Sam takes the spotlight as he struggles with a moral dilemma and letting down his dad
Lace up your boots, it’s time for the Ashley Nicole Black-penned and Ezra Edelman-directed episode, “Do The Right-est Thing.” This is both Black and Edelman’s first Ted Lasso foray, though Black has been a producer and presumably in the Writers’ Room all season.
First off, Sassy’s (Ellie Taylor) back! Rebecca’s (Hannah Waddingham) best friend and Ted’s (Jason Sudeikis) one night stand Flo has swung by Greyhounds HQ on her way to a conference to drop off her daughter the no longer six-year-old Nora (Kiki May). Excited to reconnect with her goddaughter, but more than a little unsure of how to keep the teen busy and happy, Rebecca at first attempts to do everything they used to do. After realizing that finger sandwiches and tea at a princess-themed café don’t hold the same draw for a teen as it does for a six-year-old, “Auntie Stinky” flounders.
Thankfully, a chance encounter with Roy (Brett Goldstein) and his niece Phoebe (Elodie Blomfield) exposes her to the gruff uncle’s philosophy, demonstrated by showing how excited Phoebe is to attend his pediatrist appointment later in the day. Instead of an event-filled few days, Rebecca settles for a horror movie and popcorn and letting Nora shadow her at work, both of which her goddaughter is far more excited for than a place a stage adaptation of an Agatha Christie story where everyone in the audience is old enough to be teetering on the edge of death.
I…appreciate how the show plays with the ensemble dynamics by pairing different characters and finding ways to check in with almost everyone.
May and Waddingham have excellent chemistry, which papers over the fact that May has a bit of television kid syndrome reading too mature to be in her early teens. I also appreciate how the show plays with the ensemble dynamics by pairing different characters and finding ways to check in with almost everyone even when they don’t have a big role to play in a given episode.
In the locker room, Jamie (Phil Dunster) is still struggling with how to get past his teammates’ anger towards him. In a move anyone out there with not great parents will recognize, his first instinct is just to buy their love with new PS5s for everyone. When the Diamond Dogs convince him not to go there, he attempts to apologize and open the floor up to complaints, predictably resulting in the rest of the team shouting at him for his previous sins.
In part to help Jamie and in part to “fix” the team without Doctor Fieldstone’s guidance (Sarah Niles), Ted decides to unleash his obnoxious more typical coach alter ego Led Tasso. After flipping over the hydration station, making them touch each other’s toes to stretch, going on an extended rant about the team dating the ball, and run a lot, Jamie finally gets sick of Tasso and stands up to him. A distressed Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) “wakes” Ted up before Led can chase the team into the locker room.
The whole thing is a good bit, especially Tasso’s fixation of the ball as team girlfriend. Doctor Sharon’s reaction to it seals the deal though, as she dryly reveals she understands exactly what he’s doing and has zero faith in its effectiveness.
Finally, the third plotline fulfills my speculation last week about Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) being moved to a place of prominence. At the start of the episode, Keeley (Temple Juno) shows off Sam’s photo spread for DubaiAir, resulting in some good-natured ribbing from his teammates.
Things take a turn when Sam sends the photos on to his father who, in turn, reveals that DubaiAir’s parent company Cerithium Oil is a massive corporate polluter off the coast of Nigeria. Dearest Dad doesn’t seem to care about his son’s lack of awareness telling him via text, “To see you choose to be a shill for a corporation that has ruined the lives of so many breaks my heart.”
So we get a bit more of the fathers and sons theme of the season and a corrective for last week’s depiction of Sam’s Dad as unequivocally great. I’m not saying Sam’s Dad is bad now, but you can’t convince me calling your son a shill for something he did without knowing all of the details is the healthiest of parenting moves. It’s of a piece with Ted’s failure as a father figure to the team in the last episode—when he brought on Jamie despite almost everyone telling him not to. Good dads aren’t good all the time.
