Ted Lasso ‘s Season 2 Episode 4 is the out of season Christmas episode we didn’t know we needed, endorsing healthy behaviour with plenty of magic and nostalgia.
Who said we can’t have a Christmas episode in August, complete with brand new opening titles featuring cartooned, cute (if slightly creepy) recreations of our favourite characters? There are a lot of unlikely coincidences, bittersweet moments, predictable turns of events, obvious homages to highly referenced holiday classics, snow that shows up at the exact right time, and improbable returns of familiar faces in Episode 4, an episode that, in somebody else’s hands, could have become an extremely cheesy, predictable mid-Season filler for Ted Lasso‘s Season 2. But, of course, it’s Ted Lasso we’re talking about — a show that has proven to be consistently good at taking even the most ordinary of situations and turning it into that kind of television that is, at the same time, highly entertaining and incredibly meaningful. And so, even the most obvious, foreshadowed homages and twists still have the power to make us nostalgic, in the best possible way, carrying with them a whole lot of holiday vibes, clever comebacks, ever-evolving character arcs, and plenty of healthy dynamics on display.
After all, Ted Lasso is not just the highly enjoyable story of an unlucky football club, its determined manager and an eccentric coach from America, but it’s also a show that doesn’t over-dramatise its conflicts, using television to set an example for how real-life confrontations should be approached. And so, we have an episode (written by series co-creator Joe Kelly, of How I Met Your Mother and Saturday Night Live) that revolves entirely around the theme of one’s “home,” a place that can be found anywhere in the world if you’re with people who are ready to accept you and embrace you — a concept that couldn’t be more timely in our day and age. But that’s not all. Subtly but assuredly, “Carol of the Bells” also promotes healthy masculinity, by having the players of a football team—a sport that comes with expectations of “manliness” and “physicality”—talk about their feelings, knit scarves for one another, interact with each other with honesty and respect, and not be afraid to show their vulnerabilities.
When it comes to honesty and vulnerability, the master in the field is, of course, Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), who rises to the occasion when he’s called to deal with a crisis involving his niece, Phoebe (Elodie Blomfield). When Phoebe approaches him and Keeley (Juno Temple) with a problem, Roy shows her that she shouldn’t feel guilty or embarrassed about things she can’t control, and finds an inventive solution to relieve her of her shame, all while righting a series of wrongs in the best possible way. But that’s not all: Episode 4 also uses Roy, Phoebe and Keeley’s storyline to show us that apologising for one’s mistakes is a highly effective way of resolving conflicts — once again, endorsing that kind of positive behaviour we hardly ever see on television, and doing it with the signature blend of humour and heart that has been at the very core of Ted Lasso ever since its premiere.
Another character who’s given room to grow in Season 2 Episode 4 is Higgins (Jeremy Swift): the assistant-turned-Director of Communications has been portrayed as a consistently good, extremely moral character over the course of Ted Lasso‘s two seasons, and “Carol of the Bells” reinforces this image by giving us a glimpse of what Christmas Day at the Higginses looks like — that is, a wonderfully normal afternoon of present exchanging and festive traditions… Only, with their home temporarily becoming an “open house for players who don’t have family in town.” In a post-brexit Britain, the racial hatred experienced by minorities is stronger than ever, and we are witnessing a rise of nationalism and race-related hate crime, and a renewed hostility towards immigrants, so much so that the United Nations have declared the UK “a racist country”. At times like these, it’s more important than ever to fight hatred and intolerance with acceptance, and it’s by having the show’s beautifully diverse cast of characters take centre stage and share anecdotes about their own traditions that Ted Lasso makes sure its message of unity, equality and love is heard.
Don’t take me wrong. Episode 4 isn’t just a means to send across a series of important, timely messages. A lot happens in “Carol of the Bells” that ensures the show’s characters continue their evolution, starting with Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) himself. Even though, just like in the rest of Season 2, the coach isn’t given much screentime, as most of the episode’s key scenes involve Roy, Higgins and the AFC Team, he’s still very much relevant to the narrative, imparting wisdom, telling jokes and growing as a character in the meantime. If Season 1 showed us the moment where Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) and Ted’s relationship began — first with a couple of secrets, then with a much needed hug, and finally with the truth, Season 2 shows us two people who not only know each other extremely well, but who also have quite a lot in common. Rebecca and Ted’s chemistry is palpable in “Carol of the Bells,” and, as the episode shows us many different ways to celebrate Christmas, we can’t help but sympathise with two people who have lost a great deal in the past, and rejoyce at the fact that they finally have one another.
It’s bittersweet Christmas vibes that Ted Lasso shows us in Episode 4, reflecting the very nature of a festivity like Christmas, that comes with a whole lot of expectations and self-reflection. As always, Ted Lasso‘s writers focus on the positive, using the holiday to strengthen existing bonds between the characters while highlighting the need for healthy dynamics. So who cares if Christmas is still four months away? Now more than ever, we all need a little magic, and “Carol of the Bells” has plenty.
Ted Lasso‘s Season 2 Episode 4 premieres on Apple TV+ on August 13, 2021.