Fathers and Sons
Ted (Jason Sudeikis) finds himself taking care of Dr. Fieldstone (Sarah Niles) as she recovers from an accident while riding her bike; AFC Richmond prepares for their best shot at a major trophy win with a critical match against Manchester City; Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) and Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) finally discover whom they have been anonymously flirting with and Jamie (Phil Dunster) braces for a visit from his dad in this emotional roller coaster of an episode.
F- no.Roy Kent
This is mostly going to be a review of the last ten minutes of this week’s episode and the implications it brings to the entire series as a whole. Before we get to that, let’s quickly discuss the beginning of the episode.
There was a feeling at the beginning of this season that Ted Lasso was spinning its wheels a bit. Major things had to happen to get storylines moving forward and to move critical players into position for things to begin to unfold. And now it is starting to become a little clearer as to where everything is headed, at least for now.
I’ve said this before, but I was (and still am) on the fence about a relationship between Rebecca and Sam. I’m glad they finally realized that they were texting each other, and they do have some chemistry, even all the way back in early episodes of season one. But I am worried about how this will play out. Sam’s father once again brought up the issue with Dubai Air and Cerithium Oil from earlier this season, a story thread that seemed to have dropped completely in the past few weeks. This scene was obviously shown to display to Jamie a healthy relationship between a father and a son (more on that later), but I also think that they brought it back up because the storyline is going to become more central in future weeks.
I recently re-watched the first few episodes of this season and noticed something. Dubai Air specifically requested that Sam be featured in their next ad. I think it is because of their issues in Nigeria that they specifically requested a Nigerian player for the sponsorship. It’s the kind of solution that could only be dreamed up in the PR office of a major corporation. A not-so-subtle way to show that Nigerians hold no ill will towards Dubai Air’s parent company for their roll in the oil spill that is devastating the country and their subsequent cover up of the mess. And who bailed Sam out, coming to his defense for dropping out of the sponsorship? Rebecca. She even dug her heels in when the one favor they asked was for her to get rid of Sam–she said no.
And what did Sam do in return? He staged a protest against Dubai Air. Add to all of this that there were a few scenes early on where Rebecca and Leslie (Jeremy Swift) are discussing what to do with their limited budget now that Richmond AFC has been relegated. I bring all of this up because I see this headed in the direction of Dubai Air pulling their sponsorship dollars and forcing Rebecca to make a decision about keeping Sam on the team. And now she is romantically involved with him. Messy, messy.
The scenes with Dr. Fieldstone and Ted were, as always, very well done, and it was nice to see a vulnerable side of the good doctor for once. They are spending more time together, which resulted in Ted finally opening up to her by the end of the episode; this is where I want to spend the rest of the time in this review.
The last ten minutes of this episode was some of the best I’ve ever seen on television. Dunster has done a phenomenal job this season, and most of his work has been just in the background. The writers really broke Jamie down at the beginning of the season, and you can see how much he has repented and bonded with his teammates just by his interactions with them. The Jamie of season one would not have goofed off and played around with the rest of the team like he did during Sam’s haircut scene. He is a changed man, a better man.
His father just doesn’t recognize that.
Dunster’s ability to convey emotion in just his face was never more evident than the moment he is standing there, getting berated by his father. The look of pure shock and almost childlike embarrassment after he punched his father was just so heartbreaking and well done. This led to the absolutely terrific beat of Roy walking up to Jamie and embracing him, hard. I watched that moment at least five times. Go back and watch it again. Watch how stoic and uncomfortable Jamie is–he doesn’t even hug Roy back at first. Then he does, but Roy’s hands are fists on his back, still not ready to completely be vulnerable. Then you can see the moment when Roy decides to fully embrace Jamie and unclench his fists, putting his palms on Jamie’s back. It’s at that moment that Jamie fully releases and just starts sobbing as the rest of the team watches on. It was an absolutely beautifully acted moment; just a masterclass in nuance and emotional storytelling through body language.
Which brings us to the final scene of the episode. Dr. Fieldstone gets another call from Ted, who–while actively crying–tells her that his father committed suicide when he was 16 years old. That was tough to watch, there’s no question; but then you have to remember what Ted has been dealing with throughout the entire series, and it just brings everything the show has been doing screaming into view.
Ted came from America to England to coach a soccer team, leaving behind his son. He did it in an effort to give his estranged wife some space; a last ditch effort to try and salvage their marriage. Ted doesn’t quit, remember? But then he realized that trying to hold onto the marriage wasn’t helping anyone, so he let her go. Which means he also let his son go. So, to put it plainly: Ted, a man going through a divorce while living in a country he doesn’t know, coaching a sport he doesn’t know, must be feeling that he quit on his son and abandoned him, all while still dealing with the trauma that stemmed from a father who did the same thing to Ted. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.
No wonder Ted deflects with humor. No wonder he likes to focus on helping others rather than trying to help himself. He is just as scared and childlike as Jamie was right after he punched his father. And now he has to deal with it so that he can be a better man, coach, and father.
Speaking as a father who had a pretty terrible relationship with my own father for most of my life–the baggage that sons carry from their relationships with their fathers can be crippling. But now, on this side of fatherhood, I see that being a dad is one of the most difficult but important jobs in the world. It is exhausting. It is thankless. Most of the time, I have no idea what I am doing, while everyone around me looks like they know exactly what they are doing. It is the hardest, and most joyful thing I’ve ever done in my life. And it can wear you down, physically and mentally.
Mental health is so critically important. Thankfully, it is starting to be taken more seriously, especially after the events of the past two years. Not to overstate the importance of this show, but I am so grateful that everyone involved in the creation of Ted Lasso is handling these issues with such grace and believability. The fact should not be missed that it is masquerading around like a sports comedy, but it is showing healthy male relationships with guys that open up to each other and build each other up and giving such a positive spotlight to taking care of yourself inside and out. This is a phenomenal show, and this episode is one that will be talked about for years to come.
Mark Pereira is a staff writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find him on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows.
Featured Image: The Cinemaholic