The Pyramid of Success is the architectural representation of UCLA basketball coaching legend John Wooden’s finely detailed philosophy for athletics and life. Ted’s had an autographed copy of it hanging in his office since the pilot episode. At the very top of the pyramid are “Faith (through prayer)” and “Patience (good things take time).” The final episode of Ted Lasso‘s second season is called “Inverting the Pyramid of Success.” And yes, I know that Inverting the Pyramid is a legendary book about the history of football as it relates to modern football strategy with specific regard to British football — but I haven’t read that book yet. So all I can say at the very top here is that it seems we’re to assume the coming episode will take Faith and Patience and use them as the foundation for whatever comes next.
I can also say that “Inverting the Pyramid of Success” is 50 minutes long. The show has topped its own record for longest episode for the third time in four weeks. I’m not even going to try to pretend like this Ted Lasso Season 2 Finale recap will be a short one.
We open with the three-man Sky News football pundit crew Roy made a fourth for before he realized punditry is the worst. We’re told that these fine fellows are finally going to be able to “address those rumors of change at West Ham United.” Hmm, this is probably just a true-to-life British football detail that Jason Sudeikis threw in when he was putting the finishing touches on the script, and will likely have no affect whatsoever on this episode or Ted Lasso‘s entire third season. I doubt we’ll hear anything about it ever again.
ANYway, the #1 topic of discussion is, of course, the mental health of Richmond Coach Theodore Laurence Lasso. George Cartrick, best remembered for tucking his balls between his legs and slinking out of Rebecca’s office after she told him off in the pilot, has zero sympathy for Ted. His comparison of a soccer coach to a ship’s captain manages to be both callous regarding mental health *and* sexist, so George’s consequence-free life appears to be humming along just fine.
Ted is watching all of this at home before breakfast. He shuts the television off, but can’t shut off the world — Rebecca texts him a message of support, and Dr. Sharon leaves a voicemail of support. And then Michelle Lasso — as in the former Mrs. Lasso — messages her support at 8:11 AM London time. Which means it’s 2:11 AM back home. Ted jokes with Michelle a minute, then asks if she’s up for an early morning, or if it’s a late night. Those pesky three dots appear…then vanish. Ted apologizes, says it’s none of his “beeswax” — classic Lasso (#Classo) — and thanks Michelle for “reaching out.”
Michelle hearts Ted’s last message. My heart is broken.
Since this is a soccer-heavy episode, I’m going to insert a quick, heartbreak-unrelated note here. The date on Ted’s phone is July 10. That is way, way later than the Championship or Premier League seasons end in real life; both of those are generally wrapped up by the end of May. At the latest. The 2019-20 seasons ended a couple of months late due to leaguewide COVID-related suspensions, but we haven’t heard word one about COVID *or* a pandemic of kindness all season. Curious!
Less curious: Ted is beset on all sides the instant he leaves his apartment. Oh, right — all that stuff Trent wrote. To the tune of the Rolling Stones’ “Yesterday’s Papers,” Ted starts his usual stroll to work, only today it’s a minefield. First he has to tolerate a couple of douchebag paparazzi (with unnecessarily long lenses, I might add) right outside his door.
The baker is strangely sarcastic. Everybody is reading his story in every newspaper. (It is nice to see the number of actual, physical newspapers present in this scene. Realistic? Naah. Better? In every way.)
I am wondering why the Ted Lasso folk chose this particular Rolling Stones song to accompany this scene. Because Ted is most definitely not yesterday’s paper in the sense that he’s old news. He is quite literally the story of the day. I guess it’s supposed to suggest that he’s about to become yesterday’s paper/yesterday’s girl in the sense that he has nothing to offer anyone anymore? However, I would also like to point out that Richmond just had a miraculous turnaround season and with one match to play are 23-16-6 (W-D-L) in the Championship after going a dismal 2-7-1 under Ted in the Premier League the year before. It’s not like he can’t do the job he was hired for. He’s actually been doing it quite well!
I had hoped that the great majority of Richmond supporters & football fans in general would recognize that a panic attack is hardly a big deal in the sense that they & other physical manifestations of poor mental health are so common, you’re probably right now sitting next to someone who’s suffered one recently. But, given the date on Ted’s phone, it seems Simone Biles has yet to spark this particular conversation.
