The latest episodes of Ted Lasso is incredibly frustrating while being achingly beautiful to watch.
This is (apparently) the final season, so what in the hell are they doing? Every episode is just spinning out of control with these stories that never seem to coalesce with anything worthwhile. Zava came and went, which was likely inevitable given how they hammered home that the team was capable without a ringer.
The latest episode... Sunflowers... is more spinning. But then you see these incredible moments with characters you love... and it's everything you want to see in the show.
I never not want to be able to find these characters on television, and this episode just hammered that home. Whether or not Jason Sudeikis is actually in Ted Lasso or not... Apple TV must find a way to continue. They MUST. I don't care if they rename it Roy Kent or AFC Richmond or whatever. This season just can't be the end.
And now is where I look at the latest episode as a huge fan of the show. If you haven't seen Sunflowers yet, some serious spoilers are going to follow... so watch before you read.
A Friendly Without Curfew in Amsterdam. I know that we have to see AFC Richmond at their lowest before they can climb... and I'm guessing that this half-way point is where things turn around (that seems to be the formula that the writers lean into every season). I laughed my ass off at Roy Kent and Jan Maas getting interviewed, because Roy is surly and Jan is... Dutch. They're the perfect match. And then there's Keeley heading off with her girlfriend. It bothers me more than a little bit that she's in a relationship with somebody other than Roy... it bothers me even more that this is the best thing they could figure out what to do with the character.
Heaven Knows I've Tried. Surely I'm not the only one who never, ever fast-forwards through the Ted Lasso theme song?
No Holiday from Training. I welcome absolutely any opportunity to see Roy Kent being his most Roy. But this season I'm almost as excited seeing Jamie getting to be his most Jamie with Roy Kent. Their history has them intertwined in ways that neither of them will ever truly understand, and it's a joyous thing to see.
Rebecca Swims the Canals of Amsterdam. It is wonderful to see how Rebecca and Sassy are friends independent of Keeley. Kudos to the stuntwoman who took a tumble off that bridge, but it's PHENOMENALLY stupid how Rebecca can't look at the little "bike lane" icons liberally painted on the bike path to understand that she's walking in the wrong place.
Beard's Got Plans. I gotta say... if "Yankee Doodle Burger Barn" doesn't exist, it should exist. How amazing is that for an American restaurant in a foreign country? And how great is it that we see such tiny little snippets of Coach Beard's odd lifestyle? His character is choice, and the fact that he's so consistent means it's not by accident.
AFC Richmond. I've been to Amsterdam many times. There's so much to do in the city that it's kinda of funny watching the characters run through the touristy stuff that defines it to foreigners. Jan Maas being on his home turf and coming up with something so genius is perfect for his character. And there goes Colin. I think we all know what his plans are for the night.
Water Pressure. Rebecca exploring this Dutch man's gorgeous house boat is one of my favorite moments. As is the fact that the Dutch guy was so gentlemanly as to leave and give her privacy while she took her shower (the note for the tea... It's not drugged, I promise). Interesting to note that the guy has a bedroom for his daughter, which could very well be the child that Rebecca is longing for. Just sayin'.
Leslie Knows His Jazz. Nobody thought that Higgins was heading to the Red Light District for sex... but it was hard to tell what it might be. Jazz. Makes perfect sense.
Coach Beard's Magical Tea. Beard is so delightfully weird. And he's brilliant on top of it all, which is what makes him such a great character. Ted not being able to drink tea is a part of what makes him great too.
AFC Richmond. Oh Dani. He's incredibly genuine and sweet under any and all circumstances, and you love to see it. Zoreaux's obsession with seeing a sex show is an odd aspect for his character, but also an interesting one.
Colin's Night Out. Trent Crimm is an outsider to the team, but not really. As a journalist (and now writer) he's getting to know them in a way that they probably don't know themselves. I was terrified that his secretly following Colin was going to be a way of gathering dirt on the poor guy... which would be so awful... and this scene certainly painted that picture.
Dinner on a Houseboat. Where did this Dutch gentleman come from? REBECCA'S DREAMS, THAT'S WHERE! It's so nice to see male characters on a show that are just genuinely nice by nature. It's a great contrast to what most guys are like in Real Life. And his kissing her foot after bandaging it (out of habit for his daughter, I'd imagine) just drove that point home. Doesn't hurt that Rebecca is absolutely gorgeous having just stepped out of the shower.
