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Ted Lasso “Man City” Recap: The dam breaks

Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 8 Recap Featured

Nearly all plotlines move forward and we finally learn the pain Ted’s concealing.

This week’s episode, penned by Jamie Lee (she previously wrote the first great episode of Season 1, “For The Children”) and directed by Matt Lipsey, is the single longest installment of Ted Lasso. A lot happens. Several lingering plotlines rise to at least the next level, if not an actual climax. If you have experience with network television, think of this episode as the last part of sweeps before the show goes into reruns for a few weeks. (Thankfully, Lasso streams, so there will be a new episode next week.) There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s go!

The cold open is easily the most surprising of either season. After phone supervision with another therapist, Dr. Sharon (Sarah Niles) heads out for work riding her bike and listening to “Witness” by Roots Manuva. Along the way, she turns out to be kind of mean, yelling at a woman and insulting the woman’s sweater (aren’t they called jumpers in England?). Then she gets hit by a car.

Despite the rather dire look of things, she survives with just a concussion. While floating in and out of consciousness, she left Ted (Jason Sudeikis) 32 voice notes on various topics from his lack of emotional investment in therapy to a demonstration of her ability to sing West Side Story’s entire first act. As a result, he’s the one who gets her from the hospital and brings her home.

Eventually, given his kindness and the advice she got in supervision, Dr. Sharon calls Ted and confesses she feared she’d not be able to ride her bike again, which is one of her favorite things. This confession leads to Ted’s phone call to her at the end of the episode, but we’ll get there in a bit.

Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 8
Bokinni bestows a blessed haircut upon Jimoh. (AppleTV+)

Moving on to personal fave Sam (Toheeb Jimoh), we finally find out that there have been some consequences to his DubaiAir protest besides the team losing them as a sponsor. Surprisingly, though, the consequences are positive. In a phone call with his dad, we learn that DubaiAir’s parent company has decided to stop drilling off the coast of Nigeria. Papa Obisanya is far kinder than the last time we heard him talking to Sam, joking and expressing pride. That’s nice and all, but I still can’t shake the fact that he called his son a shill.

Sam, however, seems unconcerned about his dad’s about-face. In fact, he’s so pumped up by it, he texts Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham)—still not knowing it is her—on bantr and tells her to meet him at a restaurant at 8. She agrees and the team is wonderfully thrilled for him.

However, before he can go on his date, he requests a haircut from Isaac (Kola Bokinni). Isaac’s haircuts are a team tradition/honor, and the players are only allowed one per season. I love the whole ritual and respect around the haircut. Dani’s (Cristo Fernández) so impressed by it, he announces he’s saving his haircut until his wedding or, alternately, his circumcision. It almost drives Will to tears. I also dig how the show keeps mentioning Sam’s haircut during the rest of the episode, Jan (David Elsendoorn) not getting what the big deal is. It felt very Ben and Li’l Sebastian from Parks and Recreation.

There’s something decidedly effortless about [Toheed Jimoh]’s charisma.

Rebecca allows Keeley (Juno Temple) to talk her into showing up at the restaurant, despite hesitations. There they meet and Rebecca immediately accuses herself of “grooming” the 21-year-old(!) Sam. Despite her guilty feelings, Sam convinces her to eat with him as friends. The night ends with a brief but sweet kiss. Rebecca reminds him that this was nothing AND it will never happen again. They make it one day before they’re kissing in Rebecca’s foyer as she closes the door.

From the start of the season, I said that it felt like Sam seemed poised to get more screentime. This episode proves that my expectation Jimoh could handle it was dead-on. There’s something decidedly effortless about his charisma. He proves an excellent scene partner to Waddingham.

While Keeley persuades her friend to seize the day, her boyfriend Roy (Brett Goldstein) is off struggling with the level of influence he has in Phoebe’s (Elodie Blomfield) life. It seems Phoebe has picked up her uncle’s gift for colorful language and wields it against her bullying classmates with flair. Unfortunately, she’s on her fifth offense so the teacher has to call Roy in to talk about it.

Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 8
Niles takes a ride on over to see the episode’s quotes. (AppleTV+)

The real gift of this plotline, though, is the conversation Roy and Phoebe have in his enormous vehicle, over ice cream (natch). I imagine it will work for anyone, but particularly as a father, it had me with a lump in my throat. We all hope we give our kids (or the kids we care about) the best parts of ourselves, and we all fear we will give them our worst aspects instead. The show handles that anxiety that’s at the center of parenting or mentoring honestly and without melodrama. Goldstein and Blomfield are so good in it.

The main event, of course, is the game itself. Even on Ted Lasso, a show that places its ostensible central organizing feature—football—at the bottom of the list of things it cares about, a game like this demands attention. Before the match starts, Ted finally confesses his early exit in the previous game wasn’t food poisoning but a panic attack. In response, everyone else reveals a secret of their own—Higgins (Jeremy Swift) blew a player acquisition because he screwed up timezones, Roy doesn’t read the scouting reports, Nate (Nick Mohammed) holds on to good ideas for a while to look spontaneous, and Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) was high on mushrooms during one match.

