The third act of Ted Lasso season 3 begins now, as the truth about Colin’s sexuality impacts his relationship with Isaac and Rebecca rains down a reckoning on Roy’s head, which pushes him to start embracing what’s on offer for him at Richmond. Read on for our discussion of Ted Lasso season 3, episode 9, “La Locker Room Aux Folles.”
Before we head to Nelson Road, it must be pointed out that Ted Lasso spends yet another episode focusing on Nate’s relationship with Jade rather than his relationship with power. But this week, the Wonder Kid’s love story does intersect somewhat with his role at West Ham, as Jade meets Rupert Mannion and clearly finds him lacking. Nate, though, still seems somewhat under his boss’s spell, at least until the man invites him for “guys night” drinks, which turns out to be the kind involving private rooms in clubs, and female company of a sort more appealing to Rupert than a restaurant waitress. Nate extracts himself from the situation, and when he returns to Jade, it feels like he’s finally reached a crisis point regarding the kind of man he’s hitched his wagon to.
What choices Nate will make next remain to be seen, but another of Ted Lasso’s troubling season 3 relationships is truly on the rocks this week. After the video leak had put the pair on shaky ground, we’d hoped Keeley would say good riddance to Jack, but rather upsettingly, she’s shown to be desperate to get Jack back. Keeley’s texts go ignored until Jack finally lets her know that she’s travelled to Argentina, signaling a rather anticlimactic end to that relationship. Hopefully Keeley recovers from her bent heart sooner rather than later – we really don’t want Ted to come back with a new verse for his country song.
Rebecca supports Keeley through all of this, naturally, but her real story this week is with Roy, when, after he skips a PR duty that she assigned him, she lays down some tough love and calls him out on his ongoing behaviour and the way he refuses to engage with the world around him, his wants and needs. It’s a confrontation between friends rather than boss and employee, reminiscent of the fierceness Roy displayed when he demanded of Rebecca “Don’t you dare settle for fine.” It’s a much needed wake up call for Roy, to stop avoiding the hard stuff and stop acting like he doesn’t deserve the good stuff, and no one else could have pulled it off quite like Rebecca. These two always make magic as scene partners, and “La Locker Room Aux Folles” is a new height for their dynamic.
The rest of the episode is dedicated to serving the story surrounding Colin Hughes, in the aftermath of Isaac’s discovery that the Welshman is gay. As Isaac blanks Colin for a week, it seems clear that his behaviour is borne of hurt or anger that he has not been trusted with the secret, but unfortunately it comes across as outright homophobia and rejection of his friend. When the disconnect between the friends causes errors on the pitch, Richmond go down a goal into half time, and are subjected to boos and abuse from the irate home fans. But when one of them uses a homophobic slur to curse the team out, Isaac leaps into the stands to retaliate physically.
The captain receives the standard red card punishment for this breach in conduct, and when the circumstances are explained in the dressing room, he becomes overwhelmed with fury about the ongoing verbal abuse that players recieve, especially if such slurs may cut deeper on players who are in the closet. Unable to contain his emotions, he leaves and passes the captain band to Sam, and the team speculate about whether Isaac is, in fact, gay himself. This leads to Colin choosing to clear things up by coming out to the rest of the team, as Roy consoles Isaac and advises him to address the source of his anger.
Roy’s also the one to speak to the media about what happened, making up for the earlier press conference that he skipped, and his handling of the questions about Isaac and the impact of fan abuse towards players shows that he can absolutely do the job that we all want to see him doing. Roy’s had a rough season, but with this episode, hope has returned that we may yet see Roy Kent, AFC Richmond Manager before the series end.
Colin himself does not get as many big moments as he maybe should have – cutting away from his actual coming out scene was not a choice that went down well with us – but as he and Isaac finally clear things up at the end, he affirms that he does not plan to come out to the wider world, which means that Ted Lasso won’t be attempting to tackle what the landscape would look like for the first publicly queer Premier League player. That’s probably for the best at this point, but with Colin shown as safe and comfortable in the dressing room and thriving on the pitch, it’s certainly a step in the right direction for the world of football, even if the fans won’t accept it as readily as the fellow players. Catch up with our Ted Lasso conversation reviews so far and read on as we unpack ‘La Locker Room Aux Folles.’
‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 9 review in conversation
Natalie: Last week, I expected this episode to be almost an immediate follow-up to episode 8, in terms of the Isaac and Colin situation. Now that it’s here, they’ve extremely unhelpfully fucked up the numbering of certain things so I can’t work out how far along it’s meant to be. More on that later, but this is all taking place something between one day and one month since the last episode. One thing I do know, numerically, is that this is now the fourth episode in a row – not counting Amsterdam – that progresses Nate’s plot solely by the means of Jade rather than any other element of his role as manager or any other aspect of his relationship to power. And I’m officially unstoked on it, even though I really, really, really do like her.
Megan: Same. The second she showed up at West Ham, I thought it could go one of two ways, either she’ll see him being a bit of a dick and talk him through it or it’ll be as we discussed, more of him being a good boyfriend to show he’s a good boy really. And she is so great, but…I really don’t love it.
Natalie: It’s definitely looking like Nate’s whole turnaround is going to hinge on Rupert’s behaviour with Jade and other women. This is annoying to me for two reasons. One, it has nothing to do with his power delusions and his insecurities, all the things that made him get to where he was with Ted during season 2. Two, all this information is freely available about Rupert due to his gigantic public divorce from Rebecca and the proof of his affairs. Nate already had access to all the information that could have told him Rupert was a disrespectful and fairly monstrous man when it came to women and relationships. And honestly, Rupert could be a fucking horror in terms of screwing over women and that still wouldn’t mean he wasn’t a good boss or good businessman. Like, I DON’T think he’s a good boss or good businessman, but he could have had whatever personal scandals and those things could have still never been a part of his work life. His role in Nate’s life as a boss and mentor theoretically could have been valid even if Nate didn’t agree with his personal life choices. But I DON’T think he’s a good boss, and he’s obviously voiced other evil ethics, like vacations with the Sacklers. So why the fuck is seeing Rupert being a philanderer the thing that makes Nate pause on him? After having the ability to know this already, due to Rebecca, and having known this even from his personal experience before he dated Jade. It’s very much like “Oh, now I have a girlfriend and you want me to go fuck some escorts or groupies with you?” He didn’t care about Rupert doing this to Bex before, apparently. Or not enough. He didn’t care about Rupert doing this to Rebecca and ruining her life. He took the job knowing that. What even IS this?
Megan: Yeah honestly, all of this. But additionally for me, you know I have a big issue with the way Nate has treated women and spoken about women in the past. The idea that because he is nice to – and doesn’t cheat on – this one girl who is dating him somehow absolves him of his past treatment of women, combined with the fact that it does nothing to address the actual work based issues we’ve seen Nate have leaves a really shitty taste in my mouth. Like, just assume he does somehow end up back at Richmond after this. Are we supposed to assume Will is going to be comfortable and okay in this situation now, because Nate has a great girlfriend and he’s suddenly nice now? Nah. Don’t love that.
Natalie: Oh I am absolutely now having a very strong fear that Ted will appoint Nate his replacement when he leaves, something no one else will have a say in. It isn’t what I think makes any sense at all, but at the rate things are going I am now worried that this will happen after Ted and Nate have a big heart to heart.
Megan: And then Ted will just unilaterally decide fuck what everyone else at Richmond thinks, he and Nate are good, so it’s fine now.
Natalie: But yeah, the fact that Nate is willing and able to trust and respect and admire Rupert after all he knows about him via the Rebecca news stories and then via his own experience, like being uncertain about seeing him with Miss Kakes? Nate actually having this crisis of confidence because Rupert is trying to get him into that lifestyle now that he has a nice girlfriend, and not just having these same issues with Rupert before now? What the fuck?
Megan: Yeah you’re right, Rupert being shit about women is absolutely nothing new to Nate. This shouldn’t be the shocking discovery that gets him to realise Rupert is bad actually.
Natalie: Nate’s story should be about his relationship with power. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it or have to keep saying it. We have seen Rupert be insidious to him about his status, playing him up and cutting him down in terms of approval. That’s what this should be about, as well as how Nate treats his underlings. This continued close focus on Jade is just not addressing any of the issues Nate needs to overcome. It’s almost unbelievable to me, it seems so not the point.
Megan: I think it’s possible that the Ted Lasso writers made Nate so shitty in season 2 that they honestly didn’t see a way to unfuck him by actually addressing that within the time and space season 3 had, so… They’ve given him a girlfriend instead?
Natalie: Again. I love Jade. But in terms of time and space, if they’d made all his screen time he’s had with Jade to be about him and Rupert or him with the West Ham team members, even just like one or two of them. Or his own kit man! That is the story we needed. To see how he works out his issues about being in charge and what’s fair and unfair and things like that. It’s just nuts. Maybe we will still see some of this to come, but at this point I’m more expecting a big sort of crisis moment with Jade about what he’s gotten himself into, how shit everything is and what he did to Ted. And he can talk to his nice girlfriend all he wants about that but it does not change the fact we have not seen him behaving better in similar circumstances to the ones he behaved badly in. To compare his redemption to Jamie’s yet again, we aren’t seeing him go from diva to team player within the same team environment, or whatever. Or to compare him to Rebecca, we’re not seeing him going from having lied to and resented and sabotaging Ted, to being open and honest with Ted constantly. We’re just. Not. Seeing. The. Problem. Get. Solved. And I don’t understand WHY.
Megan: Look, me neither, because it makes zero sense, and we know from the examples above that the Ted Lasso writers KNOW how to do a good redemption arc. Jamie is everyone’s new favourite, Rebecca was forgiven quickly once she owned up to it. I really can only assume that the Ted Lasso writers saw how much hate Nate got, and wanted to try and distance him from the actual awful behaviour of season 2, by showing how nice he is to Jade and hoping that will be enough. It doesn’t make sense.
Natalie: Nate’s fall was so much harder for everyone to stomach because he was a character people went in so fond of. He didn’t start in a low place. Well, we see retroactively that he did, but he seemed to be Our Friend, whereas Rebecca and Jamie were Our Enemies, or rather, Ted’s. His fall from grace really took people out, so how are they not working doubly hard to actually unpack the cause of it, and the healing?
Natalie: And there still may be great moments to come with Nate this season. But at this point, we’ve had nine episodes, and barely any focus during them on telling that story for Nate. Even if the next three are amazing for him, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s had this level of, well, neglect, really, from the narrative. That the story they told last season, slowly taking him down to the bottom, isn’t being taken slowly and understandably back up.
Megan: Yeah, I don’t have much faith right now that in the next three episodes they’re going to suddenly address the real issues here.
Natalie: No matter how great his endgame is, it doesn’t change the pacing. Anyway, a few specifics about what we do see here – it’s very clear that Jade doesn’t think much of Rupert, because she’s not a fucking idiot.
Megan: Rupert also seems a bit thrown that she’s so neutral towards him. It’s just Jade being Jade, but I think he expects her to be won over easily like everyone else is.
Natalie: She might be very mildly impressed about him being able to identify her accent, but the rest, very unphased. She seems to kind of accept Nate’s comments about him being decent and nice, but I also want to say that she doesn’t truly trust it.
Megan: Calling him “nice-like” was very shrewd. Like… yeah, he seems nice, but she doesn’t really think it’s true.
Natalie: The joke about her name being Jaded. Honestly, I do love her.
Megan: She is so fucking great.
Natalie: But I mean Rupert is just… Rupert. I can’t get past the idea that there’s so much media coverage about how much Rupert sucks and Nate is just like “Nah, he’s great.” I do assume that after the events of this episode he will have a big rant, well not a rant but a bit of a vent, about all his insecurities? Like all the weird things about Rupert that don’t add up. That was my impression of the way he just hugs her at the end, like “I’m not feeling good about this.” I think he can be honest with her about how he feels now, speak openly, which is good, so if he’s like, “We went out and this happened” she could help him understand how he feels and how he sees Rupert. But… Ugh.
Megan: Nate is very blinded by power, and people giving him the praise he thinks he’s due, so I suppose maybe he was willing to push bad feelings aside because Rupert was his boss, and was very complimentary to him over his skills, until he couldn’t ignore it because it affected him personally. I did, for a split second, think maybe this episode was going to go a different way and have Jade call Nate out on some of his shittiness, when she jokingly called him the wrong name and he snapped before realising it was her. But alas, no.
Natalie: I don’t think the way he corrected her there was even that harsh, honestly. It was a bit clipped but it wasn’t an unfair level of correction. But yeah, I see how it’s possible.
Megan: Maybe just wishful thinking on my part.
Natalie: The question is if this moment is going to make Nate stop being blinded by power and praise about other things. If it will make him question everything. To me, it’s just not a good enough reason, or rather it’s a reason he should have had opinions or ethics about before now. I would have maybe even liked to see him being friendly with Bex, some sort of Higgins mirror? Knowing what Rupert was like while genuinely liking and being friendly with his wife. Bex is a person I feel could have played a really cool role in Nate’s story in terms of his issues. I have to wonder about Rupert asking him out in this way, with these intentions, too. Like… is this a test? Can you hang with the big boys? Or is it just Rupert being thoughtless, like “No one should care about this stuff, eyeroll, Nathan.” Basically was this night a test Nate has failed – Rupert intentionally putting him in this position to see what kind of man he is? Or is this just Rupert being Rupert and not an active test? Did you have any thoughts about that when you saw it?
Megan: I am not sure which I think is the most likely, and they all boil down to Rupert is just a twat. But my first thought was that Rupert was a bit thrown by Jade. Maybe he didn’t like her. He doesn’t like to be challenged, especially by women, so maybe he thought getting Nate to come out with him and cheat on Jade would be just a bit of fun to get back at Jade. At the same time, that is quite extreme for a woman that he spent about a minute with and who was just a bit abrupt with him. I did think there might also be something in the whole Rupert thinks Nate should have things worthy of his status as the manager of Rupert’s club. It’s why he bought him the new car. Maybe he also thinks Jade isn’t good enough – a hostess from a restaurant? But I think it probably was more Rupert wanting to see if Nate could hang out with Rupert and keep up with him, and if Jade got hurt in the process, that’s not something Rupert will have any guilt over.
Natalie: All of these ideas really presume that Rupert actually values Nate within his own standards of the universe. Like that he feels some level of affection for Nate, that he wants him to be like him or whatever. And I mean Nate is doing so well at his job, apparently, and Rupert says in the episode, like, “I like you cocky.” It’s kind of nuts to think about that – Rupert seeing a Horrible Person in Nate and being like “I could have a Horrible Person friend/loyal minion!” As opposed to him purely wanting to manipulate Nate in some way to some end. Rupert valuing Nate, within Rupert’s standards, is disturbing. Nate shouldn’t want to be a person Rupert could like, which I think is the key here.
Megan: It is weird to think about Rupert actually caring what Nate thinks, and I don’t know that he necessarily does, but he does really seem to want to keep Nate isolated from things outside of his sphere of influence. Whether that’s Ted, or now Jade. It’s all a bit abusive partner behaviour – he runs pretty hot and cold too, not coming along to the Love Hounds last week, switching between Rupert and Mr Mannion depending on how Nate is doing. I think Nate will be back in a Mr Mannion zone by the end of this episode somehow. Nate telling Jade that Rupert is really decent, and he owes him a lot – no. Ted is the one who is really decent and you owe a lot. Rupert is a snake and you know it even if you pretend otherwise.
Natalie: It’s just a bizarre thing to think about, Rupert wanting Nate to follow in his footsteps or whatever. Like, “This guy is a true asset, I need to make sure he’s in on shit with me” as opposed to using Nate as a pawn. And Nate turned down pints at the pub with the other guys for this! That would have been a scene where we could have got a better impression of Nate’s dynamic with his backroom staff.
Megan: Yeah, I think Rupert is too good at reading people to think Nate is like, on his level, so it has to be manipulation, but I don’t really see what the endgame is. The fact that Roger invites Nate to the pub, and that Nate seems to be considering it suggests that he’s got an okay dynamic with them now, but again, we don’t see it. That is what I need to see to trust Nate in a position of power again at Richmond, if that were to be in the cards for the season 3 finale.
Natalie: Look. It all feels a bit off, obviously, how they’re doing all of this. And there are ways where this issue could bring up all the other issues. But nothing is going to rewrite those nine episodes and feed us Nate’s story in a different way at this point. It just isn’t ever going to be what I feel it should have been, and obviously everyone wants different things, but I cannot imagine there are many people out there, whether they want to see Nate lauded and redeemed, or never want to forgive him, who would feel happy about his redemption having gone this way.
Megan: No, I think the people that love Nate and think his behaviour was justified will want to see him be recognised by Ted and Richmond, and people like me who were incredibly angry about his season 2 actions… I went into this season expecting him to be redeemed by having him tested by his circumstances, and wondering how they’d go about doing it, and what elements of his behaviour they’d choose to address, and if I would be able to forgive him. And… Well… It doesn’t look like they’re choosing to address any of his behaviour at all. So yeah, it’s really not working for me, and I can’t imagine it’s working well for anyone.
Natalie: On reflection, I don’t think this was particularly calculated by Rupert as a test, this night at Bones and Honey. I think he just thinks this is what he wants and expects of men, he can’t fathom a man not being into this stuff. His silent eyebrow crinkle at Nate is such amazing acting from Tony Head. Just like this, “Yeah, whatever mate,” absolutely writing him off. So I do wonder what will happen from here between Nate and Rupert because I think Rupert is judging the hell out of him. But also, the bit with Rupert taking the baklava before asking? I wonder if he will try to “take” Jade in some way. Like that feels like a very obvious metaphor. He will try to hit on or touch or in some way inappropriately try things with Jade, at the next West Ham event. And maybe she’ll kick off, or even try to report it and Nate will have to choose between telling her not to make it into a big deal, or defending her and standing up to Rupert. I can absolutely see that, even if making this all about Jade with Rupert is not great storytelling.
Megan: Yeah that is a theory I have too. I think Rupert would see her disinterest as a challenge, and would want to charm her and she would not be charmed, so I really do see that as a potential next step in the Nate and Jade arc. I don’t love it, because I think it ignores my aforementioned issues with Nate’s treatment of women, but I can really see it happening.
Natalie: Again, it would make Nate standing up to Rupert really about this one personal circumstance rather than anything to do with the way he himself, Nate, has been played with and manipulated or been encouraged in directions he didn’t want to go in. But I’ve just got very little hope at this point because they’ve pivoted so hard to it all being about the girlfriend.
Natalie: Did you take anything in particular from that final hug at Jade’s? It wasn’t like “Awww I’d rather be here,” it seemed very defeated. These are the conversations I’d like to actually fucking SEE.
Megan: I thought he seemed a bit relieved, but also resigned. I wonder if he’s started thinking “Oh shit, this thing at West Ham isn’t going to end well,” or “Rupert is going to be really pissed.” Like, concerned about the future, not happy to be with Jade. But we will probably not see the conversation, because why would we need to see Nate reflect on his behaviour and circumstances?
Natalie: Beats me. It does not seem to be a priority for Ted Lasso at the moment. You know what else isn’t a priority for Ted Lasso at the moment? Giving Keeley Jones one single inch of high ground in her story. One iota of dignity. Holy shit. Because before we get into the main story with the club – that part is all really tied together with Roy and Colin and Rebecca and so on – we have the small story of Keeley and Jack’s breakup, by seeing all Keeley’s texts, Jack ghosting her, and Jack’s eventual reply that means it’s over. And oh, it is bad.
