don’t have some form of interaction between the two of them soon, it might feel too rushed. Although at least with Roy and Keeley there is the existing foundation of a good past romantic relationship there, whereas Ted and Rebecca don’t have any of that. I think it’ll be possible to sell their reunion – or at least ending the series with that potential in the air – but it’ll really depend on where they take Jack and Keeley next.

Natalie: And like… despite the red flags that are mainly raised by Rebecca, because of her own pain, at the end of the day, what we actually see in this episode is Keeley liking Jack a lot, being a bit worried Jack isn’t as serious as SHE is, being anxious about hiding it because she’d rather not hide it, being happy to stop hiding it, and putting up a boundary and overcoming an obstacle about the gifts and extreme romance, which Jack seems to respect. Unless they are trying to trick us, and say “Hey, you really should agree with Rebecca about the red flags,” Jack and Keeley leave this episode stronger and seem to be very happy. It’s fucking confusing. Everything could really turn around in a heartbeat, Jack could be a total monster, but… that would feel like such a weird pivot. It could all come down to maybe, despite things being good with Jack, Keeley realising that she doesn’t love her and still loves Roy. But her moments with Roy so far have not been very “piney.”

Megan: I think their interactions have just, on both sides, been so forced, polite and stilted that I do think there is emotion there on both sides and they’re both just pushing it down. I can see Keeley having the realisation that this is only fun for her, and not something as serious as she thought, and that with how all in Jack is it’s not fair for her to carry on, and that being the most amicable way it could end. Assuming all the red flags about Jack being jealous and having people killed are just jokes. But I honestly have no clue.

Natalie: Yeah, but it really would have to be a realisation that she isn’t in it as much as she thought, because this one was based on the idea that she thinks SHE’S more serious than Jack.

Megan: Yeah, and that’ll be a hard backtrack from Keeley to sell. Unless the love-bombing narrative has been introduced to show that Keeley just got swept away by all the gifts and trips and such, but that wouldn’t look great for Keeley.

Natalie: And she doesn’t like being smothered. One reason why Jamie and Roy work so well conceptually, or the three of them would work so well, is Roy having Jamie to take out all his neediness on, because Jamie will always want attention when Keeley wants more space. But it seems like Jack and Keeley are very very very much together every day like her and Roy.

Megan: She is pretty sad and vulnerable when Jack and her start dating. I don’t mean that in a Jack took advantage way, but it might be that after feeling rejected by Roy, actually having someone come and focus all this attention on her and seem to want her so much felt good in the moment, And now she’s starting to notice the gifts and the smothering and so while this episode ends with them seeming solid, maybe it’ll sow the seeds for her starting to realise it’s not actually the kind of relationship she wants or needs.

Natalie: The thing is, when she takes this to Rebecca, she genuinely seems to be feeling very good about it all. The gifts, the proclamation to the office. She’s loving it, and even the story about the second date with Rupert, Keeley is like, that’s amazing, I would love that. Honestly even Rebecca isn’t using the term correctly. Love bombing is an intentional manipulation tactic by narcissistic abusers. So while it’s likely that Rupert WAS doing it, it’s not like she describes. It’s not just the act of doing the gifting. And it’s not just that shiny things can tarnish. Rebecca does not actually explain why love bombing is a red flag, what it can mean. I like Keeley feeling like she can trust her own judgement and Rebecca understanding that she sees red flags in other situations because of being hurt by Rupert, so I’d kind of like this to be a situation where Keeley is not (once again, after Shandy) painted like a silly girl with bad judgement who let something damaging go on.

Megan: Yeah I think that’s my preference too. And that Jack really is just someone who likes to spend lots of money on the people she likes, because it’s what she’s used to, and there isn’t anything sinister about it.

Natalie: I did feel a bit… Honestly, Jack having organised the bill for their dinner, that was the biggest concern of the whole episode for me. That gave me worries about her jealousy comment, possessiveness, or isolating Keeley.

Megan: Yeah. Like…she knows Rebecca is rich, and possibly would have been the one paying for Keeley. She wanted to pre-empt that by paying for everything. That was not good, but I did love Rebecca being like oh well, in that case, even though I am also rich I will take advantage and order everything. Atta girl.

