Treating rom-coms with respect rather than a punchline delivers another strong episode with bold changes.
- ⚽️ The use of The Rolling Stones "She's a Rainbow" and the Higgins story behind this song choice.
- ⚽️ Roy's journey and the final sequence.
- ⚽️ Keeley's awe at Rebecca.
- ⚽️ The rom-com chat.
- ⚽️ The spit moment.
This post contains spoilers for Ted Lasso "Rainbow.”
Read our latest review here.
Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) is an integral part of the big will-they-won’t-they romantic storyline that has since spilled over into coupledom with Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) in Ted Lasso’s first season. Now Roy and Keeley have settled into this relationship the fire still burns, and Roy has a different romantic overture to make. In an episode that references multiple romantic comedies, his grand gesture is not to his girlfriend but the club he hasn’t engaged with since his injury-forced retirement. Roy’s weepy press conference is a huge turn-on for Keeley, but it is notable that he hasn’t stepped foot in AFC Richmond’s stadium or spoken to anyone from the club who isn’t Keeley or Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham). “Rainbow” changes this status and Roy makes a big decision in this pivotal episode.
A natural-born leader, it is not surprising that Ted (Jason Sudeikis) turns to his former captain to get help with the current captain. Isaac (Kola Bokinni) is struggling to get out of his own head and while they are paying an actual professional to help with workplace issues like this, Ted is still resistant to Sharon (Sarah Niles) using sports psychology to improve the team’s performance. He pretends he has it all figured out before landing on an approach that could kill two birds with one stone. Roy’s post-playing career began with coaching his niece’s Under-9’s soccer team — he did get them to the final — and embarking on punditry with a sweary twist. The latter was met with resistance at first with Keeley gently nudging him out of the house and into the Sky Sports studio. Persistence doesn’t work on Roy and there is no point badgering him into a situation, which includes getting him to watch a match at his old stomping ground. Keeley has left him a ticket at the box office every week just in case, although his new gig gives him the ideal reason to avoid Nelson Road on matchday.
One issue that can arise when a sitcom crosses the line into coupledom is it automatically pairs these two characters off each week, but Ted Lasso has so far delivered the delicate balance between separate arcs and appearing together. This week has Roy’s career shift coming after Ted lures him back while Keeley deals with a different work scenario. Yes, I am all in on the Roy/Keeley train but I also don’t need them to spend every second together in each episode.
Romantic comedies provide the basis for Ted’s team talk, in which he likens their current situation with the light-hearted struggles faced by the characters in a rom-com. Ted believes in “rom-communism” and he uses this genre’s narrative structure to point out it will all work out, even if that resolution isn’t exactly like the one you imagined. When you watch a movie like When Harry Met Sally or Jerry Maguire, you know the central couple will get over the obstacles laid out and end up together. This pop-culture comparison might be unorthodox for most coaches, but Ted often uses movies to illustrate his point. What follows feels like a sequel to the Martin Scorsese best movie chat from last season’s “Two Aces,” and the team contribution is delightful. The highlight of this scene is that rom coms are as revered as Scorsese films, and this genre is not dismissed or treated as a punchline.
Turning to Roy for help with Isaac leads to a jubilant game at the five-a-side location that Roy spent most of his youth. This is also where adult Roy would come when he needed to be reminded of his love for the game, and he uses this method to help Isaac with his own mental block. At first, Isaac is dismissive, but he quickly leans into the competitive fun of this evening away from the limelight. Blur’s infectious “Song 2” is the ideal song to accompany this scene, but it is a different track that highlights the musical strength of the series (more on that to come). Isaac’s beaming smile suggests he will be back on form come Saturday when AFC Richmond plays Sheffield Wednesday — a team that did only used to play on a Wednesday — but Ted hopes this coaching taster will lead to Roy’s return. He isn’t subtle in making a play for the former player, and Roy outright claims he has no desire to become a coach. He cannot be swung by platitudes adapted from a Cameron Crowe screenplay, or at least this is what we are led to believe but the bearded man doth protest too much.
