Have you ever wondered what Coach Beard’s late nights look like? Ted Lasso 2×09, “Beard After Hours,” answers all of those burning questions with an introspective look at the character. Hopefully, not all of his nights are like this, though. This episode allows Brendan Hunt to flex some muscles that usually burn under the surface of what we see on screen.
Written by Brett Goldstein and Joe Kelly and directed by Sam Jones, “Beard After Hours” reveals so much of what makes Coach Beard tick. Still, it leaves plenty to our imaginations and plenty for the show to discover and unveil throughout the rest of the series. This aligns perfectly with the overall mystery of a character like Beard.
The title sequence is far more sobering for this episode, which is understandable after “Man City.” It also serves as a way to ease us into Beard’s perspective. It’s eerily similar to the Scrubs title sequence. I could be mistaken, but it sounds as if that is Lazlo Bane singing a cover of Marcus Mumford and Tom Howe’s “Ted Lasso Theme.”
The first and final scenes are great ways of reframing an existing narrative to one that centers on Beard. This episode weaves in and out of different genres in a way that is both exciting and often exhausting to watch as Hunt literally runs from one genre to the next. That’s perfect considering the inspiration it takes from Scorese’s intense film After Hours.
Always a Villain Never a Hero
The use of Jamie’s father in the climax of the episode is such a smart decision. It further solidifies his role as one of the true villains of Ted Lasso. It also lets the darkest parts of Beard’s mind manifest themselves as that character. James lights a fire under the third act in the most devastating way. Marcus Mumford’s cover of “Blue Moon” ties it all together.
It’s a devastating sequence when Beard’s death becomes too close to being a reality. It’s all the more devastating when it sinks in that James Tartt represents all of that hatred and darkness that Beard harbors for himself. Beard spends a lot of the episode running from the Man City loss but also running from his own thoughts. This scene makes him fight them, head-on.
It’s a tough scene that Hunt plays so well. The presence of the sports commentators serves as a reminder that this is more than what it appears on the surface. This is more than just a fight about the way Beard threw James out of the room after he abused Jamie. This is about Beard feeling the pain he thinks he deserves. It’s dark and twisted but it’s honest.
The juxtaposition of James and Beard is staggering — someone who is clearly a villain with someone who believes himself to be one. This scene is definitely Beard at his lowest during “Beard After Hours,” yet Ted Lasso still shows that there can be light at the end of that actual tunnel. It can come from the most unexpected places, but it exists. Beard just has to keep fighting, to keep living, in order to see it.
The Kindness of a Stranger
There are plenty of biblical ties in this episode, but none more obvious than Beard finding a church after a woman named Mary’s husband shows him the light. We never learn this kind stranger’s name, but do we need to know it? It’s poignant for him to show up while “Blue Moon” plays and Beard is so low with nowhere else to turn. This man is Beard’s saving grace.
Ted once said that “there is something worse out there than being sad, and that is being alone and being sad.” Beard is not alone at that moment, and that is everything. Without that man, “Beard After Hours” would have taken an even darker turn. There is no doubt in my mind about that. People need people.
It’s also a great lesson in not believing the worst of people, which Beard is met with countless times during “Beard After Hours.” The Oxford alumni believe the worst of Beard, Baz, Jeremy, and Paul until they don’t. Now The Crown & Anchor regulars are celebrating the holidays with the graduates. The uptight concierge believes the worst of Beard, but without him, Beard wouldn’t be led to something better.
Everyone comes into our lives for a reason. Everyone has a purpose. It’s so nice to see Ted Lasso give Baz, Jeremy, and Paul a purpose in this episode. They are more than side characters in “Beard After Hours”, they’re Beard’s lifeline. They’re the ones who stick with him and show up for him when he least expects it. And honestly, that is even unexpected for Ted Lasso since they don’t usually get this level of screentime.
Baz, Jeremy, and Paul didn’t have to have such a large role in this episode, but I’m so glad they do. Their genuine curiosity in Beard beyond his role as Richmond’s coach (and his relationship with Jane) is refreshing. The way that Paul literally cares for Beard after they pick him up in the limo is so soft and sweet.
They show up for Beard without ever expecting a reward, which is why it’s such a joyous moment to get to see the three of them live their best lives at Nelson Road. They stick with Beard out of curiosity, but also because they care, or at least Paul cares. Beard doesn’t bat them away in that limo, he accepts their support. That’s the first step. That’s a big step.