Megan: Right? Every single time I think the show is taking her arc in a way where she has agency and dignity, they rip the rug out from under me. She starts doing a good job at being a boss, firing Shandy and having confidence in her decisions, and then she starts a relationship with Jack which would have been fine if Jack hadn’t ended up being awful. She stands up to Jack and tells her she’s not going to apologise because she did nothing wrong making that video. And then the next time we see her loses all the high ground that gave her.
Natalie: I know you didn’t think it was this bad until we transcribed the texts.
Megan: Yeah, I was going to say.
Natalie: Why don’t you explain what you assumed, or wanted to assume? Then I’ll share what they actually say, and you can say how learning the small details made you feel. Because I don’t think everyone will lean in to read them and realise what is actually being said.
Megan: Okay, so when I first watched it, I thought “Oh, okay, this isn’t so bad.” Basically, because Keeley doesn’t seem super upset by the circumstances, I thought maybe the texts were her asking Jack for clarity on where they stood, and maybe checking in about the impact on work stuff. Keeley is a lot, and she’s not great at sustained conflict I don’t think, and also she overthinks things, so I did think she maybe sent all those texts because she was desperate to like, know where things were so she could move on.
Natalie: As in, you thought she was asking for clarification on how things were going to work with the company and stuff? And that Keeley had ended the relationship because of how Jack had treated her?
Megan: Partly work clarification, but also partly clarification that the relationship was over. Because obviously last episode ended with Keeley asking “are you coming back?” and Jack not answering. So I thought that Keeley knew it was over, but the words hadn’t necessarily been said. It would still look a bit manic, sending all those texts, but it wouldn’t have Keeley pleading or anything.
Natalie: The way she said “Are you coming back” seemed very, very firm to me, like, “I am now judging you, and you can decide whether you want to be with a dirty slut like me and support me on my level, or fuck off.” It felt like Keeley digging her heels in and leaving it to Jack to turn her thinking around. That is how the end of episode 8 made me feel – it had a sense of good riddance to it.
Megan: Yeah, if Jack had stayed, or had a thirty minute air clearing walk and then come back, maybe they could have worked through it. But assuming neither of those things happened, it very much felt over there.
Natalie: But instead, we see Keeley’s texting to Jack and the messages are all basically begging. Like, asking for contact and suggesting dates, “I just had this salad, so good, we should go there.” A classic “Oh whoops didn’t mean to text you that but since I did…” Then some ones that are readable and transcribable if you squint. The big block of text says “Okay, it’s nuts we haven’t talked since you left. I don’t want you to feel like I’m crowding you or anything I just want to know where you’re at. I feel pretty in the dark about where we left things, which is totally fine but it would be great to talk everything over. I think we’d both feel better if we did, maybe with dinner or maybe we should do like a weekend away or something? I saw this spa with kittens where you go and they walk all over you like a kitten massage which looked totally amazing and I think you’ll love it so we could just properly escape there and get pampered and leave all this drama behind” Then following on from that, this string of messages: “Okay kitten spa massage was probably too much sorry i kinda freaked out just ignore it.” “Where r u?” “I miss you.” “Want to grab a drink?” “Hey are you OK?” “Please call me.” So yeah. Absolutely turning into Keeley pleading and wanting to get back with her, as opposed to having any semblance of Keeley having a moral high ground about the issue of the video, or any sense that she’s lost respect or affection for Jack due to Jack’s behaviour.
Megan: Again, I don’t think she seems super heartbroken when it becomes clear it is over. But these texts 100% contradict that, so I really don’t like or understand this as a choice. And as you say, it strips away all the dignity and high ground of that ending last episode. I think Keeley is someone who sees the best in people, but COME ON.
Natalie: I do think she seems very upset in Rebecca’s office, being very like, insecure and pouty about it. And when she finds out the final answer, she is in public and she’s also been resigned to it coming, so she’s not bursting into tears, but she looks very tired and upset. But the crux of it all is, it isn’t what she wanted. She didn’t want to end things with Jack, apparently. She got dumped again, and was begging someone who didn’t support her feelings over the leaked video to forget all about it and go to the kitten spa. How did you feel, discovering the details of the texts and how they’re framing Keeley here?
Megan: Honestly it’s really frustrating to me. Because like I said last week, up until now I really quite liked Keeley having a side story that was all her own, that was separate from how she interacts with the men in her life. But then they just .undid that by making it about another relationship, albeit with a woman this time, and interactions with Roy that make their likely endgame harder to see done well, and her constantly making bad decisions that frame her as weaker or stupid. I do think women are allowed to make mistakes, and I don’t think female characters always being shown to be perfect is healthy either, but the mistakes or choices they are having Keeley make really don’t sit right with me.
Natalie: They’re making her look pathetic to be honest.
Megan: There were elements last week that were really powerful and resonated strongly, the way it showed Keeley dealing with the fall out, and her trauma, and her sadness. That was really well done. It left me feeling awful, but that’s because of how well it was done. This just undoes her power and poignancy, in a way that yeah, makes her seem pathetic as you say.
Natalie: For her to have taken that stand for herself last week and then apparently just be willing to compromise that stance and beg Jack for attention… The fact that she’s been dumped twice this season, and the fact that every decision we’ve seen her make at work has turned into a failure… Her drawing a line in the sand about how she felt about the video was at least a level of strong conviction that felt like the narrative was on her side Obviously her texts to Jack don’t see her walking back that conviction explicitly, but they do mention forgetting all the drama so it’s pretty close. I don’t understand how Jack’s behaviour isn’t making her just write that woman off. Like if they wanted to clarify to us that yes Jack and Keeley are over, we could have seen a Keeley who was firm about this all, in a good riddance way. Like “Fucking Jack, it’s like pulling teeth getting an answer out of her about XYZ at work.” Why is she getting dumped again?
Megan: It is a very weird and shitty choice and I do not understand it at all. It’s just so regressive for them to have Keeley send those texts compared to her genuinely powerful moment.
Natalie: Well hey. At least she got £40 and a box of biscuits from Ted. So fucking weird.
Megan: He is really not very normal at all, is he?
Natalie: He’s the opposite of normal, and I hate him so much for “fart scents.” I hate all fart jokes and I am glad Rebecca kicked him out before he could get to Verse 2.
Megan: I enjoy how little time she has for him being stupid. Unfortunately that is about 65% of his personality, but she is always very quickly done with him.
Natalie: Yeah I can’t really imagine her living with this so if they do get together. It’s not a side of their personalities that gels. But there’s nothing in this episode to indicate any development in that direction.
Megan: No, this was their only interaction and I’m still not seeing that spark. Three episodes left to wow me there!
Natalie: Rebecca’s story this week was mainly with Roy, and I sure do love THAT relationship and I think their interactions are underused, but that part of the episode ultimately all ties up with the Colin and Isaac part. The press conference was not quite what we expected, when we first got that teaser, but it’s all bundled up into the main thread so we better look at it from the beginning. First of all, I want to express my extreme relief for the implication that Ted Lasso is NOT doing a “footballer coming out publicly to the fans and wider world” story. We’ve talked about how the way they’re handling abuse doesn’t seem to be the right angle to truly and fairly represent what would happen in this circumstance, and I think it’s a good choice for them to just not touch it. Like we said in episode 6, Colin never even mentioned the fans or public when talking about his pain – just hiding his personal life within the team and his peers at work. Unless there’s a forced outing story in the next three episodes, which I pray there isn’t, Colin being publicly closeted but out at work feels right to me, and in line with the reality of other gay footballers.
Megan: Yeah the one element that made me worry there would be a forced outing story was seeing Isaac fight the fan in the trailer, but now we know what that was actually about, I feel fairly reassured this is how publicly out we’ll see Colin be. Which I’m glad about, but I would love to see a few indications in the remaining three episodes of Colin’s personal life being more mingled into the dressing room. Like, I don’t know, Michael coming by after a match and being introduced as his boyfriend.
Natalie: I have no idea if others will feel this was a cop out, but it is very much my preference that they keep it to this level of being out.
Megan: I feel exactly the same way, I don’t need to have that plot rushed through in the space of an episode. It’s too important.
Natalie: The idea of Ted Lasso trying to represent the public response to the first out Prem player… I don’t think it would have gone well, nothing would have felt right. In terms of too much abuse, too much acceptance, whatever element. It isn’t something I can picture being fictionalised.
Megan: Yeah, it’s such a hard balance to strike and I do not think they would be able to get it right. Not unless they dedicated an entire season to it.
Natalie: But from here on out, if he’s still with Michael it would be cool to see their private social lives be more open. He also literally can’t be outed by the press in England, so unless he changes his mind and decides to do it on his own terms, it would have to be a social media scandal which, again, we don’t have time for. Feels like we are saying that a lot, but yeah. This level is what I wanted at the end of the day.
Megan: I feel like this will likely be the last episode to focus properly on Colin’s storyline, outside of some references, but we’ll see! I really loved the opening scene of this episode. They’re all just having such a joyful happy time, and I really like that they’re still inviting the fans along to watch training.
Natalie: Yeah, it was somewhat heightened and ridiculous with their faces, but the spirit is there. I was a bit taken aback that this is how they were using the La Cage Aux Folles overture music, because as discussed that story has strong themes and this was just sort of shoved in as “gay music,” but it was funny. I’m very confused about the timeline. And it actually matters, because – Okay. In episode 8, we see that they’ve had four wins doing Total Football. The league win count on the board goes from six (during the Zava era) to ten, after the opening scene of episode 8. Makes sense. Then this episode, when they beat Brighton, that’s said to be eight wins in a row, but Beard changes the board from ten wins to eleven. Now, this makes NO sense to me. If there have been four more LEAGUE wins since episode 8, that’s at least three weeks on. However, if some of the other wins of the eight were FA Cup wins, which they could have been, they wouldn’t be marked on the board for the league points tally, and timeline-wise there should have been some FA Cup matches interspersed with the league matches mentioned in episode 8. Now I know this is nitpicking, but the reason I am bringing it up is the timeline of how long Isaac has been blanking Colin for.
Megan: Yeah, it’s important. Because I had really assumed that this episode would follow on fairly swiftly after the last, and without that commentary and the board changes I could assume this was less than a week later. But if it isn’t – if that is accurate and it’s been three weeks, that really does frame Isaac’s behaviour in a different light and make it way more harsh. It’s not the first time Ted Lasso has done this – either intentionally or unintentionally drawn out a time period so that things that would be a bit shit actually feel a lot more dodgy – but it really does have a huge impact in how you can interpret – and forgive – behaviours.
Natalie: If the eight wins in a row include the four shown last episode plus at least two FA cup matches played before or during last episode, it means this gap isn’t pushed as far out. But the fact is, Beard updates the board from ten to eleven league wins, but they say they’re on an but win streak. So three of those wins need to be NOT league, and I’m pretty sure they’re knocked out of the Carabao Cup due to Zava. Anyway. The point I am making is that the timeline of whether Isaac has been doing this for three days or three weeks is a massive difference. I know you’re thinking of the length of time they implied that Roy refused to coach Jamie being something like six weeks. This is maybe worse. Because like… three weeks of Isaac treating Colin like that, like he won’t go near him, that leans much more heavily on the idea of Colin feeling Isaac is not okay with him being gay, building it up. Like, it’s really bad.
Megan: Yeah that’s exactly what I’m thinking, and this is definitely worse because the circumstances are very different.
Natalie: It’s part of why I am not a big fan of how the episode veered more towards Isaac’s feelings than Colin’s, because if this has been going on for weeks, Colin would be absolutely fucking twisted up from it. Like just a wreck. But they do play it more like it happened recently, with Colin running to Trent and stuff. Like, not to be too pedantic, but last week the board showed clearly that they’d played 25 league matches, putting them in mid February. If the FA Cup still exists in this universe like it did last season, it would mean that since Arsenal, they’ve played Round 3 and Round 4 of the FA Cup, as well as the four league matches they won and got on the whiteboard. That’d be six wins in a row. They need to force in some other non league win there, then Brighton which was league, to get the eight win streak. Look, I am sure this is a continuity error, but the amount of time that this has been happening for does make SUCH a big difference. With the stuff that happens before and during the Brighton match, with how Isaac treats Colin, I get the impression that they’re writing this like it is meant to be the first match since Isaac found out, so only a few days. But that doesn’t match what they say about the win streak. So. Gahhh.
Megan: I think I have to just accept this as a continuity error, because as you say the Brighton match feels like the first match since and they really aren’t playing it like it has been that long. So yeah, it’s very frustrating especially if you are someone that can’t NOT notice details like this. But the only way the actual human interactions work is if it is a few days to less than a week since Isaac found out.
Natalie: Well, with this episode, on the first pass watching, I heard eight wins in a row and I assumed league wins, and last episode it had been four wins, so I assumed four more wins since then – plus Colin eventually saying to Isaac, “You found out and I didn’t last a month,” not a week or whatever. I put those two mentions together and said okay, so this has been like four matches, threeish weeks, since Isaac found out. That’s where I first placed the timeline. But that… really doesn’t work for what happened. It was not great handling in my opinion because the length of time Isaac has been acting this way just can’t have been weeks and weeks, it would have sent Colin into a full spiral and been so shitty of Isaac. Stuff like this does tend to affect how much I like or dislike a story – I need things to be tight, and the impact of time passing to matter off screen.
Megan: Like I said, I do think it’s a continuity error, but when discussing a topic like this that is pretty sensitive, it’s the kind of continuity error that has some really bad implications so I wish they’d been more careful with it. It doesn’t affect me as much, because honestly I’m not always as good at picking up on things like time clues as you, but when it gets pointed out it does then have an impact.
Natalie: What Ted Lasso is really suffering from this season, for me anyway, is a lack of consideration for the implications of anything it’s doing outside the specific moment on screen and it isn’t a problem it had in season 1 or 2 that I recall, aside from the Roy not coaching Jamie thing. But this one, it’s like moments happen and they’re absolutely just isolated incidents. What I’ve said before about other shows is that I am always very conscious of whether or not they let the characters keep living off screen. Now, it often feels like the moment the camera isn’t on them, they freeze and go into stasis, like putting the Barbie doll back in the box. This season they really are putting the dolls back in the box in between episodes and scenes. A really simple example is Keeley asking Rebecca at Sam’s restaurant “Oh, what did the psychic say?” Like… seven weeks after Rebecca went to see her. For us, 20 minutes later, but in the world of Ted Lasso, they’ve had time race forward over the course of almost two months, and the conversations pick up like they had them, well, 20 minutes earlier. It’s a weird issue the show is having, because then you get Nate, on the flip side, who is apparently having all his development off screen while the dolls are in the boxes and we aren’t seeing any of it. Anyway, my point is that they both indicated weeks had passed but had conversations like they happened yesterday and I hate it, it ruins a lot of TV for me. And in the case of Ted Lasso it feels quite sloppy when they’ve previously prided themselves on being specific.
Megan: Yeah I think that’s really true. Because in some cases, like the Keeley psychic conversation, it just feels a bit clunky and silly that they’ve forgotten about the passage of time. But for scenes like this it REALLY changes the implications of character’s behaviour. However, all of that very valid critique aside, Roy admits Ted was right (was he?) and the team are really enjoying playing football with a gay soundtrack.
Natalie: You’re right in that it makes no sense, human interaction wise, for this to not have been immediate. But they wanted to have their cake and eat it too, aka, get Richmond further up the table and show how good Total Football is, and also not deal with Colin being upset for weeks.
Natalie: And then of course there’s the question of how long Keeley has been repeatedly texting Jack for… all very messy. But Roy is having sort of a nice time. Isaac scoring a goal in training is obviously a good sign of the tactic because while defenders CAN obviously score, it’s not generally in the flow of the game for them to, so the whole rotational thing is working.
Megan: I really LOVED all the watching fans cheering and getting as excited as if it was a real match. Just really enjoying watching their team play well and have fun.
Natalie: Will we see them get to interact with the players though? I do think there is a subtle but clear agenda for Ted Lasso to humanise the players to the fans, which comes up in Roy’s bit at the end, but I think the ongoing involvement from fans at training is a part of it too.
Megan: That is an agenda I can get behind as it is obviously the thing I hate most about real football, so I do love the show doing that. Unfortunately the people watching Ted Lasso are not the people who most need to hear that message.
Natalie: Yeah, I’d just like to see a conversation with the pub lads and like, Jamie probably, as he was the one who he had to get them to stop taking his picture in season 2. Show us a scene of the fans feeling more compassionate for the players as human beings, having a conversation.
Megan: Yeah, that would be really great.
Natalie: Obviously Isaac’s victory is a chance for Colin to come up and try and be matey with him, but Isaac shrugs him off. And like. Look, I get that they had to do something here, something other than I don’t know, Isaac immediately being chill. But also, did they? I said it last time, the idea of them doing this whole story of “Oh is Isaac homophobic? Plot twist! He’s so hurt you couldn’t tell him that he’s pissed off at you.” Like… this is just exhausting to me. Especially because we did this with Trent. “Is he a threat???? No, he’s a fellow gay.” It’s hard for me to appreciate anything about how any of this played out because I do not think we needed “is Isaac a threat?” For me this would have worked a hell of a lot better if we put the final scene, the FIFA scene, at the top of the episode, like, right after this. Isaac is mad for a day, then does his whole “why couldn’t you tell me shit.” They discuss, Colin and Isaac are now keeping this secret together, and then the same stuff happens with the F slur and Colin coming out to the rest.
Megan: You’re right that we already had this with the Trent episode, but I can see an argument that Trent was kind of a nobody to Colin, and outside of general being outed fears, there was no emotional investment in how Trent would react. Whereas with Isaac, there is a whole level of emotion involved when worrying that your best friend won’t accept you. And that is a fear a lot of queer people have, not being accepted by the people they love, so in that sense I can see why they wanted to have uncertainty around Isaac’s reaction and how that played out. But now that you’ve said the above, honestly yes, that would have been a much preferred way of doing it for me. Just a day of Isaac staying away while he worked through it, and then goes to Colin’s. That would have been a bit less dramatic, yes, but I don’t always need queer issues to be that dramatic onscreen.
Natalie: I just hate that they stretch out Colin being worried about Isaac not accepting it. It sucks. “Is he a bad guy? Surprise, no he’s just upset to not be trusted” is not a story we need in this day and age, especially when it comes with shit like refusing to touch Colin – the hands in the circle moment and pulling his hand away. It made me immediately think of AIDS scare shit and that is like, not great. For Isaac, a person who is ultimately not homophobic, to be treating Colin in a way that gives Colin time to work up “Maybe he is homophobic” rather than quite quickly being like, “I’m cool with it but I’m so mad you lied to me.” A lot of the story could have been told in a similar way while not giving Colin the prolonged worry of “Is Isaac a bigot?” basically tapping into that worst fear. I do not think we needed to go tapping! Especially if that period was like, week! Because yeah. Absolutely, people relate to the idea of that fear. So why not show someone acting their best? I mean not even their best – Isaac’s still got these very self centred ideas about being offended, which Colin thankfully doesn’t apologise to him for. Isaac is still making it about him. And I think that’s okay, I think that’s something they could have had Colin quite firmly but gently push back on. But pulling that on your best friend for more than a day – was Isaac not thinking “All this avoidance, he might think I hate him for being gay!” Like, what did he think this looked like?
Megan: Yeah, if it went on for weeks that becomes near unforgiveable to me, which is why I think it has to have been the week mark. I can see it being something like the Ted Lasso writers don’t want to sanitise it, they don’t want to make it seem like it is going to be easy for players to come out to the team. I imagine there could be queer Premier League players watching this who genuinely do have the same worry, so they wanted it to feel realistically challenging, but I think they missed the mark a bit with how it actually played out. And also possibly confirmed the worst fears of those real life players.
