By JASON MARTIN (@JMartRadio – July 30, 2021)
“Lavender” builds to two giant decisions for a pair of crucial characters at turning points in their professional lives, and although Jamie Tartt is at the center of one of them, he’s not one of the two. This wasn’t as much about Jamie as it was about Ted Lasso realizing “Doc” had a great point in their conversation outside the facility near the end of the episode. She tells him exactly what he would want to hear about the culture, the atmosphere, and the thoughtfulness of the team and staff.
But when he asks her if AFC Richmond has a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” vibe, she delivers exactly what he needed to hear. While all of the good things are important, doesn’t eight straight draws indicate something is broken? That’s a tough truth, but it’s the moment where Lasso realizes he has a responsibility and a job that aren’t just being everybody’s friend, even those like Sam and his father. He loves these guys and wants the best for them, but he’s a soccer coach. He’s there to help the team win championships.
Thus, even though the Diamond Dogs vote was split 2-2 and clearly much of the team itself didn’t want Tartt’s ego back, particularly Sam, Lasso had to make the best choice for the win-loss record of AFC Richmond.
What’s intriguing as Jamie walks onto the pitch in the snow in the episode’s final minute is WHICH Jamie Tartt we’re about to see, because this Jamie has been “the loser” on “Lust Conquers All”, found out Man City didn’t want him back live on Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby’s This Morning show, and learned from his agent that nobody else is interested in him either. When he goes to Keeley, she sends him to Ted, and when he goes to Ted, his former coach, who did get through to him before he was recalled, rebuffs his efforts to rejoin the team.
After Sharon is honest with Ted, he’s honest with himself, and then Jamie gets his shot. Phil Dunster plays the conceited jerk very well, but at the same time, he’s done a nice job adding nuance to the role as he talks about the overbearing father that led him to ditch soccer to do a reality show in the first place. Is there a middle ground in the Tartt character we’re about to meet, or is he going to revert back to the egotistical narcissist that made Sam feel so small back in Season 1? Is Coach Beard right that he’s a “poop in the punch bowl?” That question should make for some solid television over the next two months.
The second decision is Roy saying yes to Sky Sports after Keeley prodded him enough. After coaching the girls to a loss and feeling disgust over consolation trophies, he’s just kind of a shell of himself emotionally. Keeley pleasuring herself to the video of his retirement presser is a crass way to get us there, but it does reveal both to us and to Roy the value is breaking the internal walls down and speaking frankly. He uses a lot of f-words, which unlike Bernie Mac, Lasso might think to be lazy talk. But, when Roy drops a four letter word, it does seem to have impact doesn’t it? Or when he makes a joke about Ted riding a tractor because it’s the closest thing he can find to a Dodge Ram in England.
And then he goes on TV and is the Roy Kent we’ve all come to know, Charles Barkley with even less of a filter and far less interest in making friends in the sport. Not surprisingly, his fears of being awful at the gig aren’t even close to right, and he becomes a social media sensation for being so honest and raw as he lambasts Chelsea for playing like complete garbage. His “handsy Father Christmas” line is the kind of thing you don’t get on television, here or elsewhere, and it lands perfectly with the rowdy soccer audience.
Roy finds in himself what was left on the pitch when he retired and then “thanks” Keeley in the only way that makes sense based on the earlier scene in the bedroom. But it’s what he said that matters here. “Felt good to be back around the game. You helped me to help myself, again.” Earlier, when Jamie confronts her in the coffee shop, we got no romantic triangle effect, which is so refreshing. Tartt is admitting how confused he feels about his life following the failures and setbacks. He and Roy don’t cross paths, but both are aware of the other. Roy knows he went to her and doesn’t flip out about it. That’s big. So many shows will use that to create tension that doesn’t need to exist. Hopefully, that’ll remain the case.
We sprinkle in the usual freemason line, Jimmy Buffett reference that works great, the Ted Danson – Julia Louis Dreyfus – Dave Grohl conversation, Laughing Liam with Rebecca and Higgins (who also has a heck of a Jimmy Page joke with the paper), and we get Nate acting ridiculous about lavender fabric softener, pineapple sports drinks, and folding etiquette. This was another really good episode that builds the story and brings Jamie back onto the squad to create new dimensions as everyone has grown a little since we first met them.
Tartt also has the best line of the episode. “Old people are so wise. Like tall Yodas.” That’s definitely changing latitudes and attitudes left right and center, folks.