The layers are peeled back on Ted's therapy discomfort that continues this run of strong episodes.
- ⚽️ Ted's resistance to therapy fits with this arc so far.
- ⚽️ Roy and Keeley's conflict (and resolution).
- ⚽️ The 'Sex and the City' episode used to support this fight.
- ⚽️ The team supporting Sam's love life.
- ⚽️ Still on the fence regarding Rebecca's mystery guy.
This post contains spoilers for Ted Lasso "Headspace.”
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“When do we start?” Ted (Jason Sudeikis) asks Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles) after stalling with some seating questions during his first therapy session. The last time we saw the AFC Richmond coach was after he’d had a panic attack near the end of the big FA Cup quarter-final match. The Doc found him huddled in the dark on her office couch and it seemed like he was finally ready to talk. Ted isn’t suddenly open to spilling his guts to a professional and the carefully selected personal stories he tells to support another person in crisis reflect his expertise at only revealing what he deems necessary. Slowly a picture has been forming about why Ted is hostile toward therapists, from the couples therapy that felt like he was being ganged up on to the outburst in “Headspace” when he calls this practice “bullshit.” Ted vibrates with anger during this tirade; his ire is directed at professionals who take money to pretend they care about someone’s problems.
It is a reductive observation that strips the Doc’s role down to a financial transaction and she points out that not only is she offended by his words, but it is also inaccurate. She flips the tables, noting he cares about his players and gets paid to coach, so why isn’t it the same for the person who earns a living listening to people? Each of the sessions includes avoidant behavior from his jovial manner in the first attempt when he keeps making pop culture references as a way to deflect. The drinking bird gadget on the desk rhythmically nods and is another tool for Ted to distract. When she brings up the panic attack he flees and the second session (or rather the second attempt at the first session) is aborted after he drags the entire therapy profession. In his third sit-down, he listens to what the Doc has to say about self-care being scary. She goes on to mention how most people have a fight or flight reaction to challenges like this, but Ted demonstrated both. It is telling when he brings up that he doesn’t want his parents to get the blame for his mental health and earlier this season he commented that his dad was far harder on himself than he ever was with Ted. Whatever the root of his hostility, it is becoming clear that this dates back to before his problems with his wife.
Fathers and sons is a big theme threaded throughout this season, which includes Jamie’s (Phil Dunster) decision to leave Manchester City and Nate’s (Nick Mohammed) ongoing battle to win his dad’s approval. It isn’t all bad dads as the Higgins (Jeremy Swift) home is warm and Sam’s (Toheeb Jimoh) relationship with his father is nurturing and challenging. Reluctant patriarch figures like Roy (Brett Goldstein) are also making a case for men who can fulfill this role without being the biological dad — earlier this season he told Pheobe’s teacher that her dad isn’t reliable. Ted has found himself in a dad-to-all role but his attention has been slipping and it is impossible to look out for everyone else when his own psyche is in peril.
After Ted made a swift exit (that he blamed on food poisoning), Nate took control and his “park the bus” tactic won them the game and a spot in the FA Cup semi-final. It was a triumphant moment for the assistant coach and he has been basking in the hype surrounding his “wonder kid” status.” Now, if you recall, no matter how much Nate says otherwise, he was the one to say this word incorrectly and it was the journalist interviewing him that made the “wunderkind” correction. It is a common mistake and one that everyone embraces, well everyone but Jan Mass (David Elsendoorn) whose lack of tact means he has to point out the error. This rankles Nate and it adds to his bitterness regarding his father’s lack of congratulations. Instead, he tells his son that he isn’t showing humility, and this observation is supported by the number of times Nate scrolls through tweets and articles singing his praises. Except Nate’s dad should be bursting with pride and there seems to be nothing he can do to win his father’s approval. Maybe he wouldn’t need to turn to external validation if he got any kind of positive response at home.