Natalie: Was this maybe meant to be a story about straight people who think they’re allies being oblivious? Because I feel like if they wanted to show “challenging,” or Isaac on a learning curve, they could have had him go get mad at Colin for lying to him early on, and Colin give it back to him like, “You don’t hear yourself sometimes. I love you but here’s X Y Z examples of the kind of shit that’s just normal to you that has been killing me.” Like make Isaac realise WHY Colin didn’t feel safe, because otherwise what was the earlier episode’s “Sounds gay bruv” even for? I definitely didn’t want, and don’t think, this episode should have ever been about people acting perfectly in an amazing way. Like, heteronormative straight men absolutely will always find a way to fuck this up and make it about themselves. That’s kind of realistic. But I don’t know if the episode was clear enough in pointing that out, and I think the conflict between Colin and Isaac could have been so different in terms of where, when, and what was said while still very much being “you don’t get it” conflict.
Megan: Yeah, when Isaac asks what he did that meant Colin didn’t trust him, I would have definitely preferred Colin to have been like “Um, I love you, but you have said shitty things sometimes and while in my heart I wanted to trust it was just you being unthinking, I was terrified that it wasn’t and what that would mean.” Because for them to have Isaac say that earlier comment, and then ask why Colin didn’t tell him, and for Colin to not throw back to that did feel like a missed opportunity.
Natalie: Yeah – there was nothing in this episode that really threw back to that discomfort was there? Like “Wow, we really do say a lot of shit without thinking” about gay jokes or other comments. We got a pretty solid condemnation of fan abuse but nothing about what the guys in the team might have done to just make the day to day that much more tiring for Colin.
Megan: Like, I do think it is important to show why Colin’s fears were valid. That it wasn’t just him being paranoid. Isaac, much as both I and Colin love him, has said some shitty things. It is natural for Colin to be worried about his reaction.
Natalie: I just struggled with the whole premise, because like I said, the threat of “Oh, no, is he a homophobe” is like… of course not. This is Ted Lasso. It obviously isn’t going to be that. So why use this threat at all? As like a weird misdirect that no one will or should fall for? We all know where this is going, so why take this diversion? Why not find the conflict in a more honest and less – frankly – tired and boring place? Because let’s just pretend we’re Isaac for a second. You discover your bestie is gay and you realise how long he’s been keeping it hidden. You are very much not homophobic, but you are very hurt that you weren’t trusted with the secret, but you’re also a Premier League footballer who knows the world you live in and knows WHY someone would be scared and how many taboos there are. You weigh all that up. How do you decide to blank your bestie and not assure him you’re cool with it, even if you’re hurt and angry? How do you not look at that and be like, “Oh, refusing to talk to or touch him might make him think I’m the worst bigot.” How do you, Isaac, make that choice make sense, given all that you are? The ONLY explanation is an extreme amount of self-centeredness about how hurt he is. Like an EXTREME amount, an amount that overpowers a general sense of compassion or right and wrong. I don’t love that for Isaac as a character.
Megan: I think the conflict made sense in terms of Colin’s genuine fears, but the way you suggested above would have been a much better way of having it play out. At the end of the day, it probably does suck for Isaac that someone he thought was a really good friend couldn’t trust him. I think that is a human response. But a day of licking his wounds and then going to Colin, starting with a version of the FIFA scene and then having him kick off at the fan would have been better for me while still keeping some of that needed tension. Because when you drag that blanking out – whether that’s to a week or nearly a month – it becomes way crueller than it needs to be and says shitty things about Isaac’s character that I don’t think were intentional on the writer’s part. But it doesn’t change the fact that they’re there now.
Natalie: I don’t think the conflict playing INTO Colin’s fears makes sense either. Colin’s fears are valid, but feeding them wasn’t the way to tell the story! The conflict could have been done while also alleviating Colin’s fears!
Megan: Yeah I agree. And again, I think it’s that fine line of wanting to be realistic, but not needing to feed into them that much. Like. I keep thinking what I would want from this moment if I was a queer closeted Premier League footballer watching this. I don’t think I would want to watch something super cookie-cutter wholesome and perfect where everyone acts the right way immediately, because I think that would hit my “come off it” button, and almost make it seem like Ted Lasso is invalidating my fears and telling me I shouldn’t be scared. But at the same time, I don’t think it needed to go so hard in the other direction of making me think “Oh fuck, this is what would happen and that would suck.” It is a fine line to tread, and I don’t think they entirely nailed it.
Natalie: Obviously it didn’t “happen,” like it didn’t turn out that he was actually homophobic, but the idea of someone in Isaac’s position treating someone in Colin’s position like that for days to weeks is insane to me as a friend. Like, just own it, man. And I do think the show is still putting him in the wrong. Obviously this isn’t an episode where Isaac comes out on top. He’s actually overwhelmed with wrong moves here. But I’m left uncertain where he actually stands, to the point where I think it might have been a little more interesting to actually make him have some ingrained homophobia tied into toxic masculinity, that his conscious brain is trying to combat. I don’t know if that’s what the ending scene was meant to be, with him not being able to say I love you – I’ll come back to that.
Megan: Yeah, honestly that would have been an interesting story to tell. Yet again, I think it is probably a story they didn’t give themselves the time to tell given the amount of episodes this season combined with the number of storylines they’ve put in.
Natalie: But I can’t get past the utter absurdity to me of someone knowing their friend has X reason to be terrified, you know it too, and you don’t immediately say, “It’s not X, I am really pissed off about Y,” in this specific circumstance when he knew how horrific the idea of Colin being hated for being X actually is. I mean, Isaac isn’t always the brightest, but I can’t quite buy “He assumed Colin would know he wasn’t being homophobic, so he wasn’t worried about giving that impression. ” Do you know what I mean?
Megan: Yeah. Isaac is smart enough about some things – this season we’ve seen him understand body science and the need to be careful about nude photos – that I don’t think he wouldn’t have realised how he came across.
Natalie: That’s what I’m most stuck on with the whole “playing into Colin’s fears” element. But I think Kola did brilliant acting this episode of someone so stuck in his own head, which we do know Isaac has issues with, and I’ve kind of seen him getting more wound up all season.
Megan: Yeah, much like “The Strings That Bind Us,” while I had some issues with the script choices, the actors did a phenomenal job here. Kola really knocked it out of the park. And I liked Colin way more this episode than I previously have!
Natalie: Ahahahahh. I think you’ve onboarded Fandom Colin, in between the episodes he’s actually been featured in. And Fandom Colin is an insufferable woobie.
Megan: Yeah, onscreen spiky Colin is a much more interesting character to me!
Natalie: Colin in this episode was very much in line with who he has always been to me, just a little more focus. Like his humour teasing Richard, and his stuff with Trent. Colin has always been quite spiky and catty.
Megan: I really enjoyed both the recurring theme of ribbing on Richard this episode – started by Colin – and his very funny reactions to it. Tilting his head back and saying “HAH” was just… very good.
Natalie: They’re all so dumb.
Megan: They really are. Dani and his socks. The team really are the star of this show, and any fourth season or spinoff that doesn’t centre them all a lot more would be such a waste.
Natalie: I think the Isaac and Colin stuff wears on me because we really do see Colin stepping up to kind of “take responsibility” for explaining things to Isaac, like “Hey, can we go chat about this thing you know we need to discuss?” The onus shouldn’t be on Colin here, but even when he fucking picks up that responsibility, Isaac knocks him back. Like come on, man. That stuff is so miserable to me, and not in a worthwhile way. But him and Trent – amazing. They should both feature heavily in season 4 or the spin off.
Megan: I think part of the reason the Isaac stuff was pretty uncomfortable is they really draw out how long you could think he’s acting this way because he is homophobic, not just hurt. Like saying “No” so bluntly about the drink, not wanting Colin to touch him, reacting to being called the f slur in a way that could be read as him being outraged someone would accuse him of that. I think that’s why it felt more miserable than it maybe needed to, because they really drew that element out. Colin and Trent were absolutely perfect though. I need to figure out a reason why Trent can stay around the team even after his book is written. He can never leave them.
Natalie: He can do a biography of each player. A series.
Megan: Yes. And Apple should actually publish them all. So I can read them.
Natalie: He had probably my favourite line, which is when Colin came in and was like “He knows! Not great!” And Trent, very calmly, says, “Give him time, you shouldn’t have to but some people need it.” The “you shouldn’t have to” maybe saved this episode for me. It was so natural and felt properly like real queer support.
Megan: Yes! Like Trent acknowledges that it is wrong that people need the time, but that it happens. It was really great and rang very true to me.
Natalie: Honestly everything about Trent is just the best. His sarcasm, his eating throughout this chat. He truly is one of the most real-feeling characters in all of Ted Lasso to me. There never feels like there’s any artifice or performance, like he just… exists. Gayly. And gloriously.
Megan: He doesn’t have all that many lines, but everything he does say is glorious, and his facial expressions do so much talking. What a gift.
Natalie: Honestly, absolutely amazing. Obviously there’s not a ton of time for Ted to be wondering why Colin is coming in and closing the door to speak to Trent privately – I’m sure he worked it out later, if he gave it any thought at all – but like, why was Trent eavesdropping on Ted’s teacher conference? The way he teases Colin with that sarcasm about Ted’s son failing science. SCANDAL. I want him to be my best friend. What a fucking character. He could carry his own spin off for sure. But the fact that Ted is on that parent-teacher call at all is a little nod to the other drama going on at Richmond before the Brighton match, which is the Roy and Rebecca situation. I have mixed feelings about how this played out in terms of Roy’s behaviour, but overall, what a net win. These two are one of my very favourite dynamics on the whole show, of any characters, maybe second only to Roy and Jamie. And I know I said some stuff above about being sullenly prepared to accept Nate as the new Richmond manager even though he shouldn’t be, but the stage is extremely set for Roy to actually step up to where we need him to be now. Roy as Rebecca’s manager feels very possible.
Megan: With Nate, I am prepared to accept it, in the sense that I am trying to prepare myself for it to happen even though he’s so far done nothing to make me think it would be positive for either him or the people at Richmond. But with Roy after this episode it feels like he’s finally in a place where he can do it, and that would be great for everyone at Richmond, and me personally.
Natalie: I do have issues with how we got there – fairly big ones, actually – but the energy is there for it, for sure. And like. I’m excited for it. I really need it to happen. So let’s keep our fingers crossed. Notably, it’s Keeley who suggests to Rebecca that Roy fill in at the pre-match presser. She says he hates that stuff but he is really good at it. The fact that it’s Keeley’s idea, and that Keeley is present when Rebecca tells him he needs to do it, is part of why I have kind of an issue with the steps taken along the way in this arc, because we know Roy will do press when asked. He told Keeley he would, then we see him do it in Amsterdam. She – the club’s PR agent – is present when Rebecca asks. It’s obviously a PR ask, so an ask from Keeley as well as a professional obligation. And the way she looks back at him… Let’s just say that if I was Roy, I’d want to do a good job to make Keeley’s life easier or make her like me or something. Like, you owe her, man. Even outside of the normal work obligation that I just do not think you would blow off the way this episode forced you to blow off.
Megan: Yeah I mean, I would definitely be looking for ways to make it up to her after last week, and she herself is very smiley and relaxed around him. She doesn’t seem anywhere near as awkward as she has been with him earlier this season, so if I was Roy I would have said yes, and then given the best press conference of my life. And having him choose to blow it off didn’t really work for me either. It just didn’t really feel like something he’d do in that moment, especially since, as you’ve said, he clearly does press at other times when asked!
Natalie: I get the feeling that his entire arc this episode with Rebecca, actually maybe his entire arc this season, is meant to have been telling us that he’s fallen into a very dark self destructive place. That he is Not Himself, that he is struggling, that he’s doing shit like this from being in such a bad way. Which is like – yes, I could believe that of Roy, easily. But we have not been shown that. He IS fucked in the head, for sure! But we’ve had these dark moments be played like jokes, like the two types of rope sadism. We had him ask Keeley that stupid question last week which I didn’t find OOC, but many did – I really get where his stupid brain was at, but we didn’t have any surrounding behaviour from him to show the audience how off the rails he is that he would cross that line. Even his training of Jamie, to some people that might look like he’s trying very hard at work and doing a good job? Which I don’t think is the case. I think he’s doing this with Jamie as somewhere to put his weird energy. It’s not like he’s getting paid for it. This is his extracurricular insanity. But it could be read as a good, productive, purposeful thing, I guess. From what happens with Rebecca, I think we are being told that Roy is Off the Rails, but it doesn’t massively play like that within the episode? It plays like “Oh Roy’s just a badass guy who doesn’t give a shit, he’s a rebel, man, and it’s slightly funny and cool of him” – Higgins’ response for example. But like, that is not Roy. Roy is an Olympic Level Carer. He cares so much all the time. And yes sometimes his inability to handle that level of care means he shuts things out, like, “Nope, can’t do that.” But the last thing I’d ever say about Roy is that he’s blasé. That’s so not him.
Megan: With Roy… I think the issue is that too many things have been played for laughs in a way that undermines the attempt to show he’s in a genuinely dark place. Like, I believe that of him. We saw it a bit at the start of season 2 when he was dealing with being retired. And things like the Keeley scene last week, the almost obsessive focus on Jamie, the initial treatment of Trent – that does feel indicative to me of someone in a bad place, and felt true to Roy as a character. But when they add in the violence in a way that is so played for laughs, it just makes him seem comedy-deranged, not just really fucking messed up. And like, on the one hand I appreciate the way that Ted will let Roy’s Royness roll off him, but there have definitely been moments where if I was Ted, I would probably have checked in and actually pointed out how fucked he’s being. He did it with Trent, I feel like he could have stepped in at other moments, like the dick string. And I think they did it with the press conference again here, they went for the funniest option, rather than the option that works the most. Like, I think they just really wanted to have Beard argue about guitarists, and as a scene in isolation, that would have been very funny. As it was, I found it frustrating because it meant Roy was acting in a way that didn’t really make sense to me.
Natalie: Yeah. Like, I also believe that Beard can and should be able to take a presser, you know? Ultimately, it feels like they wanted things like showing Roy stepping up at the end to rectify his apathetic response to something that mattered, and that they wanted that Beard gag. But that means making Roy do something that I truly believe is out of character, which is to blow off the press conference after he was told he needed to do it by Rebecca and implicitly also by Keeley. It’s a big example of sacrificing his characterisation for the sake of the plot progression that they wanted. I found it very very hard to believe that he would just not do it – or that Beard would be so bad at it.
Megan: Yeah, and if they had done it just once this season it’d be annoying, but things happen sometimes. But the fact that I think they’ve done it so many times is what makes this so frustrating, even if I do love so many elements of it.
Natalie: I don’t usually quote other reviews, but Manuel Betancourt at the AV Club said this: “Seriously, can we have one episode where one of our characters isn’t needlessly twisted into a version of themselves that feels so inauthentic it could only have been arrived at by needing to land a specific joke?” This is referring to Beard’s behaviour, I believe, but it ties into Roy’s too, in that they forced him into a plot he just would not have been in, if he was acting like the man we know he is, rather than the person the show needed to be seen Doing Better at the end. And it didn’t feel like, “Oh, this is a dark place for Roy.” Anyway, I feel the same Roy/Rebecca dynamic or close to it could have been achieved if he had just done the presser but been bad at it. Like saying “Yes. No. No. Fuck off. No. What about it? No more questions.” Shown up, and done it, but done quite badly, been disengaged. It may not have been the same level of fury for Rebecca, but I feel she could have had plenty to say about him actually trying and putting in the effort to be tuned in to the world around him. Something like that might have worked without forcing him to start the episode in such an OOC place?
Megan: I have a real issue with being shown growth from a character, only to then later walk that growth back a bit so they can then have them learn to be better again. I do know that people can regress and backslide, but I think we’ve seen enough of that already this season with Roy, and because of the Keeley element in particular, this level of backsliding just felt too out of character for where Roy currently is. At the same time I do get the sense that finally, finally, this will be the turning point for Roy and he’ll only be on the up from here on out. But that isn’t the first time I’ve thought that this season, so… who knows.
Natalie: I absolutely don’t mind backsliding and non-linear growth. That’s not an issue for me. But that’s not even what this felt like. It just felt like the behaviour of a different character, the fact he was so nonchalant about it. But we started in a place of such clear troubledness for him, with the Chelsea episode and since then, there just hasn’t been a lot since then to tell us where he’s at, genuinely. And as you mentioned – no support from Ted or Beard, checking if he’s alright. Anyway, this very much did happen, they forced this plot into the episode in a way that didn’t hugely feel like the right character choice for even a very dark Roy, but it is what we have got to tackle, and I do think he and Rebecca are an absolute God tier dynamic. The general vibes of all their stuff is exactly what I want, even if the details or circumstances aren’t.
Megan: Even the way she actually asked him in the first place was so good. Like, her expressions that got him to keep changing his answer, and her “I heard that”. It really gave me the impression that they must have hung out a fair bit while Keeley and Roy were dating, because their dynamic is very natural.
Natalie: Yeah, the thing with Roy and Rebecca is that they are friends. It’s annoying we don’t get to see more of it, and obviously she’s Team Keeley, but his “disrespectful” tone with her, while work-inappropriate, doesn’t feel wrong or out of pocket, because they have a lot of history, and I personally think their history predates Keeley, too. Not as closely, obviously, but right at the start of season 1, there’s an energy in the way that they recognise and respond to each other. They have known each other for a long time and there is a mutual level of respect there. Like, Roy probably always hated Rupert, let’s be real, and probably somewhat rated Rebecca. They have a sense of one another, and it actually predates any other relationship on the whole show aside from Rebecca and Leslie. But absolutely while Roy was dating Keeley, Rebecca would have gone out to dinners, or over to their place – a lot of social interaction. Their scenes in season 2 were fantastic, how strong he was with her in the “struck by lightning” moment, and how much they comfortably bounced off of each other while hanging out with Phoebe and Nora. They see each other in a certain way, and there’s no real barrier between them of a work hierarchy or anything – they act like peers. Roy show’s no deference to her in the way Ted does, and Rebecca has very little to do with Roy’s job, day to day. But there is a relationship there, and it’s a very strong one, given how casual Roy is with her and how firm – firm in a very personal way – she is with him later.
Megan: It always makes me wonder how much Roy knows about what Rebecca was doing in season 1. Because he was obviously there when Keeley found out via the paparazzi photos, but I feel like if he’d found out then, he would have struggled to keep quiet about it to Ted, especially since it had a direct impact on him as a player. So maybe Keeley didn’t fill him in on what the photos meant, but did she tell him later, once it had all been resolved? I agree they have a strong relationship, I just always wonder if he knew about that, and what he made of it.
Natalie: That is one of the mysteries of Ted Lasso that I would love an answer to, because you’re right, Roy and Keeley found those pictures together. Weirdly I can see him respecting Rebecca for it if he knew, but only if he found out after some distance. Like, just absolutely rating her insane revenge plan. But given his relationship with football and how his career ended… Roy getting hurt in a match where his team was relegated is such a shit end for him, and Jamie wouldn’t have been on the pitch if Rebecca hadn’t done what she did. All that stuff. I think if he found out when Keeley did, or even in the summer after, he would be so angry. Keeley might have kept it a secret. I don’t know. I think if I was Keeley I would keep it a secret.