Natalie: The wine she orders and then one for the waitress is like, 3500 a bottle. I think Jack is richer than Rebecca and Rebecca’s willing to take advantage. But it’s really hard to judge how sinister it is when Keeley and Rebecca are laughing and making jokes and being light and lovely together. Rather than one of them being like “no, seriously, I’m worried ”

Megan: Keeley’s face here is definitely a bit like, “oh shit, bad timing Jack. I JUST told Rebecca it was fine,” but I do think Rebecca would be firmer if she thought Jack was more of a worry. As it is it feels like she is sharing her perspective, but trusting Keeley to make the right call.

Natalie: I mean, Keeley comes up with love blind, where she includes herself as misinterpreting Red Flags, but it’s all so light and fluffy that I just have no idea how to parse it. Rebecca was so affectionate with Keeley too, like playing with her hair while talking. I feel like showing how cosy they are could be something that Jack wouldn’t like seeing? If she’s that jealous. I’m so confused!

Megan: At this stage I just feel like I can only wait and see and hope that the route it takes is one I’m okay with. Because yes. CONFUSED.

Natalie: Rebecca really doesn’t have a big role in this episode, but we do get a little update on her feelings about BG, which is that it transcended sex but that she still would have liked to have seen his penis. This is exactly as I expected, that Keeley would be in full, swoony support of the BG situation.

Megan: She’s definitely still thinking about him, which bodes well for that future rom com moment of him sailing his boat across the English Channel. I like that Keeley didn’t think the not swapping his name parts was weird, because she is definitely the kind of person who, like you mentioned in our last article, would believe in the idea that if it was meant to be they would meet again without that.

Natalie: Absolutely. I noticed that the restaurant’s floral arrangements included sunflowers, and I just want to say that if this is the show’s way of trying to tell me that actually Rebecca should be thinking about Ted and that he’s the right person for her after all these wrong ones, that is way too subtle a hint to make me care, compared to the look on Rebecca’s face when she says gezellig. If Jason Sudeikis genuinely gets up at the end and is like well, yeah, but the sunflowers. I’ll be like, fuck off you clown.

Megan: Hah! Yes, cosigned.

Natalie: And again, I’m not saying they CAN’T do it or can’t create that zing at some point before the end.

Megan: Rebecca has now become someone who uses gezellig at least three times a day, and everyone around her is confused and rolling with it.

Natalie: But if they’re like “you should have felt it all along because of sunflowers behind Rebecca” that’s a very poor level of selling viewers on the inevitability of Ted and Rebecca. If they want to sell me on it they’re going to need to give them some actual chemistry. Anyway, they don’t have any scenes together this episode, so, watch this space, I guess.

Megan: I will continue to watch and wait for a zing, while also watching waiting for BG to return.

Natalie: Yeah, very fair. Anyway, maybe I want the endgame here to be Rebecca and Keeley. Given she showed interest in the beautiful car saleswoman… Here’s how we can all win.

Megan: Look, that is definitely a relationship I could fully endorse. So yes please. Keeley is definitely thinking about Rebecca’s warning the next day when she walks into the office to a sea of daisies. Which, frankly, is fair. Even without Rebecca I would have been a bit…overwhelmed…by that. It’s a lot Jack. I really want to believe you’re just a bit of a helpless over achiever. But please calm down. This is the rich person’s equivalent of a decorated box asking you to go on a date.

Natalie: Look, yes. That is an excessive amount when Keeley clearly liked her small hand picked bunch. It’s a misread of why Keeley liked it, maybe. I said this earlier, but there is a world in which I can imagine Jack feels like she needs to do this to make someone like her because money has warped her brain. Like that she herself isn’t enough. A strange insecurity complex. But we don’t really know her enough to make that call.

Megan: There have been glimpses of like, vulnerability. Her little “pull yourself together” shake when Keeley goes to get the drink for instance. But for now, yeah, we only know her through Keeley’s eyes, it’s hard to make a judgement.

Natalie: The office is all clearly aware of the daisy surprise. And they’re all eager to see what Keeley thinks. Aside from Barbara, who is very done with it. What do you know, Barbara? Tell us.

Megan: Poor Babs. Her life is so hard. She just wants to keep things running efficiently and make money. She doesn’t want or need all of this.

Natalie: Wild theory: she’s Jack’s ex, she’s been on the end of this before and knows it’s not going to last because Jack is fickle

Megan: Ohhhhh. It’s wild, but I could see it! I think at the very least, she has seen Jack do this before with someone else. But I hadn’t considered Babs was the someone else.

