If the way Season 2 starts didn’t remind you that Ted Lasso is more than sunshine and rainbows, this week’s episode takes a more subtle approach to do so. There are no accidental dog murders at the start of it, but there is the supposed death of Jamie Tartt’s football career. Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 2, “Lavender,” delves into the characters’ little acts of bravery that chip away at what’s expected of them only to reveal fuller versions of themselves.
This show has always been great at defying the expectations that everyone is only one thing all of the time. “Lavender” pulls back even more layers to continue to show that everyone is struggling with something, and sometimes the bravest thing you can do is be selfish enough to stand up for yourself. This season of Ted Lasso introduces another way these characters can stand up for themselves, and that’s by asking for help and receiving it from a licensed professional.
Again, Dr. Sharon’s presence at AFC Richmond paves a path to breaking down the stigma around therapy. It will take time, maybe even the entire season, for some of these characters to adequately explore their relationship to therapy, but that’s the beauty of it. No person is one thing all of the time, and no one’s journey is as linear as we care to believe. Human beings are complicated and messy, and in “Lavender,” Ted Lasso reminds us there are bright spots, sunshine and rainbows, that shine through when we embrace that complexity.
Bravery Can Shine through Small Victories
Roy Kent’s resistance to taking the pundit position at Sky Sports is understandable, especially when we learn who he’ll be on a panel with him. George, his old AFC Richmond coach, tells him not to get too emotional. That statement mocks his vulnerability and passion displayed in his retirement speech, the very same things Keeley cherishes. The best part of Roy accepting the job is that he doesn’t do it for Keeley or to spite Jamie (who is also finding his way back to the game); he does it for himself. He does it to preserve and protect those passionate and vulnerable parts of himself.
Roy says as much when he thanks Keeley by saying, “You helped me to help myself. Again.” This remark takes me back, once again, to what Juno Temple shared about Roy and Keeley’s relationship at PaleyFest 2021. It isn’t Keeley’s job to save Roy or fix him. She can only love him, and she does so fiercely that Roy starts to accept the truth. Roy starts to see that there’s a passionate and vulnerable part of himself that he’s missing, and he has a future in football, though it doesn’t look how he likely imagined it to be.
Ted’s words earlier in the episode also frame Roy’s step into a different future with football. Ted speaks on adjusting our relationships to things that make us happy instead of depriving ourselves entirely because they may have a few unfavorable side effects. For Roy, that thing is football. This job is Roy adjusting his relationship to the game he so desperately loves. Like Nate previously stated, it’s an outlet to relieve all of that aggression and tension. It’s an outlet that paves the way for the passion and vulnerability that Keeley loves, we adore, and millions of people who watched Roy’s retirement press conference admire.
Roy Kent is a man of few choice words and many grunts, but he’s also someone who can spew the most romantic of declarations to let a woman he admires know she deserves nothing but the best. He’s all of these things and then some. It’s the latter that society tells him (George literally does) to keep suppressed underneath the former. It’s in this new, post-professional footballer life that Roy is learning the influence of letting every part of him exist, boldly and bravely. Roy choosing a path that won’t be the easiest but allows him to be closer to what he loves, what makes him happy, is an act of self-love that deserves to be celebrated.
Ted and Rebecca’s Relationship to Therapy
There is no shame in doing something for yourself, to prioritize your happiness. Ted is still learning that. He’s still coming around to the role that therapy can play in that. He’s not alone in that because so is Rebecca. They both come across as utterly closed off to the idea of ever going to therapy, but their curiosity about the other’s experiences with it says otherwise. Both Ted and Rebecca are at least acutely aware of the absurdity in their definitions of friendship. Yet neither of them will speak on it.
That blind spot that protects both of them from their vulnerability doesn’t make these characters unlikeable. Instead, it makes them more relatable than if they had perfect perspectives on everything all of the time. This is true especially for Ted, who can often feel like the most idealized version of a man. Ted Lasso never claims Ted to be this way. He makes mistakes, and he’s fighting his own demons; Season 1 shows us as much.
This season does as well. Ted even catches himself blaming Higgings for doing his job in a way that makes Ted a bit uneasy. That uneasiness only surfaces because Higgins doing his job means that Sharon keeps doing hers at AFC Richmond for the rest of the season. It’s that uneasiness that leads Ted right to Rebecca, right to someone he likely knows will give him the answer he wants. Beard is the one who calls Ted on his bluff by saying that Sharon could be moving closer in the stands because it’s an “optical illusion induced by your mistrust of her profession.”
Rebecca and Ted’s friendship is one of the pillars of Ted Lasso. It’s one of its greatest strengths, but it’s also so new after last season. Beard, on the other hand, has known Ted for who knows how long. I believe that Beard knows Ted better than he knows himself. According to both Ted and Rebecca, friends are just as good as therapists. They’re there “to burden them with your issues and anxieties.” For that reason, it wouldn’t be shocking if Beard is the one to push Ted in the right direction, which is why I want it to be someone else. It would be a profound moment if Rebecca comes around to Sharon and tells Ted to give her a chance.
Calm vs. Killer Athletes (and Coaches)
“Lavender” takes on a whole new meaning with this episode of Ted Lasso. It’s more than a comforting smell. Now it’s also the line between what makes athletes “calm” and “killers,” according to Nate. The truth is it shows more about what makes a “calm” or “killer” coach than it does anything about any of the players. Ted Lasso stands in direct opposition to bullying, yet no one checks Nate on his behavior and words.
