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'Ted Lasso' Recap: Season 2 Returns With Dogs, Yips And Bad Dates

Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) is back in a second season of the Emmy-nominated series, in Sudeikis' Golden-Globe-winning role.
Apple TV+
Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) is back in a second season of the Emmy-nominated series, in Sudeikis' Golden-Globe-winning role.

This is a recap of the first episode of season 2 of Ted Lasso. You absolutely should not read it if you don't want to be spoiled. You've been warned!

Game Highlights

In a strong season premiere, Ted Lasso survives a risky opening scene and opens a new line of inquiry: What about the problems a miracle coach doesn't know how to fix?


Pop quiz, hot shot: The first season of your show about a plucky English soccer (er, football) team was nominated for 20 Emmy awards. It was recognized specifically for creating the feeling of being warmly hugged by your television and tucked into bed, which was a balm to pandemic-fatigued viewers. How are you going to start season 2?

If you said "I'm going to kill a dog!" then you reached the same conclusion as the creators of Ted Lasso, who open the season with star player Dani Rojas accidentally sending the team mascot, Earl Greyhound, to his final rest with an errant penalty kick.

Earl's demise creates a social media GIF-fueled disaster that only puts more pressure on A.F.C. Richmond, which is now partway through its season, stuck in a long string of ties. (A string of ties that threatens to tie the record for the most ties, which is currently ... a tie.) Dani's devastation has the same intensity as his excitement (can football still be life??), and the visual of him, still in uniform, trying to wash off the stench of death is a very funny, if not surprising, smash cut from Ted telling the press he hopes Dani isn't being too hard on himself. But the stench of death is not so easy to shake: Dani now has the yips — a baffling loss of simple abilities, shrouded in superstition.

When Higgins suggests a sports psychologist, we learn that despite his stealthy emotional intelligence, Ted doesn't think much of therapy (it didn't do much for his marriage). Still, he allows Higgins to bring in Dr. Sharon Fieldstone, played with terrific nuance by new cast member Sarah Niles, to work with Dani. Ted is instantly unnerved at the realization that Dr. Sharon has skills he lacks — beginning with speaking Spanish and French, meaning she can literally communicate with members of the team more easily than he can before she even starts her work.

Everything else may change, but Ted (Jason Sudeikis) and Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) will always be buds.
/ Apple TV+
Apple TV+
Everything else may change, but Ted (Jason Sudeikis) and Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) will always be buds.

Niles is wonderful; it's such a patient performance, in that Dr. Sharon knows she has a role to play with this team, but Niles brings her an observant quietude that's almost unnerving because it's so different from the tone of the rest of the show. Ted Lasso and AFC Richmond are not the center of her world. Dr. Sharon is there to help, like a therapist, and not to efficiently move a plot along or facilitate jokes, like a television character.

By the end of the episode, when Dani has raved about his work with Dr. Sharon and the other players are eagerly lining up for sessions, you can see a subtle change in the direction of the series this season. In season 1, we learned how many creative and unexpected solutions Ted could offer to the players who were understandably suspicious of his expertise. We learned about all the ways in which he could, deeply and meaningfully, reach people.

In season 2, Ted Lasso is becoming a show that's also about the solutions he can't offer, the problems he can't solve on his own. Undercutting Ted's relentless positivity by showing its limitations, and backing off the veneration of his deep and folksy wisdom just a tiny bit, are important steps toward balancing the ensemble and complicating Ted as a character. Keep an eye on Ted's relationship with Dr. Sharon.

Meanwhile, Rebecca is finished being angry at her ex-husband (for now) and is getting out there and dating. (Can every show just have Hannah Waddingham wearing beautiful sheath dresses and being a stunningly glamorous woman? It would improve almost everything, including cooking shows and the news.) As the season opens, Rebecca is dating a dull but companionable suit she's ready for Keeley and Roy to check out on a double date. When they meet him, Keeley soft-pedals what a bore the guy is. But you do not go to Roy Kent to have the truth presented gently, and you do not speak only to the friends who don't want to upset you if you want the total picture.

Roy allows that Rebecca's date is "fine," but adds that "it's not about him. It's about why the f*** you think he deserves you." Taken aback by both Roy's passion and the implied high regard in which he holds her, it doesn't take Rebecca long to, while listening to "Wise Up" (a clever callback to an earlier Magnolia joke), realize Roy is right. Rebecca has been on a beautiful journey of cookie-assisted self-discovery, and that's just not a place for a guy who's merely "fine." (By the way, the Ted Lasso people sent out a promotional package last year that included a take on Ted's biscuits. And ... if someone were bringing me those every day, they'd make me a nicer person, too.)

Other stories to keep an eye on:

  • Nate, who became a coach late last season, is now a merciless taskmaster to Will, the new kid who took over Nate's less glamorous locker-room duties. As sweet as we know Nate to be, he's not doing a great job so far at adjusting to a position of authority. Can Nate gain confidence and keep his sweet and open heart?
  • Sam, who had a modest role in Richmond's last Roy Kent season, is stepping up in its first post-Roy-Kent season. He's becoming more of a leader on and off the field. Honestly, the producers giving more screen time to Toheeb Jimoh is an A-plus coaching move in itself.
  • Speaking of Roy, who retired last season, he's now coaching his niece Phoebe's football team (and he owes her swear jar more than 1,200 pounds), but Keeley is nudging him to consider working as a commentator. Roy Kent Uncensored would make quite the recurring television segment. How much would he wind up owing to that swear jar?
  • And where is Jamie Tartt, last seen helping win the climactic game against Richmond for Man City? Well, at the moment, he's appearing on a reality show called Lust Conquers All, where he announces in his intro, "I'm the island's leading scorer. Sexually." Please let us enter a sound file of this pronunciation — "sek-sha-leh" — into the Smithsonian. Future generations must know.

  • This Week In Ted

    Peak Ted

    Rebecca: "This chap I've been seeing, John—"

    Ted: "STAMOS?"

    Analytical Ted

    "You suffered an unlikely and tragic coincidence. Not too dissimilar from those seen throughout Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 opus Magnolia."

    Random Ted

    Ted: "Can I get real a second? Give my meal a second?"

    Coach Beard: "Put down your beer and tell your buddy how you feel a second?"

    Referential Ted:

    Boba Fett, Diane Sawyer, The Biggest Loser, Loretta Lynn/Dolly Parton/Shania Twain, Pringles ("fever for the flavor"), The Last Samurai, Paul Bunyan, Voldemort, Macbeth, Hamilton, the Gin Blossoms

    Line Reading Of The Week

    Coach Beard: "She seems fuuu-uuuun."

    Assist Of The Week

    Sam Obisanya, for remembering that athletes don't take only showers: "Some of us prefer to take long baths at home."

    Stealth MVP

    Ellie Jadav, who plays Phoebe's teammate, holding the ice pack on her head and yelling, "YOU KNOW IT, COACH!"

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.
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