Ted Lasso: 2×7 “Headspace”

Everyone on Ted Lasso is a little bit in their heads this week… and some of them need a little bit of space.

At first, Keeley and Roy seem almost disgustingly happy: life is just a never-ending exchange of “Hi babe”s. But it turns out that poor Keeley actually needs a little bit more space now that she and Roy are working together too. And instead of telling him, she wistfully asks everyone else in her life if maybe it’s OK to want a little space… even Jamie! (As Rebecca puts it, she’s “auditioning her complaints.”) Finally she blows up at him when he interrupts an episode of Sex and the City, and then he gets SUPER MAD that she’s been talking to everyone about this and storms out.

It’s heartwrenching–for about a minute and a half. But then Roy realizes that he needs to give her space based on what the late, great TWoP would have called a very “anvilicious” B-plot. (It’s soccer stuff, and let’s be serious, none of us are here for that, right? And even if you are, you’re not on this blog for sports recapping.) He draws her a bath and leaves her alone for an hour to express how much he respects her need for space. They don’t address the main issue, which is that Keeley is not capable of really expressing her needs if she’s afraid it’ll lead to conflict, which is not going to be good for the future of their relationship.

Nate is still obsessed with himself because he’s getting 15 minutes of love on the Internet. Even visiting his parents and being torn down by his cranky dad doesn’t quite cure him. He’s a huge dick to Colin during practice when the latter teases him about saying “wonder kid.” Later, he explains to Colin that Danny and Jamie can get away with teasing him, because they’re artists and Colin is like a painter whose work hangs in a Holiday Inn. Wow. WOW. Beard, who overhears this, is finally obliged to call him out. Nate seemingly sees the light and apologizes to Colin publicly. He gets a big hug from everyone on the team and they even give him a gift: a jersey that says “Wonder kid” on it. Nate acts chill about it, but rips Will, the replacement “kit man,” a new one in private when he realizes it was Will’s idea.

Meanwhile, Ted shows up to his appointment with Dr. Fieldstone in a STATE. He’s frenetic with the jokes and folksy remarks, until he finally settles down long enough to tell Dr. Fieldstone he doesn’t want to do this and bolts. Next time he shows up, it goes even worse: he tells her her field is bullshit because she’s paid to care. On his third visit she presents him with the obvious hypocrisy: he cares about his team but he’s being paid too! Ted agrees to actually try to do the therapy thing, but tosses the tissues she offers him into the corner. Poor Dr. Fieldstone. This seems like a pain in the ass.

Now you might think that Ted and Rebecca are due for a little chat. I mean, last we saw them she was rushing through the locker rooms with thrumming music blaring, looking for him, and then leaving him a super affectionate voicemail… but I’m sorry to tell you that in this episode they don’t speak at all. Rebecca is busy obsessing over answering LDN152’s last text: should she meet him? Keeley and Higgins both say she should, but she’s too nervous. Meanwhile, the team is following along from Sam’s POV as he waits anxiously for an answer. At one point the two actually bump into each other while texting each other, and it’s so awkward; Sam says something philosophical but optimistic as is his wont, then the two smile at each other for a beat too long and it’s very very weird.

A lot of good things about this episode. It is absolutely heartwrenching to watch Ted try to avoid having to talk about whatever is causing his panic attacks. The look in Ted’s eyes while he desperately tries to put off the moment he actually starts therapy is so scared and pleading even as he fires off dad joke after dad joke. Really good acting from Jason Sudeikis. Plus, it’s interesting to see Ted finally so upset and so backed into a corner that he is actually rude to Dr. Fieldstone, which he never is. It’s hard to pull off an “unwilling patient does therapy” storyline without repeating the multitude that have come before, and this one isn’t exactly setting the tropes on fire, but quality writing and quality acting are selling it for me.

While watching, I was dismayed by the seeming simplicity of the Roy/Keeley storyline, which wrapped up with such a tidy little bow that it seemed to belong on Boy Meets World rather than a sitcom for adults. Roy hears Jamie say that his teammates need space, and for some reason that makes him realize that Keeley needs space? Meh, way too easy (though the payoff, where he gently undresses Keeley and gets her into the bath, certainly made my fangirly heart soar). On the other hand, Nate’s foray into assholery seems to wrap up with a tidy bow, too. One word from Beard and Nate is delivering gracious public apologies to his team, seemingly totally reformed. But we know from the last, grim scene that he’s still going to be a bully–but only to Will, who has no defenders. So the neat resolution is actually quite complicated.

So can we say that Roy and Keeley’s fight, while seemingly over, is also more complicated than it looks? Sure, Roy figures out the obvious thing: that Keeley can love him and still need space. But Keeley hasn’t figured out anything. The next time she has a legitimate, reasonable need, will she be able to speak up about it even if it could cause conflict with Roy? I have my doubts. (And it’s also a problem that Roy freaked out on her and left for the night–has he figured that out, or is he going to do it again next time?) So maybe I was too quick to judge Roy’s big revelation as cheesy and overly simplistic. In fact, the show is layering tension under the seeming neatness of it all, and the sweetness of the conclusion is a misdirection: their problem isn’t that they need slightly different amounts of alone time, the problem is how hard it was to talk about it. 

Other thoughts:

  • Poor Nate is still holding on to the transparent lie that he said “wunder kind” and didn’t mispronounce it. He would fare so much better if he’d just admit to it and laugh along with people.
  • I know I said Beard is meh to me, but his sarcastic “Cooool” when Colin shares his mantra (“I am a strong and capable man”) is hilarious.
  • What Nate says to Colin is incredibly mean, and would be totally hilarious if the old Nate had done it — the meek Nate who was just the kit man and had no power. In fact, everyone cheered on Nate’s burns when he delivered them in the first season! Now that he’s the coach and has power over Colin, though, the whole thing is icky and bullying. 
  • It’s also so telling that when Beard calls Nate out, Nate asks anxiously if he told Ted. He’s not really interested in reforming so much as making sure that people still see him as the nice guy. Which makes sense, right? Because he’s always generally been nice to people mainly because he was terrified of them, and now that he’s not terrified of them, there’s probably a lot of anger and resentment dying to get out after being treated as a nonentity his whole life.
  • Keeley’s lounge clothes are consistently enviable. Cloud-print sweatpants… a white knit top and pink pajama pants with a matching scrunchie… she is rocking the whole “second fall of the pandemic” look even if the pandemic doesn’t exist in Ted Lasso’s comforting little world.
  • So what’s the deal with Will? Was he trying to fuck with Nate by suggesting that “Wonder Kid” jersey? I can’t decide. And his face in the window after Nate yells at him is inscrutable to me. What do you all think?

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