Megan: Yeah I think that’s where I land. I think Keeley would know that it would be really bad for Roy AND Rebecca if Roy found out that early on. Because that last season as a player was so hard and miserable for him anyway, and if he knew Rebecca had played a role in making it even harder I think he would have been raging. But I could see Rebecca bringing it up with him down the line, assuming Keeley had already told him. Making a throwaway reference to some element of it and him being like, “Hang on a minute…what?” And then at that point if she told him everything him being like “You know what, I can respect that. That’s some extreme levels of fucked up. I get it.”
Natalie: That was such a weird time for Rebecca and I’ve always been so confused about how Keeley handled it. She really didn’t hold it against her – we don’t see their full chat, but presumably Rebecca got very upset and explained everything and swore she wasn’t still doing it, and Keeley was like, “Right, well, fix it.” But that was the time Leslie quit too, standing up to her. Just a really messy period for Rebecca.
Megan: Rebecca really has come so far since season 1. I do love her. I mean she’s also had some insane moments this season, but none of hers have felt out of character to me, just Rebecca being Rebecca.
Natalie: I enjoyed the level of open friendship and again, the lack of deference with her and Leslie here, him mocking her about her attempts to handle the press conference and being excited about Rebecca getting mad at Roy. I really think that when Roy becomes the manager, the Higgins-Rebecca-Roy triangle of Richmond power will bring an incredible energy.
Megan: The Roy Rebecca Higgins trifecta may be too powerful. But I would love to watch it.
Natalie: I think they’d be fantastic, but another thing I wonder about Roy becoming manager is the team dynamic, because we’ve said a few times, he really fits more in the peer zone with them. Like, he fits with the coaches, sure, but he also fits with the boys, in a way the other coaches DON’T. He’s still an honorary teammate, because the boys never would have done that “Oooooh you’re in trouble” ribbing to Ted or Beard. Will that change when he’s the manager?
Megan: I feel like it might a little bit, but not fully. I do wonder how often players who turn to coaching have this kind of camaraderie with the team. Pep started coaching full time less than a year after he retired as a player, and so he might have felt more on the same level as the teams he was working with then. But with Roy, it’s especially different because of course less than a year before he was actually on the same team as them. And of course you do have players that, in their last few years with a team where they are getting on a bit, will be like, player-coaches. Because they’re getting their qualifications, and know they’re going to retire soon and the club lets them work with the coaching team as well as on the pitch. I imagine in those situations it can be a bit of a blurred line too. With Roy of course he wasn’t just a player, he was their Captain, and a legend they all looked up to. So that does give him a bit of extra sway. He was never JUST another player to them.
Natalie: I’m just wondering about the dynamic shift when the buck stops with you, like what boundaries go up.
Megan: Yeah. I think Roy will have to be the one to set those boundaries. I’d be interested to see how he does it.
Natalie: I mean in most work hierarchies there’s that issue, even Keeley and Shandy. Like “I have to be your boss, I can’t just be your friend.” I mean he could just continue to be very hands-on, I suppose, be up in their business. He might need to hire a good support staff to handle other things so he can put his energy where he needs it to be – counting Jamie’s reps.
Megan: Look, all the best managers are hands on. By which I mean Pep, constantly having his hands on his players. But not in a creepy way. In a really great, loving way. I am obsessed with the idea that he was watching Jamie carefully enough in the gym to know he hadn’t done enough yet. But to be fair, in that outfit, I would probably also be carefully watching Jamie too.
Natalie: What outfit? He was wearing no clothes.
Megan: Naked weights. A new and very important element Roy has introduced to their training. I back it. Manager of the year award to Roy, right now.
Natalie: Seriously though – why. Why that tank top. Why NO variation in any of the other players but put Jamie in that scrap of fabric that’s barely containing his chest. Is it just so we can see how big he’s gotten? Because I knew anyway. Genuinely, in the wide shot of the room, he draws the eye HARD because there’s so much skin, just the colour difference popping from the dark blues and greys. It is an extreme contrast. Also, between this and the bus in Amsterdam, Sam absolutely has Thoughts about Roy bossing Jamie around. He probably thinks it’s hilarious, but he is Noticing. And Jamie is getting no sympathy from him.
Megan: I have so many questions. When did Sam find out? How did he find out? Was he concerned for Jamie’s safety at first? He’s definitely very entertained now, but God I want to know more.
Natalie: I very much assume that he was initially concerned, then Jamie had to admit he liked it And now he just thinks Jamie is bringing it on himself.
Megan: Yeah at this point Sam is just enjoying the spectacle, and laughing at them both. Sidenote: their gym is so small and dark and dingy compared to the City gym, which I see all the time in training videos. Poor Jamie, having to hide in this dungeon all the time after starting out there.
Natalie: Yes, the facilities available are not comparable at al,l which is something I do wonder about how Jamie reacted to when he came. But anyway. They don’t start counting until it hurts. Roy, I mean.
Megan: Come on now.
Natalie: The rest of the team didn’t consent to be a part of your scenes.
Megan: Does Will know Roy’s arse isn’t hairy? Or Jan? I’m just saying, neither of them were there when Roy was still a player. I think he can forgive them for not speaking up, given the parts of Roy’s body they have seen, it’s not a wild guess to assume his arse is hairy too.
Natalie: I mean I could argue this point. I have no idea if coaches shower with the group when they’ve been training, but also, Roy’s BACK isn’t hairy.
Megan: That is true. His hair does seem mostly reserved for his front.
Natalie: I assumed his arse had a normal, non-excessive amount of hair, due to the shot of him in boxer briefs in season 1 – it thins out around the tops of his thighs. So he might have a hairy chest and forearms and lower legs, but his biceps, back, and upper thighs, less so. Ergo, butt less so. I have NO idea if Brett Goldstein in fact waxes his back or upper arms. Some guys do. But I can’t imagine ROY doing it. So I think his body hair that we see, even if it’s groomed by Brett, is meant to be Roy’s natural level, just like we can never forget that Jamie is meant to have a fair amount of body hair that he waxes, from the comments in the pilot. Even though I’m not 100% sure Phil Dunster naturally has it. What would happen if Jamie grew out his chest hair? Roy might get jealous.
Megan: He wouldn’t want the competition, he couldn’t cope. But if Jamie wanted to grow some arse hair, Roy might be okay with that.
Natalie: That will never happen. Never. But honestly, the idea that Roy expected any of them to speak up to Rebecca is a funny moment of Roy feeling peerhood with Rebecca AND peerhood the team, meaning that he is – wrongly – placing team and Rebecca as peers. Like, none of you (we are all one group on one level) spoke up for me against her (someone that all of us are allowed to talk back to.) I know it’s for the sake of a joke, but it’s kind of interesting.
Megan: Yeah you’re right, it does speak a lot to the dynamics at play and where Roy sees himself. I suppose Sam might feel comfortable talking back to Rebecca, to a certain extent, but otherwise it’s mad that Roy would think that.
Natalie: I mean Sam can’t let anyone else know that either, so it doesn’t count. But yeah. It is like, a joke! But also, none of the lads will speak back to Rebecca! Though they are apparently ashamed of not doing so. The way Jamie looks down after Isaac’s scold… LOL.
Megan: He let Roy down, he let himself down. Poor Richard. I have to assume they all mock him so much because he knows that he is actually beautiful.
Natalie: This would have been slightly funnier to me if it was ongoing since day 1, but I also really enjoy moments where a show frames something like it’s already established as an in-joke. So maybe he did something a few weeks earlier that means he’s the current butt of all the jokes.
Megan: Right? Like, I would love to know its origins, but it’s clearly something they’re all in on, and he takes it with very good humour. I think your theory works, I bet he did something stupid and now he has to pay the price.
Natalie: Rebecca didn’t seem to be too worried about undermining Roy in front of the team – very different from Ted scolding Roy in that regard – but she is extremely angry, like, end of her rope angry. I’m not actually sure we have ever seen her lay into anyone the way she lays into Roy in her office. I can’t think of a moment – certainly not since she’s been “good” and not acting against the heroes. But unlike many other “unseen dynamics” that I’ve struggled with a bit this season, it feels entirely real and right to me. We haven’t had weekly check ins on how Rebecca feels about Roy or observing him, but this did not feel out of nowhere. I got it, on a fairly deep level.
Megan: She is glorious in her anger though. I do like the way Roy walks in there asking what the fuck her problem is. He’s very casual about it and comfortable around her – and clearly not prepared for quite how intense she is.
Natalie: Honestly, him asking what the fuck her problem is raised my eyebrows a bit, because we haven’t seen THAT much of them being friends who can speak plainly. I was a bit like WHOA. Imagine Ted talking to her like that.
Megan: I think I found that not dissimilar to the Richard stuff above, like it implied a backstory or relationship that we maybe hadn’t seen on screen, but that felt right. Very different vibes obviously, but it felt very in character, and told me a lot about the relationship they must have, or had pre Keeley break up anyway. I imagine they’ve not spent much time together recently.
Natalie: Yeah, ultimately, his casual, irreverent approach and her response, “Wait, I know this one” – I do think that they are relatively close, like you could call it disrespectful and I’m sure some people will, but it very much felt overall like this is a friend calling out a friend for being self-destructive, and him asking her what her problem is kind of reminded me of Keeley calling her a floppy cock.
Megan: Yes! If she was just his boss and he was just her employee it would be pretty disrespectful, but the way she lays into him and clearly knows so much about who he is as a person – and why he’s acting this way – shows that their relationship is more than that.
Natalie: They clearly have not been hanging out one on one, but there is a comfort level there that has earned this level of permissiveness. And I’m mad we don’t get three Roybecca scenes per episode. I mean not only because I ship it like hell. I’ve said before I would be DEEPLY into them together.
Megan: If we cut out Ted’s speech later, we could have fit another Roy and Rebecca scene in. Alas.
Natalie: It always struck me – no pun intended – that in the infamous “struck by lightning” speech, Roy is honest with her in a way Keeley can’t be. Like, KEELEY is her bff here, not Roy, but Keeley has issues that mean she is keen to affirm people’s views rather than speak up when she disagrees. The fact that Roy actually tells off Keeley there – like, “Don’t bullshit her,” and the way he phrased what he said – it’s not about John being fine, it’s what he’s done to deserve you. It was so specific. Like, “Most people are fine, you, Rebecca Welton, are SO MUCH MORE THAN FINE.” I’ve quietly shipped them ever since, but aside from that, it speaks to how much he just rates her as a person and how much she thinks of him too. He would not have said that to just anyone, any woman even – he’s speaking to her about her unique value. And here she is doing the same to him. This is about them KNOWING each other.
Megan: Yeah, he clearly thinks that Rebecca is incredible, and deserves someone who knows that, and is worthy of her. And I was going to say, this speech actually really does feel like the struck by lightning speech in reverse, even right down to Rebecca talking about what Roy thinks he deserves. She’s challenging him so bluntly, but there is clearly kindness and genuine liking from her underneath all of that. Yes, she’s angry about the press conference, yes she’s angry about Keeley, but also she is furious that Roy Kent, her friend, is hurting entirely due to his own self-destructive tendencies. And she wants him to snap the fuck out of it.
Natalie: Him shirking a work responsibility is really not what it’s about. It’s about her seeing him just being such a fucking miserable drain, and putting walls up.
Megan: Yeah, it’s the final straw that leads to her blowing up at him, but it’s not the actual issue. Also, as an aside, I think this might be the most stunning I’ve seen Rebecca look. That probably isn’t true, she always looks incredible so I probably can’t really pick, but she looks amazing in this scene.
Natalie: It not only is a reverse of the struck by lightning moment, this personal smackdown, it also picks up this thread that was sadly dropped after Chelsea about Roy’s state of mind. And we talked about that, how in some parts that whole look into his psyche is about why he dumped Keeley, that he left her before she could leave him, that he’s convinced he can’t have good things because they’ll get ruined so he ruins them. Leaving Chelsea when he didn’t want to, and they didn’t want him to, because he didn’t deserve the kindness and grace of a legacy place – in his head – while overlooking all the great valuable things he could have been doing while not being necessarily the number 1 player, like helping the younger players to focus.
Megan: Yeah, I really wish this had come many episodes earlier, but better late than never, and I love that Rebecca is the one to do it. Ted would have had a very different approach, and I don’t think it would have been anywhere near as effective. Ted would have tried to trick or annoy him into getting out of his own way. Rebecca just goes straight for the jugular and it’s very effective.
Natalie: It all comes down to this same question – what does Roy want if he lets himself want it and have it? If right now, this is Roy stuck, what is meant to happen for him, if he lets himself enjoy things and lets himself have things? I think from Rebecca, SOME of that is about Keeley, she must know everything Roy said to her that Keeley cried over. But it cannot JUST be about Keeley, even when Rebecca says it. So… what does he want?
Megan: Keeley and him to get back together is the obvious answer. But I hope that on top of that, becoming the Richmond manager is also on the cards. And that could be something Rebecca is thinking about too. I think she’s probably seeing the writing on the wall with Ted, she might know they’ve not got much longer with him. So does Roy actually love and want this job, does he love it enough to do all the elements of it, like press? She probably thinks he does, and that he could do it but only if he wants it enough to go for it.
Natalie: The thing is, I don’t think Roy has thought about it. I really don’t. I think Rebecca may be thinking it too, like, “Come on, man, you have SO MUCH to offer here” but that’s not the same as what he wants. Some of what she says about him walking away when things aren’t fun or easy – it’s funny because he obviously is such an aggressive character but he also does really fear conflict.
Megan: Honestly I think you’re probably right. I don’t think he’s thinking about much right now. But I think that is probably part of the problem, does Roy actually know what he wants? In any area of his life? Probably not, because he’s not letting himself think and feel and ponder on what he wants out of life. He’s distracting himself with dick string and Jamie.
Natalie: But I think the want isn’t like, a job title. The job title is the after effect. So yeah, what does he WANT – like what does he want to achieve? What is going to make him feel fulfilled? When is he going to stop acting like life happening to him is a massive trial, and actually make his circumstances work for him? Because I am also stuck on what Trent said to him – that it’s rare to find this much fulfilment in a second career, “I don’t think I got this much from my first” – he sees how passionate Roy is about the boys. I think that’s really the key – Roy wants to look after people. He wants to be needed, frankly. He wants to provide for the people who need him, and that will make him feel like he has a place in the world. I think a lot of the stuff with Keeley was about him not feeling needed, and the Jamie stuff is TRULY absurd because it’s like he went out and was like “Right, I am going to spend all my spare time” – not his paid job! His free time! – “with the one person I know who will absolutely treat me like I am God.” As sexy as it is, and as in some ways selfless as it is, his obsession with Jamie isn’t exactly a great coping mechanism. It’s a sign of how fucking weird he is. It’s an outlet of all these issues, and maybe in some ways a test of like, “How much of a total fucking freak can I be and still have him stay dedicated to me?”
Megan: God. When you put it that way, it really is so fucking true. Like, I obviously love the Jamie training element, and I hope it would have happened even if Roy had been happier – possibly in a slightly less angry way, but probably not – but it’s not a sign that Roy is doing well. It is a sign that he feels lost and frustrated and lonely and oh look, there’s Jamie.
Natalie: I LOVE them together, but I do not think his training of Jamie is like, a sign that he’s being a good coach to the team, if that makes sense. It isn’t a sign that he’s doing his actual job well.
Megan: Perfect sense. I love the outcome, but the emotions behind it are not… healthy. Not from Roy anyway. Jamie is obviously very good.
Natalie: Jamie deserves special attention and many star players do extra training with a personal trainer or a running coach or whatever, outside of the club. Like, they pay a separate trainer.
Megan: Yeah, on the surface it’s not too surreal a situation, though it would be weird still for one of your actual club coaches to focus that intensely on you, but knowing what we do about Roy, it is not a sign of a man who is Doing Well.
Natalie: Roy is making him into a project because he wants to be needed and he wants to be appreciated, I think. Also because he knows Jamie deserves development, I do think he’s doing it for Jamie. But the reasons he’s doing it for him are maybe not like, he’s a super great coach going the extra mile in order to help Jamie or the team. We KNOW he uses Jamie as an outlet. Roy is someone who is good at being in charge of things, he’s a leader, he commands respect. In some ways he’s a really natural boss. He obviously isn’t being that at Richmond right now, so I think for Rebecca there could be an element of like, “Can he step up?” For Roy, well, at least he gets to be the boss of Jamie, and Jamie will let him. But I still want a conversation like, “Why are you doing this for me,” and Roy to actually think about it. And with Zava then Total Football, we kind of lost that original thread of Roy feeling pressured about Stepping Up as Coach.
Megan: She’s testing him. Ted and Rebecca are obviously close and they do confide in each other, so I think she will definitely be able to sense that his time at Richmond is probably almost up. And as a result of that, she will need to find a new manager. I really can’t see her picking Nate, not after that press conference at the start of the season. She’s a bit of a grudge holder. But Roy? The Roy she knows is in there? I think she would pick him, if he showed he wanted it and would do the work.
Natalie: I could see that in some ways, once he started thinking about it, looking at his peers too, guys like Lampard, Kompany, Rooney – anyone who’s gone on to manage within a few years of playing – now that Roy’s an assistant maybe last season, his brain started quietly itching, like, “Maybe I’ll manage one day.”
Megan: I think so. And he is good at it! He knows the game, but actually when it matters he’s always shown to have the man management skills needed to. He goes about it differently to Ted of course. But he knows how to get through to them.
Natalie: But since the Keeley stuff he’s just lost drive, maybe? And yeah, doesn’t deserve to be the leader or the person paid lots of money and the face of the club or whatever.
Megan: I think that’s fair. And likely.
Natalie: Like, also he thinks he’s bad at people. I can see him thinking “I’m just a shithead, these boys shouldn’t trust me.”
Megan: I think he thinks that, but he really isn’t!
Natalie: Which is what this episode combats for him.
Megan: He cares deeply about them, and he knows what they’re going through.
Natalie: I really hope this does all lead to a place where he’s like “I want Ted’s job and I want to do it well,” as opposed to “I want Ted’s job but I’m not allowed to have it because I’m a piece of shit.” That is more important to me than him getting back with Keeley – I feel slightly uncomfortable about the idea that Rebecca’s speech was implicitly meant to shove him back at Keeley five minutes after the Jack stuff. But they both know the deal here, both Roy and Rebecca. That part sort of goes without saying.
Megan: Yeah I think she was probably thinking about Keeley a little bit, but I don’t think that’s all she meant by any means.
Natalie: Given the way things go down at the end, I really have some hope that this is leading to Roy taking over Richmond. I’m still not 100% sure how that equates with “letting himself be happy” in a career way, but… we’ll get there. Maybe. All of this action takes place before the halfway point. The majority of the episode is dedicated to the Brighton match and what happens with Colin and Isaac, and honestly it’s a painful run of moments. I already mentioned how unconscionable it is for me to have Isaac act that way to Colin before the match. Pulling his hand away in the huddle didn’t just hurt as a character moment, it felt fucking insane to me as a display of homophobia in the wider scope of queer history. Sure these boys are younger than me, and maybe not thinking day to day about the implications, but HOW could Isaac treat Colin like that just because his feelings are hurt, while KNOWING how it must look to Colin? We already discussed this but this approach gets NO grace from me in terms of “Awwww! He wasn’t homophobic, he was just upset that he wasn’t in the loop!” No. Refusing to touch a gay man has a very fucking specific meaning in queer history and I hated this. And I understand that Isaac isn’t being excused for it within the wider scheme of the episode, but I think he should have been bollocked harder for it.
