Well. This episode was a doozy! The title, “Man City,” could refer to the team that Richmond plays in the semifinal–but also could refer to the many troubled iterations of manhood and fatherhood that we see in this episode.
First, a substitute dad figure: Roy has to pick up his niece, Phoebe, because she’s been swearing at school. The teacher gently points out that Roy has quite an influence on her, so Roy explains to Phoebe that footballers are encouraged to swear, but her chosen career paths (doctor, teacher, or vet) don’t allow for that. He worries that he’s “infecting” her with the worst parts of himself, but Phoebe agrees to stop swearing and reassures him that she has the best parts of him.
The sports stuff–Richmond playing against Man City–brings a different, terrible father out of the woodwork: Jamie’s dad, who wants tickets for the semifinal because it takes place in some kind of famous stadium. Jamie procures them, despite hating his dad. Then there’s some soccer stuff, which, like Ted Lasso himself, I don’t really understand, but basically Richmond loses bad. The game ends without any of the last-minute rallies that television has led us to expect. It’s just over. And sad. And then it gets worse, because Jamie’s dad shows up, drunk, and taunts him over it. Finally Jamie loses his temper and punches him, Beard kicks him out, and Roy gives Jamie a big hug. Jamie finally has the dad figure he needs! Roy is the best!
We also finally get a revelation about everyone’s stand-in dad, Ted Lasso. Sharon gets into a bike crash and does the concussed equivalent of drunk-dialing Ted. He shows up at the hospital to check on her and then, to Sharon’s dismay, he accompanies her home at the hospital’s insistence, carrying her wrecked bicycle for her. When he arrives, they both awkwardly spot a giant collection of empty wine bottles on the counter of the otherwise clean kitchen. He doesn’t mention them, but he does ask her to call if she needs to talk. Sharon coldly tells him it’s her job to help people overcome things like this, so she’ll be fine. Which is an odd attitude for a therapist, as if anyone who is traumatized by something just doesn’t have good coping skills. But when Ted calls to check up on her, she explains to him that she actually was scared. (She then cuts him off before he offers a folksy observation in response, so she hasn’t entirely melted.)
It’s not just Sharon warming up to Ted as a colleague–it’s also Ted warming up to therapy. He puts into practice what he’s learned from her by doing some breathing exercises to avoid another panic attack at the game. (He also tells his fellow coaches, and Higgins, about his panic attack two episodes ago. Notably, he does not tell Rebecca, at least not on screen.) And then, after witnessing the fight between Jamie and his dad, Ted finally confesses to Sharon that his dad killed himself when he was a kid. Which adds a new layer to his desire to give Jamie a good father figure, a new layer to his panic attacks, a new layer to his decision to leave his kid and go halfway around the world.
But the real shocker of the episode is one that has nothing to do with fathers. It’s the turn taken by Rebecca and Sam’s online flirtation. Sam sends her a message saying, “Dinner tonight at Le Tucci, 8pm. I’ll be there. So should you.” Wow, taking charge! Rebecca also apparently digs that, and agrees. To prepare, Sam gets a haircut from Isaac, which is a big deal because Isaac is some kind of hair wizard but only gives each guy a haircut once a year. (It’s one of those TV traditions which no one ever mentioned before but everyone claims has been a big deal forever.)
At the restaurant, the two chat for a bit thinking they’ve just run into each other by coincidence (Sam tells her she looks “stunning”) before figuring out their horrible, awkward mistake. Well, Rebecca thinks it’s a horrible mistake. (Especially when she finds out he’s only twenty-one!) Sam is actually not horrified at all, which is very Sam-like: optimistic and kind of innocent. He convinces her to just have dinner as if they coincidentally ran into each other here. They have a great time (and a bunch of wine), and giggle as he walks her home–and then she suddenly kisses him on her doorstep. She tells him it’ll never happen again. But after the big loss, while seemingly settling in for a night of solo wine drinking in her giant fancy kitchen, Rebecca sees Sam on the news… at which moment she fully booty texts him!!!! What?!!!
And then. Keane’s ridiculously romantic ballad “Somewhere Only We Know” starts playing and Sam shows up on her doorstep and they make out. WHAT?!!!!!!
Look, the sex I understand. They’re obviously attracted, Sam’s a handsome guy with a nice haircut, they have all that “textual chemistry” (as Jamie catchily puts it), etc. But the Keane song? BANANAS! Knowing that Sam is 21, I googled it and discovered that he was 4 when this song came out. FOUR. And it’s, like, SUCH a romantic song, but from such a specific era, which is not recent enough to be contemporary but not quite old enough to be an “oldie” (errr, I hope). I just can’t get over what a surreal vibe it gave to the whole scene. Maybe that was the point? I really don’t know how to read it!
Other than that, this is a really funny episode, and though there are some moments that veer almost into the maudlin, I enjoyed the exploration of all these different ways of being a dad–and all these different ways that men can miss their dads, or miss having the kind of dad that they should have. But I just am boggling over this Sam/Rebecca thing. Where are they going with it? I have no idea!!
- Dr. Sharon complains to a friend about how tough a patient Ted is, and the friend advises her to “let her guard down.” But like, should therapists let their guards down around their patients? I guess on TV they should, but in real life, not so much.
- Ted says, “Let me help you out with that, sweetheart,” to Sharon when she’s getting her jacket on. I can’t tell if he’s riffing on the fact that the nurse thought they were married, or if he’s just calling her sweetheart, which would be kind of sexist and professionally inappropriate, but also maybe kind of… sweet? Either way he’s risking getting punched in the nose. I’m sure Dr. Fieldstone does not take kindly to pet names.
- One of Sharon’s messages for Ted goes thusly: “Ted, it’s Sharon. I can’t come to the phone right now, but if you want to TALK MY EAR OFF about some BULLSHIT because you’re too afraid to properly emote, leave a message. Beeeeeeeeep!” Hahaha.
- Jamie confesses to Higgins that his dad is a dick. “In every situation he does exactly what a dick would do. Not much you can do with that.” He looks so sad! It’s really touching.
- Roy yells “FUCK NO” when Phoebe asks for ice cream, then has to retract under the amused eyes of the teacher.
- Phoebe convinces Roy to play a game of princess and dragons with her. When Roy asks if he can at least be the dragon this time, she says no. Awwww.
- Out of British politeness, Sharon is forced to offer Ted a glass of water even as she tries desperately to get rid of him. When she does convince him to go, he first drinks the ENTIRE glass of water, standing in her kitchen as she listens to each huge gulp. It lasts FOREVER and is hilariously awkward.
- Ted’s motivational speech to the players fails because he gets all the facts wrong (he thinks the stadiums are all the same size, and that Queen played here when in fact they played at an old stadium with the same name). He finally ends with, “The point is, we’re here now.” Inarguable, Ted. Good job.
- Nate continues to be too big for his britches: he gets in trouble at the game for sassing the ref.
- Beard is so upset over the team’s performance that he falls over a divider and it’s hilarious.