Ted Lasso 2×11, “Midnight Train to Royston,” beautifully parallels the penultimate episode of last season. Thanks to MJ Delaney‘s excellent direction and Sasha Garron‘s stellar writing, some moments are identical setups to that of “All Apologies.” Still, this penultimate episode finds new ground to cover with the characters and sets up the dominos for what will hopefully be a confrontational season finale. Seriously, Greyhounds, I don’t think we can prepare for what’s coming.
In the first few minutes of the episode, Beard delivers the episode’s (and season’s) theme on a silver platter: “Trees work in harmony to share the sunlight.” There is no need for competition because Richmond won’t thrive unless everyone works together. For everyone to work together, though, everyone needs to work on themselves. “Midnight Train to Royston” emphasizes that teamwork can’t make the dream work unless everyone on the team takes care of themselves.
Nate and the Influence of Power
Of course, Nate runs with that in the most selfish way possible. He’s had an entire season of opportunities to be better and do better. The brief moment where it looks like Nate regrets what he says to Will is not enough. Even if Nate’s interest in Keeley is innocent, him kissing her isn’t. He hears the slightest doubt from her and uses it to his advantage. Nonconsensual kisses from friends who know you’re in a relationship, happy or otherwise, aren’t okay.
There is too much damage done, especially by the end of the episode, for everyone to continue to brush off Nate’s actions and words. Hurt people hurt people, and power can drive people to do cruel things. But how much longer are we meant to wait before someone takes definitive action to protect everyone else from Nate’s destructive pattern?
Ted Lasso is all about the connections between fathers and sons. So there is no other way for this season to end than in a confrontation between Ted and Nate. It’s all the more plausible when considering the Empire Strikes Back of it all. Ted’s kindness can only get him so far with someone who spits in the face of a version of himself who used to be rewarded for his kindness and is now criticized for his cruelty. Something has to give with Nate, or else what was it all for?
Ted and the Art of Saying Goodbye
Sharon leaving in the penultimate episode leaves the finale open for the confrontations that this season has been building up all along. That said, it is unfortunate to see her go because Sarah Niles is such an excellent addition to the cast. There is still so much Sharon could have done at Richmond. Understandably, Sharon never sits down with Rebecca because her arc is nowhere near that point yet. Biasedly, it would have been nice to see more of Jamie’s sessions with Sharon, especially after “Man City.”
Regardless, it’s been a joy to watch Niles and Jason Sudeikis act the opposite of one another. They don’t even have to say a word to elicit emotion in the audience. Are you telling me you didn’t tear up when Ted read the letter Sharon wrote him? Sudeikis fills in the gaps so beautifully. Plus, Ted tells us how much Sharon and that letter mean to him by how he chooses to say goodbye to Sharon. That toy army man at the bottom of that pint says more than any goodbye letter Ted would write ever could.
It proves this isn’t “goodbye” but “see you later.” Sharon’s insistence in “Man City” that her brief time in Richmond starts to hold a lot more meaning because of that toy. Even though Sharon’s time at Richmond was temporary, their friendship doesn’t have to be. Because let’s be honest, Ted’s time at Richmond is temporary too, and we can already see the lasting impact he’s had on the team and vice versa. Just because something is temporary doesn’t mean that it can’t change your life.
Sam and New Beginnings
Sam has to take Edwin Akufo’s offer because it’s the offer of a lifetime. Sam always wanted to play on the Nigerian team. Plus, Sam once said, “I like the idea of someone becoming rich because of what they gave to the world, not just because of who their family is.” Edwin embodies that every sentiment, and he seems kind and good. It has to be a good sign that Edwin unknowingly quotes Ted when he says, “Congratulations, you both just met a cool person.”
If Sam decides to stay at Richmond, it should be because he sees more opportunities there and not because of Rebecca. Their relationship is on such uneven ground that it would be bizarre for Sam to toss aside such a life-changing experience for it. Furthermore, Rebecca isn’t ready to be in a committed relationship with anyone, let alone Sam.
