(This story contains spoilers for “Sunflowers,” the sixth episode of ted lasso’the third season.)
AFC Richmond has been in disarray since losing to West Ham two episodes back Ted Lassowith only a few draws to show for their work and a daunting slide to the center of the Premier League table.
Will a trip to the continent get things back on track? Certainly not on the field – the team loses a friendly by the terrifying score of 5-0 to Dutch powerhouse Ajax (apparently one of Zava’s many former clubs; a photo in the stadium commemorates his tenure there, “2013-2013”) . Still afterwards? Ted (Jason Sudeikis) declares a curfew free in Amsterdam for everyone, and what follows is reminiscent of season two (very good, no arguments considered) “Beard After Hours,” but by most principles (except Keeley, who jets off early to northern lights with Jack and is not seen again).
It’s the show’s longest episode to date, running for a full hour, and at least one of the stories – looking at you, Higgins and Will – doesn’t add much to the ongoing story. But “Sunflowers” offers big jumps for several characters as they make their way through the night.
Like the team he coaches, Ted is stuck. He questions his purpose with Richmond and hurts for his son Henry in the United States. He is so upset that he asks Beard (Brendan Hunt, who also wrote the episode) if he has anything to open his mind. Delighted, Beard mixes them each with something he scored from the Richmond bus driver – but it’s dissolved in Ted’s nemesis, Tea. After telling Beard to have the night and a few unanswered texts to Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), Ted finally drinks the tea and, after a stop at the Van Gogh Museum (hence the episode title “Sunflowers”), finds he suggested himself in the kitschy “American” restaurant earlier.
There, as you look at old Michael Jordan highlights and contemplate a pyramid of onion rings accompanied by his beloved Bryant’s barbecue sauce — “It’s the best,” says his server — the medicine seems to start working. Ted hallucinates Nate (Nick Mohammed) as one of the waiters, then starts seeing triangles everywhere (along with a short film about former Chicago Bulls assistant coach Tex Winter). Inspiration strikes and Ted … (re)invents total football, the system that allowed Ajax, the Dutch national team and their iconic striker Johan Cruijff to flourish in the 1970s. Still, it’s the biggest step Ted has taken towards the practical, tactical aspect of coaching since arriving in London. With the subject of his continued job already coming up and his team not much to do, it’s honestly about time for him to get into the game. Oh: And it turns out the bus driver gave Beard a sample of the mind-altering drug, so whatever happened to Ted, it was all him, an effect of his very low tolerance or a very powerful placebo effect.
Opting for a bit of time to herself after the friendly, Richmond’s owner heads out with just her phone for a walk – somehow not noticing the very well-marked and differently colored bike lanes in the famously bike-focused city . When a handsome local (Matteo van der Grijn) strikes up a conversation with her, a cyclist knocks her off a bridge and into a canal (score another one for her mother’s psychic, who saw her “upside down and drenched”).
However, he turns out to be the dream man who meets someone one night in an unknown city. He invites her to his very tastefully decorated houseboat, dries her clothes and offers to eat for her. He even leaves while she showers. Rebecca is wary at first, but eventually lets her guard down and spends perhaps the most carefree, blissful night she’s had since the series began, including a world-class foot massage. She falls asleep on his couch and he covers her.
BUT: When she leaves the next morning, she asks if “do we have…?” He assures her they didn’t, but after Rebecca leaves, he says to himself, “Yes, we did.” Ted Lasso because it’s the kind of show you’d hope he answers the question, “Have we fallen for each other?” and not “Did I have involuntary sex with you?” Considering the show also spent time on Rebecca possibly becoming a mom (one that seemed out of the question a week ago), it’s not out of the question that this whole encounter would be rewritten as something gross. However, the show has yet to sell such a character, so let’s hope this isn’t the beginning.
While the rest of the team decides between seeing a live sex show or traveling two hours for a party where Jann’s cousin is DJing, Colin (Billy Harris) slips out and finds a gay bar. Trent (James Lance) follows Colin and scares the player – until Trent tells him that he’s known for a while that Colin is gay, and so has he.
The two have a heartfelt conversation where Colin explains that he lives two lives, one with the club and one with the men he dates. Dr. However, Sharon made him realize that he “has a desire for both of my lives to be my only life”.
“I don’t want to be a spokesperson,” he tells Trent. ‘I don’t want an apology. All I want is if we win a game I can kiss my guy the same way the guys kiss their girls. It’s not a big, dramatic scene, but it’s a really nice piece of writing for Colin to find some more footholds to potentially merge his two lives. (Come back with THR later today for much more from Harris.)
Roy and Jamie
Roy (Brett Goldstein) is thrown after the game when he asks where Keeley is going, and Rebecca replies, “Someone that believes they deserve her.” So he takes it out on Jamie (Phil Dunster) and takes him away from the team’s curfew-free night to train on the streets of Amsterdam.
And Jamie is… totally cool with that. Turns out he loves Amsterdam and takes Roy on a tour of several famous landmarks as he and his knee grow increasingly grumpy. Roy eventually complains that Amsterdam looks like a Disney version of a city and denounces windmills as ‘fake’. Jamie suggests a bike ride to see a windmill, and Roy finally admits he can’t ride, explaining that his grandfather was going to teach him, but died before they had the chance.
And saying that out loud I realize it’s a huge disrespect to his memory and I don’t want to talk about it and can we go back to me taking my negative emotions out on you whether you deserve it or not?” Roy blurts out in one breath, revealing more to a member of the club (or anyone, except Keeley) than he ever has.
Jamie then reveals that he went there twice: once when he was 14 with his father back then, who took Jamie to lose his virginity in the red light district (eww) and a few years later with his mother, where she saw the sights saw and came closer together (aww). The budding friendship between Roy and Jamie (and the great chemistry between Goldstein and Dunster) has been a constant delight this season
The team, Higgins et al
The rest of the boys are thrust into petty plots, with the team spending hours deciding how to spend their night off and then arguing over what to eat. As tempers flare and two hotel waitresses look on in bewilderment, Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) finally comes up with a solution: a team-wide, pressure-relieving pillow fight. The next morning everyone gets on the bus much more relaxed, even though Zoreaux/Van Damme (Moe Jeudy-Lamour) regrets not seeing a sex show.
Higgins (Jeremy Swift), meanwhile, tells anyone who asks that he’s headed to the red light district – and, as everyone quickly concludes, it’s not for anything weird, it’s Higgins and all. Instead, he takes Will (Charlie Hiscock) on a pilgrimage to see where Chet Baker died and listens to some jazz. Will’s choice of a table right in front of the stage leads Higgins to sit for a while, and as Will cheerfully tells his mother the next morning, “I met this nice couple and they invited me for a threesome.” Beard, who apparently speaks Dutch (“Don’t tell Jann”), found some fellow travelers for the night and returns to the bus as Piggy Stardust (a glamor-era David Bowie costume with a pig nose).
Ted Lasso has reached the halfway point of its (final?) season with what appears to be a series of breakthroughs for its characters. If this was the big motivation for half time then we’ll see how Richmond reacts when they get back on the field.