Well, I seem to be consistently pleasantly surprised this week. The Afterparty did a sex thriller parody with an actor I don’t generally associate with such things. Only Murders in the Building pulled the wool over my eyes by making me think one of the central trio is less capable than he actually is. And then there’s Ted Lasso‘s giant reveal that came out of nowhere.
I wrote the Succession write-up weeks ago when those episodes were new, but I somehow doubt the Alice in Borderland episode for this week is going to be as shocking at what Ted admitted in this one.
In many ways, what made Ted Lasso work the way it did was it played up what I was expecting. Why was Ted having panic attacks? The best guess would be the obvious one: the divorce from his wife and the subsequent separation from his young son. It’s something that has consistently bothered Ted in the show. Or, at least, it’s what he admits to when it comes to bothering him. As such, the episode plays out like a fairly typical Ted Lasso episode, opening with Dr. Fieldstone’s complaining over the phone about how Ted won’t admit to anything. Yes, that sounds like Ted. There’s something bothering him, but he’d never admit it, preferring instead to just launch into folksy stories and using pop culture references that only make sense to Ted and maybe Coach Beard.
And yes, it is shocking when Fieldstone gets hit by a car while out riding her bike, but Ted being Ted actually makes sure she’s OK. It’s a concussion, but Ted is still Ted and actually gets a laugh out of the woman for the first time during his check-in calls. Meanwhile, there’s other standard Ted Lasso stuff, like how Rebecca and Sam finally figured out they were chatting anonymously in the dating app, Roy learned his niece took up swearing like he does, and an actual match between Richmond and Manchester City. It’s largely standard stuff, even the subplot about what an utter prat Jamie’s father is, something that gets Jamie a hug from Roy, something that probably would have never happened in season one.
Then Ted drops the bombshell to Dr. Fieldstone: Ted’s own father committed suicide when Ted was a teenager.
That actually explains a lot about why Ted Lasso is, well, Ted Lasso. It’s not out of the question for someone who lost a parent, or even had an abusive one, to become someone who refuses to show anything other than a positive demeanor at all times. I read a book years ago about emotional intelligence in American presidents. The author pointed out both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton had alcoholic fathers, and the way the two behaved in public shows how that parenting affected them, with Reagan’s constant sunny demeanor or Clinton’s need to please others. Ted Lasso, arguably has both of those traits. The fact that his people-pleasing, sunny demeanor actually works on most people is beside the point. It’s noteworthy the one person it doesn’t work on is the trained therapist who essentially recognizes what Ted is doing even if Ted himself doesn’t.
Now, the episode only really scratched the surface, so how much more is still to come to explain Ted Lasso’s eccentric nature is still to come, but if the series can pack a surprise punch like this episode did, well, I don’t think I am going to regret finding out.
And someone get Higgins a real office.