Two people bear the brunt of Nate’s bitterness and his character takes a darker turn at the end of the episode. After some playful banter (not the app), Nate takes things too far with Colin (Billy Harris) and makes his distaste personal. Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) sees this happen and confronts him about this unprofessional behavior — Beard exiting his office unseen is a hilarious and unnerving gag — and Nate’s public apology to the player makes it seem like he has learned his lesson. However, when the team gifts him a shirt with “Wonder Kid” on the back and they give Will (Charlie Hiscock) the credit for this sweet gesture, Nate’s laser-focused cruelty toward his replacement is hard to hear. This final scene is chilling and is seemingly in response to a tweet that calls him a loser. At first, it looked like Roy might become Nate’s object of fury and envy, instead, his target is someone who lacks any power.
The Nate storyline is one of the darker aspects of this season that points to the tension within and it is worth pointing out that Ted has no idea that any of this is going on. When the apology happens he asks “Did I miss something?” and he is far less present with the general goings-on this year — see also the Air Dubai protest.
While Ted is not as present as he used to be, Roy’s coaching job at Richmond gives Keeley little time away from her boyfriend. Before Season 2, I wrote about this pairing and how sitcom couples still have plenty of opportunities for conflict beyond the usual jealousy route. Thankfully, Jamie is not being used as a pawn to come between them and their first major argument is because Roy is everywhere Keeley goes. Work is no longer her space, and even when she is hanging out in Rebecca’s (Hannah Waddingham) office or in their secret smoking spot he finds them. Roy is surprisingly chill when he clocks that they are talking about him — the boot room scene is a delight — but this casual response changes when he finds out the specific gripe. Another issue is she can’t work at home without him making her horny and while this is not a problem per se, she also wants time to herself (even if it is to work). Keeley isn't disputing that Roy is the "cat's pajamas," however, there is too much of a good thing and time alone helps relationships thrive.
It all comes to a head when Keeley is watching an episode of Sex and the City and Roy can’t keep his Da Vinci Code reading reactions to himself. The choice of SATC installment is not at random and as Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Aidan (John Corbett) yell at each other on screen it tips Keeley into revealing what has been bothering her. For those not familiar with the Season 4 episode “The Good Fight” here is a quick recap: Carrie and Aidan have just moved in together and all of his stuff is clogging up the apartment while they wait for the resident next door to move out — they are going to renovate that space and combine the two apartments. The fight (in which they yell at the other to “shut up”) begins after Aidan’s dog chews one of Carrie’s Manolo’s (worth $380 and no longer available) and he doesn’t see the big deal. But really, it is about a lack of compromise and the adjustment period when you go from living by yourself to another person being there 24/7. Keeley explains that sometimes she needs to be by himself and Roy is horrified when he realizes this is what she has been talking about with everyone at work. Roy and Ted are very different people but they share a proclivity for leaving rather than talking it out, which is exactly what Roy does. It is also no surprise that Ted’s very bad relationship advice to Keeley was to bottle it up rather than tell Roy that she needs some space and this is another reason why his marriage didn’t last.
Roy gives Keeley the alone time she craves but in a rather immature manner as he simply ignores her at work. During training — instead of blowing a whistle he yells “whistle” — he grasps his error with an assist from Jamie. Rather than an obstacle to surmount, Jamie’s explanation as to why he let a ball play the way he did makes Roy understand the value of space. What follows is possibly hotter than the AirPods incident earlier this season and Apple TV+ should make the “Roy is sorry for not understanding Keeley” playlist available. He has run her a bath filled with rose petals (that he stole from her neighbor's garden) and explains he won’t bother her for three hours. He then takes off all her clothes in the smoothest way I have ever seen performed on screen and departs (Keeley pulls him in for a smooch first).
From a romance hitting all the right notes by the end of the episode to Rebecca stalling on what to do with her Bantr mystery man. Ted isn’t messaging Rebecca, rather, it is Sam and this makes the pairing more fraught because of the whole boss factor (she is also Ted’s boss) and the age gap. She spends this week contemplating a reply with Keeley as her cheerleader and Sam has the team’s support whenever the three dots appear. The pair do bump into each other in the corridor while they are both looking at their phones, and they have an awkward (and cute) conversation that points to their compatibility. I am still on the fence with how I feel about the thought of them going on a date and this episode has not persuaded me either way beyond the messiness of this storyline. Rebecca can’t avoid this message for long and just like Ted in therapy and Keeley with Roy, this bottle will eventually be uncorked — for better or worse.
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