The most pushback is when Beard sees no problem in the lavender detergent, and Ted says that he didn’t say Richmond is “overrun by incompetent assholes,” as Nate believes. Just a few moments after that second interaction, Ted tells Sam that “people say cuss words when they don’t know the right ones to express themselves.” Usually, that sentiment could apply to Roy, who is no stranger to cuss words, but it’s apparent that Roy knows precisely the right words to express himself. Nate, on the other hand, appears to be struggling…a lot.
There is a piece missing from Nate’s puzzle. We have yet to receive any added context to Nate’s story that would provide a level of clarity in the same way that the reveal with Jamie’s father did in the Season 1 finale. A lot of Ted Lasso is about poking holes in toxic masculinity and examining men’s influential relationships with each other and otherwise. If Nate’s coworkers and friends aren’t going to call him out and check in with him, then who will? Someone has to remind Nate there is more to these players (and his role as a coach) than their need to dominate.
Thankfully, Sam Obisanya, a 20-year old, proves that players can be powerful in their ability to harness both “calm” and “killer” qualities. Sam replaces the legendary Roy Kent on the team, defining himself as a powerhouse on the pitch. Off the pitch, Sam is generally “calm,” which is why his outburst is so unexpected. It shouldn’t be, though, because he is right to feel slighted by the possibility of Jamie coming back to Richmond. Ted is right; Sam should feel safe enough to voice his concerns bravely. It shows Sam’s emotional maturity that he can recognize how he expressed his feelings wasn’t the best. That’s not something Nate can say for himself right now.
But Sam Obisanya will always be better than all of us, won’t he?
Never Give Up on Second Chances
Nate isn’t the only person who will eventually have to take accountability for their actions because Jamie Tartt is back. It would be remiss of me not to bring attention to Jamie’s Jack Grealish makeover, headband and all. Ted Lasso is the gift that keeps on giving. As a Jamie fan, “Lavender” delivers on the appeal of this character through some of the quietest moments we’ve seen Jamie experience on the show so far. Also, let it be known that only Phil Dunster could play Jamie Tartt with the depth he deserves.
Jamie is no stranger to speaking up for himself. He loves to shout his achievements from the rooftops. We learned last season a lot of that has to do with his father’s unrelenting pressure for Jamie to dominate. The dynamics between fathers and sons isn’t a new concept to Ted Lasso. This episode even brings up how Sam’s father is happy that his son is in safe hands with Ted. Though Jamie says he named his toy army man “Ted” after Ted Danson, we can see through that to the truth of the matter. Jamie named the toy after the man that has done more to protect him than his own father ever has.
Ted Lasso does the work to encourage sympathy towards Jamie with “Lavender.” It’s hard to watch Jamie find out on live TV that Man City doesn’t want him back. It stings to watch his team tell him there are no more avenues for him, that he’s their “dead son.” Phil Dunster plays that moment with such care that you can see the fear rise to the surface in Jamie. Suddenly, it’s easier to remember how young Jamie is. There should be so much ahead of him, but everyone is telling him nothing is waiting for him. It’s eerie how much that mirrors Roy’s current experiences but for entirely different reasons.
It’s Jamie’s scenes with Ted at The Crown & Anchor that we see Jamie at his most vulnerable. He keeps his guard up for most of “Lavender,” but that comes tumbling down around Ted. Jamie tries to keep up the facade, saying that everything is excellent. Ted doesn’t even push him, but Jamie lets him know that he isn’t doing great. Jamie admits to being depressed, which takes a lot of strength, especially considering how Jamie’s father conditioned him to reject feelings. It’s clear from the way that Jamie says he needs Richmond that he means more than just a football club. Never in a million years did I imagine that the same character we met last season would ever open up like that.
But in the same breath, Ted Lasso never forgets what Jamie did. In fact, by welcoming Jamie back to the team, Ted is making Jamie face those burned bridges head-on. Ted is forcing Jamie to put out his own fires and do the work to win the team over. But Ted is also assuring Jamie that he’s not “a liability;” he’s an ace. One of Ted Lasso‘s most prominent themes is change. Part of accepting change is giving people second chances to do so. Jamie has a lot to prove and a lot of room to grow. AFC Richmond is the best place for him to do that.
Ted Lasso inspires us to be better, so who’s to say that now that Jamie is open to it, he won’t be changed for the better as well?
Other Winning Moments:
- The hosts of This Morning Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby making a guest appearance is a nice touch!
- Lust Conquers All as a play on Love Island sparks too much joy for me to ever put into words.
- I want to know more about the low-fat custard that doesn’t make me sad.
- Roy is Kokoruda’s biggest fan.
- Roy mentioning Nigella Lawson took me as aback as it did Keeley. This man keeps getting better.
- Sharon’s transformer bicycle makes so much sense.
- Keeley and Jamie’s friendship has such potential.
- Jamie hiding from Keeley behind the tiniest pole makes me happier than it probably should.
- Sweet Higgins still doesn’t have a desk, let alone an office.
- Ted responds to Higgins’ plant as if it talks back to him before Higgins can reply for it.
- “Old people are so wise. They’re like tall Yodas.” – Jamie Tartt
- “You know, I’ve noticed that sometimes having a tough dad is exactly what drives certain fellas to become great at what they do.” – Ted Lasso
- There is a Twitter account for Ted’s mustache!
- Ted’s favorite book is The Fountainhead.
- Sharon’s favorite book is The Prince of Tides.
- “Heavy is the head that wears the visor, Coach Lasso.” – Dr. Sharon
- I love the way Rebecca checks on Keeley when Jamie walks out. I love it even more that Rebecca stands a little taller after realizing how sure Keeley is of herself. Those two!
What did you think of Ted Lasso 2×02, “Lavender?” Let us know in the comments below!
New episodes of Ted Lasso stream Fridays on Apple TV+!