I had also hoped that Coach Beard would be waiting outside Ted’s door with a scowl and a cup of hot coffee ready to throw at any and all douchebags who might be waiting in ambush. Nope — but Beard is parked on a bench at the end of the lane, waiting for Ted with two coffees and an unassuming face. Or anyway, as unassuming as Beard ever looks. He listens more than he talks, you know.
It’s functionally the same support he offered at the end of “Tan Lines” last year, and is the first of a *ton* of parallels between this episode and Season 1. He tells Ted he has no idea why people are being such dicks about panic attacks, but, as they head off to work together, we see a tabloid folded up in Beard’s back pocket.
In Rebecca’s office, Rebecca, Keeley, and Higgins are admiring a lovely and pretty massive floral delivery from one Edwin Akufo. The card he sent with them reads “Sorry for your loss.” The first time I watched this scene, I was distracted by the fact that Anthony Head’s name came up in the credits as soon as Rebecca read the card, and even though I knew Edwin sent the flowers I felt a brief moment of joy thinking their presence meant Rupert was going to die. Sadly, Rupert does not die. In this episode.
Oh, and Ted accidentally put salt instead of sugar into Rebecca’s biscuits. At first she thinks they’re disgusting, but after thinking about it for a minute, Rebecca realizes she likes having Ted’s salt in her mouth, and insists on keeping the biscuits. I, for one, am excited to kick back during the long Ted Lasso offseason and see what memes and viral tweets the Tedbecca community comes up with here.
Downstairs, the locker room seems to be dealing with some distractions. First of all, Sam continues to benefit from Edwin’s hard sell — he finds a hand-written note of thanks in his locker, along with a custom Obisanya jersey for Raja Casablanca. It’s in two different shades of green and looks sleek as hell. *My* eyes go wide. It’s all Sam can do not to squeal like a little kid in front of everybody.
Then Jamie goes to Beard looking for Roy, but we know Roy isn’t in yet because we can’t hear any grunting. Next it’s Nate’s turn to go to Beard, also looking for Roy, but Beard instead asks him if he’s seen the front page of the paper. Nate fumbles through an affirmative, and for the first time all season I do not feel the least bit of sympathy when he can’t find the right words. Also, Nate’s shirt is dark heathered charcoal. The only thing the poor bastard hasn’t done to ape Roy is drop his voice.
And then comes Roy, looking and sounding more pissed off than we have ever seen him. He calls Jamie into one of the side rooms where the kitman does his kit care, and promises he’s going to knock all of Jamie’s teeth out similar to how he threatened to use Jamie’s balls as a speedbag back in “Trent Crimm: The Independent.”
But Jamie asks if he can say something first, and then he…apologizes? For telling Keeley he still loves her in a moment of weakness? At a funeral? Aah, old people, they’re like tall Yodas until they’re nothing at all.
Jamie also says he respects Roy, and respects Keeley, *and* respects their relationship, and he won’t do it again. Boy, has Jamie Tartt doo-do-do-do-do-do ever grown up a lot this season. Nate has become a scary dragon (with tiny wings, but still a dragon); Ted transformed into a fucking mess; Rebecca shrunk considerably. But Jamie went from a man-child to kind of pretty much a man! His has been one of the quietest and most quietly satisfying of the Ted Lasso Season 2 arcs. And Phil Dunster can do more with a worried look or eyebrow twitch than anyone else in this whole cast.
Roy knows he’s been beaten, because he shouts “FUCK!” and storms out of the room….revealing Will Kitman crouched along the far wall, clutching a pile of red laundry for dear life. Poor Will — poor, beautiful Will. He has an uncanny talent for being in the wrong place at the right time. The last few episodes, he’s been privy to more insider gossip than Edith Wilson. If he weren’t such a pure and trustworthy soul, he would be writing a tawdry-as-fuck Richmond tell-all right now. And maybe he still will! Season 3 promises many revelations.
In her office, Keeley has been fielding calls from assorted media figures wanting to capitalize on the Ted story. After one call, she mutters, “Fuck you, Piers Morgan.” She says it so quickly & gently that I didn’t even catch what she’d said on first viewing. And now that I’ve called attention to it, I’ll repeat it, as well: Fuck you, Piers Morgan.
But an instant later, something hidden and wonderful has happened. “Holy fucking shit!” Keeley shouts, her hands at her face in glorious disbelief. But what is it? We’ll have to wait and see because…
…now it’s time for Ted’s big apology to the team. Boy, this is a long episode. Did you guys know this is a long episode? We’re eleven minutes in and not quite a quarter of the way through. I should have brought a pillow and a sleep mask before I started writing this recap. Richmond gathers ’round, and Ted tells them he’s sorry he chose not to tell them about his panic attacks: “Every choice is a chance, fellas. And I didn’t give myself the chance to build further trust with y’all.”
