With many surprising revelations and developments, Ted Lasso ‘s Season 2 Episode 8 delivers a completely unexpected, yet just as effective, kind of victory.
After the loss against Manchester City that led to AFC Richmond’s relegation in Ted Lasso ‘s Season 1 Finale last year, the team have been waiting a long time to confront “the undisputed greatest team in the land” once again, and viewers expected Season 2 Episode 8 to focus entirely on the FA Cup Semifinals, hoping that the match would give the team the victory they deserve. Yet, to everyone’s surprise, this week’s episode only dedicates a few minutes to the match, and chooses to use the rest of its runtime to focus on something else entirely, delivering an episode that’s way more complex and meaninfgul that appearances would lead us to believe. And so, it doesn’t even matter if AFC Richmond wins or loses against Man City, because it’s a different kind of victory that Episode 8 wants us to remember — a victory that has to do with being scared, vulnerable, honest, and, ultimately, courageous. Which, after all, is what every single episode of Season 2 has been all about.
It has taken us a season and a half to get here, but significant changes have happened within the team throughout the course of the season, and Episode 8 brings all loose threads together to show us a coach who has finally learned to talk and listen instead of hiding behind jokes and pep talks, a manager who finds the courage to put her heart out there and try something new, and a team whose players understand and support one another, and put each other’s wellbeing and happiness before the game.
There’s some exceptional acting in this episode, with Brett Goldstein, Phil Dunster and Jason Sudeikis all delivering incredible moments of emotion with facial expressions alone, and the episode’s excellent writing (Jamie Lee) makes those scenes all the more affecting and meaningful. We get to see a Roy Kent (Goldstein) who finally steps out of his public persona, and admits to his niece that, though he may look tough and confident, he’s also scared of being a bad influence on her. It’s refreshing to see vulnerability coming from a character that has often been shown either as a source of comic relief and epic one-liners or precious advice, but who never really got to share his own feelings with such clarity and emotion.
Another character who surprises us in Episode 8 is Sharon (Sarah Niles), a figure we’ve always seen not only as a professional but also as someone whose purpose has always been making others feel better, but who, just like everyone of us, also has her plenty of issues and insecurities of her own to deal with. And it’s precisely these insecurities that finally enable to unlock something within Ted (Sudeikis), who simply needed someone to take the first step, and show him how to open up with others for the sole purpose of letting them know how he feels. And so, when Ted is ready to let his colleagues know about the panic attacks he’s been having, he sets the right example for Beard (Brendan Hunt), Nate (Nick Mohammed) and Roy to do the same. And when he’s finally ready to delve deep into his past and confront the ghosts from his past that have been haunting him for his entire life, he does it with the seriousness and compassion the subject deserves.
Throughout the show, we’ve gotten to know many different types of parents — from the supportive examples set by Sam’s (Toheeb Jimoh) relationship with his father and by the healthy dynamics within Higgins’ (Jeremy Swift) family to parents who are unable or unwilling to show affection, such as Nate’s, Rebecca’s (Hannah Waddingham) and even Phoebe’s (Elodie Blomfield), as well as parents who are abusive in the worst possible way. Episode 8 sees the return of the latter, as we watch Jamie‘s father be abusive to Jamie in front of the entire team, but what’s unexpected is the effect that witnessing the football player stand up to him has on a team that finally realises that Jamie has been fighting a battle for his whole life. It’s from this newfound respect that one of the most meaningful, emotionally charged scenes of the Season originates, and Dunster‘s exceptional performance shows us just how much strength can come from being vulnerable, and how essential it is to have others to support you in those moments.
A lot more happens in Season 2 Episode 8, but revealing any more would ruin your experience of watching one of the best shows on television do its magic and deliver an episode that’s just as entertaining, meaningful and compelling as Season 1’s best moments, but that also has more than one surprise in store for you. As we wait for next week’s episode, what’s left for us to do is let Ted Lasso ‘s optimism and heart improve our days with the kind of television we absolutely need to be watching right now.
Ted Lasso‘s Season 2 Episode 8 premieres on Apple TV+ on September 10, 2021.