This week’s episode takes us on one bizarre night with Coach Beard.
Picking up at the end of “Man City,” Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 9—written by Joe Kelly and Brett Goldstein (he’s Roy Kent, doncha know?) and directed by Sam Jones—lets us see the last exchange between Ted (Jason Sudeikis) and Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) from a new POV. This time out, we follow with Beard as he walks away, moving with the departing throngs and receiving surprisingly few comments and taunts for a man dressed head to toe in AFC Richmond gear.
At home, he finds himself hallucinating that commentators Gary Lineker and Thierry Henry are talking directly and cruelly to him. Rather than deal with that, the Coach kills his beer and heads to the pub where he finds an uncharacteristically upset Mae (Annette Badland) ready to hassle him about the team’s strategy. Despite her frustration at the Greyhounds’ performance, she makes room to hear that Beard’s day had been dire even before the Richmond game. It seems he told Jane (Phoebe Walsh) he loved her and she didn’t return the sentiment. When he complained about how that made him feel, she told him he was overly jealous. Another break-up inevitably followed.
When Jane sends him a sympathy text shortly thereafter, he tries to engage but can’t shake their previous fight. Before he can figure out how to type that, the pub trio Baz (Adam Colborne), Jeremy (Bronson Webb), and Paul (Kevin “KG” Garry) interrupt. Unlike their usual attitude when it comes to football (or baking shows), they seem surprisingly cheerful and kind to Beard.
After those close the pub down, Beard still doesn’t want to be alone with his thoughts. With a little cajoling, he gets Paul to suggest they try to head over to Bones and Honey, a club so exclusive that legend has it the place once turned away Cher. To be clear, by club think more like a secret society club than the Hippodrome. A quick makeover courtesy of the pub’s lost and found clothesbin, and the quarter heads off to do just that.
Using a bit of prank call trickery, the foursome gain access. While Beard buys beers, he catches the eyes of a woman in a red dress (Charlotte Spencer), and the boys fall into conversation with three Oxford grads/actual members of the club. Coach, sporting a TV credible Irish accent, snows the Oxfordians armed with all the knowledge he gained while dating a professor from their alum mater. His ability to pull all kinds of facts, including the results and the name of the coxswain of a 2016 boat race against Cambridge, more than convinces the initially skeptical trio.
With the pub guys and the Oxford men enjoying each other’s company, Beard pursues Red. Instead, he ends up in a room filled with televisions where he once again hallucinates hostile Henry and Lineker belittling him. Compounding that ugliness, he rips his pants on a coffee table. His swearing draws the attention of security who toss him when he can’t produce proof of membership. But wouldn’t you know Red happens to be right outside waiting for him?
Promising to mend his pants, she brings him back to her place for some very noir-soaked exchanges. Soon, however, her partner Darren (Charlie Rawes) returns and becomes enraged with Beard’s presence. Fleeing the apartment in a pair of loaner pants—glittery bell-bottoms with stars sown on—the Coach has to jump off the building and into a full dumpster to evade the large jealous man.
The TV talking to our protagonist is not a new trick, but I appreciated how aggressively nasty they were towards Beard.
On the run without his wallet and phone, Beard searches in vain for help. That quest leads him to a bright tunnel and three men. Unfortunately, the light’s so strong he doesn’t realize until he’s almost on top of them that the voices belong to Jamie’s dad (Kieran O’Brien) and his two friends Denbo (Trevor Laird) and Bug (Adam Shaw). They chase him down and proceed to tune Coach up.
When things seem poised to take a much darker turn, Darren arrives to save the day. After dispatching the hooligans with ease, he explains he isn’t there to hurt Beard. In fact, Darren apologizes, explains his jealousy, and returns Beard’s wallet and phone. Then, just as quickly as he arrived, he’s off again on a delightfully small scooter.
Mere moments after getting his phone back and learning Jane has been calling and texting him all night, the device dies. Shattered but yet another bad turn, Beard begins cackling in broken-spirited despair and sets to walking home once again. On his way, Baz, Jeremy, and Paul intercept him. They took so much money off the Oxford men in pool they parlayed it into an end-of-night limo ride.
Beard rejects their invitation to a night that won’t end, but accepts a ride to his front door. As he departs, he gives them instructions. They send the trio to a spooky alleyway to knock on a spooky door to talk to a spooky man who they follow through a spooky tunnel to reach…the Richmond pitch. They get to live their dream to run, kick, dance, and slide on the grass under the lights.
Despite his generosity, karma continues to kick Beard around. A broken key and torrential downpour sends him scurrying desperately into a church to escape the elements. After a brief “conversation” with God, he discovers an underground dance party. It looks like Ted Lasso borrowed The New Pope’s opening credits set for the location, what with all the crosses and the neon and the neon crosses. A salvation of sorts awaits him as he finally connects with Jane. After proving his hula hoop acumen, the two begin to dance together in a smiling, swirling, colorful kaleidoscope.