It’s a nice speech, not too saccharine nor overstated; it fits right in with the Ted Lasso ethos. But I also never really felt like the team was going to start mistrusting Ted because of Trent’s story? He’s just such a good guy to all of them that it seemed obvious their initial reaction would be concern for their coach’s well-being. And indeed that’s what it was: everybody tells Ted they’ve got his back.
The team’s second reaction? To seek retribution against the treacherous gossiper who broke ranks with the rest of Richmond. Colin wants to deliver a Full Metal Jacket beatdown with socks stuffed with soap. Isaac roars, “We’re gonna find him and fuck him up!” and that gets everyone else roaring. Bumbercatch screams, “Follow the money!” I’m not exactly sure why that makes me laugh as much as it does, but god damn is that a well-delivered line. Mohammed Hashim, I hope you get more of them next year.
Speaking of something we’d like to see more of next year: Richmond Mascot Idol!
The puppy on the right is Macy Greyhound; the one on the left is Tina Feyhound. One of them gets to become Richmond’s new mascot! The other one will be cooked and eaten by Nate. And Keeley gets to choose between them! Ted Lasso is going straight from The Empire Strikes Back to Sophie’s Choice.
OK, I may have made up the thing about Nate. But you probably didn’t even notice it because you were too busy oohing and aahing at these adorable puppies, oh yes they are. And, in a nice shoutout to the Season 2 premiere, they come from Barkingham Palace. The woman who runs the show over there is very into Keeley — like, very into her.
And Keeley is well flattered. But she’s got bigger things on her mind: it turns out the thing that made her shriek with glee was not just a picture of Roy Kent’s Kent — it was a message from Bantr’s backers telling Keeley they want to stake her in her own PR firm. Keeley’s about to become her very own Boss Ass Bitch! And she went straight to Higgins, fourth on her list for advice, because her top three (Roy, Ted, and Rebecca) are all busy and/or her best friends. Higgins has an amazing reaction when he hears Keeley’s good news —
— and then he drops some amazing advice on her, with specific regard to her fear of telling Rebecca: “A good mentor hopes you will move on. A great mentor knows you will.” Higgins is pretty pleased with that, having just made it up. I am pretty pleased with the callback to Ted saying almost the exact same thing in “For the Children.” I am also very pleased with Jeremy Swift and Juno Temple in this scene. They’re both fantastic supporting actors and it’s always nice to see them get the spotlight to themselves. They likewise had some terrific comic banter in the scene with Edwin Akufo last week, which, believe it or not, did not make it into my recap.
Elsewhere, Sam is on the phone with his father, talking about his pending life-altering decision. His dad tells him not to overthink it. Sam is clearly just delighted to no end — he’s beaming even bigger & even more than usual. He thinks he’d be a fool not to take Akufo’s offer. But he says he’ll give up some of his overthinking and look out for signs from the universe instead. Then, walking past the Richmond green, he sees a group of kids not really that much younger than him playing football. Three of them are wearing his jersey. Two of the three have his old, Dubai Air jersey — and both kids have tape over the airline’s name. Sam remembers the “Oh, Sam Obisanya” chant he got after last week’s hat trick. Richmond, it seems, might not have seen the last of him.
At home, Keeley tells Roy her good news. He’s Roy about anything good to do with Keeley: he says “Holy fucking shit, that’s amazing” and picks her up and spins her and is the first character to point out that she’s going to be “a CEO and shit.” They’ve got a bottle of champagne they’ve been keeping for a special occasion, but have yet to open despite Keeley’s mom moving away (Season 3 bottle episode, please and thank you) and the neighbor running over his own pet snake — and this is *real* good news.
Followed by what looks like more good news: Keeley gets an e-mail with the proofs of her Vanity Fair spread. She looks fucking great in them.
But there are no shots of her with Roy. It seems that while he is indeed both here and there, Roy Kent is no longer every-fucking-where. Roy seems a bit miffed by the exclusion. Honestly, though, should he ever really have expected to be included in the spread at all? Keeley is part of a women in business & media issue, so she was never going to get a huge feature all to herself. The magazine only used three photos of her, total. And let’s not forget that Roy was choking back a bloodlust of rage in most of the photos that included him. I’m not a magazine or fashion editor, but, if it were my decision, I would quietly omit the photos that make Keeley’s boyfriend look like a murderer with a bad poker face. Suck it up, Roy. Ron Swanson, your morality sitcom-adjacent older brother from another mother, would be relieved he’s not a part of this.
