Written by Phoebe Walsh and directed by Matt Lipsey, Ted Lasso 2×07, “Headspace,” likely takes its title from the popular meditation app that values mindfulness and self-care. It’s from that thesis that the events of this episode play out as the characters we know and love continue to struggle with those very concepts. Their internal conflicts go well beyond themselves and impact others in significant ways, all while revealing more about their mental health.
The care and detail in which Ted Lasso tells stories about internal conflicts and mental health should not be written off as anything other than extraordinary. In a day and age when stories like this are so often secondary or entirely overlooked, it’s quite groundbreaking to see a show with such an immense platform lean into the intricacies that come with such stories, rather than shy away from them entirely.
Nate and Pride vs. Humility
It’s equally cruel and brilliant for Ted Lasso to go from Roy and Keeley’s relationship to Nate and his parents. Where Roy and Keeley see too much of each other, Nate’s dad can’t even look him in the eyes for longer than a few seconds. There is no room for Nate at the table (Ted Lasso loves a metaphor) since one of his niece’s boxes fills the only other chair with a placemat on the table. Nick Mohammed sticking his tongue out at the box is silly. It’s also a gut-punch because Nate views even that harmless box as someone mocking him. It’s heartbreaking to watch his father destroy Nate’s pride. Especially because we know how long it has taken Nate to feel so unapologetically confident in himself.
It doesn’t excuse what Nate does next, but it allows us to understand where he’s coming from. It informs the reason why “wonder kid” becomes a trigger for him. Hurt people hurt people, and Nate continues that cycle by being utterly cruel to Collin. What Nate says to Collin is so mean it’s not even worthy of repeating. Thankfully, Beard is there and steps in with two words that pack a punch: “Do better.” The involvement of Beard says more than he actually does because of how rarely Beard speaks up.
Nate’s future plays out before his eyes when Beard directs Nate to the door only to disappear by the time he walks back in. This moment is hilarious and lends itself to the mystery of Coach Beard, and it speaks to the necessity of living in the present. All of this, Nate’s coaching position, could disappear in a flash if something doesn’t change. This is reinforced by Nate following Beard’s direction only to remember that the office is his. Being a coach, teaching players that they’re capable of being more than anything they ever imagined, is a privilege. It’s one that Beard and Ted do from a place of care, not cruelty. Dwelling in the past or looking for validation for the future is only going to get Nate so far.
Furthermore, Ted Lasso cleverly shows us that Beard and Ted aren’t the only ones picking up on the way Nate’s acting. The team shares a few choice words to describe his behavior. Dani drives it home by calling Nate “a wounded butterfly.” Nate blossomed from a caterpillar last season, and now he’s struggling to be a butterfly. He’s struggling with the burden of this massive transformation. It doesn’t help that the people who are meant to be in his corner aren’t. Nate the Great is on his way to being even greater than he can imagine, but first, he must heal.
There is so much empathy wrapped up in Nate’s story that I have to believe everything will work out. However, there is so much judgment floating around Nate’s head that there’s hardly any room for introspection. The assertion of dominance, cruelly inflicted on Will, is a defense mechanism for this wounded butterfly. It’s not right and something needs to change because Nate is only getting worse when others (like Beard) aren’t around. At some point, Richmond will have to do what’s best for the team if Nate can’t do what’s best for himself.
Ted and Saying “Yes” to Self-Care
If, for some reason, you’ve ever questioned why Jason Sudeikis is nominated and winning so many awards for Ted Lasso, look no further than “Headspace.” Sudeikis pulls out all the stops in Ted’s first scene with Dr. Sharon post-“The Signal.” It’s such a fantastic example of using physical comedy to cover physical discomfort since Ted is doing damage control after showing Dr. Sharon such a level of vulnerability. It’s an incredibly directed scene because you want to laugh at everything Ted is presenting. But we know what he’s trying to cover up. All of the shots are so tightly framed that you get pulled out of the trance alongside Ted when Dr. Sharon tells him not to worry.
