What to Watch Verdict
After a slightly bumpy start, this is 'Ted Lasso' firing on all cylinders (even if the team aren't).
⚽️ Jamie's journey is hilarious and heartfelt.
⚽️ Sam getting a moment to voice his opinions.
⚽️ The use of real-life British TV personalities.
⚽️ How horny this season already is.
⚽️ Nate's treatment of Will suggests he is about to become the bully of the season.
This post contains spoilers for Ted Lasso "Lavender.”
Read our latest review here.
The dynamics of a group are vital to success, whether it is a sports team or a cast of a comedy series. While AFC Richmond is struggling to turn the pleasant atmosphere that Ted (Jason Sudeikis) has crafted behind the scenes into a win, the ensemble has only got stronger. Jamie Tartt’s (Phil Dunster) career crisis could disrupt harmony in the locker room but there is no doubt this character (and Dunster’s performance) is a gift to the audience. From his brief dalliance on Love Island stand-in Lust Conquers All to cycling through the emotions when Ted asks how he is, Ted Lasso is better with Jamie Tartt in it. Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) refers to him as a “poop in a punch bowl” and there is a lot of talk about his bad energy. However, his return could be exactly what this team needs to find their first win.
Finding the best version of yourself is an overarching theme whether it is Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) ditching the vengeance plans against her ex and realizing she can trust those she works with, or even Roy (Brett Goldstein) trying the pundit gig this week. For Jamie, his relationship with his father has defined his choices. He left Manchester City as a way to get back at his dad (the finale last season gave a glimpse of his father’s malignant presence) and when his new career path is cut short (“the lust stops here”) he finds out he can’t just slide back into his old life. An appearance on This Morning (with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby playing themselves) is a wake-up call as he finds out live on air that Manchester City is not entertaining a return. He tells Phillip and Holly the reason he quit at the start of the season is he found out George Harrison died, and when he is told that this happened 20 years ago, he clarifies that he only just found out. Jamie is so wrapped up in a bubble of himself that this could be a valid response — although we do find out the real reason later in the episode.
Jamie believes his own hype and for him to be Richmond material again humility is required. After his agent tells him no one is interested, he stalks Keeley (Juno Temple) on social media before “running into her” and she points him in the direction of Ted. With his new haircut — that makes him look even more like England and Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish — and swish designer threads, Jamie is still unhappy, and he thinks Richmond will solve his problems. Of course, since Jamie left the club there have been no punch ups in the dressing room or at training, and he threatens the harmonious mood. When the players see a photo of Jamie and Ted in the pub together, the grumblings are significant with the usually chipper Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) making his unhappiness known with a rare petulant display at training. No one has ever made Sam feel as bad about himself as Jamie has, and this reaction is understandable. When Ted reassures him that Jamie is not going to be a Richmond player again, Sam tells his coach his father is happy his son is in such safe hands. Unbeknown to Sam, it is this remark that convinces Ted to give Jamie a second chance.
“Sam just reminded me that he himself has got a great dad. Not everyone has that,” is how Ted explains the Jamie conundrum to the rest of the Diamond Dogs. Coach Beard is against this idea (see the aforementioned poop comment) and Jamie relentlessly bullied Nate (Nick Mohammed) so it is hardly surprising that he is also thumbs down. As he mentions morale, he interrupts himself to yell at his kit man replacement Will (Charlie Hiscock). He has already criticized Will for putting a lavender scent in the laundry and adding pineapple to the water, and this outburst is a troubling development for the Richmond atmosphere. The lavender was meant to be a calming addition, however, change can be difficult and this scent also acts as a metaphor for Ted’s overall conundrum. Higgins approaches it from a practical business POV and is in favor, which leaves Ted, and the final scene of Jamie rocking up to training in the snow (complete with Grealish headband) reveals Ted’s vote holds the most weight. Never giving up is fundamental to playing sports and the American coach is taking this approach with their most arrogant player. Jamie’s cockiness is intrinsic to who he is, but I am excited to see how he will attempt to win over his teammates or if he will continue down the path of self-destruction.