From the spinning dance party, we cut to Ted, Nate (Nick Mohammed), and Roy in the office a few hours later. They briefly debate whether they should get coffee themselves when Beard arrives. He has coffee in hand as promised, scratched, bruised, and still wearing his “magic” pants. The trio mostly let his appearance go as Ted turns on the game footage. Given how bad the loss was he had sped up and set to Benny Hill music. As they watch, Beard pulls down his hat and starts to, finally, sleep.
Overall, this episode has its moments and laughs, but it definitely feels awkwardly timed.
It’s a weird episode and not just because it’s intentionally so. There are few things that seem to be building to a conclusion that never comes. For instance, the episode ending without Beard giving Ted pushback on the game strategy. It made the conclusion seem incomplete. Given both the first set of commentator hallucinations and Mae’s comments, I was sure that we’d see Beard tell Ted and Co. they were wrong.
Similarly, but less importantly, the repeated gag about Beard dropping his keys never goes anywhere. Breaking the house key off in the lock had been foreshadowed by the trouble he had the first time he unlocked his door. So why bother why the repeated drops at all?
This episode has its moments and laughs, but it definitely feels awkwardly dispatched. While it is interesting to get to know Beard, it’s hard not to be anxious to get back to last episode’s revelations right away. Unlike the maligned in some circles Christmas episode—which I loved—this one off felt well and truly disruptive. But perhaps it will have more ramifications than I anticipate. Overall, it’s a good episode with bad timing.
- I’m a sucker for an alternate opening, so the redone theme and use of the busy tube car instead of the stadium pleased me.
- The scene where Beard stares down a kid is a very interesting bit. Hunt effectively takes it from funny to uncomfortable to sad and never feels false.
- Definitively, we now know Jane’s last name is spelled Payne.
- Kevin Garry does a pretty good Cher.
- I appreciate that Beard goes deep into the dumpster when he jumps from the roof. You never see that, but even if it did manage to break a person’s fall enough to save them, they’d still sink deep into the accumulated trash.
- There’s a lot of very bad running in this episode.
- Beard gets to pull another Batman-style disappearance.
- The fight with Jamie’s dad got surprisingly violent. Dude was about to use a pipe on Coach Beard.
- Given it was long past 11 when Jane went on her texting and calling spree, it was pretty presumptuous of her to get as mad as she does, right? It doesn’t seem that crazy that Beard went to bed after getting a quick drunk on. Or just went to bed.
- The TV talking to our protagonist is not a new trick, but I appreciated how aggressively nasty they were towards Beard. Suicide humor is dicey, especially a week after we learn that the lead character’s father’s suicide is likely responsible for many of his mental health concerns. Nonetheless, Henry saying he’d like to be the man who gives Beard a strong enough pep talk to get the Coach up sufficiently to end his own life is some very dark humor well-served.
- The episode delivers some interesting images such as the wall of TVs, the too large moon, the jump cuts, and the dark tunnel with an overly bright light at one end. I wish they messed around with the aesthetics a bit more, though, to make the episode feel, on the whole, more surreal.
- Coach Beard being kind to the bar trio repeatedly in the night did a lot to show why he and Ted are more in sync than not most of the time.
- Goldstein really gets a lot of mileage out of Roy’s one joke of the episode. Such a simple line perfectly delivered.
- The Benny Hill game tape implies that either Ted went home after everything and edited the footage himself OR found someone to do so on short notice. Either way, it’s a testament/warning to of the strength of his ability to suppress his negative emotions.
- Coach Beard and Jane Update: I’m glad Coach Beard finally went to her, I think? I don’t know. I’m still on Higgins’s (Jeremy Swift) side here. Doesn’t exactly feel like the healthiest relationship.
- Film reference of the episode: Lineker brings up the curb stomp scene in American History X and Henry incorrectly suggests it is from Moonrise Kingdom. The idea of a Wes Anderson movie having a scene of such shocking violence made me think of this SNL sketch which stars, you guessed it, Ed Norton.
Let’s Go To The Tape
- “Look, Gary, the man has no va-va-voom.”
- “Does anything say ‘sad single man’ more than a chessboard coffee table?”
- “I know I’m French and am expected to say things like this, but I hate Coach Beard.”
- “How do you cope knowing the universe is infinite but your consciousness can end in a second?”
- “And as for the fragility of life, I’m so glad someone finally asked because, yeah, I’ve got a few thoughts.”
- “Just like my legs after a date with a guy who kept correcting me, we’re closed.”/ “I think you’ll find Mae, it was two dates. Coffee was a date.”
- “Oh. Sorry. You looked older.”
- “Her apartment will look more amazing to her than any place we’ve ever lived.”
- “We’re a repressed nation. One exposed ass can bring down the monarchy itself.”
- “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret’s little boy.”
- “Beard’s like the mailman. He always delivers and he looks great in shorts.”
- “Oh yeah. Right. That’s a…that’s a thing.”
- “Shut up Thierry Henry!”