As someone who struggles with anxiety, so many of Ted’s actions and defense mechanisms are familiar. So familiar, that I find myself shifting in my seat as he does. Despite the humor in these scenes and on this show, the severity of someone’s mental health is never a punchline. Throughout the episode, Dr. Sharon chips away at Ted’s defenses so that he, too, can see that there is nothing wrong with taking mental health and self-care seriously. That extends well beyond personal practices as “Headspace” acknowledges the role therapists play in the cycle of self-care.
Ted speaks for many people with apprehensions to therapists when he calls Sharon out for being paid too much and not caring enough. It’s true that some therapists do operate from that mindset, but it is wrong to assume that all of them do. As Sharon says, “I don’t assume that all coaches are macho dickheads.” If Ted Lasso, can change our opinions about coaches, then can it also let someone see therapists in a new light? Could it be the thing that lets someone take a chance on themselves? Therapy isn’t for everyone (the resource isn’t always available to everyone), but it would be quite astounding if Ted Lasso encouraged some people to give it a chance.
One thing that ties all of Ted and Sharon’s scenes together is the hummingbird trinket on Dr. Sharon’s desk. (If I remember correctly, it is left behind from Higgins, which makes it even better.) Ted calls it an “agreeable fella, just doing his thing” when he uses it as a distraction during his first session. Since Ted Lasso loves its metaphors, it’s not surprising that the show is presenting Ted as the hummingbird — someone who is always agreeable, just doing his thing. For Ted to fully open up to Sharon, he must give himself permission to be disagreeable. Opening up means sharing those thoughts and feelings that aren’t the easiest or shiniest.
The most obvious example of this is when, during his second session, Ted makes the hummingbird now, but Ted doesn’t tell Sharon how he feels about therapists until it stops nodding. Then, during their final session of the episode, Sharon starts the hummingbird before Ted even walks into the room. Instead of starting it or waiting for it to stop, Ted makes it stop nodding and that’s when he and Sharon have their most honest discussion. That’s when the room becomes less suffocating, and the camera moves back to show that. It makes a new beginning. Dr. Sharon is right, “the truth will set you free, but first, it’ll piss you off.” Ted is a little freer than before, and that’s all from believing in self-care.
Roy and Unexpected Lessons
In a welcomed swap of their usual roles, Roy’s arc in “Headspace” is his own but it comes secondary to Keeley’s. A lot of the time we’re seeing Keeley through Roy’s eyes, and this is the first time that we’re seeing Roy through Keeley’s eyes. It’s a tonal shift that reinforces the immense love the two share, but it also lets us understand Keeley’s stance. She isn’t tired of Roy; she’s tired. Full stop. Ted tells the team that you don’t want your opponent to know you’re tired. Roy and Keeley aren’t opponents; they’re partners.
But the minute that Keeley explodes with emotion from her exhaustion and needing space, Roy takes it personally. Roy lets his own insecurities get the best of him and for a minute makes Keeley his opponent. It’s only fitting that his former greatest opponent is the one who wakes Roy up to the reality of the situation. The way Ted Lasso continues to make Jamie and Roy’s relationship one of the biggest in each of their lives makes my heart so incredibly happy. The way Brett Goldstein plays the moment it hits Roy that not only did he misread the situation with Keeley but Jamie taught him something is superb. It’s up to par with Roy trying to hold back any reaction to Phoebe’s breath in “Carol of the Bells.”
The best thing that Roy can do for Keeley is give her space because that’s what you do with your teammate when you trust them. Obviously, Roy trusts Keeley but his own fears about people seeing him as weak for needing someone persists. That clouds his ability to understand Keeley’s needs until Jamie shocks his system. Sometimes the most important lessons can come from the least expected people. Selfishly, I hope Roy’s realization lets Jamie and Roy connect even more outside of the game. It’s a joy to watch Brett Goldstein and Phil Dunster together. It would be a missed opportunity for the back-half of the season to not utilize their chemistry as much as humanly possible.
