A solid start to the season and one that proves 'Ted Lasso' won't be resting on its laurels, but the first scene makes some choices.
- ⚽️ Delving further into mental health storylines (and particularly with sports figures) is incredibly timely and important.
- ⚽️ Roy's very solid dating advice.
- ⚽️ The brief Jamie Tartt update.
- ⚽️ The how is unpleasant but it is good to see Cristo Fernández at the heart of a storyline.
- ⚽️ Despite Earl, the heart is still strong with this one.
- ⚽️ The opening sequence might be very polarizing.
- ⚽️ First episodes back after a huge breakout season are always difficult to land.
This post contains spoilers for Ted Lasso "Goodbye, Earl.”
Read our spoiler-free review here.
“Football is life!” or it was until the opening of Ted Lasso’s second season takes a surprisingly dark turn. This isn’t to say that the hit Apple TV+ comedy has always been sunshine and light, but I don’t think anyone had Dani Rojas’ (Cristo Fernández) penalty kick tragedy on their prediction scorecard. The Greyhounds are now down a mascot as Earl does not survive the freak accident that takes place in the opening sequence. Killing dogs is serious business (there is even a website to warn viewers of canine peril) and this opening scene will probably feel like a huge misstep to some. And despite the very bleak twist, it does fit with the pattern of incidents to plague this club (though none have been quite as eyebrow-raising as this). That it happens to the perpetually happy Dani is also significant and leads to a new regular joining the cast. Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles) is a sports psychologist and the attention to mental health is welcome (and timely), even if the catalyst is divisive.
Season 1 ended with AFC Richmond failing to secure the points they needed to stay in the Premier League and the team is playing their eighth game when we join the action. While they are undefeated, they have also hit an unprecedented seven tied matches in a row, and Dani’s botched penalty makes it eight. Ted (Jason Sudeikis) wonders if this is celestial payback for wishing that they got a draw against Manchester City in their last game of the previous season, and it is hard to disagree with this karmic logic. Superstition runs through this episode and Dani’s case of the so-called “yips” highlights how Ted and Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) differ from their British counterparts. Ted likens it to someone saying “Macbeth” in a theatre and the pair flinch when anyone speaks this term out loud. Higgins (Jeremy Swift) takes a practical approach and calls in Dr. Fieldstone as a way to tackle Dani’s mental block that is causing him to crumble when he kicks the ball (his dreams are haunted by animated dogs).
Ted and Coach Beard see the “Yips” as a curse, but Sharon is more pragmatic about this phenomenon and she suggests it is a mental condition that can be treated with discipline, not denial. Ted’s optimism is sometimes a mask and his divorce is not something he can brush aside with catchphrases and heartfelt speeches. A panic attack during celebratory karaoke in the Season 1 episode, “Make Rebecca Great Again” revealed another dimension to this character and overall story. Therefore, the introduction of a sports psychologist has the potential to dive deeper into Ted’s arc, while also addressing this very timely subject — sorry to Earl for being the sacrificial lamb to make this happen. Ted does confide in Coach Beard that he thought jealously might be why he was reluctant to her arrival, before admitting he doesn’t trust therapists. The only time he has seen a therapist was with his wife and he felt like he was being unfairly targeted during these sessions.
Coach Beard reminds Ted of some advice he offered after a bad breakup with a dancer: “All people are different people.” One dancer who breaks your heart doesn’t mean that all dancers will break your heart and the same can be said about therapists taking sides. He attempts to take a more Ted Lasso optimistic approach but the green-eyed monster lingers. After seeing the improvement in Danny, Ted goes to thank the doctor but is concerned to see other players going to see her. When she shuts her new office door, the reference is to the iconic final moment of The Godfather when Michael Corleone shuts the door to his wife — now Ted is being left out in the cold and this concerns him.
Last season also ended with heartbreak for Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) whose professional football career seemed like it had hit its conclusion due to a knee injury (coupled with his age). Roy is still involved in this world, well sort of. He is the coach of his niece Phoebe's (Elodie Blomfield) under 9’s team and they have already made it to a cup final. Don’t think Roy has softened his language for this younger squad and Phoebe has earned £1236 courtesy of his salty words (£1 per swear). His hair and beard are longer than they were before, he hasn’t been to watch a game since his retirement, and Roy is uninterested in the Sky Sports pundit gig he has been offered. Keeley is gently trying to nudge him toward this job but he shuts her down pretty quickly, and she later realizes that mentioning it on a double date is bad form too. Roy is not a man to bow to pressure and he is still smarting from whatever occurred at his retirement press conference. All seems good between this couple and the career conversation shows how conflict can stem from an organic source — and having an honest chat about it helps resolve this issue too.
There is also a degree of compromise too, which includes Roy agreeing to go on a double date with Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) and her perfectly fine date John (Patrick Baladi). This is a multiple whiskies scenario for Roy and when it is all over he gives an honest assessment in which he tells her “Don’t you dare settle for fine!” It is Roy’s burst of emotion that makes him more than just the stoic hard man and Keeley’s hint of a smile is horniness paired with love. He also has his weekly hang with the yoga mums, which means drinking rosé while watching the reality series Lust Conquers All (aka Love Island). The big surprise to us is that Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) is a contestant and he’s “the island’s top scorer. Sexually.” It is unsurprising how much his mere appearance on the TV angers Roy. Because it is midseason this is a massive conflict with his actual profession and a big question lingers regarding what this means for his career? Has he traded soccer for reality TV?
Changes are afoot with whatever is going on with Jamie and the introduction of Sharon, and it is also worth remembering there are no more secrets involving Rebecca’s motivations toward this club. Last season, she tried to sink the AFC Richmond to get revenge on her ex-husband, and while relegation did occur, the vibe in her office is lighter. End-of-day cocktails and a cheery atmosphere are part of the general mood, and the show is all the better for it. The early conflict was important, but now Rebecca and Keeley’s friendship is without the weight of the deception and it is thriving. When Keeley isn’t on hand for ‘girl talk,’ Ted steps in and it is hard to tell if this dynamic is platonic or will turn into something else down the line. Either way, the chemistry crackles and there is something magical about this not quite being a will-they-won’t-they yet — but with plenty of space for it to grow. Roy is right about John and the use of Aimee’s Mann’s “Wise Up” when Rebecca realizes she can’t settle, is a hilarious callback to an earlier reference to PT Anderson’s Magnolia. No one does pop-culture references like Ted Lasso.
Season premieres after a successful first season can be tricky to navigate because often it is about resetting and welcoming the audience (and characters) back. There are a lot of moving pieces in “Goodbye, Earl” and while the death at the start is shocking, it also shows the writers are not going to settle (much like Rebecca), as big swings are being made. The thread of dark humor isn’t new and while it might alienate some, this is still a show with heart. The mental health aspect and arrival of the new sports psychologist prove this will not be a one-week and done arc, and this is an important storyline to cover.
Penalty kicks are also fraught with tension (even without interference from nature) and another accidentally timely aspect is what happened at the Euro 2020 final two weeks ago. At the Ted Lasso red carpet event, Sudeikis wore a sweatshirt with the three England players (Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka) who missed their penalties in the final and were subject to racist abuse on social media in the aftermath. Of course, the two scenarios are not a mirror but it speaks volumes to have a co-creator and star who uses his platform like this. “I just felt it was necessary to use the platform of our big, fancy ‘worldwide premiere’ to try and personify our show’s support of those three young men,” Sudeikis told Vogue. Ted Lasso is only a character, but the heart of the show is very real. The opening of the premiere begins with a literal whimper, but there is still a lot to sing about even when Richmond has yet to win.
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