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The Ted Lasso Relationship Guide: Growth
Ted Lasso shows that the path to healing isn't linear, but it is achievable
What an astounding episode of Ted Lasso! I am still kind of losing my mind at this one, to be honest. It feels like there are just so many things to discuss!
First, I want to touch on the funny. I loved the brief glimpse into Evil Dani. His brief rivalry with Van Damme and then back to the sunniest, sweetest, most tulip-loving guy ever - perfect. Phoebe’s party and her incredible gift, and Jamie with one of the funniest unsaid lines in the episode, also gold. Also, the wordless reactions of everyone when Roy walked in wearing Phoebe’s gift. I also loved the return of Sam Richardson as Nigerian billionaire Edwin Akufo. I thought that might be a one-off character for him, so it was great to have him back.
But of course, the comedy still came second to the story beats we were treated to this episode. Because I really can’t decide what I want to focus on, I’m going to take a look at three of them today.
Rebecca and Rupert
I think this has been a truly fantastic season for Rebecca. I wasn’t sure when it started because she seemed like she had slid into her season 1 obsession with Rupert, which is unhealthy, and also ground we have already tread. But I genuinely feel like the reset she got in “Sunflowers” is paying off. In the past, she shared that her biggest fear was being alone, but alone to her seemed to only apply to her romantic situation. As this season has progressed, I feel like she is becoming more comfortable in that position.
This change seems to be leading her to deeper relationships with the people she’s with. It’s allowing her to be more direct and open, and it’s allowing her to let go of past grievances. We saw that clearly this week when Rupert invited her to the meeting with Akufo about the Super League.
She accepts the invitation after some prompting from Higgins, reminding her that being invited to the table matters, even if it’s not a table you particularly want to sit at. I love the scene before she attends where she recognizes the little girl in herself, but as she makes herself bigger, she sees her true self. I thought it was a lovely reminder that we can see both our inner child and our current selves, and honor both of them.
After Akufo gives his pitch, she relays a story about Rupert’s childhood, something that he clearly has shared with her in a more private moment. Sure, Rupert is The Devil and he uses his money to manipulate people and situations to his favor, but he was also once a kid who just loved a game enough to sneak in to watch.
We saw, in that story, a little glimpse of Rupert’s humanity. It doesn’t make him good. It doesn’t mean that she should get back together with him. But it does mean that he’s a person, not actually The Devil. And people, particularly those you have set up appropriate boundaries with, don’t have to rule how you live your life. Hang the Hockney or don’t because of your feelings about the art, not because of your feelings about the person who gave you the art.
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Roy has been an interesting character to watch develop over the course of the show. He started the show completely closed off from anyone, but Ted’s little nudges and pushes moved him into a direction where he didn’t hate everyone. By the end of season 1, we saw him develop actual feelings for Keeley. Over season 2, we saw that relationship develop further, but as time went, we could see cracks in it. He had a massive overreaction when Keeley told him that sometimes she just wanted to be left alone. His exclusion from the magazine story about Keeley hurt his feeling. We saw his insecurities begin to bubble up and at the beginning of the season, they spilled over, leading to The Break-Up.
This season, however, we have seen Roy really confronting his feelings of inadequacy, something I don’t think we’ve seen. It started when he showed Trent the negative article that he had carried with him since he was a young man. Then he opened up with Ted about his regrets that came with leaving Chelsea. And then he opened up with Jamie about losing his grandfather and how that shaped him. Over and over this season, we have seen Roy’s defenses breaking down.
This episode, speaking with Phoebe’s teacher, she told him that he seemed less stuck than the last time she had seen him and she tells him that she hoped his mess didn’t cause too much damage. The recognition he experienced (that echoed back to when he realized that he needed to trust Keeley with her own space) led him to write Keeley an apology letter. In it, he confesses that he has been stuck in his own shit and that might have caused her to doubt her own strength or value. He then affirms that she is everything she needs without him and that she should never doubt that.
I don’t know if Roy and Keeley will end up together two episodes from now (though I am certainly rooting for it), but Roy’s story is a prime example that someone else can’t love us enough to make us whole. Whatever hurts and hangups we bring to a relationship stay with us in that relationship. Learning self-love was what brought Roy and Keeley back together. There’s no shortcut for that. When we see what is loveable and worthy in ourselves, we are more open to receive love from others, and we are more able to see what is loveable and worthy in others. I don’t think Roy is done with his journey, but I think he is well on his way.
This was the story that absolutely wasted me. After leaving West Ham and when Jade leaves to visit her family, a depressed Nate goes to his own home. He mostly stays in bed in his own room with his mother delivering trays of food to his door.
Certainly there is wallowing going on here, but I think Nate is also struggling to figure out who he is. He went from lowly kit man to a head coach in the course of just a couple years, and now he’s absolutely nothing. He also likely feels that he has lost yet another father in Rupert. He felt abandoned by Ted when he was going through his own stuff, and then was betrayed by Rupert. One man after another has disappointed him, making clear again the rift between him and his actual father.
As he is rumbling around his old home, he unearths his old violin. He pulls it out and begins to play a simple, haunting melody (played by Nick Mohammed). He is interrupted by his father as he plays, and Nate apologizes for disturbing him. His father tells him that he always loved hearing him play, and Nate says that he thought that he hated it. When his father asks him where he got that idea, Nate says it’s because that’s what he said.
And then Lloyd Shelley apologizes to his son. He tells him that he didn’t know how to parent a genius and so he pushed him to perfection in every area.
As I talked about a couple weeks ago, Ted Lasso has shown us beautiful apologies in the past. Once again, they delivered. It is a powerful moment, and obviously something that Nate has been needing for a long time. He needed his father to acknowledge how he hurt Nate and to let him know that he loved him. And that apology led Nate to his own apology to Will.
When we’re hurt, we can pass that hurt on. And parental hurt is so foundational that it shapes a lot of how we see ourselves and how we treat others. So a parental apology can make a huge difference in someone’s life. We are seeing a lot of films beginning to recognize the need for parents to apologize to their children. Encanto, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Turning Red - there is a trend of media showing parents owning their mistakes and taking responsibility for the hurt they caused. I hope that it causes a trend in the real world of parents being willing to apologize when they need to.
This was a gorgeous episode, and I’m so excited/sad to see how it all ends. Let me know what you think we’re in for in the final two episodes. I’d love to hear!