Ultimately, it’s a relief that Ted Lasso doesn’t keep Roy and Keeley apart for long. Their relationship is built on accountability and trust. Those things will be tested for various reasons during their relationship, but they always pride themselves on being honest with each other. That’s what makes this relationship stand apart from their past ones. Instead of letting the tension brew for the sake of it, “Headspace” brings the couple back together in a healthy way that will only make them stronger in the end.
Keeley and the Importance of Space
Keeley is easily one of my favorite characters on a show of favorite characters. It’s an absolute delight to get to see Juno Temple‘s impressive range as an actress in an episode that revolves around Keeley. There are beats when Temple lets us see the emotions that Keeley keeps from Roy. It’s exceptional. It’s frustrating that it’s taken this long to get to an episode like this. But this feels like the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come from her.
Ted Lasso examines how the ones we turn to for everything could be the ones struggling the most with its titular characters. It’s just as important for the show to do so with Keeley Jones, who is the other side of that coin. Underneath her cheery demeanor, Keeley has a lot on her shoulders. This new job requires a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. Of course, she’s exhausted! Of course, she feels like Carrie in Sex and the City when Aidan’s stuff is everywhere, and it’s all too much.
Temple’s chemistry with Goldstein is so impeccable that their fight feels so intimate that maybe we should look away. The emotions in this scene are so raw and honest like Keeley and Roy’s usually are with each other. The way Goldstein delivers Roy’s line asking Keeley if she wants him to read The Da Vinci Code to her is so funny and earnest. Even during an argument, there is so much care in every word and look shared between these two. It makes it hurt all the more to see them on two different pages about something so simple.
Keeley’s need for personal space isn’t one that spites Roy. It’s a perfectly selfish necessity that allows her room to be even more of herself. It allows her to show up for Roy, Rebecca, and herself because she has that space to unwind the way that she sees fit. Personal space doesn’t mean that you love anyone less. It actually an act of self-care that allows us to be even more present. Keeley’s someone whose job means she has to be “on” all the time. She’s constantly interacting with people, and that’s draining.
That’s why it’s so beautiful that Roy doesn’t walk away but shows up the way Keeley needs him to in the most romantic of the series thus far. To know that Roy Kent set up that scene in Keeley’s bathroom makes it even more special. He goes to great lengths to make sure Keeley had everything she could possibly want. They still haven’t said “I love you,” but they do think the other is “the cat’s pajamas.” That’s something. At that moment, it’s everything. Roy Kent creating this safe space for Keeley Jones is everything.
Other Winning Moments:
- This show’s soundtrack remains excellent.
- Keeley casually mentioning that she almost choked and died eating her porridge
- Beard reading Nick Hornby’s About A Boy
- Jamie wanting his name taken off and put back on his jersey but bigger
- Brett Goldstein almost breaks character when Jason Sudeikis is mocking the team’s tired faces.
- “I told you, my lips are sensitive to impure metals and whistles give me mouth hives.” – Roy
- The team (Mainly Jamie. Who am I if not consistent?) peering over Sam’s shoulder to read his messages is cute.
- That Ratatouille shout-out is too perfect with the recent conversations surrounding this show.
- “My relationship is the oxygen that gives me life.” – Higgins
- I love that Higgins and Rebecca’s jazz scatting is an excuse to hear Hannah Waddingham sing again.
- “Keeley, stop auditioning your complaints. Just tell the person who can actually do something about it.” – Rebecca (speaking directly to me)
- The sprinklers on the pitch being what the camera cuts to after Roy and Keeley start making out is some top-notch directing.
- Will is the sweetest, and I will protect him if no one else can.
- Jamie calling Roy a “grumpy old twat”
- Roy’s reaction to the twist in The Da Vinci Code that somehow never got spoiled for him
- “If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it.” – Mae quoting Shakespeare
What did you think of Ted Lasso 2×07, “Headspace?” Let us know in the comments below!
New episodes of Ted Lasso stream Fridays on Apple TV+!