The Jane of It All
Everything with the stranger and Baz, Jeremy, and Paul works so much better for me than what “Beard After Hours” does with Jane. Beard’s plea in the church is so well performed by Brendan Hunt. It’s a standout moment from the character and the season. It’s unfortunate that such a moment leads Beard back to Jane, and I hope that is what Ted Lasso is going for in the end. This has to be a way to bring attention to even more red flags.
Ted Lasso goes out of its way to show and voice the ways in which Jane and Beard’s relationship is toxic and co-dependent. Beard even admits as much during that scene in the church. He knows that Jane can’t fix all of his problems, but life is more interesting when he’s around her. People need people, but people can’t only need one person. It becomes worrisome when someone’s entire existence orbits around someone else’s.
The imagery of Beard hula hooping while Jane watches calls back to that sentiment. It could just be Beard hula hooping in a club, but everything means something on Ted Lasso. Beard has to love himself enough that Jane isn’t everything to him. He has to love himself enough that if that relationship were to go away (like I believe it should) his life could go on. Right now, I’m not so sure that Beard would do so great with Jane.
To see their love through Beard’s eyes is a bizarre shift from the tone Ted Lasso strikes for this pair. It’s such a stark difference from the way that we see Jane treat Beard through everyone else’s perspectives. There’s an age-old adage that love makes you blind, and maybe that’s the point of all of this. Beard is too close to the situation, to Jane, to ever step back and see the forest for the trees.
Season 2 is doing a great job of showing the intricacies of so many struggles these characters face. “Beard After Hours” is the deepest character study this show has ever done. It would be remiss of the series not to follow this co-dependent relationship through with the attention it deserves. Beard believes that he doesn’t deserve Jane, but as their relationship stands now, he deserves a hell of a lot better.
Don’t Judge a Beard by His Cover
“Beard After Hours” maintains the thread of Season 2 that prioritizes mental health by examining Beard’s. Sometimes, the people who appear as though they have it “all together” or those who are the quietest are struggling more than we can ever imagine. Coach Beard has always been the quietest person in the room. He even says at one point during this episode that he listens more than he talks.
That’s switched in a desperate plea in the final moments of “Beard After Hours.” There is so much emotion tied up in those words and Hunt’s eyes. It is so rare to hear Beard speak so much. To hear him introduce himself as “Margaret’s little boy” is a real tug at the heartstrings. It feels like a way for Beard to admit he’s scared without ever saying those words. There is such desperation and exhaustion in his voice that maybe Margaret’s connection to God could be enough to grace Beard.
It’s in that same speech that, in so many words, Beard admits that he is struggling. That is the first step in the long journey that is prioritizing one’s mental health. That admission could be the first step to asking for help. There are only three episodes left, and it would be beneficial for the show to follow Beard’s journey as closely as it does Ted’s. But it wouldn’t be entirely out of character for the events of “Beard After Hours” to never come up again.
It’s hard to tell where this episode will lead the character, especially considering all the other nights out Beard’s had that he never explains. Just like Beard does at the end of this episode, he offers up an explanation that’s never outwardly questioned. “Beard After Hours” is different though. It has to be different. The revelations Beard makes during the nearly hour-long episode should manifest themselves throughout the remaining episodes. Just like Nate with Roy, I’m concerned about what will happen to Beard if he keeps it all to himself.
It wouldn’t be entirely out of character for this to happen, though. In fact, Beard would probably prefer it that way. But the people who love Beard notice when he’s struggling. We see that in the way his loved ones and even a few strangers show up for him. We see it when Ted reminds Beard a handful of times about their plans for the following morning at the end of “Man City.”
That reminder of those plans comes with a reminder that this too shall pass, and tomorrow will come. A new day will start, and Beard’s loved ones will be glad that he’s still fighting. They’ll be glad that he’s still here.
Other Winning Moments:
- “Ted is a man. Just a man.” – Beard
- Baz struts like Nate.
- “They’re designed that way to make it easier for people to kiss my ass.” – Beard
- The kind stranger riding off on a scooter
- The Ted Lasso soundtrack never misses.
- Beard’s Mamma Mia pants are now one of my favorite things.
- “One exposed ass could bring down the monarchy itself.” “How dare you speak of Prince Andrew that way?”
- Mae would have a giant lost & found box.
- I appreicate that they’re keeping Beard’s first name a mystery.
What did you think of Ted Lasso 2×09, “Beard After Hours?” Let us know in the comments below!
New episodes of Ted Lasso stream Fridays on Apple TV+!