Megan: Yeah, I get that the Ted Lasso writers really wanted to keep that tension of Colin thinking he’s homophobic right up until the big reveal that he was just hurt, but I do think they went too hard on it without thinking of the historical significance and the actual impact watching that will have on queer viewers. Because they did it so well that when – and this is skipping ahead a bit, but it relates to my point – when Isaac goes after the fan for calling him that word I genuinely did think “Oh shit, is he going after the fan because Isaac really is homophobic and doesn’t want anyone to think he’s gay?” And that really hurts to consider! Too much of this episode dwelled on Isaac’s feelings and fuck ups, and not enough on what Colin, the actual gay man, was going through. Which I didn’t love.
Natalie: We know Isaac’s reasons and what’s in his heart. That part was great. But I honestly can’t jive with his way of expressing his upset at Colin, because of how harmful it was and though it may have been sanctimonious, I would have really loved seeing him get read the riot act by Colin or possibly Trent, for this behaviour and what he had accidentally implied.
Megan: Yeah Colin is obviously very forgiving – probably, frankly, because he’s so relieved to find out Isaac isn’t homophobic – but Trent? I would have loved to see him call that out.
Natalie: Also, like, what tension? What viewer thought this was a “twist?” NO ONE REALLY THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO END UP BEING HOMOPHOBIC! It’s fake tension! And if people did wonder, which I didn’t, not for a second – I hate this game of “Is one of our heroes a threat? Can we dupe you into thinking so?” I just don’t think they should have left it hanging for Colin. So many of these moments could have been included in slightly different ways that didn’t play this game of “ally or homophobe,” and like I said earlier, it’s at the point where maybe homophobe, maybe Isaac examining his knee jerk reactions and trying to overcome them, is more interesting to dig into. But the episode never even calls back to Colin wincing at Isaac’s casual gay comments. It’s just “YOU DID NOTHING BAD, I WAS JUST INSECURE.” Then why show Isaac doing something bad earlier in the season, show? Maybe they planned a tougher angle here, a trickier perspective, and then rewrote scenes to make it more wholesome?
Megan: I think that is potentially it, that they planned something more challenging and ended up going with something simpler. Because when Isaac asks what he did I was like, “Umm buddy, love you, but maybe that comment? And I assume many others like it? Maybe?” Like. Yes Colin’s fear and insecurity would have played a part, but we have seen that Isaac has made at least one dodgy comment!
Natalie: Hey, they still had time to give us a weird-ass moment of Jamie “dead-naming” Van Damme and then linger on him looking odd about it.
Megan: Urgh, yeah, I didn’t love that. A gracious read is that Jamie doesn’t like the Zava reminder, but given it’s been such a metaphor for supporting trans people to date, I didn’t love it in the context of this particular episode, and definitely not from Jamie.
Natalie: I have no fucking idea why they did that. It’s been like 5 months, and if we are going to genuinely use that name change like a metaphor as they seem to be doing in how they’ve all been playing the rename, why the fuck would Jamie be the one to fuck it up? That says nothing about his character. It’s one of several moments this episode where the writing does Jamie dirty, in my opinion, but I do not understand if this was a joke or something else. A lot of choices were made here in what got focus and what didn’t. It must be said that his shirt very much still says Zoreaux.
Megan: Yeah, I feel like they could change that! It’s not like they don’t have brand new shirts for every single match!
Natalie: Maybe this is their idea of a hilarious joke that incidentally paints Jamie as someone who can’t vibe with trans people. Cool. Exactly what I want for my favourite character.
Megan: There were some weird choices this episode for sure, and this was one of them. Especially when you later combine it with him being flattered that everyone else on the team thinks he’s gay. Another weird choice.
Natalie: I have many things to say about that weirdness. Truly all over the place. But the scene where Isaac jumps the wall and goes after the fan, and Roy’s command of that situation? That was my favourite moment, I think. The frenetic energy, the camera angles, the tension there. The soundscape of it, like the mess of noise, and the way Roy really comes alive, just the look on his face even. The thing about this episode that I’ll always struggle with is this is really an Isaac and Roy episode. They’re both so amazing in it. But like… the best scenes of this episode should be with Billy Harris? Not to take away from the other two, but the fact that they don’t truly give Colin his own big, amazing scenes as well… Well, I’ll get to that. But this isn’t really an episode about the gay guy, it’s about people’s response to things. In terms of an episode about Roy looking after Isaac, the captain he chose because he saw himself in him, in like, maybe not great ways – never stop breaking TVs – of Roy looking after his players, mentoring, and dealing with the impact of abuse in the terraces. Great scenes. Truly amazing moments that felt very powerful to me in terms of loving the football elements and the gifts that Roy brings to his role as a coach.
Megan: Even down to the fact that he’s the one that basically lifts Isaac over the barrier at the end. And once he sees Isaac safely in shouts for the stewards to get the fan out. He might not have heard what was said but he wants the guy out of there because he knows the kinds of things it would have been. I wonder if Roy thought, without having heard it, that the slur was actually the n-slur, or something else race related. Either way it’s a really fucking powerfully shot scene, and those two did a phenomenal job in it.
Natalie: Also the fact that they absolutely could say the f-slur with their rating. They’re “allowed” to say it but they don’t air it. The discordant, distorted way they use sound there is great. I’m unsure if Roy heard it or not but Colin absolutely did. You see him stop and hunch and just like, move on. But yeah. Here’s the thing. Especially this season, I’ve seen some comments about the element of celebrity and wealth, like I don’t know if they mean that the Ted Lasso writers are using the show as a vehicle to push some agenda, what with Jason Sudeikis’s personal life in the news, which I won’t get into. I’m not 100% sure what they mean when saying this stuff. But I’ve seen comments about “Oh yet another episode about how we shouldn’t abuse famous people,” basically. Like negative comments, criticising or laughing at the angle the show takes with victimising famous people. But honestly, and I don’t know what it says about me, that is one of the most interesting topics to me – the dehumanisation of people in the public eye. I find that issue fascinating and I have a lot of empathy for it.
Megan: Oh, I hate that. I’ve seen a little bit about it just being a show about wealthy people, but I haven’t seen that specific angle. At the end of the day they are still human and I do not think being in the public eye means you deserve abuse, or are asking for it. And with footballers in particular SO MANY of them are people of colour, SO MANY of them came from poor, working class backgrounds. Any closeted players are probably living in constant fear of being outed. Yes, they are rich now, yes some of them do shitty, awful things. But a lot of them are not people who came from privilege. And even if they were, they should be allowed to do their job without abuse.
Natalie: Like yes, some people very much think rich people shouldn’t complain about anything, but I think that dehumanisation due to fame, when the fame either comes from something you can’t control and didn’t choose – like say, Prince Harry – or the side effect of being really good at your job, like a footballer – I think the mob mentality fans have is really shit. This episode, more so than others, through using fan abuse in the stands, through what Roy says at the end, really worked for me in actually getting into that core of the abuse these people face regularly and the impact it has. Fame obviously is so fucking weird. Like, leaving aside the Shandys of the world, looking at more traditionally high profile people. If you are able to follow a passion and do a job that is talent based, like make music or play sport, the result of doing well at that is often fame. But fame isn’t really why many people do it. They do it because they want to commit to doing the passion that they’re talented at, and fame is a side effect of their work being appreciated by other people. So having people forced to put up with abuse because they’re well known “public property,” when it’s this kind of abuse, like the level of vitriol in football in particular – yeah, they absolutely can be the victims. And this episode made me feel more like I believe that this behaviour exists in the world of Ted Lasso than even the Sam episode. It felt more baked in, like the way that this always goes, even if we haven’t had much exposure to it before.
Megan: Yeah. The Sam episode just honestly felt a bit too clean and neat, this was so raw and visceral and real, and really powerful because of it. In terms of football realism, there is precedent for players doing this – there have been a fair few occasions where players have gone into the stands to fight a fan – and also the red card off the back of it is the standard punishment. This will mean a match ban for Isaac – probably at least three matches, but famously Eric Cantona, who is one of the players Zava was based on besides Zlatan, got a nine month ban for leaping up and doing a martial arts-style kick at the chest of a fan who had been abusing him. He was also stripped of his captaincy by the French national team, and got a criminal assault charge – a short prison sentence commuted to community service. Ironically this incident also happened at Selhurst Park, which is the stadium used for Nelson Road. I don’t think Isaac will get anywhere near that level of punishment, given the circumstances, but it’s definitely something taken very seriously by the League. The ban will be decided by the FA, and he’ll likely have to pay a fine too.
Natalie: Yeah. It’s really tricky because obviously yeah, not a great look, but football is such a difficult stage for the players to perform on. Like, pop stars don’t GENERALLY get abuse and slurs hurled at them depending on how well they sing and dance from the people who paid for tickets to the concert, you know? Some people are kind of quite viciously against caring about such things but empathy about the dehumanisation of celebrities is actually something that really hits hard with me for whatever reason, and in football, the abuse is so next level.
Megan: Yeah. I mean, I guess at festivals here in the UK you do get a fair bit of bottling of acts that aren’t loved while waiting for the headliners, but in general, you pay tickets to see a band or a play or whatever and you go along and enjoy it. At football, the fans will hate at least half the players on that pitch for the duration of the match, and sometimes hate their own players too, if they fuck up. Yes, players can’t go and attack fans and the FA have to come down on them when they do, but I have a lot of sympathy for the players. On the plus side, fans who act the way this guy did on Ted Lasso will get banned too. I imagine this guy, once the club hears from Sam and Isaac what he said, will get a lifetime ban. The fan Cantona kicked had his season ticket revoked, and Premier League teams in recent years have been very firm about banning fans who are racist and homophobic.
Natalie: Obviously not everyone heard what was said – Colin did, the players passing by as he yelled it, but the scene in the dressing room where this was all explained was very tense, though I’m not in love with the way they popped the tension bubble at the end to lighten it. Even Higgins tearing out of his seat to get down there felt important. It’s a real moment, and I think Kola’s acting was excellent, the level of energy trembling under his skin. It really shows the depth of feeling that he’s unable to express, especially contrasted with the way Colin also heard it and shrugged it off. His explosion is, to me at least, telling us that he’s so overwhelmed with the impact of hearing this while knowing Colin is gay, loving Colin as a friend, realising how many times Colin’s had to shoulder this stuff, probably some self hatred for what he’s done to contribute. The whole thing is like he’s experiencing every ounce of pain, anger, offence, hopelessness and so on – everything Colin has felt over the years in little doses, Isaac shoulders the weight of that burden all at once, now that he realises the ongoing impact on Colin. That’s why his response is so extreme.
Megan: Yeah all of this. It was so beautifully, powerfully done. And again, I think it showed up the weaknesses of “The Strings That Bind Us” because that episode really did feel quite out of place, and this scene highlighted it because some of the players do try and brush off the fan abuse, telling Isaac he can’t react to it, they can’t let it get to him, basically minimising it. But in the Ted Lasso timeline a few months back they saw the very real repercussions of fan abuse on Sam, so it felt weird that some of them tried to brush it off here. Like to have SAM say “It’s nothing we haven’t heard before” feels like a continuity error, almost, given the earlier episode. But that aside, Kola… Jesus, his physical acting here is is so fucking good. The way he’s so viscerally affected by it all, and how much he’s struggling to control himself. It’s hard viewing, and he nailed it.
Natalie: There was definitely more of a vibe here among the players of like “Come on, this happens all the time” – which given the Sam situation is quite strange, though maybe he has the perspective of knowing Black players cannot physically rise to anger like this in public. But regardless, it gave the impression that this is something they’ve all had to deal with. And I’m SURE they’ve had to deal with racist stuff. The fact that Isaac snapped over this rather than other examples of racism probably did really shock them, but I can imagine that every footballer, even the most privileged ones, reaches a point where the fan behaviour exhausts them. Everyone has a moment where they’re just over it and hate that fans don’t get how awful their impact is. And they all probably carry each other through that, hence the way everyone kind of gives him those comments. But this is more extreme than those “I’m just over it today” moments. There’s also obviously a massive difference between shaking off slurs about a thing you aren’t, which to be clear, still isn’t great, and dealing with abuse about the group that you are actually a part of. Again, it makes the stuff in 3.07 starker to me, because there’s no dressing room commiseration for Sam about racism, but I guess we can imagine they’ve been there about that before.
Megan: Yeah I suppose that’s true. I am sure every single match at least one player will hear one thing that gets to them a little bit, and they can’t dwell on it or let it get to them, especially at half time, so they are probably used to having to try and gee each other up, help them shake it off.
Natalie: The fact that it’s Sam and Jamie, the other two leaders of the team, the guys that stopped him ripping into Colin during the match – I mean obviously they’re our main guys, so yeah, it was on them to have the proper lines in the script, but it was interesting from a character standpoint to have Sam kind of be like “dude it’s nothing we haven’t heard before,” in particular.
Megan: Yeah, the Sam line really did stand out to me given everything else.
Natalie: But obviously Sam wouldn’t condone beating someone up either. I don’t know, it felt a bit odd. Jamie is obviously just trying to do his best here, which is why I find the banter between him and Sam so off, after Isaac storms out. Isaac – very upset – shares the opinion that he doesn’t think they should have to deal with this kind of shit, especially if one of the team was gay. And then he just can’t deal with it anymore and leaves.
Megan: I really loved that Roy immediately told Ted he had this and went after Isaac though. Absolutely the right call. Ted would not have been the right person to handle Isaac. I mean, he also arguably wasn’t the right person to handle what happened in the dressing room either, but he definitely wouldn’t have done a good job with Isaac.
Natalie: Ah, Ted. I truly wanted to smack him this episode, but I’ll get to that when he has his moment of un-glory. And I have heaps of thoughts about the Roy and Isaac relationship and captain inheritance and how maybe Roy didn’t particularly think through his choice originally, but is able to help Isaac with shit he knows about himself that he’d love to break the cycle with for Isaac. Isaac picking Sam to take over while he’s banned is a choice with much less liability, and we knew Sam would become captain at some point this season from the trailer. And I think it’s a good choice but unfortunately they saw fit to include a moment about this that I HATED and don’t understand at all, and I think I’m like one of five people that hated it, which is that banter between Sam and Jamie about the captain’s band. I love their friendship and I’d love Sam teasing Jamie in any other moment. I think they’re amazing. But I think this scene did both Sam and Jamie dirty. You initially liked it on your watch, so try and talk me out of this.
Megan: So I think with this, in the moment I enjoyed it because Sam’s reaction, flipping Jamie off, startled a laugh out of me in a tense moment, and also Sam looked So. Freaking. Cute. Then speaking to you afterwards I did agree with what it was saying about Jamie in particular being quite off. It’s a tough one because okay… Going deep into football logistics, the way it works is you don’t just pick a random player to take over as captain. There is a hierarchy and there are usually people who are the named vice captains. Sometimes the manager makes these choices, or, more rarely, the players vote – Man City is a team that votes – but there is generally a “captain group.” For West Ham, for example, Mark Noble was captain for years, and Declan Rice was the main vice captain and often wore the armband because he started more often than Noble did. When Noble retired, Dec became captain and the manager, David Moyes, selected three vice captains to support him in the various duties – Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna and Lukasz Fabianski. So within football realism, it is extremely reasonable that Jamie and Sam are both already Richmond’s selected vice captains, and with that in mind yes, Isaac gives it to Sam, but I don’t think he did that out of like specifically choosing Sam over Jamie, right? I think it was just geography based – Sam was next to him, he would have been the easiest to shove the band at, rather than Jamie. So my good faith interpretation, that works for their characters in my head is that Sam physically got the band due to proximity, but maybe Jamie, an established vice captain is thinking – and I think, quite fairly – “You know what, we’re a goal down, we’ve lost a player, I might be the best person tactically in this situation to wear the band and captain us through this situation where we are going to have to Total Football the shit out of the rest of this match.” So this was Jamie broaching the topic, and then Sam responding in a light-hearted way to kind of break the tension of the room, but also him thinking “No you know what, I think I’d be a good person in this situation to keep heads calm, and also argue the ref down from any later cards, so we don’t risk losing any other players.” And I am putting a LOT of thought behind how that very short moment, clearly played for laughs, could be interpreted to make it work for the characters, because the alternative is that Jamie was having a big ego moment and wanting the captain band that he had not been honoured with, and Sam was apparently so unaffected by Isaac’s angst that he’s being a little shit two seconds later. And neither of those sit quite right with me.
Natalie: Yeah but you’re aware that the last sentence, the alternative, is how it played to 99.99% of people who are not logistically thinking about the reality of clubs having an existing captain pool, right? Which, really, maybe we should have seen before, because it isn’t as if Isaac has played every single minute of every single match since Roy gave him the armband. When Isaac gets subbed off, for any reason – fitness, a yellow card meaning they don’t want to risk a red, anything at all – he would have to pass the band to someone on the pitch. This is why they have vice captains and we see this in the season 1 finale with Roy. Isaac starts the match as the substitute captain, Roy gets the band back when he starts the second half, then he passes it back to Isaac when he limps off. This is a thing. There have to be people the band goes to when the captain comes off the pitch before the match ends. And Sam and Jamie both being vice captains absolutely makes sense logically, but this is not how the joke is played, and as you admit, you’re forcing this idea into your reading, and making your reading more realistic than Ted Lasso actually is, because the alternative is a moment that kind of truly sucks for both Sam and Jamie, but sadly, I think that alternative is absolutely what the show meant. This is their way of saying “Hahahahah! Remember, Jamie is still full of himself and is disrespecting Isaac’s clear choice and Sam’s power as a team leader, and he’s presumptively trying to put himself above Sam. Because he’s a prick, remember?” And also saying “Hahaha! Sam, in this moment, is able to recover so much from Isaac’s clear distress that he’s keen to mock and tease his friend for his ridiculous ego, and in doing so, giving the audience the message that hahahaha, how silly it is to think that Jamie would ever be captain!”
It is, boiled down, banter that says Jamie’s an inflated egomaniac who is inappropriately trying to take something from his friend that was very purposely given to him, and Sam’s response both makes a mockery of the idea that Jamie could be a valid captain choice and shows that he isn’t very affected by Isaac’s big emotional moment, if he’s able to be so playful. It makes each of them look like arseholes in a way I found totally out of character for both of them. There are a million other ways to have had Sam tease Jamie about his ego, so many other moments where we could have seen this energy. But because Ted Lasso has never taken pains to establish the captain system, and because Isaac didn’t throw the band down in the centre for them to fight over, Isaac selecting Sam and then Jamie being like, “No, me actually,” and then Sam being like, “LOL, as if it’s you?” I hated it IMMEDIATELY. And I’m sad about not enjoying it. It’s not like I’m trying to take these things in bad faith, but it genuinely just felt very wrong to me. And this is what I was referring to when I said I didn’t like the way they burst the tension bubble on the Isaac outburst. It is meant to be a “letting the air out” moment, but for me it was really not fun.
Megan: Absolutely. Like I said I didn’t have the immediate hatred, because it broke me out of the tension and because of Toheeb Jimoh’s face. But once you pointed this out, it did sit really bad with me, and that’s why I had to, as you say, force this reading into working for me, to contradict that. So yeah, look, I’m with you on what it means for the characterisation, and I really hope we get a moment of Jamie wearing the armband down the line more organically. He’s earned it.
Natalie: It’s not even that I think he should have had it here instead of Sam, to be clear!
Megan: Oh yeah, I get it, it’s just the way they had the interaction play out.