And to repeat: It’s Keeley’s show. Don’t make it about you.
For now, he doesn’t! He tells Keeley she looks like a BILF, she tells him to prove it, and they go upstairs for yet another meeting with Roy Kent’s Kent. Good lad.
At the pub, it’s Ted & Beard time. Before they get started with Season 2’s variation on the “sexiest fucking thing I’ve ever seen” scene from “All Apologies,” Beard has to take a quick message from Jane. With whom he has broken up. Except the message is that they’re back together. Beard exhales, relieved. These two have had the most absurd non-story storyline this year. I’m not saying I’m done with them, but I am done wondering whether she’s bad for him or if anything horrible will come of their relationship. Nope! They are just one of Those Couples.
Moving on to more pressing matters: Beard wants to know if Ted is going to say anything. To Nate. “The anonymous source.” Ted tries to play it off like he doesn’t know who it is. Beard gives Ted the look he deserves.
Note that Ted never tells Beard “Oh, and by the way I know it was Nate because Trent Crimm told me so! Here, I’ve got receipts!” One of the surprising benefits of the Lasso Way is when everyone at your job buys in except for one person, it’s glaringly obvious who betrayed your medical secrets to the media.
Unsurprisingly, Ted believes that apologies, cats, and babies have one thing in common: “You gotta let ’em come to you.” Ted, I find your abundance of faith disturbing. Also, don’t wait for babies come to you! Literally everything can kill a baby. While you’re sitting there waiting for it to crawl to you, it’s going to die. And then be eaten by Nate.
Beard tells Ted he needs to give Nate “a little push” — and not just off a cliff — to get him to try and apologize. If he doesn’t, Beard is worried Ted’s “mustache will pop off” from the strain of tamping down all his frustration. Please, can we have Dr. Sharon back next season?
Next day, Keeley tells Rebecca. These two are the queen of reaction shots.
Keeley thanks Rebecca for helping her go from a panda to a lion. It is hilarious and beautiful.
Then, as eventually happens with all things hilarious and beautiful on Ted Lasso, the moment is ruined by Rupert. A news alert on Rebecca’s phone reveals that he’s just bought West Ham United. What a shock! Precisely everyone saw that coming. I can’t help but be snarky about this. It’s actually a good plot point and a near-guarantee that we’ll get more than one-point-two episodes with Anthony Head next year. Plus, if you rearrange the letters in West Ham United, they spell “fully operational battle station.” This is our new Death Star.
Rebecca also says she can’t believe she thought “him giving me his shares [in Richmond] was a kind gesture.” I laughed, long and hard, at this line. Rebecca, you were married to Rupert for six years. Why the fuck would you of all people ever think he would do something just to be kind? All these jokes about Nate eating babies and puppy dogs? Yeah — Rupert gave him the silverware as a kind gesture, before revealing the meal that would bind Nate to him forever. Repeat after me, as we head into the offseason: Rupert does not do kind things.
Then Rebecca gives Keeley a “bit of advice for being a boss: Hire your best friend.” Keeley starts crying again. Everybody starts crying again. I will be sad to see Keeley go in that I love her and Rebecca together all the time. But I won’t be sad to see Rebecca freed up to do more genuine Boss things next year. Her arc this season was not quite as complicated or fulfilling as in Season 1. Maybe Rebecca will even start addressing her serious emotional issues!
And then: It’s match day! Win and you’re in, Richmond! Except that’s not completely accurate. As I’ve written (probably too many times) before, the way the Championship works is every year three teams get promoted to the Premier League. The league’s top two finishers get the first two spots. The third- through sixth-place teams go to a playoff, and the winner of that playoff gets the Championship’s third promotion spot. Richmond is currently in third place, and will bump up to second with a win in their final match of the season. But, if they lose, they could still get back into the EPL via the playoff.
