Ted Lasso 2×12, “Inverting the Pyramid of Success,” does precisely that by prioritizing industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and enthusiasm because that’s the Lasso way. It always has been, and now it’ll always be the Richmond way. We saw people adjust and resist that outlook on the sport and the world, and now it’s all falling into place for the next chapter of this epic, heartfelt story.
Arlo White says it best: “Richmond have done the impossible through grit, determination, and most of all, belief.” Season 2 challenged these characters in exponentially ways, taking them to places that changed them forever. Finally, they have promotion under their belt, and the dark forest is almost in their rearview mirror. This episode, written by Jason Sudeikis and Joe Kelly and directed by Declan Lowney, sets the Greyhounds up for a new season with a fresh take on each of those pillars.
This season of Ted Lasso told a comeback story full of tenacity and heart, centering on character-driven moments that speak for themselves. It’s pretty profound to think of how Season 2 can parallel some of the experiences and emotions many of us feel after the last two years. Ted Lasso reminded us that our mental health is just as important as our physical health when we needed it most.
It took us to dark places with the characters who still brought us light. It’s that process that lets us see we are never alone, and there is always a bright side waiting for us on the other end of our dark forest. Through it all, Ted Lasso remains a safe place to fall when the world gets to be too much because of how it encourages us to be better and kinder to others and ourselves.
Doing What’s Best for Personal Journeys
The resolution of the Sam and Rebecca relationship is as satisfying as it is unsatisfying. That must be a part of Ted Lasso‘s process, considering we know the show will return for Season 3. That’s why it’s not shocking that Rebecca’s arc remains unfinished. Growth isn’t a limited experience with a defined ending. We are in for the long game with all of the Greyhounds, Rebecca included. The end of her relationship with Sam is only the beginning of her journey of confronting her trauma and finding the strength in being alone (without a romantic partner).
Ted Lasso sidesteps the expectation that season finales must resolve every outstanding arc of the season to move forward. That decision can restrict the scope of specific stories that need multiple seasons to go through peaks and valleys. It’s frustrating that Rebecca doesn’t have a significant breakthrough or epiphany, but it’s realistic. Moreover, it’s realistic for someone who spent more than two seasons of television avoiding her problems instead of facing them.
As for Sam, everything about “Inverting the Pyramid of Success” makes me absurdly thrilled for him. His feelings for Rebecca and, more importantly, her feelings for him don’t influence his decision. It’s so powerful to watch Sam choose himself and reflect that to Rebecca, knowing she still can’t do so for herself. That stings way more than their breakup does, which says a lot about the story Ted Lasso told this season.
Sam Obisanya is a great man who will make an impact wherever he goes, Richmond included. That’s evident in the smallest details that prove to be the biggest signs of Sam’s influence. Representation matters everywhere, and we see that when a young Black man wears an Obisanya jersey. That young man’s friend has Dubai Air covered up with black tape on his kit. Both of those significant and specific symbols wouldn’t exist without Sam. It’s a perfect addition to that positive change for Sam to continue to bring parts of himself to Richmond by opening up a Nigerian restaurant.
Sam doesn’t need Edwin Akufo to make his dreams come true. Sam’s been making them a reality from the very beginning.
Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman
All of Keeley’s hard work pays off with the promotion of a lifetime that gives her more control than ever before. It’s an emotional and rewarding win for a character who mastered the public images of an entire football club for a season and a half. However, it would be all the more exciting had Ted Lasso shown us more of Keeley doing her job. Instead, it’s represented through comments here and there or as an addition to scenes like the Nespresso machines.
Ted Lasso continues to defy the expectations that there needs to be drama for the sake of it between a couple and between female friends. Roy and Keeley’s silent discussion during “Midnight Train to Royston” is the beginning and end of the Ms. Bowin, Nate, and Jamie of it all. Keeley’s new position is never a fight between her and Roy. On the contrary, he’s instantly supportive and keeps his reservations to himself because they don’t have anything to do with Keeley and everything to do with Roy.
Keeley’s independence isn’t an issue in their relationship. It’s only an issue to Roy because of his insecurities, and it’s extraordinary to watch Roy actively refuse to project that on Keeley. It’s a topic that will surely come up next season when the couple spends more time apart because of their separate schedules. Still, there is no doubt in my mind that Roy and Keeley will find their way through the storm. Not to mention, their casual intimacy in the scene where Keeley tells Roy she loves him is so endearing.
The same is true of Keeley and Rebecca, whose scenes in this episode hold such a special place in my heart. It’s a given that we’re all buckets of tears when Keeley tells Rebecca, “You helped this panda become a lion.” The emotions in that scene are so raw and honest and directly reflect their friendship on and off-camera. It’s exciting to think how the tables will turn in Season 3. The two women learn from each other every day, but the next season opens up a door of opportunities for Rebecca to learn from Keeley on the same level that Keeley did from Rebecca over the last two seasons.
Keeley can teach Rebecca that being an independent woman doesn’t require sacrificing everything and everyone else. You can be a lion without losing the panda part of yourself. These women contain multitudes, and they’ve always seen that in each other. That should continue into Season 3.