In a moment that leans into the rom-com of it all, Roy dramatically pulls off his mic mid-Soccer Saturday recording dramatically telling IRL host Jeff Stelling he has to go. What follows is the mad dash to get the girl (or in this case get to Nelson Road before kick-off) and just like any great rom-com, Roy has several obstacles to surmount. This includes a cab driver who is clocking off, closed roads due to the match, his knee injury stopping him from running, and getting into the ground without any money (he has already given all his money and his fancy watch to get to the stadium). Thankfully, Keeley’s ticket allows for his big gesture to be complete. He puts his bad knee back into place (the noise is suitably nauseating) and makes a hero’s welcome with the whole crowd chanting his name. “You had me at coach,” Roy tells a pleased Ted but one member of the coaching staff doesn’t look thrilled by his return. “She’s a Rainbow” by The Rolling Stones has accompanied Roy’s Herculean effort, but it is also impressive how music supervisor Tony Von Pervieux infuses the brief sinister-sounding string arrangement when Nate (Nick Mohammed) registers this is not a brief encounter. Is this the start of his villain origin story?
Before digging into that plot, the use of “She’s a Rainbow” plays into the larger romance of the episode and it is the song Higgins (Jeremy Swift) has as the ringtone for his wife Julie (played by Swift’s real wife Mary Roscoe). A snippet of this song has been heard in an earlier episode and the Ted Lasso creative team is very good at laying breadcrumbs like this. The story behind this comes up when Rebecca asks about this choice and Higgins explains this is part of their meet-cute. It is a lovely (and funny) story that gives the later sequence extra weight when we see Higgins greeting Julie who is wearing blue as the line “Have you seen her dressed in blue?” is sung — yes I got misty-eyed. Rebecca’s inquiry comes after she has been flirting it up a storm with a mystery man on dating site Bantr, and this company is also Richmond’s new shirt sponsor after the Dubai Air protest. In an episode celebrating romantic comedies, the When Harry Met Sally homage is a fun nod to how sports can bring people together and feels even more poignant considering last weekend was the first time fans had filled soccer stadiums across England in 18 months.
Triumphs are made across the board, but “Rainbow” isn’t without darker moments, and Nate’s journey from club kit man to coaching assistant is one paved with joy and doubt. Last season, Nate was bullied by the likes of Jamie (Phil Dunster) and Roy stepped in to stop this toxic behavior. A forceful pre-match tactics outburst led to a surprise victory at Everton and this is how Nate earned a promotion. Since then he has swung between making it difficult for his replacement to being unassuming. Several comments about his father have emphasized the atmosphere at home, which comes to a head when he attempts to book a table at his dad’s favorite restaurant and is treated with disdain. He cannot request the prime window spot and he bristles when he finds out that if he was Roy Kent he could. Turning to Keeley for advice on how to get things — he is also denied a coffee maker as he isn’t one of the team and the scene when they pick up their fancy appliance plays out wonderfully in the background — she enlists Rebecca in this confidence-building session.
Rebecca’s first instinct is to simply buy the restaurant Nate wants to score the table at but Keeley suggests giving him the tools to assert himself, in the long run, makes more sense. Rebecca might seem like she commands every room she walks into but she quickly points out how a woman in her position is rare and she also has to build herself up for certain situations. What she does is go into the bathroom to psyche herself up by making her body physically bigger. She looks like an 8-foot tall dinosaur and Keeley’s eye-popping reaction gives a good indication of how I looked at the TV during this scene. A magical moment and another reason to love this friendship.
Later on, Nate does use Rebecca’s technique after they are seated at a table away from the window, even though the one he asked for is vacant. When he goes into the bathroom he tries Rebecca’s tall trick but it doesn’t have the desired effect and instead, he spits at the mirror to give himself a boost. One thing that doesn’t sit right with me is Nate spitting in a public area that a staff member will have to clean up, even if it leads him to get the table. There is also the question of whether racism is why Nate didn’t get the table rather than his quiet demeanor. It is a knotty storyline that will likely have repercussions — particularly now Roy is back. Nate’s nice suit for matchday puts a pep in his step that is dampened by his heavy coat. Furthermore, earlier in the episode when Ted mentions the Isaac issue and Nate volunteers to talk to him, Ted thinks he is joking and laughs at this suggestion. Trouble is coming and not every rainstorm ends in a rainbow.
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