It does spur Sam into action though, and he requests out of the ad campaign. DubaiAir allows it but insists that Sam be let go. After laying out what a tough spot Richmond is in, Rebecca rejects that deal, and her contact at DubaiAir seemingly accepts it with little more protest than an annoyed single-word email.
Sam follows that up by covering the DubaiAir logo on his shirt with black tape before the game. The team’s other Nigerian players join him in doing so, while Sam tells everyone else they don’t need to follow suit as they aren’t Nigerian. Instead, Jamie steps up and blacks out the logo on his jersey, inspiring everyone else to do so as well.
Immediate lump in the throat for this cynic.
Look, this may be cheesy. It may be unrealistic. But it 100% works for me. Especially Jamie’s matter-of-fact explanation, “We’re your teammates, man. Gotta wear the same kit.” Immediate lump in the throat for this cynic.
Predictably, the press eats it up on the field and in the presser after. Richmond loses the game, but we never see a single kick and the team is too proud of Sam and weirdly thrilled with the end of their tie streak to care.
- I already mentioned that May and Waddingham play well together, but the cold opening with her and Sudeikis going back and forth about past lives and horse flies has a great almost screwball energy.
- When Ted realizes Nora is Sassy’s daughter, he immediately worries she might be his. Sudeikis sells it so well I’m still not sure if we’re supposed to think Lasso is joking or not.
- Ted apparently talks like Ted even while having sex. Which he is great at. And, evidently, has an impressive pull-out game. And yes, if you’re wondering, this season has been quite a bit more blue.
- Colin’s ( Billy Harris) Lamborghini is way too much care for him, by his own admittance.
- Keeley gets all the players to sign up for a new dating app called Bantr where there are no pictures and the emphasis is on talking. It’s like the return of AOL chatrooms. When Colin hears the name, he compares it to Grindr and I’m not sure what the joke is meant to be. I think it is a “Colin’s so clueless he doesn’t realize what Grindr’s for,” joke but it places a little too close to gay panic for my taste.
- Ted and Coach Beard speculate Chuck E. Cheese goes by Charles Edgar Cheesington the Third which is blatant erasure of Chuck’s real—and real awesome—middle name: Entertainment
- Shannon (Shannon Hayes), the very good football player in Ted’s neighborhood, returns! And looks like 4 years older! Kids grow up fast!
- As a sports fan who has heard all kinds of “But won’t it distract the team” questions applied to protests, being gay, and so on, it was nice to see Sam just refuse to even engage in that line.
- Love that Richmond’s the kind of team that celebrates breaking their streak of ties, even if they did so by losing.
- Bad Nate (Nick Mohammed) Watch: Blessedly little although he does seem to enjoy Jamie’s exile quite a bit, declaring giddily, “They are going to kill him.” Nate also tried Bantr very briefly but said he was too picky for it. Also, it turns out women are very picky too.
- Coach Beard and Jane Update: They now share an e-cloud and Beard had to miss his usual morning walk to work with Ted because of some sort of drama with her.
- This week’s film reference: The Tim Burton oeuvre. “Y’all gonna be so dehydrated then you’re gonna look like one of those trees from a, from a Tim Burton movie. I’m talking any Tim Burton movie. Even Dumbo. Even friggin’ Dumbo.”
- “What do you say we do what the man says and make today our masterpiece, yeah?”
- “You called me a jaundiced worm—” “Right, I’m really sorry about that.” “—in a profile for my hometown paper.”
- “Yes, the Americans really do the historical doll concept better, don’t they? Must be their innate sense of triumph, however misguided.”
- “What so now you just get a bunch of unsolicited descriptions of dicks?”
- “Uncle Roy, can we get ice cream for dinner.” “No that’s dumb.” “You’re right, thank you for helping me set boundaries.”
- “Listen up you little turd birds. Practice starts at 11 o’clock. If you are not stretched five minutes early, then you are 45 minutes late.”
- “Sincerely Boss Ass Bitch.”
- “Jamie Tartt is a muppet and I hope he dies of the incurable condition of being a little bitch.”
- “I’m going to insult something and then try it because I’m a good friend.”
- “Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing.”