Given that Ted Lasso has mentioned the playoff a grand total of zero times this season, I’m going to guess they’ve just abandoned it as a possibility. I guess it’s too much like Ted refusing to play for a tie in “The Hope That Kills You.” Until, of course, he realized a tie would be good enough — and then playing for one blew up in Richmond’s face all the same. And I know that after complaining about the relative lack of football on this not-really-about-football show, I shouldn’t now complain about the set piece of “Inverting the Pyramid of Success” being a football match. So I won’t. #COYGH
Below decks, Nate the Grey stares up at Ted’s framed, autographed copy of Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Greatness. The Sword of Damocles hanging over his head is juuust out of frame.
You can almost hear the Wooden quote Ted shared with the team clattering around in Nate’s dark forested-brain: “It is our choices, gentlemen, that show who we truly are — far more than our abilities.” I mean, Vader doesn’t throw Emperor Palpatine into the core of the Death Star until the end of Return of the Jedi. It’s pretty clear which way Nate’s going to turn.
Also, I owe the Ted Lasso crew an apology. There is an acknowledgement of the Championship play-offs, in this scene, on the white board calendar partially visible behind Ted as he talks to Higgins through the Higgins Window. See?
Anyway, Ted’s version of pushing Nate to apologize is asking the room if anybody has anything they want to get off their chest before the match. Roy, to the shock and delight of everybody in and watching this scene (except Nate, who’s hungry because his dead baby supplier was delayed due to the ongoing Brexit trucking problems), asks for a meeting of the Diamond Dogs to talk about not being included in the photos for Keeley’s profile. He doesn’t specifically ask for this; all he can bring himself to say is that he “wouldn’t mind being in the room…whilst…it…fucking…happens.”
Oh, the giddiness. (Except for Nate, whose stomach is rumbling.) Beard looks like a teenager. Ted is positively aglow.
Roy confesses that finding out he isn’t a part of the profile hurt his “feeling.” But it’s actually not his pride that’s wounded: Keeley looked “so fucking good,” and so “natural,” that he thinks it would have been “fucking weird” for him to be included. Also he adds the thing about Jamie and Keeley as a tag on the end there. This perks everyone’s ears right up. Beard in particular is shocked that Jamie is still alive. Roy shouts that he can’t believe he “fucking forgave” Jamie instead of beating him to death. (Nate’s mouth waters at the mention of beating a child to death.) I think my favorite joke in this entire, lo-o-o-ng and joke-laden episode is the unstated punchline that Roy shouting “FUCK” and leaving the room is what constitutes an apology. Emotional growth comes in all forms. And, like Keeley’s crumpled up cash for Dr. Sharon, it all spends the same.
Nate says he also has something to confess. Is it that he stabbed Ted in the back like a coward and is preparing to do so again? Of course not! He wants to tell Roy that he kissed Keeley. Roy, for many reasons, is not upset. Nate can’t believe Roy isn’t the least bit angry; he’s positively Buster Bluth, trying this hard to get punched in the face. Roy only repeats that it’s OK, Keeley told him, Nate made a mistake, it’s fine. And honestly, it is. Roy is upset by Jamie because a) telling someone you love them is several orders of magnitude larger than kissing without consent, and b) Jamie and Keeley have an extensive romantic history together, Nate, you absolute dolt. Nobody tells Nate this — nobody should need to — but it wouldn’t matter if they had. Nate is way past the point where a reasonable explanation will satisfy him. He wants the world to punch him in the face so he can feel justified lashing out against the world.
The scene does end on a happy note, though, when Roy finally gets that his hated Diamond Dogs meetings can sometimes just be about talking through shit without solving it or needing anything to change. He says “That’s cool” and walks out. If I knew how to make gifs, I would make one for Beard and Ted’s reaction. Someone will do it soon enough; for now, these humble screenshots will have to indicate the whole:
I got a halfway unblurred screengrab of Ted, but really I think the full-on blur better expresses just how pumped he is to have convinced Roy. Kobe Bryant never pumped his fist harder than Ted is in this scene.
To the pitch we go! The first half is a disaster. Richmond are down 2-0 to Brentford, and Nate’s False-9 formation appears to be the reason why. He suggests they abandon it, because of course he does, he doesn’t want to be the cause of Richmond’s failure. Ted suggests the opposite. Roy says they need to ask the team. There’s a long pause. I think Ted was maybe hoping to trap Nate into sticking with his plan, win or lose, and he doesn’t want to throw the question to anyone else?
But now they put the question to the players. Who steps up with an honest appraisal? The most reliably frank person in all of Europe, that’s who.
“The technique is sound,” Jan says. “And we are all perfectly capable of executing it. It will work.” Jan doesn’t stop there, though. “I wouldn’t lie to you. For instance, Zoreaux — you should have saved that first goal.” Knowing how to shoot straight doesn’t mean you also know when to stop, Jan. But well done.