Every Choice Is a Chance
In the same way that there can never be enough Keeley Jones, there can never be enough of Roy Kent and Jamie Tartt. Their scenes are short, sweet, and to the point during “Inverting the Pyramid of Success,” but there is room for so much more that we don’t see. Yes, in my world, Roy still went on vacation and gave Jamie the extra ticket. Regardless, the way these two men came together this season is remarkable. Likewise, it’s an unparalleled joy to watch Brett Goldstein and Phil Dunster act opposite one another — even if it involves Roy headbutting Jamie.
In an unsurprising twist of not-so-shocking events, I am so proud of all the choices Jamie made this season. That includes the messy ones, like telling Keeley he loves her. Though that didn’t unfold identically to how I anticipated it, it did bring Jamie and Roy closer. Jamie’s choice to apologize to Roy, showing his growth as gradual and genuine, gives Roy and Jamie another chance at being the friends we know they can be. Furthermore, those chances let Roy and Jamie poke holes in the toxic masculinity that keeps them from being more vulnerable with each other more often. Hence the headbutt and then the hug. Baby steps.
There are plenty of ways to read into Jamie and Roy’s relationship, eventually becoming something similar to Beard and Ted’s. As of right now, the coaches are unmatched in their ability to read each other from a mile away. There are a million and one words to write about Brendan Hunt‘s phenomenal and layered performance during “Inverting the Pyramid of Success,” but it all comes down to Beard’s intense love and respect for Ted.
Those feelings manifest themselves in the most protective ways. Whether it’s challenging Nate to let Beard headbutt him or encouraging Ted to speak to Nate for himself, the love is always there. It’s fierce and quite unexpectedly moving. Ted interprets that advice in his way, bringing the themes of the season full circle in the most touching way. Ted never once brings up the article in his talk with Nate because it’s not about that. Nate tipping Trent off says more about Nate than it does Ted. It’s what Ted does with the truth that matters.
Ted Lasso tells the world: “Or rather, I want to share with ya’ll the truth about my recent struggles with anxiety, and, well, my overall concern about the way we discuss and deal with mental health in athletics.” Those lines are a way for Ted not to bottle up what Beard is so afraid he will. It’s a way for Ted to unload the parts of himself that should not be shamed or denied. We don’t need to hear the rest of Ted’s speech because the entire season is a labor of love with that message at its heart.
The choice to focus the season on that message gives us a chance to reevaluate how we discuss athletes’ mental health in the world. Art imitates life, and life can imitate art.
Heal Them With Kindness
This season, Nate’s journey is impressive because it takes this character to unforgivable places, and Ted Lasso never tries to deny that in this episode. Nate even brings that up when Roy doesn’t react a certain way to learning that Nate kissed Keeley. The show gives us and the other characters space to be sympathetic to Nate’s situation if that’s the desired path, but it doesn’t make it the only one. It’s right to do so because sometimes kindness and optimism can’t save someone from themselves, and sometimes redemptions arcs aren’t neat and necessary.
That first and final confrontation between Nate and Ted is expertly layered with valid arguments, prominent projections, and a stunning performance by Nick Mohammed. All of those things make the argument for a sympathetic perspective, but the choices Nate made this season don’t make that a chance I’m willing to take. Nate’s unquenchable desire for validation leads him to believe that anything less of constant praise means that no one cares, that Ted doesn’t care. The mention of the photo Nate gave him not being in Ted’s office particularly stings because we know Ted has it at home next to one of Henry.
It’s such a punch to our collective gut when we hear Nate say the word “abandoned” because that’s the same monster Ted and plenty of the other characters have been battling all season long. Usually, people wouldn’t wish their greatest fear on their worst enemy, and I believe that Ted is one of those people. That’s written on Sudeikis’ face at that moment. Ted never brings the article up, but he apologizes for the role he may have played in hurting Nate. Ted does the difficult thing of accepting accountability when Nate can’t even take a fraction of it.
That’s how I know there is no quick way to wrap up this arc. So there is only one place for Nate to go — to West Ham United with Rupert. When the team rushes the field just after promotion, one of the commentators says, “Joy is back at Nelson Road.” The camera cuts to Nate, dressed in all black, leaving the field. All of the darkness doesn’t go with Nate, but a significant portion of it does. Seeing the Believe sign ripped in half is hard, but it’s only a sign. We now know that belief exists within each of the Greyhounds. That belief fosters an inextinguishable light that Nate and Rupert aren’t prepared to face. With that, I say, bring on Season 3!
Other Winning Moments:
- The bit with the giant cereal making a comeback
- Another book for our Ted Lasso Reading List: Inverting the Pyramid: The Histroy of Football Tactics by Jonathan Wilson
- Beard tabs books. Is he on BookTok?
- The helicopter still being on the pitch
- Roy yelling “Whistle”
- Mascot Idol with greyhounds from Barkingham Palace
- Ted sitting directly between Sam and Rebecca because ya know, foreshadowing
- Ms. Campbell being in love with Keeley
- “A good mentor hopes you will move on. A great mentor knows you will.” – Higgins
- Mae remains the MVP
- Ted and Beard freaking out because Roy said the Diamond Dogs are cool
- The Renaissance painting displaying masculine melancholy
- Keeley yelling referee
- Edwin Akufo being a terrible person
What did you think of Ted Lasso 2×12, “Inverting the Pyramid of Success?” Let us know in the comments below!
Season 2 of Ted Lasso is now streaming on Apple TV+!