One major change is that Roy is no longer in Jamie’s path, and the hardman of football was the reluctant protector of those who Jamie targeted (including Nate). Aside from dropping Keeley off at work, Roy continues to avoid the club. His plans for the day include the under 9’s cup final (they lose) and then cooking a Nigella Lawson recipe for Keeley — only Roy can make “moist” sound as horny as he does. In the scene in which he enters Keeley’s seemingly empty home, the initial suggestion is maybe she hasn’t come home after bumping into Jamie, but fret not! The reveal that Keeley is in bed having a wank is made even funnier (and hotter) when she reveals what she's watching to get off. Last week, Roy’s retirement speech was referenced and now we get to see it in all the snotty glory. He thinks he looks pathetic and can’t understand why she finds this display attractive. “You’re being passionate and vulnerable. It’s fucking hot,” is Keeley’s extremely valid justification.
Bringing up Jamie’s name during this conversation almost sends Roy spiraling, but the comparison Keeley makes is powerful, pointing out how lost they both are without Richmond as an anchor. It isn’t just Ted who pushes those around him to embrace the unknown and Roy reluctantly agrees to try the Sky Sports pundit job. “What did you tell the prince prick of all pricks about going back to Richmond?” he asks before melting into a pool of kisses. Romance is definitely alive and well between this couple, and it only gets steamier after his first day on the new job.
Say goodbye to Roy’s less defined beard and longer hair because his tidier locks signify his step toward this new career — he does draw the line at mascara. The all-black suit and tie show that costume designer Jacky Levy is sticking to Roy’s signature palette and he looks suave for his TV debut. A last-minute pep talk from his girlfriend is a boost and Roy makes his mark on the Soccer Saturday audience with his unfiltered comments. On the panel is real-life host Jeff Stelling and presenter Chris Kamara alongside former AFC Richmond manager George (Bill Fellows) with Stelling having to apologize to viewers for nearly every word that comes out of Roy’s mouth. UK viewers will no doubt get a kick out of seeing the familiar faces this week (including This Morning’s Phillip and Holly) and while it might not translate globally, this adds an extra layer of authenticity and it is heartening to see the Ted Lasso production embrace UK staples. Despite turning the broadcast blue, Roy is a hit on both Twitter and with the Sky higher-ups, and they want him back. To say thank you for pushing him, Roy indulges Keeley’s kink and as I wrote in my preview, you won’t look at AirPods in the same way again. Any worries that this pair would lose their golden touch in coupledom are already dissipating.
Rebecca is back on the romance train after her unsuccessful reentry, but she isn’t letting that get to her and is instead back on the apps. The open-door atmosphere in her office continues and her relationships with Higgins (Jeremy Swift) going from her treating him like crap to a partnership are welcome. Sure, he still fumbles and is now without an office (until he is told he can share Nate’s), but he is no longer a cartoonish moron. Workplace comedies can lean too hard into the character that is the butt of the jokes (see Jerry/Garry in Parks and Recreation) but Higgins is also good at his job. His choice to hire sports psychologist Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles) full-time doesn’t go over that well with Ted, but Ted also gets him to stand his ground. It doesn’t help that Sharon rebuffs Ted’s biscuit gift because she doesn’t eat sugar (“What a fucking arsehole,” says Rebecca when he tells her this) and she starts to read him early on. When she attends the training session, Ted quips that it feels like she is moving closer and it sounds like the ramblings of a paranoid man, however, the wonderful sight gag shows Sharon in different seats. She ends up on the front row and it is the perfect background joke.
At the end of the episode, Sharon does tell Ted her favorite book (The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, which is about a former footballer) and also some home truths about the club. Yes, there is a wonderful atmosphere but they have also tied eight games straight. This coupled with Sam’s comment about his father is what brings the contentious Jamie Tartt back to his former team. After last week’s solid start (with a few bumps), “Lavender” proves this season isn’t going to be a retread of the first outing and even if AFC Richmond is stuck in tie purgatory, the creative team have hit another winner.
Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.