Natalie: I just don’t think it’s outlandish to think he’s a candidate and this treated him it was. Also his disrespect of Isaac’s obvious choice, because he had intentionally handed it to Sam. It was just a mess for me. And there are so many other ways we could have got Sam teasing Jamie about being bigheaded, but for Sam to be playful and competitive in this moment rather than, you know, serious and worried. So weird to me. And everyone I’ve talked to who saw the episode loved it, LOL.
Megan: Look, same with me haha. And I probably still would too if I hadn’t spoken to you!
Natalie: Sorry to crush your joy. I’m about to do it again with the whole 10% gays in the dressing room moment, another bizarre choice regarding Jamie that I am going to complain about. Obviously we follow Isaac to the boot room for a moment, but we don’t hear much there before we cut BACK to the dressing room to follow up on the team’s mood after he leaves. I had high hopes for where this was going as they try to work out what exactly just happened here. Firstly, Moe assumes that Isaac’s reaction is because he himself is gay. It’s not an unfair assumption given the circumstances, and we – and more importantly Colin – get to see how the group would react when talking about a team member being gay. I thought this was quite a clever way to show Colin that he was safe, all that kind of thing. It’s still not exactly a coming out on his own terms that he chose to do just because he wanted, but the stage was very well set for him. Of course everyone reacts well to Isaac being gay, of course Jan has a statistic, of course Beard pointed out the implication of that statistic. And now is the moment I get to stomp all over people’s happiness again by calling out how deeply shady I found the whole Jamie moment here to be. This one wasn’t immediate hate, it was mostly a lot of confusion, and some delight at such an absurd response and non-denial. There’s a LOT of good things I have to say about the way Jamie responded to apparently the entire room assuming he’s in the 10%. But the fact that this was the gag – that everyone’s like, “Well, Jamie, right?” Oh, this felt very bad to me after a few minutes’ consideration. I’m such a fucking Zazu and a fun vampire I know, but like, this is NOT the same as a bunch of fellow queer people being like “Wow that earring, wow, that whole vibe.” This is not “I know what you are – one of us!” from a group of people in the LGBTQI+ community. This is “I know what you are – you’re not like us” from a bunch of straight guys who clock him as Other.
What the hell was going on here? What is the joke? What is the joke within their world? Is it how he dresses? Because spoiler alert, they all dress wildly. WHY THE FUCK IS HE THE ONE THE WHOLE ROOM THINKS IS QUEER? It’s so fucking difficult, because as a queer person I DO think he is queer. He feels like the MOST queer-coded player on the team to me and he always has. He is a CLASSIC bisexual disaster and every queer fan thinks so. So was this fan service? Is this Ted Lasso knowing that all the queer people watching the show claimed Jamie immediately and gave us a little nod to say “Sure, we get it!” Because fam, that does not come across the same way when it’s a group of straight footballers being like “Oh yeah, I always thought Jamie was a bit gay, bruv.” WHAT WAS THIS ABOUT, MEGAN? It genuinely kind of concerns me that they’ve decided to be like “Oh, he’s clockable,” but in a straight guy “Oh well obviously he’s not one of us, the fruit” way. No one in that dressing room is thinking it that meanly, but like, what? Even Ted? Just… us as the queer audience clocking him is not the same at all as a bunch of straight dudes clocking him! For their presumed assumptions of what makes someone queer! What was the reason? Floral tracksuits? Hearing his dad call him a pussy? Of course my first reaction was like “WELL, NOT A NO!” and I’m also so thrilled he would say that even if straight, like it’s a compliment, given how his dad acts about him being soft. The fact he acted like that as opposed to being like “Fuck off, not me!” is beautiful. But WHAT THE FUCK, GREYHOUNDS?
Megan: Firstly, I respect and love you and your Zazu-ness. Or perhaps your Babs-ness, for an in-show reference. But yeah, look. Nearly every single person who I talk to about Ted Lasso sees Jamie and thinks “that is not a straight man,” but nearly every single person I talk to about Ted Lasso is also not, themselves, straight. So we are looking at Jamie, and seeing things about him – whether it’s tropes or style or behaviour – and thinking “Oh yeah. I see you. I recognise you. You are me.” But it is very different for a bunch of sports bros to look at Jamie and, with whatever well-meaning possibly internalised stereotypes they have, thinking “Oh yeah, Jamie’s the other one.” I think this is probably meant to be fan service. That, as you say, it is meant to be an acknowledgement of the fact that so many queer fans who watch this have claimed Jamie as our own. We know that some involved know about this. Phil has spoken about Jamie and Roy it A LOT, and liked a comment on his instagram that said Jamie should get a boyfriend in season 3. I think that is what they are intending to show with this – “hey, we heard you, wink wink!” – and I think people who do have that valid read of Jamie loved it, especially because Jamie does not deny it! But when you dig a little deeper, the implications are not so good. Why you always gotta make me dig a little deeper, Babs? I mean Nat.
Natalie: Look, reductive as it may sound, them – them being the team, Ted and Beard, all of them thinking he’s queer because – what? He has an earring? He gets his eyebrows threaded? I literally don’t know! – is NOT the same as us thinking he’s queer. Like with us it’s the call is coming from inside the house. If he is NOT in fact actually going to be confirmed as bi, this is just a bunch of footballers being like “Well that guy feels gay to us for reasons.” WHAT REASONS? Because he’s very obviously been demonstrably into women!
Megan: And they don’t mean it in a negative or nasty way! But it would be based on the way he acts or dresses. I mean technically there are probably 25-odd people in the room. So 10% would be 2.5. We know about Colin and Trent. Maybe they’re thinking Jamie is bi and the .5. Maybe I’m overthinking it.
Natalie: Yeah, but no one here is saying the word queer or bisexual, no, someone else in this room is probably gay, and it’s probably Jamie! I mean maybe they all think he’s in love with Roy, because the way he acts about Roy is loud and embarrassing. Or maybe he’s always saying things about men being fit, casually, without meaning much by it. But we have never seen anything like that happen. We have to judge it on what they’ve shown us. Maybe this is because Isaac also wore a pink tracksuit and they currently think Isaac is gay and Jamie also wore a pink tracksuit.
Megan: It’s probably the Roy thing. Maybe they don’t think he’s realised it himself yet and they’re all staring at him waiting for him to do a realisation face about how him being obsessed with Roy makes him queer. One 3 second scene and two words have driven us mad.
Natalie: SO many people are DELIGHTED by this, like “Hahahahah they all know Jamie is queer!” and I’m just like…. “Okay, this feels very bad to me!” Even though I absolutely think he is queer! I think it’s a great response from him, given absolutely everything we know about him and his baggage with a toxic father. Jamie has done nothing wrong here. It’s just an INSANE implication from the other guys. And if it’s going nowhere, I also do not like to be pandered to. If Ted Lasso is doing fan service, like “We know you all think he’s queer, so here you go, a moment that acknowledges that maybe he does have a vibe like that, even though we don’t actually think he is,” they can keep it. Maybe I’m not giving them enough trust, and next week he will just try to snog Roy because he can’t contain his feelings after his England call up. But if I was a footballer in the closet and the whole dressing room was like “We think you’re gay,” like. It’s not great! I would really like to know what the stereotypes are about him that mean these straight dudes who apparently haven’t clocked TRENT think this about him! Because yes, he may have expressed things! But we never saw those things. We only have like… what. Hair? Clothes? Vibes? Like what the hell did the GA think of that moment?
Megan: Especially if I was a footballer with James Tartt as a father!
Natalie: And especially if my COACHES were in on it! Look I have to move on from this, it’s so fucking weird. It’s so weird that all of this happens. And what’s weirder is that after all that, Colin steps up to clarify that no, Isaac isn’t gay…He is. Except we don’t see any of what he actually says because Ted Lasso decided that cutting away from Colin and only coming back to him in the aftermath was some sort of subversive way of doing his coming out. Instead of hearing what he has to say, and how he chooses to express himself, what parts he tells about his story or what happened with him and Isaac, we just cut back to Isaac and Roy – which is a very important scene, but like…They really think they did something here, cutting Colin. I think they thought it was meant to be powerful. It was not.
Megan: This is the moment for me which, unlike the other two you’ve flagged, I had an instant dislike of.
Natalie: Tell me how you felt here immediately then.
Megan: So at this point we have not actually seen Colin choose to tell a single person he is gay. Trent saw him snogging Michael, and then stalked him in Amsterdam to get it out of him. Isaac discovered it thanks to, I assume, dick pics that Colin had been sent. So for me, at this moment, I was really, really desperate to see Colin finally be able to own that narrative and tell the team on his own terms and for me to get to see their instant, in the moment, reaction. Like you say, I am sure they did this deliberately, and not because they ran out of time and decided to cut this instead of something else, but I think it was the wrong choice. Especially when they then spent two minutes on that bullshit story from Ted, which I watched open-mouthed, getting more and more annoyed. For an episode that was supposed to be Colin’s moment, he really didn’t get much of one, and I found it deeply frustrating. Different people will want different things from a coming out story, I get that. But I kind of think an integral part of a coming out story line should be showing us the character in question actually coming out.
Natalie: It could be argued that this isn’t about the coming out, it’s about the response to the coming out, which we do see. But I wanted to hear how Colin chose to talk about it to the team. I also wanted him to have scenes that felt weighty for him – like I said, he doesn’t get anything that compares to the Roy and Isaac stuff, even to showcase Billy as an actor, in this episode.
Megan: I saw a headline for this episode that was like “Colin gets his moment in the spotlight” and honestly my immediate reaction was “Did he? When?” which was a bit harsh of my subconscious, Billy does a phenomenal job with the scenes he has, and I suppose Colin did – per the commentary – play a starring role in the second half of the match. But for an episode supposedly about him, it really did spend more time than I might have liked on Isaac’s hurt feelings for not being told.
Natalie: I really couldn’t believe that they cut away from it, and it was so clear that they really thought they were doing something. Sure, we saw him tell his story to Trent in Amsterdam, in certain ways. But it’s not like this would have been rehashing those words. There are so many angles to it, as a footballer. I wanted to see how much detail he would share, what he would choose to explain.
Megan: And telling it to one person, who has as good as told Colin he has a very good, wink wink, reason for not outing Colin is very different to telling an entire team of men that he has said he feels really nervous about telling. It’s just a whole different situation, and an important one to show.
Natalie: I mean fuck knows what is going on with Trent, sitting there in his Dolly tee not saying shit. No one looks at HIM as one of the 10%. OKAY.
Natalie: And they obviously don’t already know. Trent is not out to Richmond, or it would have been acknowledged in these scenes.
Megan: Like. He’s walking around there every single day with his little rainbow mug. Nobody likes Snoopy that much guys! Come on!
Natalie: Cutting away from Colin here feels especially bad to me given the Ted of it all. I think the Isaac stuff is valid, but we should have had balanced Isaac and Colin screen time and dialogue, you know? It’s good we followed Isaac to the boot room, but we should have also stayed with Colin. It wasn’t an either or situation – this had a shorter run time, they chose this run time, when they’ve had episodes 10 or 20 minutes longer. I can’t talk about Ted yet, I’m too mad about it still. But the Isaac scenes were very valid, I would not have cut those parts out.
Megan: The way Isaac acts when Roy enters the room is so reminiscent of how Roy reacted when Keeley went to him at the end of season 1, just with less touching. Roy really was very good here.
Natalie: Yeah, the cut to Isaac and what he and Roy have to say here is another very very special scene. The thing about these two is that Roy chose Isaac because he approved of some of Isaac’s behaviour that reminded him of him, like the whole never stop breaking TVs. He saw good things too, like Isaac’s growth with Nate, but ultimately he selected another person who can get angry and violent and who struggles to express himself. Someone protective, but who isn’t very open, and is trapped in the prison of his own mind a lot. These qualities don’t make for an easy time when it comes to handling big emotions. Sam and Jamie are both open and expressive – not that either of them would have ever directly replaced Roy in season 1. But even earlier this season, we see Isaac not really having the words to help or rally the team. He’s a good “mum friend” – and so is Roy – but he’s not very expressive, and he channels his feelings into boiling anger at times. Back when Roy got into coaching by helping Isaac, the way Isaac was talking to the team was literally like “You’re all shit! Play better!” and that kind of thing is still an issue for him. Just now, about something much bigger. But we saw him do that kind of thing even to Jamie at Arsenal half-time.
Megan: In an imagined future, maybe Roy and Isaac can do therapy and coaching together to work on how to better channel and express their emotions. They both need it, maybe they can be vulnerable around each other with it in ways they can’t others, to help address it. Because you’re right, they are so so similar in that.
Natalie: I think Roy is at a point where he… Yes, could do therapy, but sadly he’s at a certain level where the damage is done. But I also think he knows that, and doesn’t think it’s good, and he doesn’t want it to happen to Isaac.
Megan: Yeah. I think he can change enough to get through the rest of his life in a positive way, in a way that the people around him will need from him, but it’s probably too late for him to change enough that his natural first instinct isn’t anger. It would be good if that can stop being the case for Isaac.
Natalie: This conversation is, I think, the closest we get to touching on the idea that Isaac is maybe angry at himself. He might be taking it out on Colin and feeling hurt and offended, but I think his anger and his tears are more about the idea of himself not being a safe person or a safe space for Colin. He saw that guy being hateful and was overwhelmed with the implications of not only that kind of abuse but of all the things someone like Colin had to deal with – including maybe what he, Isaac, made Colin feel unknowingly. It’s all very messy for him, and this is never truly spelled out, and him being angry at himself is not an excuse for him treating Colin like Colin has AIDS – and I don’t say that lightly, in the gross hyperbolic way people used to. But Isaac seems to truly be angry and griefsick at the world right now, including at himself.
Megan: Yeah. He hates the possibility that in Colin’s eyes, Isaac and that awful fan might be the same, might have made Colin feel the same way. The f-slur is awful, but “sounds a bit gay bruv” from your best friend will also be pretty fucking shit. He doesn’t say anything in this moment, but just his nod, his reaction to what Roy says, speaks volumes.
Natalie: Roy is so good, and so gentle, and so right. And should listen to his own advice. And of course, OF COURSE Will is there.
Megan: Okay, Will’s interruption is an example of how to break the tension the right way. I SHRIEKED. Why is he always there? How do none of them ever see him? Surely Roy would have had to walk right past him?!
Natalie: No, he doesn’t. When you open the door to the boot room, there’s a divider. You go straight in and where has Isaac sat is the middle of a U shape made by the window on one side (into the gym) and then the shoe cubbies on the bottom of the U and the other side. And on the OTHER side of the shoe cubby wall are the washing machines and stuff. If they walked in focusing straight ahead into that U area, they would not see him on the other side of the wall of cubbies that bisects the room. And God does the show use that layout it well.
Megan: Maybe he should start to wear a hat with a neon flashing light on top of it so people know he’s there, because seriously.
Natalie: I think he likes to lurk. He learns so much. He’s definitely going to witness Roy and Jamie’s first kiss at this rate.
Megan: He probably already has.
Natalie: WILD TAKE! Are you implying that within the current timeline before this episode they are secretly kissing?
Megan: I can’t rule it out. Anything is possible, but Jamie’s outfit in the weights scene earlier, combined with any weird feelings Roy got from Rebecca – he does like when women tell him off – might have driven him to it. That’s all I’m saying.
Natalie: LOL, no. Roy is not making the first move in that relationship. Not with this current dynamic. But you know. Good on him if he does. Anyway, Will has seen everything. I actually found his comment about the anger avalanche really interesting in terms of how it’s so similar to what Nate told Roy in 1.07. He expressed fear that Roy not letting his anger out healthily was effectively going to kill him. It’s probably the most observant thing about the human nature of the people around him that Nate has ever said. This is the kit man special, apparently.
Megan: Right? And it was a lot more deep and heartfelt than the rest of Nate’s roasts in that scene. That is another really great parallel.
Natalie: It’s kind of a shame Will missed Colin’s coming out, though, because I feel like his face at Ted’s story would have been top tier. But he’s got boots to brush and bubblegum to hand out. What a guy. I understand that the way they did things with Isaac is to fit within the structure of a TV episode, but I do feel like Colin had a LOT to process in this half time, on top of explaining both Isaac’s situation and his own. For Colin, Isaac’s outburst and inability to handle the anger and stress he’s feeling at this situation is the first time he’s realising that Isaac is probably NOT homophobic and was in fact upset on his behalf. He had to figure out all the pieces of Isaac’s mess, going from assuming Isaac was cool before he found out, to then assuming Isaac absolutely wasn’t cool with how he reacted when he did find out, to then figuring out the truth about how Isaac feels from his reaction at the match. That’s quite a lot to have to process, and it would have been nice to see him process any of it, at all.
Megan: I mean yeah, to have to process all of that and then find the words and mental strength to come out to a room full of people whose reactions you’re scared of? That’s a lot. That’s the kind of thing that would have made some good, emotional TV. If we’d been able to see it.
Natalie: Instead we have to see Ted talking about his friend wrecking toilets with his seven layer dip shits, and that is something I hated so much that it blows every other moment I disliked out of the water.
Megan: Co-signed. I get furious every time I think about it.
Natalie: I was just staring in horror, and needless to say I was thrilled when Colin called out how fucking stupid it was, but like, we didn’t need that? At all? I have a LOT of thoughts about it. What I THINK they were going for was this idea that “straight people get things wrong when trying to relate to the queer experience, but they can course-correct and get there in the end” or something. But like, I didn’t need that from Ted, and I didn’t need the episode to spend more screen time on it than on Colin’s words. Like what the actual fuck was this?
Megan: When he started speaking, in reaction to Dani saying “We don’t care!” I was like “Oh yeah, good shout!” Because it’s not about not caring, it’s about being openly supportive. But then he just… kept going. And going. And going. And I am sure there are some people out there who maybe found it funny or relateable, but I was just so angry! Like, open-mouthed, shocked, “what the fuck is going on” anger! The bit at the end, after Colin calls him out? That’s all we needed. Or even just “Colin we do care, we care about you, and we want you to be happy and comfortable around us, and we’re so pleased you trusted us with this.” THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH.
Natalie: Absolutely, they could have had Ted go from saying “We do care” to the part he ends up saying, “We care about who you are and what you’ve been through.” We didn’t need the middle bit about the dip shits. This just makes me think that they think Ted has never met a gay person.
Megan: I don’t mind the concept of Ted telling one of his folksy stories and then realising, “Oh shit, yeah this one was way too American and out there, sorry y’all!” He’s going to miss sometimes! I just hate, HATE, that this was the moment they chose to show that fumble.
Natalie: Why? Why did he need to tell this story as an attempt to have a unexpected yet thoughtful or powerful meaning? Like, remember in season 1 and 2 when him doing these stories was a way of showing us that actually, he’s very sharp and although his stories start out strange, he knows exactly what he’s doing? Ted Lasso, the character, really stood out from the jump as a full-on subversion of that sort of middle age traditional white guy who only knows how to relate to his own experience. That’s his packaging, that’s the false sense of security. The whole point of him is he knows how to WIELD that kind of thing, to make an impact. It’s never usually Ted making it about Ted, even if it sounds like it at first. The meaning always became clean, the message of what he was really saying.
Megan: Yeah I mean to be clear, I don’t think it’s something I’d need at any point, but if they did want to show a time where he miscalculated, which could and does happen, why did they have to do it now. I guess one thing did just occur to me. And I don’t necessarily like it, but maybe it was what they were trying to do. If they are trying to have this be the episode where we start to see Roy as a good replacement, maybe this was a bit of a baton handing over moment. Because Roy did his version of Ted’s folksy relatable storytelling at the end right? Ted messed up, but Roy nailed his version at the press conference. Maybe it was some attempt to continue to show that Ted’s work is almost done, and Roy is the right person to take over.
