“La Locker Room Aux Folles” takes Season 3 into the Final Four with an episode all about living up (or down) to who you truly are.
Director Erica Dunton and first-time Ted Lasso scribe Chuck Hayward welcome you to the Final Four of Season 3 and, likely, the series with “La Locker Room Aux Folles.” It proves a refreshingly stripped-down installment after a season of episodes stuffed with plotlines. Instead, there’s essentially an a-plot and some brief excursions. Also, shockingly little Ted (Jason Sudeikis). But we’ll get to that later.
In the wake of Isaac (Kola Bokinni) learning the truth about Colin’s (Billy Harris) sexuality, the team captain has been freezing his teammate out. Despite several attempts on Colin’s part to discuss the issue further, Isaac continues only to offer the briefest of responses, if not just stone-cold silence.
Despite this rift in their midst, the Greyhounds themselves are excelling. Total Football is precisely what the team needed, adding three more victories since last episode to put them on a seven-game winning streak. Gone is the copious vomiting of two episodes ago. Now they’re all smiles as they drill and scrimmage.
With Ted too busy with a Zoom parent-teacher conference to attend the press conference, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) follows Keeley’s (Juno Temple) advice. She asks/tells Roy (Brett Goldstein) to take the presser in the head coach’s place. While Roy folds like laundry with boy Keeley and Rebecca staring at him, he changes his tune once they’re gone. Off camera, he asks Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) to do it instead. The result is a screaming match between Beard and the press about rock guitarists that Rebecca has to step in to save.
Meanwhile, over in West Ham, Jade (Edyta Budnik) drops by to share lunch with Nate (Nick Mohammed), tweaking him by calling him Mr. Shelby (another “Rainbows” reference!) before he realizes it is her. The next three minutes they spend together are the most natural they have felt as a couple yet. Then Rupert (Anthony Head) shows up.
I’m not sure who told Head, “ok, this week, you’re just full supervillain,” but he’s ready for it. In this scene, he does everything but grow fangs and suck Jade’s blood. The whole vibe of it is bizarre, all the more so because of Jade’s implacability. She seems to read him as no-good right away. However, something in the moment also suggests they recognize one another? I don’t know. The scene is definitely heavy with some kind of distressing energy.
Later, after Nate coaches the Hammers to another win, Rupert invites Nate out for a guy’s night drink. Nate, with his hunger for a father figure, is thrilled. So thrilled he doesn’t seem to clock the significance of Roger (Sam Fletcher) extending an invitation on behalf of several West Ham employees to grab a drink with them. When Nate gets to the bar, though, Rupert is chatting up two younger, tall, beautiful women. It’s predictable to all of us, but not the still naïve Nate.
I’m not sure who told [Anthony] Head, “ok, this week, you’re just full supervillain,” but he’s ready for it.
Then Nate FINALLY gets proactive in his own redemption. Seeing how his boss is already visually groping them and talking private rooms, the wonder kid sees the night has nothing to do with getting to be friends with Rupert. He immediately begs off and heads to Jade instead. Their embrace when Jade answers the door is sweet on the surface. However, when you consider how invested Nate was in the idea of Rupert as a good mentor, you realize how heartbroken the man must be.
Returning to the Dogtrack, we find a plenty angry Rebecca bursting into the weight room to demand Roy’s presence in her office. Once he shows up, she properly dresses him down. It’s ostensibly for not attending the press conference, but the obvious barely subtext is she’s upbraiding him for bailing on Keeley because he got scared. In many ways, it is the inverse of his “lightning” speech to her last season. It’s also a reminder of how well Waddingham and Goldstein play off each other and how Ted Lasso has sadly failed to take advantage of that more.
Finally, we get to the game. Despite that blissful practice, Isaac’s emotional state finally catches up with him. First, he overplays a ball. Then he blows up at Colin for a minor mistake that unfortunately leads to a goal. However, his breaking point comes at the end of the half.
An angry fan, who we’ve seen a few times prior, calls the team a “bunch of f____” and his f-word of choice isn’t “fuckers.” The captain runs into the stands to attack the fan, getting a red card for his trouble. In the locker room, he’s still shaking with emotion, eyes glassy with tears. He explodes again when someone proposes they ignore belligerent fans before isolating in the cleat room. Roy follows him and sits largely quietly before offering that he knows whatever Isaac is mad at isn’t actually that fan. Will (Charlie Hiscock) briefly shows up to puncture the affecting scene with a labored metaphor.
Back in the locker room, the team speculates that Isaac must be gay. This finally persuades Colin to tell the group he’s gay, not Isaac. The team is supportive, telling him it doesn’t matter. At this, Ted steps in with his own labored analogy that, unfortunately, compares being gay to being a Broncos fan.