Unfortunately, while the confession-a-round might have brought them closer, it does little to help them coach the team. Manchester City rocks Richmond’s faces right off in a high-scoring—for football—shutout. The game feels weirdly perfunctory and I can’t sort if that’s because the effects weren’t done in the screener, the show got bored with the football, or it was a specific choice to convey how not into it the Greyhounds were.

Sudeikis has been good all season, but he transcends here.

To make matters worse, the humiliations don’t stop on the field. Jamie’s father, James (Kieran O’Brien), attended the game and in Man City colors no less. That was bad enough. However, without being invited, he goes into the locker room. He proceeds to call the team amateurs, implies his son screwed up on purpose because of loyalty to Man City, and gets aggressive when Jamie asks him to stop. Jamie finally snaps, punches his dad, and Beard drags the belligerent elder Tartt out. As Jamie stands alone, nearly shaking, Roy steps forward and hugs his formerly least favorite person, and the arrogant star more or less collapses into the embrace, crying.

Ted, rather than step up with his usual wisdom and support, flees the locker room. The combination of getting destroyed on the field, watching Jamie’s truly awful father, and Dr. Sharon’s earlier act of honesty had propelled him to call her and confess his father died by suicide when Ted was 16. This is the tiger whose tail Ted has been holding on to for dear life all season, likely before we even met him — the truth he’s tried desperately to keep caged, hoping that positivity and helping others could somehow domesticate it so he’d never have to confront it again.

The show doesn’t let us go past that moment, though. Dr. Sharon asks if he wants to talk and he waves her off, saying he has to get back to the team. Then, an angry Coach Beard crosses paths with Ted, pushing him even further away from that vulnerability. It’s frustrating as a viewer, but it is also authentic. Sometimes the moments we break are very ill-timed. Sometimes even after we break, we have responsibilities to honor, angry people we care about to try and help support. Sudeikis has been good all season, but he transcends here. He lets us see not just the hidden Ted, but how quickly he can wall himself back in for others.

Post-Game Analysis

  • The final image of the cold open reminded me of the hardcover of Cell, an incredibly evocative image to a pretty mediocre Stephen King novel.
  • I love that Jamie has his father in his phone as “Dad,” scare quotes and all.
  • The gag of people repeatedly forgetting to spot Colin is predictable, but still funny. It is also a fairly smart reflection of how passed over Colin is and why he needs a mantra that affirms his worth as a man.
  • The specific mention of Roy’s sister, Phoebe’s mom, as a surgeon makes the Christmas episode make so much more sense to me. I couldn’t understand why everyone was so casual about Phoebe’s mom going into surgery on Christmas Day, but as she was the surgeon and thus it was just another day at work, I totally get it now.
  • Between the therapist supervision bit at the beginning and the evidence of Dr. Sharon’s drinking, I got some real In Treatment vibes. Also, evidently her not eating sugar does not rule out her drinking it.
  • The Middle Passage, the book Ted picks up at Dr. Sharon’s house, is real. It’s a Jungian informed text about accepting time and viewing your life as something more than a linear progression. I, frankly, struggled with it, but I’m just starting middle age now AND I’m no Jungian.
  • Ted gulping his water rather than waste it when Dr. Sharon hustles him out of her apartment is a good touch
  • Still no Sam and Rebecca jokes! Don’t fear Cheers references Ted Lasso writing team!
  • The screener made it clear what was going to happen in the Man City game before anyone even kicked a ball. Because of incomplete effects, they used the same scoreboard shot every time they went to it. So the first time you saw it, it showed the shutout.
  • Coach Beard being the one person to get really and truly mad at Ted is something I find interesting. It suggests a closeness between the two that neither really shares with anyone else on the team.
  • Coach Beard and Jane Update: Jane apparently partakes of psychoactive tea and doesn’t always correctly label it, so Beard has accidentally drunk it at least once.
  • Bad Nate Watch: Nothing too bad, but his reaction to Roy running training when Ted was picking up Dr. Sharon showed us his jealousy of Roy once again. Also, he belittles a ref, but that seems sort of routine for football.
  • Film reference: While not outright namechecked, Ted’s attempts at a speech in Wembley was clearly a Hoosiers’ homage.

Let’s Go To The Tape

  • “The only thing better than a patient who is late is one that doesn’t turn up at all.”
  • “I do not harness my savantage nature to alienate people and isolate myself. Ok. I hear that.”
  • “I respect that we didn’t have to say a word.” “She gets us.”
  • “I don’t have a husband.” “Yeah but not in a sad way. She’s just fiercely independent.”
  • “There ain’t no policy like a hospital policy because a hospital policy don’t stop.”
  • “If I spill anything, I’m right next to everything I need to clean it up.”
  • “I still don’t get how that works. What, you treat them in the woods and no one pays you? Do you know what, it doesn’t matter.”
  • “Maybe we can stop swearing together.” “Fuck you.”
  • “Would you like some tea.” “Oh hell no!”
  • “I like my water like Kyrie Irving likes his Earth. Flat.”
  • “So you all fancy now, drinking tea?” “I didn’t know how to tell you.”
  • “If this was a fight they would stop it. And frankly, Arlo, all fights should be stopped before they start.”
  • “That happened. To me. And to my mom.”
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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.