'Ted Lasso' Recap: Ted Can't Move On, But Can He Sit Still?
Roy learns to back off, Ted learns to follow through, and Nate can't stop grasping, in an episode about being strong enough not to hang on so tight.
We left Ted at what seemed to be a turning point last week: Following his panic attack, he showed up in Dr. Sharon's office and told her he needed some help. But getting yourself to cooperate with therapy isn't a matter of a simple revelation, necessarily, and Ted finds that in the light of day, he's once again not so sure. He tells Sharon he thinks he doesn't need help after all, but she tells him to sit down. After a couple of minutes of fidgeting, though, he's out the door. His next attempt ends with him insulting Sharon's entire profession and telling her it's dishonest to charge by the hour when she does 50-minute appointments, claiming that she doesn't actually care about her patients.
Finally, on his third try, she tells him that she doesn't appreciate his attitude, particularly given that he is also paid to do a job in which he still legitimately cares about people. This brings Ted around a bit, and he finally sits down across from her to talk.
Roy and Keeley
Roy Kent is very, very in love right now. He rolls over in bed and gazes at Keeley. He finds her in the kitchen and gazes at her. She heads out to grab a coffee at work and he wants to come with her. Keeley admits to Rebecca and Higgins that it's a lot of togetherness since they've been living and working together — maybe too much. After a couple of near-misses and a blow-up brought about by Sex And The City, Roy figures out that Keeley's been complaining to other people about the relationship, and he's embarrassed that rather than being about regular annoyances, it's about him being too attached. This makes him feel foolish, and that's hard for a guy who, up until recently, didn't have the tools to be vulnerable enough to be in this position at all.
Fortunately for Roy, he knows a guy who has the answer, although not on purpose: Jamie. During practice, Roy criticizes Jamie for being too far away from a teammate, and Jamie says that what the teammate needed from him was space. Space, Roy! I have to trust my teammate! Roy gets it, and he goes home and sets up a relaxing bath for Keeley, completely with purloined petals and Sade. When she gets home, he settles her into it and promises to be gone for three hours. And it's a good lesson: Sometimes you just need a minute to yourself. Or three hours in a tub full of roses.
Nate is still on a high after being named the coaching "Wonder Kid" (a malapropism of a nickname he still can't admit he gave himself). It's all he wants to talk about. His mother, busting with pride, wants to indulge him; his father, clearly a tough sell in any circumstance, doesn't want him to get a big head.
But a big head, unfortunately, is precisely what Nathan now has, and he's ready to graduate from taking his frustrations out on Will to taking them out on Colin. After Colin senses that Nate doesn't like him and asks what's wrong, Nate delivers to Colin a withering, unprofessional, mean-spirited lecture that seems completely misdirected. When Beard shows up to quietly but firmly state that Nate needs to stop picking on Colin, Nate delivers a nice apology and it seems like things are going well again. But not so fast: Nate just redirects his anger toward poor Will again.
When Ted is uncomfortable, he deflects. He dances, sometimes literally. The sequence in which Jason Sudeikis sits in the soft chair, then moves to the couch, then lies down, then is finally directed to sit in the office chair is a good example of the principle that certain things cannot be accomplished narratively in the same way without directorial and editorial patience. Two full minutes are devoted to watching Ted fidget, unable to sit still, unable to resist making jokes, unable to commit. Sharon understands her patient, and she finally tells him, "Don't worry." But he still bolts as soon as she gets to the actual question of what happened when he had his panic attack. The next time they get together, he's more willing to be open, but it comes out as aggression, as he accuses her of not caring about patients and of misleading them over her rates.
It's good to have Ted push back against therapy, certainly. It borders on stalling out for the story to have him resist for so long and then give in and then go right back to resisting, but while that's not all that narratively satisfying, it's true to life, so it's hard to complain about it. Therapy as a straight line from broken to repaired is a pernicious myth, after all.
The impromptu meeting in the boot room is a great little sequence that pushes forward several stories at once. Ted counsels Keeley to consider just bottling up her feelings, since that reflects what's going on with him. Rebecca tells her to take action, because that's what she's thinking about. And Jamie just wants his name on his shirt in bigger letters, because that's what he's always thinking about. (The way Roy comes in and asks if they're all talking about him and they all say yes, with Jamie trailing and saying "Definitely"? Very good.)
Nate's story this season has been edging toward the genuinely sad, and this is the episode where you probably arrive at that point. Nick Mohammed is merciless in not cheating Nate's meanness with a wink or an air of uncertainty; he plays the arrogance as fully felt and absolutely genuine. To say that every bullied person who gains power then becomes a bully wouldn't be fair at all, but certainly one hazard of rising up through the ranks is having a little too much fun not being on the bottom of the ladder. Nate seems angry here, and as good as Beard's intentions were, there's an ugly story about power in the fact that sometimes when you tell a guy he can't mistreat powerful people, like players, all he does is move on to taking out his frustrations on less powerful people, like Will.
These are all really stories about what is and isn't strength, right? Ted feels like he's admitting something about himself that he's not ready to admit if he really opens up to therapy with Sharon, and he's accustomed to pushing through it. The first version of strength that he tries is to just push through with his usual jokes and small talk; it doesn't help. The second version he tries is combative derision; that doesn't help either. What takes the most strength for him is sitting down and admitting that he can't afford not to take the process seriously.
For Roy, he prides himself on being close to Keeley, on how attached they are. She's really pushed him at times to be open about his feelings, and he's done that, and now he feels like she's rejecting the same intimacy she asked for. It's hard for him — it takes guts — to step back from her and believe that it won't make them any less close just because they're ... less close.
And Nate has never really felt like he had power, either in his family or at work or probably anywhere else, and he has no idea what it's supposed to look like. It seems like there's some stuff going on with him that maybe hasn't entirely been explored, but at the very least, he's pointing his anger in the wrong direction. It's especially unsettling that he's so insistent that he didn't bungle the name "Wonder Kid," when he did. You never like to see a guy commit to something that's not true.
This Week In Ted
"Darn tootin', Vladimir Putin."
The New Yorker, Don Draper, The Jerky Boys, Citizen Kane, Dikembe Mutombo
Coach Beard Noise Of The Week
Rewatchable Of The Week
When Roy finally figures out what Jamie is saying about space and how it applies to him, a lot of shows would have him quietly experience an epiphany. Roy, instead, screams an expletive. It's very funny.
Assist(s) Of The Week
It's not a particularly big Rebecca and Higgins week, except that Rebecca and Sam are still messaging each other and still don't know it. But when Roy comes in and Higgins covers by starting to scat, it's funny. When he's joined by Rebecca, it's funnier. And when they start up again after Roy and Keeley are gone, just apparently for the hell of it, it's funniest.
Stealth MVP Of The Week
Billy Harris' Colin is often a source of comedy, but it's been interesting seeing him drawn into this story with Nate. Harris doesn't overcomplicate this kid we've been led to believe is a pretty simple and good-hearted dude, but his befuddlement at being disliked by Nate is nicely handled.
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