Natalie: What, like, they’re trying to show that Ted is bad at his job, that he’s run out of steam? That’s grim.
Megan: Yeah, or even just like, make Roy’s successful conference look even more successful in comparison. But I don’t like the idea that you need to assassinate Ted’s character to make Roy work! I don’t know. Ted isn’t my favourite character, Ted himself isn’t why I watch the show, but in general these powerful speeches of his are done so well, and they are impactful. I just don’t know why we needed to see him fail at one, and I don’t know why they had to choose this moment to give him the floor, so stupidly, over spending time listening to Colin.
Natalie: Well, even if he’s running out of gas, while Ted is still here, when he speaks to the team, it should matter, in a good way. He should know the right thing to say. What is the point otherwise? When he fails, it should be a sign of something wrong with him, like how Sam had to call him out to engage the team after Zava left. Ted really did start out as a subversion of that privileged, thoughtless kind of man who makes everything about himself and doesn’t have empathy for other situations. He started out as someone who everyone THINKS is bumbling and clueless and not listening and winging it, but the brilliance of him is that he isn’t, he never does, he uses that stuff to disarm but he knows what he’s fucking doing.
Natalie: To just make him fail here, and fail in such a self centred way, with a toilet humour story, just so Colin could call him out and Ted could be like “Yeah my mistake how stupid of me!” I don’t need a moment of the show lampshading the fact that Ted fucked up – of Colin (and the Ted Lasso writers) being like “Uhhhhh Ted, this isn’t the one,” and Ted being like “You’re absolutely right, what a fumble.” Why would we ever want this? Why would Ted Lasso ever need this? It wasn’t funny. And it was wasting screen time in which Colin could have been talking. Like Ted is not ACTUALLY an idiot. Why not just let him be decent? Why show him failing so stupidly? There are MUCH better ways to say “We don’t care isn’t quite the right thing to say!” and there doesn’t always need to be a My Personal Experience story attached! He could have just spoken directly to Colin’s experience, like “I can only imagine how tough that was.” This just makes Ted look like he has absolutely zero experience with queer people or the prejudice against them, which is not the impression I have of Ted from any other moment when he acts progressively and empathically.
Megan: He could have done literally anything else, and it would have been better.
Natalie: He could have even said “Now I’ve coached young athletes for a long time and I’ll say to you the same thing I’ve said to the other boys who have given me, or my locker room, the privilege of their trust about a personal matter.”
Megan: God. Yes.
Natalie: Whether he’s had other players come out as gay at one of his colleges, or reveal other personal secrets about their life that meant they’ve been carrying some baggage. Like come on!
Megan: Yeah, because you’re right, otherwise it makes it seem like he has never met another queer person from whom he can draw some experience of how to act. And like, I know he’s from the Midwest, but COME ON.
Natalie: And they did it for the joke! They did it just so we could see that “Errrrr, no” which puts the onus back on Colin, once again, to show them how to fucking behave!
Megan: I hope Trent is internally embarrassed for him, and maybe just lost a bit of his crush on Ted. It was so pointless.
Natalie: I cannot believe they made Trent sit through that literal shitshow. And not say a word. Jamie doesn’t look too impressed with Ted either to be honest. It’s just not great that Coach Lasso’s powerful speeches have devolved into this. Colin deserved better from him.
Megan: Beard’s face is extremely unreadable throughout, even more so than usual, but I can’t imagine he was overly impressed. Beard has definitely met many queer people.
Natalie: I definitely think Beard looks very judgemental. The shots to Jamie are all “Why are we hearing this?” his face twisting, like he’s doing his best to make sense of it but is unable to. Trent is extremely mild, he’s the most unreadable to me. And there are very few cuts to Colin – none, really, until the end when he calls it out. The fact they shot this scene like the way they would a typical Ted moment, and even scored it that way, musically. Just to be like “Hahahahah! Surprise! This is framed as meaningful, but it’s actually meant to have sucked!”
Megan: Some of the other players do nod along with vague smiles on their faces, but they’ve had a bit of a day, they’re probably tired and confused and not that bright, so we’ll let them off. Maybe they thought it was going to go somewhere good.
Natalie: It’s just like… not a good joke?
Megan: It really isn’t.
Natalie: This is maybe the moment a player in Ted’s locker room has needed support from leadership the MOST, in his career. And this is what they went for. It’s a bit of a character assassination on Ted to be honest.
Megan: It’s a really baffling choice. I don’t understand it, and I almost don’t want to give it any more airtime – it had way too much of that in the actual episode.
Natalie: Isaac and Ted’s separate stupidities are, I guess, good ways to show people’s reactions when they love you but also are straight people who suck. Like the message of mishandling.
Megan: Yeah and I guess even people who you think would handle it well often don’t, even unintentionally.
Natalie: Even Ted’s fucking story – the fact that he was like “Yeah I regret that, what a fumble.” I see the vague aim there of showing a misstep. I see it. But it’s doing all that AND minimising Colin. Like ALSO let Colin talk? And maybe hammer home a bit more that Ted is a moron and that Isaac was wrong in his behaviour all week? But honestly – while people’s coming out experiences aren’t always perfect and people’s reactions can be really weird even if well meant, this is a moment where I absolutely would have expected Ted to be pretty perfect, whether that’s unrealistic or not. And I DON’T even really think their aim was truly to send a message about a well meaning mis-step. It felt like they just wanted to land this toilet joke.
Megan: Look I would be okay with Ted’s response not being completely perfect, though given Isaac’s wasn’t either it might have been nice to see one person respond in the dream way. But there is a vast gap between not completely perfect, and fucking toilet humour.
Natalie: And the serious level of minimisation that Colin points out, the not actually real ostracism of liking a different sports team vs the issues with being a closeted gay athlete. The fact that this was the best Ted could do is just ridiculous to me. It’s offensive and if I was Colin I would never ever quite forgive him. No hatred, just quiet scorn. There was no need for it. He truly could have just gone from “we do care” to the bit he said at the end.
Megan: It would definitely have ruined him a bit for me. Like when Ted left, if I was Colin, I’d be a bit sad, and then every time I got sad I’d remember this and be like, “On the other hand, that was fucking shit, I hope he does better the next time some college kid comes out to him.”
Natalie: But when you count up the seconds actually used on Ted’s speech vs any of Colin’s scenes. What a literal waste of air.
Natalie: I’m absolutely obsessed with Beard being like “Oh for fuck’s sake” when Jamie asks what the fuck Denver Broncos are and Ted starts explaining again. An absolute fumble, as he says. Just erase the whole scene from being like “We do care” to the part where he says “we don’t not care.” The point is sound, but at what cost, Ted. At what cost.
Megan: Yeah, get rid of it, and add that airtime back to Colin’s coming out scene. Or rather, I should say, actually let him come out, in a scene.
Natalie: If only it was the first-best way Colin hoped for. I’m in love with how open he is with Trent about his fantasy version and I laughed so hard. Like, you’re so real for that, Colin.
Megan: Confession: after he started that sentence with “Best way being the entire team confesses they’re gay too, and we…” for a split second I thought maybe he was going to say “and we all have an orgy.” Which would be a very different show, and Oprah’s magazine is way more likely.
Natalie: Uhhhhh. That’s quite intense.
Megan: It’s more that’s how my brain finished the sentence, rather than I actually expected it. But maybe that’s because I don’t really know how much I believe a twenty-something year old footballer from Wales would actually reference Oprah, in real life.
Natalie: Oprah is ubiquitous. But it may have made more sense to reference British media. Anyway, it was extremely funny that he had this idea ready to go.
Megan: Haha yes.
Natalie: I don’t know how I feel about Colin coming out making his game better. It feels a bit on the nose. But it certainly makes sense that he would be playing better in this match, where the first half he had been suffering because of Isaac’s behaviour, like a new level of stress. I also think this is literally the first time Ted Lasso has ever mentioned assists? Like the act of getting on the scoresheet for the assist. We’ve NEVER heard it. We’ve seen it – obviously Jamie gets an assist rather than a goal in the season 1 finale, every time a goal is scored there’s also an assist. But the commentators and coaches never mention the fucking word.
Megan: I think you’re right, this is the first time they’ve mentioned it as a concept! I guess Colin is probably riding high on adrenaline right now, he’s had a very stressful week slash month of Isaac being a twat, plus that first half, plus the dressing room scene. So maybe he was just channelling that into his performance in a very successful way.
Natalie: I imagine Jamie must have been racking up assists this season, but I do still want to see him score.
Megan: Maybe in the final match of the season. In season one he gets the assist, in season 2 he gives the penalty away. Maybe in season 3 he’ll get some phenomenal goal.
Natalie: I think we have to see him score against City, and I don’t think that’ll be the last match of the season, but we’ll see.
Megan: Oh yeah, true.
Natalie: Anyway, he and Colin share a really intense hug here which I loved – usually the pitch cuddles in this show are more side arm-y or roughhousing. But this felt like a properly passionate football hug.
Megan: Yeah it was great, and you have them saying “I love you so much, man,” while Sam does the more classic roughhousing and jumping on them. I really love seeing how euphoric Colin is right now, after his earlier stoic disappointment when he got benched.
Natalie: I just like to see them all hug and be close to one another and I especially like it, in football, when they hold each other in a truly romantic-feeling hug and talk into each other’s faces, so this was fun for me. For the realism. I don’t want Colin and Jamie to kiss, to be clear. But it is appropriate for football love levels.
Megan: I mean they could, in general, all kiss each other more. Footballers love to give each other tender forehead kisses on the pitch. So I would accept Jan Maas coming over with all his height and dropping a gentle forehead kiss on either Colin or Jamie. But either way, this was very lovely and realistic. Unfortunately the loveliness is replaced by George fucking Cartrick being not completely inaccurate, but still being a twat.
Natalie: It’s a bummer to pivot from that to fucking George and I am uncomfortable with him being shown as technically right, once again. He is right, about not crossing that line even if the guy deserved it. But I really wish they’d given a more reasonable line about this to one of the non-George hosts, because George’s “correctness” is all wrapped up in him calling Isaac a psychopath and talking horribly about coaching him.
Megan: Yeah, he might have been right about it crossing a line, but I don’t think he’s right to say Isaac makes Roy look like Bambi. I am side-eyeing that comment on account of underlying racist microaggressions. So on the whole, I would have preferred Jeff to have been the one to say it.
Natalie: Yeah, and of course Roy makes the same point later about it being unacceptable, but for George to be the one giving the hard line about it being wrong while ALSO being like, this black man’s anger is so much more bad than Roy Kent’s… Fucking hell, man.
Megan: Really fucking gross. But I would expect nothing less from George.
Natalie: We don’t know if Roy ever went into the stands – it’s not VERY common – but he would have had red cards for violence with players and refs, I’m absolutely sure, and George selling this idea that this is Isaac’s primary personality trait.. Look. Horrible.
Megan: Roy definitely would have reds, and match bans, and probably paid the odd fine too. Like, after everything we’ve seen of Roy, for George to try and pretend Isaac is worse… I love Roy, we know this, but no.
Natalie: It just feels like another thing Ted Lasso isn’t quite willing to mention properly, because you also have Clinton Morrison sitting there being like “I wanted to do it” – it would have been easy to quite naturally incorporate comments about how as a Black man, you have to be that much more careful about how you show anger.
Megan: Yeah I did think that too. To me, watching it, it felt quite obvious what George’s words were supposed to be a reference too, a commentary on how differently anger is perceived when coming from Black people as opposed to white, with George as the kind of person holding those double standards. But I do wonder if everybody watching would have picked up on that. And if I’m right, and that is what the show intended to say, I wish they would have gone a step further and have Clinton spell it out a bit more, or call George out.
Natalie: It felt like something that’s obviously a huge factor of what’s perceived and what’s accepted and if the angle here is “Everyone knows the subtext”… I’m not sure they actually do? Ted Lasso has shoved in some almost preachy messaging about issues at other points, so I have no idea why they can’t incorporate the real issues that people in football actually talk about more naturally. But it absolutely has to be a factor, especially when everyone is trying to compare Isaac and Roy, and Roy’s story is so tied into Isaac’s in the episode. Ehhhhhhhh. Like once again, either be an issues show or don’t.
Megan: They’ve had the racism episode Nat. This episode is about the Denver Broncos, I mean, homophobia. Sarcasm aside, you are right, it really does feel like they’ve kind of divvied each episode up into the social issue each one will cover, but I wish they had just woven them all in more naturally.
Natalie: Roy being the one to take the press conference was, I think, an extremely strong moment. I still don’t think we needed to make him uncharacteristically refuse to take an earlier one to get him this “redemption” moment, not even a little bit. Even if none of that earlier shit had happened, or if he’d done something else that was a different example of him being tuned out and miserable that Rebecca called out. We really didn’t need like “Press Conference No? Press Conference Yes” as a direct straight line trajectory. But that being said. Press Conference Yes.
Megan: Yes, a thousand times yes.
Natalie: EXCEPT for the fact that the way he tells that story about the man’s baby does not hold up when you think about it for a minute? Because he absolutely just outed that guy’s trauma. unless the man has since, himself, told this story to the world, in an autobiography or interview. It would absolutely make sense to me if he had, but then, why wouldn’t Roy use his name and be like, “You all remember Jimbo Mullins.” Roy telling it anonymously, and the reporters being shocked, is like… He’s just… told everyone that man’s private business about his miscarriage and how Roy’s idiocy ended his career? Because it will take exactly two minutes of research to check when a young Roy Kent was out on injury for six weeks, and who got let go from Sunderland for violence. This was unfortunately my instant takeaway. This is not the same as Ted telling a personal story about people he knew in the privacy of the dressing room.
Megan: Yeah look, I think it is possible that old Jimbo Mullins might have spoken about it since, but maybe Roy didn’t want to use his name anyway in what will likely be one of the biggest football stories that weekend, so as to not unnecessarily draw attention to it. Although I can already see the like, The Athletic or TalkSport headlines, “Who was the footballer Roy Kent referenced? We went sleuthing.” I agree that it isn’t a good look for Roy to just air this guy’s trauma in public, but in an episode full of some strange or slightly off choices, I will let this one slide because the press conference was otherwise really powerful, and indicative of exactly the kind of man – and manager – Roy can be when he doesn’t get in his own way. And just have to hope that, I don’t know, Roy didn’t fully break the guy’s confidence by telling the story.
Natalie: Yeah. The best I can hope for is that this happened twenty years ago, Jimbo Mullins put it in his book fifteen years ago, and all these reporters didn’t instantly remember those details from back then, that there were enough people there who haven’t been in the game for twenty years that it was brand new information to some of them. Because if he fully just outed that story… That’s so bad. But the way he had them all in the palm of his hand, the way he is so fucking captivating, the way he can speak with experience and deep emotion about the environment the game creates for the players… perfection. The shot when he sits down, his head silhouetted and then the hands going up, that feels like an exact replica of Ted’s first one. so I really want to think that this is where we are going. As Ted said in season 1 – “He’s the one, coach.”
Megan: He really is. He’s had some bumps in the road along the way, but he really, really is.
Natalie: Roy has always been The One. He’s Ted’s biggest legacy in this story, the Mr Banks to Ted’s Mary Poppins, as I’ve said before. Ted pulling this broken man off the path of – according to Brett Goldstein – suicide, and showing him a way forward into the rest of his life, what he can give and what he can feel good about? Given that Ted is so fucked up about his father, the fact that he’s able to give a hopeless-feeling, locked up man the rest of his life back… that’s really quite a big deal. I would love to kind of see Roy tell Ted that, at the end – like, actually admit, “Before all this, I’d always thought that once my career was over, I’d disappear and kill myself.”
Megan: Yeah honestly, I feel like Roy is the person that will be most impacted by Ted leaving. I know that people might feel like the final scene between Ted and anyone at Richmond would or should be between Ted and Rebecca. But a scene like that? That you’ve just outlined? Can you imagine what that would mean to Ted? Knowing he stopped that happening, knowing he stopped Phoebe going through what he did as a kid? Ooof.
Natalie: Yeah. I think back often to that whole assessment from Ted, having observed Roy, that if they’re going to make a difference here, they need to get into Roy’s heart. That’s never stopped. Ted has never stopped trying to pull Roy out of himself, while also not massively trying to change him or file off his rough edges.
Megan: When he’s right, Ted’s right. Roy really is the key to all of this. I do wish, for Roy’s own sake, he got to encounter someone like Ted sooner. But better late than never.
Natalie: Ted has probably tried harder with Roy, and done it more consistently, than any other character. He’s always looking after Roy, and he’s always so happy when it works, when Roy “buys in.” Their parting I think will be very, very bitter-sweet.
Megan: I am not ready for it. I think it’s going to the one that will get to me the most.
Natalie: Yeah, I think I agree. Anyway, I’m glad to see Roy be the one to talk plainly about the whole “people think their ticket price means they can hurl abuse at footballers” thing because it felt a lot more realistic and important and, I don’t know, weary – like, this is an old problem – than other similar moments. Thinking about the headlines this will make, Roy’s quotes being the new hot topic about football fan behaviour. I can see lots of discourse stemming from this.
Megan: Yeah, honestly there is no way Ted could have given this press conference. It had to be Roy. As the member of the coaching team with actual player experience, it had to be him. And yeah, I can just picture Gary Linnekar talking about it on Match of the Day, maybe someone like Ian Wright discussing the race element that George so casually and hideously invoked.
Natalie: Honestly, he was so good, and he held that room on the edge of their seats. Football managers should always have an energy of power or hugeness about them. It really helps them, generally, if they’re someone who has a lot of sway, who’s commanding, who’s got a big personality and big past successes to hang their hat on, either as a player or coach. And Roy, even if he isn’t going to love this part of the job, is absolutely able to throw his weight around here to great effect.
Megan: This is something Roy really needs to embrace. Because the fact is, when he speaks, people listen. It’s why he was so good at the Sky pundit job. He knows his shit, but also when he actually lets himself be open and expressive, he is really fucking good at it. So yeah, it might never be his favourite part of the role, but he IS very skilled at it, so he needs to get over himself and embrace it.
Natalie: Wouldn’t it be funny if everything this season, like Ted at Chelsea being like “If you don’t get it together you’ll ruin more than this football match,” and Rebecca’s yelling this week… Wouldn’t it be funny if Rebecca and Ted, behind the scenes, have always known Ted was leaving, and they’ve always been planning to promote Roy, and they spring it on him like they sprung Nate’s promotion on him? We never saw Ted asking Rebecca to promote Nate, it was a surprise for us.
Megan: Ooooh. That would be something!
Natalie: This is absolutely not how being a football manager works, but like… For Ted Lasso, it is possible.
Megan: Within the rules of football that the show has established, it is possible. I do like that Roy said “I give him love” about Isaac. Given the ending scene with Isaac and Colin, and the Isaac and Roy parallels, I like that Roy can use that word easily right now. And also the matching overwhelmed and fond expressions on Rebecca and Keeley’s faces as they watch him.
Natalie: Maybe the OT3 should become an OT4 and fold in Rebecca. Jamie might find that a little odd, but he can deal.
Megan: He’s got eyes, like we all have. I’m sure he won’t object to Rebecca’s presence.
Natalie: Yeah, I don’t think he’d take much convincing. But yes. Rebecca seems very satisfied with Roy’s handling of the situation.
Megan: Her expression is particularly knowing and approving. Like, I half expected her to give a smug nod along the lines of like, “Yep, there he is. That’s the one.”
