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Ted Lasso “Midnight Train to Royston” Recap: It’s the hope that kills

Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 11 Featured A Hug

The season finally gets its villain as everyone’s good moments are rapidly undercut.

The train we’ve seen coming down the tracks since the start of the season, the 7:15 to the Fall of Nate (Nick Mohammed), pulls into the station this week. We’ll get to that in a sec though.

First, we begin with the begin. From the jump, anticipation gets established as the name of the game in the Sasha Garron written (first Lasso credit) and MJ Delaney (back for a fourth time) directed Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 11. The team has caught fire and, aided by Sam’s (Toheeb Jimoh) first-ever hat trick, is now one game out from achieving promotion back to the Premier League. Ted (Jason Sudeikis) is planning Dr. Sharon’s (Sarah Niles) big surprise going away party right down to the team recreating N* SYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye” choreography. Keeley (Juno Temple) feels a mix of excitement and anxiety about her upcoming Vanity Fair shoot. Of course, none are perfect—the team still has to win that last game, Dr. Sharon’s still leaving, and Keeley has plenty of nerves—but it is the most hopeful opening we’ve had in a bit.

Should’ve caught the setup.

The first domino to fall comes in Edwin Okufu (Sam Richardson), who has recently inherited his father’s billions and tech company. Edwin, a football fan, plans to purchase Raja Casablanca and build it into a top 5 worldwide soccer club, a move that has precedence. Sam, as both a player and a man, figures heavily into this move.

The team’s in sync. Get it? (AppleTV+)

Edwin wines and dines Sam with a museum trip where they meet Banksy (probably not the actual Banksy, although it is fun to imagine the artist being such a Ted Lasso fan he’d sell out hard to Apple for a cameo) and spot an actor from I MAY DESTROY YOU (possibly Aml Ameen, but the framing and size of my laptop screen makes that a guess at best). Then there’s dinner at a restaurant specializing in Wester African cuisine that the billionaire created specifically for that one meal.

Meanwhile, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) confesses her relationship with Sam to Ted. Ted approves but stresses that his approval shouldn’t matter, only what her heart and gut tell her to do. Unfortunately, Rebecca’s heart and gut tell her to show up at Sam’s house that night and offer a vague, “Still not ready, but I hope you don’t go,” statement.

It’s a disappointment. I like that she’s remaining committed to her emotional development, but I wish she didn’t put him in such a lousy position. It would’ve been great if the show had her mount an argument for staying with Richmond because of what he means to the team rather than focus on their current dynamics. Her love of the Greyhounds is another aspect of her personality as valid as her attraction to him.

The second domino ends in a similarly frustrating way. Keeley’s photoshoot has Roy (Brett Goldstein) in a bit of mood—shocking, I know—which gives us Goldstein’s singularly satisfying brand of agitation. Rather than stress out Keeley with his nonsense—a sign that perhaps he learned from the funeral—he spends the rest of the day before the shoot with Phoebe’s (Elodie Blomfield) teacher Ms. Bowen (Ruth Bradley), helping her set up for a school art show/fundraiser. When Ms. Bowen asks if he’s married, he tells her no but doesn’t mention Keeley. His realization that he did this and his phone reminding him of the shoot sending him all but running from the classroom.

Given my distaste for [the love triangle], I just found the whole thing profoundly frustrating and confusing.

(Sidenote: It seems weird that Ms. Bowen would have no awareness that the most famous person she interacts with is in a relationship with a former model, especially given that we know the paparazzi loves to photograph the two.)

Keeley keeps herself busy by looking for the right outfit(s?) for the shoot. It’s an adventure that Nate joins her on, seeking a new suit. Nate is chafing at everyone mentioning his Ted purchased outfit, so he’s anxious to demonstrate he can buy nice clothes for himself.