Everybody gathers around to put their hands in. Except Isaac. For a moment I was scared to death that he was going to suggest otherwise, or he was offended that as he didn’t get to speak first. It was dumb of me to be scared. Isaac just wants a change in venue.
Because his blood sugar is low, Nate scoffs at this. Everyone else joins in.
The team, re-energized, marches out to the pitch. And I say “the team” because Nate, who’s clearly no longer a part of it, instead goes back to his office. Ted follows him. And so we get the showdown we’ve all been chewing our nails and grinding our teeth over for weeks.
It’s not complicated. Nate feels like Ted abandoned him. At the end of Season 1, when he made Nate a coach, Ted also made Nate feel like “the most important person in the whole world.” Since then, Nate says, he’s not been able to get Ted’s attention or his admiration no matter what he did or how much he “worked [his] ass off.”
Nate also specifically mentions that Ted doesn’t have the photo of them together he gave Ted for Christmas up in his office. Which is true: it’s by Ted’s bedroom mirror, right next to a picture of his actual son. Again, though, there would be no point in telling Nate this. He’s just too far past any point where rational explanations will affect him, bring him back to himself.
It’s a tribute to Nick Mohammed’s acting this season that he’s made Nate so quietly, furiously horrible that Nate’s actions all too often overshadow Mohammed’s performance. And this scene really might be the finest work he’s done in the entirety of Ted Lasso Season 2. Nate is crying, but not sobbing, and angry, but not raging. This is his big moment — his chance to really level with Ted. We know Nate is far more upset than he’s showing. But even though Ted is the source of so much of his frustration and hate, it’s more important for Nate, right now, to be heard.
And unfortunately for the audience, Nate being heard right now means saying some things that make his attack on Will sound like a Mary Poppins outtake. He calls Ted “a fucking joke.” He says that without him, Richmond “wouldn’t have won a single game” and then “they would have shipped your ass back to Kansas where you fucking belong — with your son.” He says that Ted “doesn’t belong here” — some very Rupert-at-the-dartboard language coming through now — and when Ted tries to apologize, Nate tells him he’s “full of shit.”
With a “Fuck you, Ted,” Nate storms off. The slam of the door on the inside wall blows his printed mottoes out.
After that, the match seems fairly secondary. Richmond quickly scores, and it’s 2-1. Arlo informs us that with all the other Championship results in (but this isn’t a night match?), Richmond only needs one point to improve to second place. Meaning all they have to do is tie. That didn’t work so well last season — but now they’re playing with Jamie Tartt, not against him.
As luck would have it, Jamie gets fouled in the penalty area. And by the fucking goalie! This is not a serious complaint, but goalies come forward *way* more and way more aggressively in Ted Lasso than they do in actual football matches. So now it’s a penalty kick. Jamie hasn’t missed a penalty kick all season. So surely he’s going to take the kick, yeah?
Well, it’s a funny thing about Jamie growing up so fast. We can almost forget that he’s long learned how to pass. He gives the ball to Dani, along with some words of encouragement. Dani hasn’t even taken a penalty kick since he accidentally killed a dog with one. The dog should never have been that close to the goal in the first place. Funnily enough, Richmond’s new mascot, is right now standing right near the goal in pretty much the exact same spot Earl was at when he broke his leash and then died and then was consumed, raw and on a limestone altar, by Nate. Richmond has learned absolutely nothing from that particular disaster. I swear to God, if they kill Macy Greyhound in the season finale, I am never watching this show again.
(OK, I have to admit, as soon as I thought that thought I kind of hoped it was exactly what they would do. How fucking bonkers would that be! “We had to kill a dog with a football in the premiere to foreshadow all the heavy shit coming your way; we had to kill a puppy the same way in the finale because it’s still a pandemic and life is tough in the big cruel world, and if you don’t learn to eat dogs as a display of dominance over your friends, you’ll be able to ignore your emotional and metaphysical wounds and tap into the true disharmony of hatred. Now stop crying.”)
Of course that’s not what happens. Dani was the first Richmond person to get help from Dr. Sharon. He has “RIP Earl” written on his right boot. He takes a look around, smiles at Macy Greyhound, and says “Football is life.”
It had been so long since we heard him say that, I actually shouted with joy right here. And of course he fucking buries the goal.