Rebecca and Sam can have another chance someday, but Ted Lasso hasn’t convinced me Sam should pass on this offer for that someday. There are too many problematic factors that make their relationship impossible as is. Sam can succeed without being in this relationship, and so can Rebecca. I only hope Ted Lasso follows Sam on this journey because it would be a shame to lose Toheeb Jimoh.
Rebecca and the Art of Being Alone
This forced time apart from Sam could be the push Rebecca needs to learn how to be alone. She speaks so highly of how wonderful being alone is in “No Weddings and a Funeral,” but Rebecca’s never been alone. Just when things finally wrapped up with Rupert, she started using Bantr. Jumping from one relationship to the other is an excellent way to avoid them, but it can’t last forever. There’s no longevity in that story because it will become repetitive.
Ted Lasso is smarter than to drag this out forever, which is why it’s so glorious to get another scene between Ted and Rebecca in Ted’s office. It’s blocked identically to the scene from “All Apologies.” This scene calls back to Ted saying he doesn’t like to get into other people’s business in “The Signal.” He never steers Rebecca one way or the other but encourages her to look inward. Ted knows firsthand that Rebecca can do the right thing, even after a few bumps in the road.
There is no better time for Rebecca to choose herself and start anew than a season finale. It gives her the launchpad she needs to start a new journey — one that prioritizes herself independent of any romantic entanglements. It’s only then that Rebecca can be a better partner. She must learn to be better and kinder to herself first. It would be disappointing for Ted Lasso to resolve Rebecca’s arc for the season by ending up with Sam and not doing any work for herself. Prioritizing oneself and one’s relationship doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive, and Rebecca needs to learn that.
Keeley, Roy, and Their Future
We don’t deserve Keeley Jones, and we definitely don’t deserve Juno Temple as Keeley Jones. Genuinely, Temple and Brett Goldstein are lightning in a bottle. Only those two could look each other in the eyes for a few minutes and tell a complete story with even fewer words. It’s astounding and heartbreaking to watch. Though they never say it, it looks like they come to an understanding that neither one of them would want to say out loud. Even writing it isn’t easy.
It looks like Keeley and Roy are headed towards a break, but it won’t be Jamie’s fault. It’s also apparent that it won’t be permanent because there is so much love between them. Roy continuously gets on his knees for Keeley despite suffering an injury so bad that it prevented him from playing football again. Keeley and Roy would do anything for each other, but the struggles that they have yet to confront are starting to impact their relationship.
Roy and Keeley are great about being honest with each other. It’s refreshing to see them lay everything on the table, rather than Ted Lasso bottle that up for when there needs to be an argument. But even then, they’re just naming those obstacles. They’re not saying how those obstacles make them feel. A break could be what Roy and Keeley need to come back even stronger, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch. Keeley and Roy have always been great at sharing the sunlight, and I believe they can be even better.
Other Winning Moments:
- I relate to the Richmond fan taking a selfie with Sam’s back.
- We must protect Colin at all costs.
- Everyone simultaneously becoming self-conscious of their eyebrows shouldn’t be as funny as it is.
- Another book to add to our Ted Lasso reading list: Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake
- I could write an 1,000 word essay about the Richmond players doing the “Bye, Bye, Bye” choreography.
- Jamie always said that he viewed Richmond as a band and as himself as the frontman.
- Phoebe’s art is probably one of the most unexpected things about this episode.
- Higgins knows everyone’s birthdays, and so does Ted or he wouldn’t be able to test Higgins.
- Ted bursting back in the room when Higgins says, “Don’t letter get away with it,” has the same energy as when Ted did that when Higgins said, “Caesar you later,” last season.
- Sharon’s pinball name being SMF
What did you think of Ted Lasso 2×11, “Midnight Train to Royston?” Let us know in the comments below!
New episodes of Ted Lasso stream Fridays on Apple TV+!