It’s a poor choice, but I was glad the show went there. In high school, I had a friend who people would often suggest or accuse (depending on how awful they were) was gay. My friend said he wasn’t. Years later, he came out, but back then, he was insistent. So when people discussed it, I had the line down, “he says he’s not gay, so stop.” I thought I was doing the right thing, but, really, I was making it seem like being gay was something to be denied. I’m not sure how I should’ve phrased it, but to paraphrase Ted, I should’ve made it clear that I didn’t care if he was gay. That I had him either way.
[I]t is…odd to sideline your title character with so few episodes remaining.
Colin charged up from the team’s affirmation of him, proving key in the Greyhounds’ comeback victory. Don’t worry, though. We see none of that action.
After the game, Roy takes the press conference instead of Ted to address the Isaac controversy. Using a frankly heartbreaking story from his own career, he illustrates how the team condemns the captain’s aggression while still supporting him.
Finally, Isaac shows up at Colin’s house and reveals the source of his anger. He felt like Colin not telling him was an expression of Colin not believing Isaac would support him. How Dunton shot the scene and how Bokinni holds himself effectively convey Isaac’s sense of feeling lost and upset. The show usually frames Bokinni to emphasize his size, but he seems small, almost shrunk into himself.
Colin explains why that was never the case. Satisfied, the two retreat upstairs to play FIFA while Isaac peppers Colin with mildly intrusive questions. Friendship saved. Bond reaffirmed.
- When Ted points out that Roy said “Great job” to the team, Beard faints. This is a different angle on a scene that appeared in the trailer that I hated. For some reason, I like this take on it better, even though it gives Beard less of a physical showcase.
- Jack (Jodi Balfour) not responding to a pile of texts and then declaring she’s in Argentina “for a couple of months” isn’t the nicest way to break up with someone. As much as I like Balfour, it’d be great if this is a wrap on her. There are plenty of other issues to square without her reappearing as a last-minute complication.
- Waddingham and Temple’s in-sync head motions did wonders for the “Heartbent” song. It would’ve been excruciating to me without them. With them, it gave me a cute chuckle. I chuckled at it because it was cute, to be clear. I’m not claiming my chuckle is cute. That’s up to you to decide.
- Trent’s t-shirt game has been great the past several episodes, but this week’s Dolly Parton deserves a special shoutout.
- I get a kick out of the fact that the show has decided that one characteristic to give Nate’s co-worker Roger is, “Anytime someone wants to talk to you, it is probably because you’re in trouble.”
- The bit with the Captain’s armband and the second-half cheer between Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) and Jamie (Phil Dunster) was another excellent exchange for this underrated duo.
- After the team goes out to play the second half, Trent (James Lance) does a four-second glance back at the locker room. It’s pure classic sitcom cheese. I like sitcom cheese, so I was on board, but it did stick out, especially since there were like 20 minutes left in the episode. That’s a punch-out into rolling credits move, usually.
- The lack of Ted this episode doesn’t upset me, but it is still odd to sideline your title character with so few episodes remaining.
- I’m not sure this series needs an actual supervillain. It’s why I was thrilled to find out Jack wasn’t some sort of schemer like some online sources speculated. As much as I love Head oozing evil, I prefer a Ted Lasso populated by flawed but not purely monstrous people.
Let’s Go To The Tape
- “I haven’t seen 22 dudes have this good a time on grass since I saw the Grateful Dead jamming with the Black Crowes and Phish.” “Ooof, I bet that was a tight show.” “Oh, it was a mess.”
- “Fuck no! I mean, why can’t Ted do it? I mean, I’d love to!”
- “He seems very wealthy. But also nice-like.”- Love a subtle Jade insult
- “It’s art, you fucking Neanderthal.”
- “Every single one of you knows my ass isn’t hairy. Yet none of you spoke up. And I will never forgive you.” “He’s right. We’re cowards.”
- “Thank you for correcting me, Chris. And next time, feel free to wait until we’re off air.”
- “What the fuck are Denver Broncos?”
- “I hope his kids shiv him in his sleep.”- This recalls Hugh Grant’s all-time comment to the paparazzi for me.
- “My grandparents were happily married for 51 years because they never said a fucking word to each other.”
- “That’s what that lady from the American Office said.”
- “Five o’clock shadow head.”
- “You. Goblin King. Go.”
- “I give him love.”
- “I love you, boy-o. You can’t say it, can you?” “No. But you know I do, yeah?”
- “On 3. 1-2-3, I LOVE YOU GUYS SO VERY MUCH!”