Natalie: She knows what she wants, and it’s Roy Kent as her manager. Even if it hasn’t been planned all season, there’s been SO much off-screen time for Ted and Rebecca to have talked about Ted leaving, though hiding it from us is weird. Anyway. I have hope.
Megan: Same. Also, the “Glad we agree, I prefer you to old Trent” while old Trent is RIGHT THERE! At the back of the room! Roy, you know that’s a lie. You love old Trent.
Natalie: He likes to pretend he doesn’t.
Megan: None of us are fooled. Because we have eyes.
Natalie: That’s his best friend.
Megan: Also “Goblin King”. It is very obvious which journalist he’s referring to there. God. I love him and his references and his everything.
Natalie: He’s definitely got the rapport down. Even if it’s more growly than Ted. He has his own form of banter.
Megan: It works for him. Really well.
Natalie: God, he’s so brilliant and he will do so well, given a chance. I wish more episodes, earlier on, were focused on moments like this. Maybe not such successful ones but small things paving the way. In terms of Roy sending love to Isaac, that did stand out to me because it’s another example of the guys all being open with that word – all except Isaac. Sam’s huddle moment, saying he loves them all and them saying it back. Colin and Jamie on the pitch. Everyone is very able to share their love, but the whole closing beat of the episode shows that Isaac can’t say it to Colin, and I feel very weird about that because I don’t understand if it’s meant to be, he never could, that he’s not that kind of man, or if it’s literally “I can’t say I love you to a gay guy,” slightly tapping into the idea that he DOES have hang ups, despite the fact he’s confused about why Colin felt he couldn’t tell him. But yeah. Lots of men are verbalising their love this episode. But not Isaac. It felt odd to me that I couldn’t tell if this was “I can’t ever say this” or “I can’t say it because you’re gay,” but it honestly felt like the latter to me, otherwise why include it?
Megan: I felt the same way, and it left the end of the episode in a bit of a weird place. Because it did feel like the latter, and I suppose that does speak to some of the issues of toxic masculinity that are still around football clubs and dressing rooms. It does really make me wish I knew more about Isaac’s background and home life. How much of this comes from growing up around football and that environment, versus… Well it’s a show about sons and fathers. Does he have a father that imprinted some shit about not saying I love you to another man? Or does he really think that he just can’t say it to Colin, because Colin is gay and that’s a line he won’t cross? This isn’t a choice that made me angry or frustrated unlike some of the others in this episode, but it did leave me a bit confused about exactly what they were trying to say with it.
Natalie: Yeah. I actually do think this was in line with the whole “Sounds a bit gay bruv” thing. The way they do his eye flick side to side, felt like “Oh my God is he being gay about me?” But the thing is, that’s one story, right? Colin being aware that Isaac has some baked in issues with gay shit, knowing that he isn’t truly toxic in his heart but he has some automatic discomfort and Isaac having to work on it. That’s a VERY separate story to “You never did anything wrong, nothing about you made me feel I couldn’t tell you, I just had my own fears.” Those are two very, very different angles. This episode kind of tried to do both, and I have no idea why, aside from Ted Lasso not being able to bear leaving things a bit problematic or showing that someone has some flaws they need to work hard on.
Megan: There are other people who are shown to have flaws they need to work hard on – Roy for instance is the obvious big one – but I suppose there’s a difference between a character who is a good guy, but gets in their own way, and fucks up sometimes when it comes things like his ex’s masturbation video leaking, and a character who is a good guy, but who has some shitty internalised views around homophobia – which the show is definitely saying is bad – that he needs to unlearn. It’s a more problematic thing within the values of Ted Lasso.
Natalie: I didn’t dislike the end scene but as I said already, I kind of wish it had come much earlier – that Colin and Isaac had had this whole “Why didn’t you tell me” re-bonding moment at the start of the episode and that Isaac had gone after that guy with him and Colin already in a good place. Like, that could have been a one episode arc: Colin and Isaac have a scene like this early on where Isaac shows that he is, in his heart, cool with it, but he knows he also has some weirdness about it that he can’t help, then the fan moment with the f-slur happens, all that is similar. People assume Isaac’s gay, Colin comes out instead. Isaac shows up at the end being like, “I am going to work ten times harder to get rid of any weirdness, can I ask you more questions.” ALMOST the same episode but without Isaac making Colin think he’s genuinely homophobic, with the whole not touching him and stuff for a week.
Megan: Yeah they really could have flipped this so it was the start of the episode, and still had the rest play out the way it did, preferably without Ted’s shit talk. Just like they could have had Roy’s press conference without the earlier out of character behaviour. The choices they made in how to tell the story were, in my opinion, the wrong ones, even if I did really like a lot of the end result.
Natalie: We already talked about being happy to hear Colin doesn’t plan to come out publicly, which I love for the sake of my sanity, but it does make the usage of “I Am What I Am” feel somewhat ironic (or maybe hypocritical) because honestly, like I said in our predictions last week, that musical has themes and this episode was NOTHING to do with any of them. I absolutely don’t think it earned the right to use the title for the episode either. Again, Manuel Betancourt at the AV Club lays this out in a way I felt quite passionately in agreement about, because that song is an anthem for being able to live in a visibly queer way. In particular it’s about gender expression, but I think it’s okay to extend it to relate to people who do not want to, and should not have to, hide or suppress their queer expression. I am VERY offended that they had the gall to use this title and this song to be honest. Like, Colin’s choice is valid, but it is not the message of La Cage. This isn’t a catch-all gay song.
Megan: Yeah look. The irony of that last scene, where we’ve established that Colin won’t be coming out more widely, where his actual coming out scene wasn’t even shown, yet it uses the words “Life’s not worth a damn til you can shout out I am what I am” over Colin and Isaac… Fuck. Like you say, Colin’s choice is valid and it’s my preferred outcome for his story! But it really clashes with the song and musical they’ve chosen to reference in this episode haha. And I’m laughing as I type this, but GOD. I’m not really amused.
Natalie: Colin came out to the people that mattered to him, but that is NOT relatable to this song and what it stands for. Seeing them use the overture to the musical at the beginning was funny, in training, but like… I can’t believe they used this episode title when the plot had nothing to do with Colin being asked by a loved one to hide his identity. The way they just were like “Oh, that’s gay, right?”
Megan: I am now more whimpering than I am laughing. Because yes. That is extremely the vibe I get from their choice here. We didn’t even get Roy’s drag queens.
Natalie: Justice for the crepe queens of Balham. They would know what to do with that song.
Natalie: I will quote again from Betancourt, actually, because he’s an extremely brilliant author on the queer lens and I’m glad he wrote about this episode, and anything I said would end up sounding like a weak paraphrase even though I also thought the same things before I read his review.
“Here’s the thing about “I am what I am.” Ever since La Cage Aux Folles first arrived on Broadway in 1983 (!), that song has served as an anthem for the most visible (and thus most targeted) of the queer population. It’s an affirmation song (“I am what I am, And what I am needs no excuses”) but one delivered by a fabulous drag queen whose pride in their identity and their artistry will not be eclipsed by any desire to conform. What is the song telling us as it scores a scene between a gay footballer who loves playing video games with his teammate and has, successfully, passed and avoided any scrutiny for years now? We all heard that moment when Colin says he’s not telling anyone else, right? That he’s perfectly content with just having told the team? What do he and La Cage’s Albin/Zaza have in common? Is this not a flattening of that “I am what I am” mantra, defanging it of any specificity to gender nonconformity (or, if we’re being kinder, of just outright queer visibility)? Men like Colin, who like drinking with the guys and weaponize male-bonding to avoid being caught (remember him at Ola’s a few weeks back?), men who struggle to come to terms with their own sexuality and successfully compartmentalize their identities in order to thrive in otherwise aggressively heterosexist spaces, deserve to have their stories be told. But to wrap that story with a nod to one of the most fabulous queer celebrations of fabulousness, of camp, of drag (!) feels like a tone deaf understanding of the message Albin-as-Zaza delivers. And that’s being generous.”
Like… yeah. When I heard they were using this song I absolutely 100% thought we would end up actually seeing a drag performance or something, like maybe Colin not entirely relating to it but, the whole team sharing in his coming out by all going to a gay bar or something – safety in numbers, no singling out who or why, but all going as a group for fun and watching this or something. Piping it in over Colin and Isaac playing FIFA after Colin has confirmed his desire to stay closeted. I respect his choice entirely but this isn’t the song for it, man.
Megan: God. Fucking yes. That is so, so perfect and spot on. I’ll be honest once I heard that “I am what I am” was going to be used this season, and once I saw the episode title riffing on La Cage I was pretty nervous. Because I just was not convinced they were going to use it in a way that would be appropriate given what the show and song are actually about. And it does annoy me a bit if I’m honest. Because in general the music choices for Ted Lasso are really really great, and are chosen really intentionally. So for them to use this in a way that does, to me, feel like they were just like “Oh, what’s a gay song” is not my favourite thing that Ted Lasso has ever done.
Natalie: It isn’t a catch-all gay song, that’s for sure. Anyway, if anyone gets to go and see a production of La Cage being done anywhere in their area they should definitely do it. The film The Birdcage is a non-musical adaptation, also good. But the music and messaging of the show and the history of it is just one of a kind. Utterly inappropriate for Colin though. So fucking weird.
Megan: That weird choice aside, I did like the actual scene happening alongside the music. I can’t believe this is the first time we’ve seen a Greyhound playing FIFA.
Natalie: Yeah. Colin’s house is tacky as fuck which is exactly right for him.
Megan: The Welsh flag blanket, and the awful sheep figurine. Come on Colin.
Natalie: He has a pool table, which is fun to imagine for team hangs there. But yeah, I guess a perk of Ted Lasso being in FIFA is getting to use FIFA in Ted Lasso. Could you see who they were playing as?
Megan: One of the teams is PSG. The other is Real Madrid. I have some conflicted feelings about Hakimi being shown, but I have to assume that editing was done before the recent allegations made against him in Paris, and his name does only flash up for a second, during the play, so I’ll let them off.
Natalie: Yeah, probably. Other details I noticed included a book called The Practical Astronomer – he must have a fucking telescope.
Megan: That strangely tracks. Obviously the fish tank too.
Natalie: Also one of the main movies Raquel Welch is famous for in 1967 is Bedazzled, which is my favourite “classic” movie of all time if you can call it that. But Isaac picking Bumbercatch as Colin’s type? Fascinating. Between him and Michael, it seems Colin is into small, slim, pretty guys.
Megan: Insert “He likes to be tall” gif here. Does Isaac subconsciously know Colin’s type? Did he think Colin’s touched reaction to Bumbercatch’s knitted scarf gift in season 2 was telling in hindsight, or did he just go for what would have been his least likely guess, since Colin said he’d never figure it out.
Natalie: I didn’t think either of those directions. I thought it was Isaac assessing who, if he himself had to think about it, he would pick, and it shows how close he and Colin are, as a mirror of the Raquel Welch selection, who Isaac clearly approves of.
Megan: Yes, I think you’re probably right.
Natalie: I don’t think he was thinking “Oh, who’s the opposite,” I think it’s proving Colin wrong about never guessing.
Megan: That’s a better explanation. And I love Moe, so I respect Colin’s choice.
Natalie: Moe is quite good looking, and sometimes his eyes always look like he might have added eye-liner. He’s no Jamie, but I can’t see Jamie being Colin’s type.
Natalie: Phil Dunster was made in a lab specifically to be attractive to me, but me and Colin are not the same.
Megan: Haha. No, very very very true.
Natalie: I would like him to rank them though.
Megan: Yes I would like to think after this game of FIFA is over Isaac makes him rank the whole team. Alternatively, in the dressing room one day, he lines them up from hottest to least hot. But that might be a bit harsh on poor Roy, who would likely be last. Or Jan, as he would stop Colin from feeling tall.
Natalie: Jesus Christ. I can see Isaac being offended if Colin DOESN’T rate him.
Megan: Yes! He doesn’t want to be Colin’s top pick, he’d struggle with that, but I think he’d need to make the top 5.
Natalie: Well, on that note, who would yours be? From 5 to Jamie
Megan: Including Roy as a former player? Or just the current team?
Natalie: Not Roy.
Megan: Correct assumption, having Jamie as number one, not that that’s not a given. Okay… 5. Jan Maas, 4. Dani, 3. Richard, 2. Sam, 1. Jamie. I did struggle at the end between Jan Maas and Isaac but tall gangly men have historically been a bit of a type for me. Unfortunately. You?
Natalie: Of the guys we see a lot of? Isaac and Colin himself are probably tied for fifth place, then Moe, Richard, Dani, and Jamie at number one. Colin is always styled a bit goofy but Billy photographs so well. Some of the magazine shoots he’s done for this season about this arc are gorgeous. Sam is too nice for me. I do wish that Dani had a bit more of that FFM threesome energy and a bit less toddler energy this season though.
Megan: Yeah same. Like, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s hot, but it does make him a bit less sexy.
Natalie: What a shame. Looking ahead to next week, the title is “International Break,” which set all my nerve endings on fire. Then I got really fucking worried that the show would try and do some sort of exposition shit with Ted being like “Wow! A break in our season when all the national teams meet up? Incredible!” framing it as if this was the very first time it has happened since he’s been there. If they do that, I will have to fucking cry. They would have literally already had three international breaks earlier in the season, and four the year before. And one during Ted’s first season, a couple months after he arrived. Last season they talked about the FA Cup as if they hadn’t also played in it the prior season, which they would have -with Ted as manager – even if they were immediately knocked out. I really fucking hope they just fold in the break in a way that feels normal and natural and not like this is Ted’s first time experiencing it. Surely they wouldn’t be that stupid, right? They have to do exposition to let the GA know the deal, but surely they can do it without pretending the league has had no international breaks before now?
Megan: Nat. I want to tell you they won’t do this. I would LOVE to be able to tell you they won’t, but… I just don’t feel like I can. I can’t promise you they won’t. I really hope they don’t. But. I cannot promise you. This is one of the things I was SO desperate to see this season, so I am really really excited to get it.
Natalie: I’m so scared, LOL.
Megan: But I am also very nervous about how they handle it. Like, yes the fear you’ve outlined. But also I’m nervous to see which players they attempt to claim will get called up to their national team. Because there are some I will readily believe, and some that I will not haha.
Natalie: Obviously one of my biggest priorities, if not THE biggest, is seeing Jamie get his first England callup and if it does not happen the way I want it to I will be so sad. It seems likely to me that we might get that, though, because it makes sense that he would have been excluded before due to his attitude and also the lack of space for new strikers, if we assume that Harry Kane exists. But an endlessly versatile centre attacking midfielder with Roy Kent to vouch for him if the England manager wants to know about his attitude? Yes. It makes sense that this is the moment that Jamie would finally get that.
Megan: Yeah absolutely. I’m not sure he’d be on the starting team, but I could see him getting subbed in for impact later on in a match.
Natalie: I’ll be SO sad if it turns out he already got the call up earlier in the season and we don’t see the very first time he gets the news. But the earlier breaks were in the bad Zava time, so it seems unlikely. Please please please just let this go exactly how I want it to go.
Megan: I really, really want this to be done in a way I can love. Even if it’s not exactly the scenario in my head, I need it to be close, and plausible.
Natalie: With the other players, well, let’s see. Because obviously there’s Dani, who is already on the Mexico national team according to Arlo White’s cheat sheet notes. There’s Sam, who has expressed a wish to be called up for Nigeria but who had Edwin Akufo threaten that chance. And Edwin is in this episode, making some offer to Rebecca. What the hell that is about, I have no idea.
Megan: Yeah, I really hope Edwin doesn’t block Sam in any way. I would also accept Van Damme for Canada, as there aren’t many current Canadian players in the Prem, so that would suggest he’s decent, and they don’t have the strongest pool to choose from. And I think Colin playing for Wales would also make sense at this point. Then there are a couple of characters with no lines who are apparently from countries where I could buy them being called up: Paul Reynolds from Ireland, Robbie Roberts from Zimbabwe, and Babatunde also from Nigeria. However, if they try and tell me that Richard and Jan Maas would be good enough for the French and Dutch national teams, I will struggle with that.
Natalie: Yeah. Absolutely not.
Megan: No shade to them, they both make my top five hot list. But they don’t make my top 22 French and Dutch players list.
Natalie: Jan joined Richmond when they were in the Championship too, meaning he definitely wasn’t considered top tier.
Megan: Yeah exactly.
Natalie: And most of the top French players play in Europe rather than the UK, if not Ligue 1, then La Liga or the Bundesliga. Like, Richard obviously prefers France to England, so him playing in the Prem is a bit like… is he not good enough for a French team?
Megan: And France are, at this point in Ted Lasso – pre 2022 World Cup – the reigning real life World Cup champions. They are a top, top team, with a really big pool to choose from.
Natalie: Sure there are French Premier League players, but of the French national team, only a handful of them are playing in the Prem. Whereas somewhere like Canada, every single Canadian player currently in the Prem is also on the Canadian national team, because if they’re good enough to make it out of Canada and come over to the Prem, they are the best of the best
Megan: There are currently a fair few French players playing in the Premier League, but many for teams that are historically a lot better than Richmond are shown to be – players for Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United. They would all be picked over Richard.
Natalie: I also don’t think any of the other English players are good enough to make the Three Lions. Sorry guys. It’s a GIANT pool. The only thing I can think of is that their Total Football tactic and table climbing may make a couple of others stand out, but honestly it wouldn’t shock me if it was only Jamie.
Megan: Yeah I agree with that. Jamie is the only one. There are way too many players to choose from across the clubs
Natalie: Like, most Premier League teams only have one or two players on the England team. Some have none. Richmond definitely wouldn’t have had any while they were in the Championship. But I really want this to be a moment that Jamie has been waiting for, that finally arrives, and for Roy to be the person he shares that with, first and foremost.
Megan: Also a nice little reunion with him and some Man City players, since they make up a lot of the England National Team.
Natalie: Yeah, I hope we actually see some time with the England team. Also if it includes a West Ham player. Conversations to be had there. Armando, maybe.
Megan: Declan Rice can pick his brains about Nate.
Natalie: I just really, really, really, really, really want them to not let me down here, and for the Ted Lasso writers to have some of the same basic driving forces at play for Jamie that have long made sense to me with his development. If we are doing “International Break,” and I never thought we would get an episode called this, I need them to just get the Jamie thing right. It’s my most wanted thing.
Megan: Same. I will forgive almost anything else from this next episode as long as the Jamie stuff is good. I will even forgive them letting Jan and Richard be called up, but I will still side eye.
Natalie: If we get to see him in the England shirt, especially the white home kit, I will immediately burst into tears.
Megan:. It’s going to be a lot. I am not ready. Let’s push it back a week, give me more time to prepare.
Natalie: And if they go to play a match, probably at Wembley, I need Roy and Keeley to be there to watch.
Natalie: There’s a lot of other elements they may get wrong – like what they do with the team members NOT called up, it’s not like everyone has a holiday! But if they give me the Jamie call up moment, him getting the news, then yeah.
Megan: What if they have two of the players on opposite teams? It would probably have to be Jamie and Colin for Wales v England, since at this time in the year the international matches are played at the continent level – though that could be another element they get wrong. But you could also have Dani vs Van Damme.
Natalie: I’ll take whatever other shit they throw at me.
Megan: I’ll roll with it. I’ll be very gracious and won’t nitpick at all… Probably.
Natalie: I am extremely keen to just get to it and find out how much it’s going to hurt me, in either good or bad ways.
Megan: That’s the spirit.