Roy and Jamie Training at Midnight. =sigh= Roy could do nothing but complain about life for hours, and I'd still want to watch.
Colin is a Prik. Ah yes... one of my favorite songs! Boy by Book of Love. Prik must be a gay bar (as if the name wasn't a big enough clue) because I've been told many, many times that my musical tastes are "gay." Can I ask... do you know who I am? Colin getting to go out to a gay bar... something he could never do back in London... is a nice thing for his character. But the fact that he still worries about getting recognized is profoundly sad (although... contrast and compare that Roy Kent didn't care at all that he ended up at G-A-Y in London with his over-60 yoga group... he didn't have to because he's not gay). If only the public at large could sympathize. Hopefully seeing it in Ted Lasso will change minds. And then in walks Trent Crimm! Colin having to immediately do a 180° makes this moment even more sad. But it turns out Crimm isn't there to cause a problem. On the contrary, he seems to be there as a... friend? And I gotta hand it to Billy Harris, he managed to go from being very scared to letting the relief show over every inch of his face. But not in a way that seems artificial. I have no idea if the guy is gay in Real Life or not, but the way he inhabits his character is admirable. And what a marvelous gem James Lance is! Trent Crimm is, by nature, an enigma. But you always know what's going on under the surface because you can see the gears turning. My favorite Trent Crimm moment is when he explained A Wrinkle in Time to Roy. This is a close second.
Ted on Magical Tea? I gotta say, seeing one of Keeley's infamous hotel ads dubbed into Dutch is hilarious.
Rebecca and Her Dutch Gentleman. Holy crap is Hannah Waddingham gorgeous. And I cannot believe how incredibly talented an actor she is. This kind of casual banter flowing so naturally is something that actors would kill to be able to do with such perceived ease. And then we get to hear her sing for a moment on top of it all. One of the things I love about Ted Lasso is how genuine wisdom is dropped like pearls scattered amongst the episodes. And here's one of my favorites being dropped out of nowhere "I realized that this thing didn't happen to me, but for me."
Roy Learns How to Ride a Bike. After that game-changing moment last season where Roy hugs Jamie after Jamie's father unloaded abuse on him, I still never saw them becoming close. But now that it's happening, how amazing is it? Brett Goldstein's comedic chops here are just beyond funny. But the real heavy lifting is being done by Phil Dunster. He has a very fine line to walk... showing genuine care and concern for Roy, but also being the character we've come to know. And hearing Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head all the while Roy is chasing Jamie with a bicycle once again shows that the writers at Ted Lasso know how to pick musical queues!
Higgins and Will on a Pilgrimage. Will was defined for the longest time as the object of Nate's abuse. It is so nice to see him in any other context than that, because I think there's a lot unsaid about his character. He has a line right here about being made fun of that cuts very deep. That's his life. Not just from Nate, but everybody. That he gets to have a better go of it with his Richmond AFC family is wonderful.
Colin and Trent on Coming Out. So Trent is also gay. And now we know. This is so utterly heartbreaking for Colin. "My whole life is two lifes, really." (the closed captioning says the proper "lives" but it really sounds like Colin is saying the grammatically incorrect "lifes" which adds another level to what he's saying). Colin doesn't want to be a gay spokesperson or fish for apologies. All the guy wants what everybody wants... to be accepted for who he really is, and to be allowed to be who he really is. Being gay in men's sports is still a very hard thing to do, and understandably Colin isn't willing to risk it, even though he'd like to think that his teammates would accept him. They tempered this genuinely heartbreaking moment with Trent's hilarious response to Colin wondering how he knew... then drop right back into melancholy by bringing in Anne Frank, then rebind beautifully with the pink triangle bit. That is some very deft writing. And a huge shoutout to Doctor Fieldstone! I love that she wasn't just an accessory to the show. She had genuine purpose, and what we thought we knew what she did for Colin ending up being something different is wonderful in all the right ways.
Ted and Vincent VanGogh. My favorite artist of all time making an appearance on my favorite television show of all time was nice moment for me. And the fact that they managed to roll Vincent into Ted's narrative so flawlessly... "Where I'm from... Kansas, my home... this here is our state flower"... made an already Emmy-worthy episode cross the threshold for me. And this is where we get the title of this episode from.