Natalie: Look, probably not, but you never know. The chat with Rebecca clearly makes Keeley see things a bit differently, and I’m glad she raises with it Jack within a couple of days. She is open and upfront about it, but I’m not sure if what she says really reflects the actual problem. What does make me feel comfortable is that in every scene so far, aside from the window blinds comedy, Keeley has seemed to be speaking with a huge amount of assurance. We know how she sounds, how she acts, when she’s sort of anxiously trying to not say something. She’s done it a lot. But she’s not doing it here. She really seems to mean what she says every time she speaks, with Jack. Whether that’s her insistence that of course she doesn’t mind the office knowing- she’s not saying that due to Jack’s pressure, she’s vehement. Or how she talks to Rebecca about loving the things Jack does or finding her declaration hot. Or telling Rebecca she thinks it’s all fine with Jack. None of it sounds shaky, it all sounds genuinely like what she means. And Keeley isn’t always someone who says what she means. So that’s good?

Megan: I agree. At no point in this episode does it feel like Keeley is placating, or only saying half truths or hiding things. I think she is doing okay, right now. It’s just where it’s going to end up – and how she’ll feel then – that I cannot predict. Her face when she nearly swallows the secret croissant ring – and then hands it back – is very good. You’re right, she’s very confident and firm and doesn’t seem like she’s being taken advantage of or anything more sinister.

Natalie: When she tells Jack that the issue is being swept off her feet, and also letting Keeley do something for her, it doesn’t quite seem to address the core issue of love bombing. Jack’s apology seems sincere and she recognises her own behaviour, but I kind of hate Ted Lasso for making me second guess what should be an adorable relationship. Like, what if she is doing that placating just to say the right things and then gets worse? I’m so not interested in some warped manipulation tactic.

Megan: Yeah I was so gleeful when Jack and Keeley kissed back in “Signs”! I really loved them – either as a short term fling, or a long term relationship instead of Roy and Keeley – and I just have no interest in watching it turn into something shitty and sinister. Not least because Keeley has really been having an awful time, and I loved that Jack made her happy and seem more like herself again. I don’t want this to just be another way that Keeley gets hurt this season!

Natalie: Well, they leave off in a theoretically good place, with Keeley taking Jack on a date to Taste of Athens – not going to even unpack the fact that Keeley apparently goes there since Nate, especially as the show seems to have forgotten the area it’s in, but it seems all good. But Keeley is definitely getting hurt one way or another, because next week seems to be all about a big drama that she has to handle at work.

Megan: I feel fairly certain that the big drama is going to involve Shandy in some way. Outside of that…I’m not sure what it could look be.

Natalie: I agree. The cover photo is Keeley looking very solemn, and the blurb says “While watching Henry, Ted fights the urge to spiral when Michelle and Dr. Jacob go on a romantic trip. An online leak has massive implications for Keeley.” I very much assume this is going to be Shandy, and I don’t expect it to be about Keeley and Jack dating. But it could be something that makes Keeley end things because she doesn’t want any element of her business to be attackable. Online leak implies a true thing, rather than, you know, selling a fake story. It could be something Keeley has to manage, a leak for a client – even something about Sam and Rebecca, via Bantr data. But I think it’s probably actually about Keeley. Shandy having something from Keeley’s past, maybe

Megan: Ooof. Yeah some photo of her doing something that might not look good to her clients or similar.

Natalie: Or maybe it is about Jack and Keeley and Shandy has spy cameras in the office, but again, Keeley and Jack are snogging in public where strangers can see them and put it on Twitter. I think it’s about Keeley’s past, the old days, and I think the hug between Jamie and Keeley we see in one of the trailers is about this, like him going to check on her, maybe something he was in the loop about back when they were dating.

Megan: I like that, that would work yeah. Maybe it actually features Jamie in some way – like a sex tape or something along those lines – and he’s concerned that she’ll be upset or mad at him or similar, so he goes to apologise.

Natalie: Jesus, a sex tape of her and Jamie feels very, very possible.

Megan: Roy would have a feeling about that too.

Natalie: He wouldn’t necessarily have the right to that feeling. But he would have one.

Megan: No, but it would be human to have one. How he handles it is the key thing.

Natalie: Yeah, I mean no, of course he has the right to feelings, but he couldn’t be mad that it existed.

Megan: Yeah agreed. It might be a nice way to show some growth in how he reacts to stuff where Keeley and Jamie are concerned.