Fortunately, Dani’s equalizer came in the absolute last minute of stoppage time. There’s no chance for Brentford to pull ahead on a Tarttesque miracle like Man City in “The Hope That Kills You.” An endless, depleting, record-breaking streak of ties was what marked the start of Richmond’s season; a tie was all they needed for a successful season in the very last match; and a tie is what they got. There is mirth, jubilation, dancing on the pitch. Nate stays behind. Why didn’t Ted grab him and give him a huge hug straightaway? Was that situation still too tricky even for Ted to address with head-on optimism? It seems a curious omission. Maybe I should assume that Ted really did kinda-sorta hope the False-9 would fail and Nate would be locked into it. But it doesn’t feel right even typing that out.
And so Nate stalks off the pitch, walking quickly with his hands in his pockets, looking for all the world like a Ted Lasso panic attack imitator in a Roy Kent imitator suit.
At the center of the celebration, Roy headbutts Jamie. “What’d you do that for?” asks the bewildered Tartt. Jamie, come on. Don’t ask the question when you already know the answer. “So I could do this,” Roy answers, and then he pulls Jamie in for a huge Roy Kent Hug — a happy one, this time — and then they start jumping up and down and roaring like the elated lovable idiots they are. Oh, do I ever hope we get some more of this beautiful Roy-Jamie big brother energy next season.
The team streams into the locker room and starts chanting “Richmond ‘Till We Die.” Ted ducks into his office. Nate is nowhere to be found. But he did leave a message on Ted’s desk.
While we’re on the topic of dropping unexpected messages from unexpected places: Edwin Akufo approaches Sam with congratulations and a reminder that since it’s after the final match of Richmond’s season, he would like Sam’s answer about Raja Casablanca, please. Sam turns him down. He’s gracious, because of course Sam is. But he doesn’t believe his time with Richmond is up just yet.
Akufo had been smiling with his mouth and his eyes. When he hears Sam’s “No,” his eyes curdle in a way that would make me take several steps backward.
And right here is where we find out exactly how full of shit Akufo was when he said he doesn’t believe in billionaires and their divine privilege. He throws a spoiled child tantrum for the ages, calls Sam “Yoruba trash” and a “medium-talent piece of shit,” and informs Sam that he will buy his childhood home, “take a shit in every room,” and then burn the house down. I have to find out how many takes it took Toheeb Jimoh to get through this scene, because Sam is *barely* holding back his laughter.
The topper is when Akufo storms down the hallway, knocking down and choking a plethora of mannequins bearing Richmond gear. He stares back at Sam, squats over the final mannequin, and pretends to take a massive shit on it, complete with sound effects.
I never saw Veep, so I’m late for the Sam Richardson train, but I love him as Edwin Akufo. He’s as charming as Rupert, and conveys the same sinister edge, and keeps that edge just barely concealed in the same way. But he also slings insults in ways that Rupert would never deign to do. I will not be the least bit disappointed if Richmond plays a friendly against Raja CA next year.
Ted gives the post-match press conference. He starts to give The Mental Health Talk. He’s about to call on Trent Crimm (the Independent), except Trent’s seat is empty.
OK. Five more things. (I promise.) One: Ted goes to Rebecca’s office for their annual end-of-season chat, and just as they’re about to get started…Sam comes in. To tell *both* of them (ahem) that he’s decided to stay. I honestly can’t tell if Rebecca is delighted and trying not to burst or deflated and trying not to crumple.
When Ted asks him why he chose Richmond, Sam takes a deep breath. He looks straight at Ted. “I wish I could say it was because of my feelings for you,” he says, and Ted raises his eyebrows just a little. “But, the truth is, I think I need to stop worrying about how others feel about me. I’m staying because it’s what’s best for me, and my personal journey.” Sam gives Rebecca a quick-yet-lingering look, and he’s out. Ted suggests that maybe Sam was talking to Rebecca, even though he was looking at him. Rebecca knows this. She throws back her champagne in one bolt.
Two: Ted leaves Richmond HQ…and who else would be waiting for him outside?
And why wasn’t Trent at the press conference? “Because I am no longer a reporter,” Trent says. “I was fired when they found out I revealed an anonymous source.” See, everybody who complained about that over the past week? Trent’s reprehensible action did come with a consequence. And for the record, I was definitely not one of the people complaining, nor did I conclude that under certain circumstances it would actually be OK for Trent to betray a source’s anonymity.