Actually, Nate is chafing, period. He wants credit for his work. The approval of Ted isn’t enough anymore. That need for validation and Keeley being her typically kind, affirming self leads Nate to kiss her. It ends almost immediately, and Nate is incredibly apologetic. It’s a nice moment that reminds us that he seems to be partially a decent person even if he’s also increasingly all twisted up with anger and envy. Given the last taste of Nate this episode gives us, we need that balance.

Roy arrives on time to the shoot, proves very supportive, and even smiles watching Keeley’s solo portion of the session. Then when it is time for the couple’s shot, they’re arranged facing one another. As they wait for the lens switch, Keeley tells Roy about Nate. Roy once again proves on the spot, empathizing with her feelings of awkwardness and acting reassuringly free of jealousy. He, in turn, admits his weird feelings about how he responded to Ms. Bowen. Keeley doesn’t so much respond to that as she rushes to confess that Jamie (Phil Dunster) told her he still loves her. That goes poorly.

Ted Lasson Season 2 Episode 11 Prelude to a kiss
Temple doesn’t know how Mohammed’s about to make things very awkward for everyone. (AppleTV+)

I should pause here to say that I found relating to this scene challenging. Not the photoshoot aspect. That happens all the time in my life. What I don’t get is jealousy. Either via naïveté or totally unearned confidence, I’ve never really had those feelings in a relationship. In retrospect, I think this led me to ignore some pretty obvious signs in a relationship I had back in high school, but, hey, bygones be bygones. So, I don’t get what there is to get worked up about regarding Jamie’s confession. 

The other issue is I find Roy’s reaction deeply hard to read. He doesn’t fly into a rage like he may have last season, to his credit. However, he also doesn’t seem to be holding back anger. Instead, he presents as, well, heartbroken. Maybe Keeley does want to be with Jamie, and Roy realizes it at that moment in a way I couldn’t? I don’t know. Given my distaste for the idea of this storyline already, I just found the whole thing profoundly frustrating and confusing.

Our final bit of positive anticipation derailed occurs when Dr. Sharon skips out early on Richmond. She told Higgins it is because an emergency arose, but it seems equally as likely that she ducked early because, by her own admittance, she’s awful at goodbyes. So she leaves letters for everyone and calls her penultimate day her last.

Ted is (rightfully, I’d argue) plenty angry about this and takes off to find her before she can slip town. Putting on my therapist hat a second: ending therapy on a “good goodbye” is of great importance. This is especially the case when the therapist has to cease the treatment because of external factors—in this case, the end of her contract—and not because therapy has reached a natural endpoint. She may not like goodbyes, but she owes her clients better than a letter. Even if all she did was say, “I’m better at writing my goodbye than saying it,” it would’ve been a vast improvement.

[Dr. Sharon] may not like goodbyes, but she owes her clients better than a letter.

Ted catches her, and after reading that letter, forgives her. She suggested the two grab drinks at the pub as a proper sendoff. This allows them to have a final good time and gives Ted back a sense of closure and control. In the end, Ted ghosts her, leaving behind one of his army men.

Alas, the biggest bombshell arrives moments later. A happy Ted returns to his clean once more apartment when his phone buzzes. It’s Trent Crimm, of the Independent, and he’s giving Ted a head’s up that he’s written an article revealing Ted’s panic attack. It’s unclear if it will just mention the one that sent him to the locker room mid-game or if it will reveal Ted has a history of attacks. Regardless, Crimm says he had to write it but gives up Nate as his source by way of apology.

I question if Crimm truly HAD TO write the article. It is undoubtedly a juicy story, but writing about someone’s mental health based on an anonymous source—no matter how accurate—feels a bit skeezy to me. Then again, I’m not much of a journalist.

On the other hand, if I was, like Crimm, I think I’d feel super hesitant to burn my source as the writer does here. That’s a great way to ruin your reputation as a reporter. Even if he likes Ted, that’s a considerable risk.

Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 11 Roy and Keeley
Roy lets Keeley know her true excellence. (AppleTV+)

Post-Game Analysis

  • Loved the callback to Colin’s (Billy Harris) Lamborghini being too much car for him. Another example of how good the show is at filing away seeming throwaway lines to bring back into play later.
  • Thierry Zoreaux’s (Moe Jeudy-Lamour) poutine shirt is great. 
  • Finally, someone made the Sam and Rebecca Cheers joke! The moment Ted made it, I realized why we hadn’t gotten it yet. Ted HAD to be the one to make it, and he only learns of Sam and Rebecca in this episode.
  • Nate and Coach checking their eyebrows after Roy brings up that the photoshoot stylist had problems with his was a fun bit
  • So here’s the thing. Ted saying ‘hakuna matatav to an African man the first time he ever meets him is pretty racist. Or, at least, ignorant stereotyping.
  • The back and forth on Higgins’s play about a billionaire and a footballer’s day out complete with comped dinner because of glass in the pasta was wondrous. It goes on just “too long” enough and is so divorced from the actual emotion of the scene. Good good stuff.
  • I noticed in her first appearance that Ms. Bowen had chemistry with Roy but didn’t comment on it because of my previously noted hatred of love triangles. My mistake.
  • The fact that Phoebe’s art is all naked breasts is a weird detail that is ruined by me being a therapist who has now spent about 5+ years specifically working with trauma-reactive kids. It sets off my abuse siren hard even while I doubt that’s the show’s intention. I wonder how people who don’t have my work/life experiences experienced that scene. Was it funny? I love the idea of Phoebe drawing weird stuff, but I’m not sure breasts being that weird stuff is the best punchline. She seems quite talented with charcoal though.
  • Higgins knows everyone’s birthday. Everyone’s. Go ahead and try him.
  • The kids’ names for Miss Bowen include Miss Bowlegs, Miss Boring, Miss Bonehead, Miss Bellend, Boatie Miss Boatface, and Fuck Witch.
  • The show’s invocation of His Royal Badness allows me to share that the director of Purple Rain comes from my hometown. What other Ted Lasso recapper can give you that kind of hot goss?
  • Bad Nate Watch: I debated whether or not kissing Keeley should go here. Everyone can make mistakes, misread vibes, etc. But Nate also works with Keeley and Roy, knows they’re in a committed relationship, and still tried it. That may not be Bad Nate, but sure ain’t Good Nate either.
    I was also mixed on him yelling at Will about the grey suit. It was a bit dickish on Nate’s part, but he was also pretty right. It’s been over a year—no need to keep calling it the suit Ted bought him.
    There can be no doubt, though, that Nate leaking to the press Ted’s mental health issues is very much a Bad Nate move.
  • Film reference: Dr. Sharon’s last line, “Son of a bitch stole my move,” is a Good Will Hunting reference with layers if you know the movie.
Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 11 Sam and Edwin
Sam and Edwin admire the artwork that is the quotes section. (AppleTV+)

Let’s Go to The Tape

  • “It’s just an honor to be mad fit and successful.”
  • “I figured she already has all our deep, dark secrets, kind of tough to top that with a scarf and a candle.”
  • “This isn’t black, this is dark heather charcoal.”
  • “Your eyebrows aren’t crazy.” “Thank you.” “They’re psychotic.” “I appreciate that.”
  • “Trickle-down economics may stink but trickle-down supports smells like pizza and roses and I assume Viola Davis.”
  • “I would offer you a generous transfer fee of so much money that people would think I’m crazy and you’ve taken advantage of me.”
  • “Don’t ‘letter’ get away with it, Ted.”
  • “You helped me become a better therapist. And that’s saying something because I was already fucking brilliant.”
  • “You spelled favorite wrong.”
  • “No comment.”
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Tim Stevens

Tim Stevens is a freelance writer and therapist from the Nutmeg State, hailing from the home of the World’s Smallest Natural Waterfall. In addition to The Spool, you can read his stuff in CC Magazine, Marvel.com, ComicsVerse, and The New Paris Press. His work has been quoted in Psychology Today, The Atlantic, and MSN Ireland. And yes, he is listing all this to try and impress you.