Natalie: Shandy didn’t really know Jamie, so I think her time living with Keeley came long before she and Jamie were dating, but I still think she’s going to be key to this.

Megan: The version I would hate is that she slept with Jamie since leaving KJPR and somehow got something off his phone, but that feels very wild, so hopefully not.

Natalie: God, that’s possible. But I don’t think so. Anyway, I feel like Keeley really has to be coming back into the fold, with the other main characters, sometime soon. This might be the turning point in that direction.

Megan: I hope so, I’m really ready for that.

Natalie: If something bad happens to her, there’s no way that Rebecca, Roy, Jamie and even, you’d hope, Ted, are not extremely concerned and there for her.

Megan: Yeah, that’s definitely true. I’m excited for that, I just don’t want it to be a huge sinister Jack drama, so I hope you’re right that it’ll be something else.

Natalie: It could still break them up. But I hope it’s not for the reason of Jack being a nutter. She might get jealous of seeing Keeley have sex with Jamie in the past, which would be nutter behaviour. But maybe Keeley will just be like, I need to make myself untouchable. I can’t have anything people can turn against me.

Megan: I could see that. It would be sad, but I could see it. And if she did end up talking to Roy more because of whatever happens, and they start to actually communicate, I could then see how they would find their way back together.

Natalie: The episode is called “We’ll Never Have Paris,” spoofing on the Casablanca line, we’ll always have Paris. In the movie, this is basically a line meaning, the couple will never get a chance to be together again, but they’ll forever have this memory of their affair. (Affair in the old time sense, not cheating) Given that this seems to be referencing the fact that Jake and Michelle are going to Paris and leaving Ted with Henry, would the Never here subvert that? Like, Ted and Michelle will never have Paris… but will get back together? I can’t quite see it, but I’m genuinely stressed about Jake coming face to face with Ted.

Megan: I do still think Ted and Michelle are a possibility, though I’m not sure the show would go there. I really want Ted to get properly angry at Jake. Well at anyone who has genuinely hurt him, I’d still be pro him properly calling Nate out, but I think there are so many ways this could go wrong for Ted if he does lash out. His relationship with Michelle as a co-parent, his relationship with Henry – who has apparently been having some anger issues of his own. In my head Jake is something of a full on villain, I am interested to see if that changes at all in this episode. And on the topic of villains, I feel like this could be the episode we see Beard, Ted and Henry go to a West Ham game, so fingers crossed we’ll get our wish and see a bit more of how things are going for Nate at work.

Natalie: We can be 100% sure that this is when that happens. But yeah, I’m interested to catch up with the Henry situation, if he has been acting out more. We might see the strain of maybe him not really liking Jake. Or resenting Jake being around when his dad isn’t, as opposed to it being just him and his mom.

Megan: Yeah like he can handle his parents being separated, but when Jake is there it just makes Ted’s absence more stark for Henry.

Natalie: It might become clear that Henry is starting to really suffer with Ted being gone, or that Jake is parenting Henry in a way that is not great. But the Nate of it all should be interesting. We talked about how we haven’t seen him at work, what his attitude is like there these days. So all the nice, lovely, genuine Nate stuff we’ve recently seen might get thrown against him having a fully different attitude there. Then again, he did want to go and speak to Ted at the game before Rupert intervened. But I don’t think progress for anyone is linear, you know? In the trailer clip of Henry, Ted and Beard waving at him, he looked pretty negative about it. Maybe, if today is a bad day, he thinks mind games are afoot.

Megan: Yeah I think he could just be a bit flustered, like…managers really don’t often go and watch other teams in their league play in person. It could just be that it throws Nate off – especially if the match isn’t going so well. I’d like to see more of how Nate interacts with his players though at this point. That would give me more of a sense of his attitude at work than how he interacts with Ted, who we know he is very not normal about.

Natalie: Yeah, for sure. Next week will be the end of the “second act,” two thirds of the way through the season, and given what last year’s episode 8 was like, I’m expecting very big things. For multiple people.

Megan: No runtime yet, the shortest we’ve had so far is 47 minutes. If this is as big as “Man City” I can only assume it’s going to shoot back up to over an hour, like “Sunflowers.”

Natalie: It’s possible. But either way I think it’ll be the most impactful episode so far this season.

‘Ted Lasso’ season 3 is streaming on Apple TV+ now. New episodes air Tuesdays at 9pm ET.