And there’s no mystery about how Trent got found out: it turns out he told his editors himself. “I’m looking for something deeper,” he tells Ted. I wonder if he’s going to wind up writing a book — about Richmond, about the Lasso Way, about Ted’s American optimism and how it does & doesn’t jive with Britain’s general belief in hope as a killer. That, however, will be a mystery for next season. For now, Ted is the first person (on-screen) to point out what Trent’s firing now makes him: “Trent Crimm: Independent.” Trent says his father made the same joke. That’s how you praise and burn someone with the same sentence.
Oh, and lest anyone worry about Trent, now that he’s unmoored, check out the ride he offers Ted a lift home in:
Yeah, Trent will be just fine. As soon as he finds someone to help him get back into the car he somehow locked himself out of. After that, Trent will be just fine.
And that would be the end of the episode, along with this Ted Lasso Season 2 Finale recap. But 45 minutes is no longer sufficient for Sudeikis & Co. So we now have not one, not two, but three postscripts.
Postscript #1 (3rd of 5 Final Things; let’s just make this as confusing as possible): It’s five days later. Keeley is packing up her Richmond office. Roy is helping. Until he gives her a present: airline tickets for the six-week surprise vacation he’s planned for them — so Keeley can “chill out” before she starts kicking ass as her own Boss. Of course, Keeley has already started her new job. But that’s OK, yeah? Because the villa Roy rented them has wi-fi. So Keeley can just work on vacation.
Oof. This is a bad idea on a number of levels. For our invincible couple, though, the only thing that really matters is Roy knows how important it is for Keeley to succeed at this, how valuable it is for her to be successful on her own. And yet he thought she would both be able to juggle it with a vacation and want to do that. Keeley lets him down as best she can. But she also looks close to how she did when she was trying to convince Nate it was no big deal that he had kissed her.
Roy, black-and-white as ever, wonders if they’re breaking up. Keeley insists they’ll be fine and that he take the holiday by himself. Alone in Keeley’s former office, now empty except for her pink leopard — its name is Fitzwell! — he wonders the same thing he danced around when talking to the Diamond Dogs: maybe Keeley doesn’t need him as much as he needs her.
Postscript #2 / 4th of 5 Final Things: Remember a couple of weeks ago, when we saw the Real Estate Agent in the IMDB listing for this episode and started freaking out about what it meant? Is Ted moving away? Is Sam moving away? Is Colin selling his Lamborghini and buying a cool new flat instead?
Turns out it’s none of those things. Three weeks after Roy & Keeley, Sam closes on a piece of property for himself. But it isn’t a house — it’s the building Akufo used as a fake Nigerian restaurant when trying to woo Sam. He tells the agent he’s going to turn it into an actual Nigerian restaurant. Sam could not look more satisfied or eager. He’s going to start finding and building a proper community for himself right where he is.
Postscript #3! 5th and final Final Thing! (Holy fuck, you guys, we made it!): It’s two months after that. Which means we should be fairly well into the Premier League’s new season, right? This episode began on July 10. Richmond’s final match was July 11. That puts the Roy & Keeley scene on July 16. Which means Sam’s scene was approximately August 6th. So what we’re looking at right now should be happening in early October.
The reason I dwell on that is what we’re looking at is some white-jerseyed Stormtrooper looking motherfuckers running drills in London Stadium. We know it’s London Stadium because that’s where West Ham plays. And the far side seat pattern spells West Ham United. The drills are punctuated by militaristic grunting, regular whistles, a training coach urging the players to run faster, and the players responding in unison with “Sir.”
Overlooking this frightening, soulless precision is a grey-haired figure. We only see him from the back. He has an old man’s hair. At first, I thought it was Rupert. After subsequent viewings, it still looks like Rupert.
It is not Rupert. Because Rupert walks gently up to the figure, pauses to whisper his ear and give him an approving pat on the shoulder, and then walks gently by.
So. The final image of the season brings us right back around to the first. Where “Goodbye, Earl” opened with a very tight shot on a worried Nate the Great’s eyes in the final minutes of a match…
…”Inverting the Pyramid of Success” closes with an almost identical shot, but a very different Nate.
Where before his eyes conveyed worry, uncertainty, and fear, now, Nate looks…well.. assured. He gives the merest flick of an eyebrow. He has the challenging stare of a person who knows his power. Nate the Grey, the only truly gray Greyhound the Diamond Dogs ever had, appears fully converted. It’s a long, cold wait before we see what that means.
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