Team AFC Richmond. It would have been criminal if we never got to see Kola Bokinni truly bring Isaac to life. After his episode-centric turn last season, I can't get enough of him. And here he is being Ultimate Isaac.
Jamie on Amsterdam. Roy Kent is my favorite character ever to hit my television screen. And it's the fact that Goldstein manages to never lose sight of Who. Roy. Is. that makes him so compelling. In this scene he is mainly just listening. But the performance goes deeper than that, but not in an obvious way. Brett Goldstein is Roy Kent every time he appears. And that throw-away line... "I think Keeley has a girlfriend"... has double-impact considering that Jamie dated her too. They really needed something to tie them together for these scenes to hit as hard as they do, and here it is.
Ted at Yankee Doodle Burger Barn. This scene is hilarious from start to finish. Ted's disbelief as he attempts to tell the host where he wants to sit is gold. But it's the restaurant set itself that is the funniest thing of all.
Rebecca Goes Gezellig. I already knew what "gezellig" means... it's one of those words that's inherently Dutch, and beautifully encompasses the feeling of Dutch people in a way that no English word ever could. It's fantastic that the show managed to throw that in without hammering it with a sledgehammer. And note how this scene flawlessly echos when Rebecca loses her phone in the canal, so this Dutch guy throws his in... and now he follows her lead again by throwing water in the clothes dryer. If you didn't want Rebecca and him to end up together before this, you most certainly do now. Again, this is Emmy-worthy writing. I'd be shocked if it wasn't nominated. I'd be more than a little angry if it doesn't win.
Barbecue Sauce. They have been telegraphing Ted's endgame for this final(?) season since Season 03's first episode. Seeing him being at home in a foreign country because of the food (Freedom Fries!) and atmosphere of an "American Restaurant" is just one more log on this fire. His revelation of how AFC Richmond can compete via the Try-Angle is likely how things will finally turn around for the team. But in the most Ted way possible. There's a lot to unpack from the TSA's* graphically-enhanced monologue, but note that God's voice ("Woopsie!") is a woman's voice, which builds on what's come before so brilliantly. And how about that birthday song in the background? LOL. What I love most is how the employees muster such enthusiasm for it.
Higgins is Jazz-Worthy. Will Kitman getting some screen time is gold. Charlie Hiscock has got his nervous energy down pat. Nice that Higgins gets to put his bass playing to good use again. The random scenes of everybody's night out is terrific, and the way it advances their stories without trying too hard is the kind of writing that Ted Lasso excels at. And, Lord, how I want to see more of Will Kitman.
Rebecca Skips Breakfast. I gotta say... if Rebecca doesn't end up with this Dutch guy at the end of the season, it would be a real shame. This is exactly the kind of gentleman that she's been trying to find her entire life. And he's got a dark sense of humor that she can appreciate. What more could she want? So why not? Splitting their time between London and Amsterdam would be so easy with her money... and could be worth it to them both. Especially when the guy kisses her like this.
Heading Home. I love love loved the Coach Beard episode last season. And here's Beard back from exactly the kind of night he apparently falls into all the time. The fact that he speaks Dutch doesn't surprise me... but I died when he told Will "Don't tell Jan.". Then I died again when we find out that Will had a three-way with the couple from the jazz club... and told his mum about it. I like that it is Ted who figures out how to coach the team. The American who knows nothing about football. That will be a great crescendo to his finale. And, I have to say... seeing the featured characters get their story moments only makes me wish that every last one of them got the opportunity. Richard Montlaur is the playboy sports star living the life we would most associate pro football players having... I want to see it. Thierry Zoreaux (sorry, VanDamme!) has hinted at something far more interesting than what lays at the surface we've seen. And what about Jan Maas? Bumbercatch? Reynolds? Sassy? Phoebe? Sharon? Mae?!? And what I wouldn't give to see more of Beard, Isaac, and Dani!
Ultimately this episode was fantastic because we got to spend real time with everybody in a way we don't see very often. A diversion, certainly, but not in a bad way.
And with that, we're half-way through the season.
*Interesting to note that talented cartoon voice actor Corey Burton was the voice of the "True Spirit of Adventure" this episode!
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