TV REVIEW: Ted Lasso – S2E3 – Do the Right-est Thing

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartRadio – August 6, 2021)

Jamie Tartt figured it out. It wasn’t about PS5s for the team or other means of buying affection, it wasn’t even pleasantries. It was standing next to the biggest target of his bullying, not just to win Sam over, but because it was the right thing to do.

Credit Jamie for reading the room, but his ideas were all so surface level and vapid, which makes sense considering the character we’re speaking of here. This is a guy who wasn’t more than a centimeter deep, at least not in public. While we know the truth of how his father treated him, explaining the bristly nature as well as the air of superiority he saunters around with, but it’s often a defense mechanism. One example in modern sports would be Andre Agassi’s father, who ruined tennis for his son at times during his life. It was much of the subject of Agassi’s excellent memoir, Open.

As for the Dubai Air storyline, it was extremely well-handled, even if the conclusion was, as usual with Ted Lasso, predictable. Predictable and satisfying would be on the book jacket for this series if it were reading material. The one thing that I didn’t love was Sam Obisanya’s father not explaining the Niger Delta oil spill and environmental concerns with his son, but browbeating him and saying Sam was breaking his heart. It was clear Sam had no clue of the story, because he sprung into action almost immediately to get out from underneath the sponsorship, up to and including the black tape we saw at the tail end of the episode.

That tape was the moment AFC Richmond truly became a team for the first time in Season 2. It’s usually a larger symbolic gesture that galvanizes these guys, with the first instance being the trash can fire that also led us to Jamie’s story and the realization he’s a human being and not just a jerk. He’s still wearing the stupid “ICON” hat and getting his eyebrows threaded, but little by little, a relatable dude is emerging out of that cocoon of metrosexual narcissism.

I want to talk about Rebecca and Nora, but let’s talk about Led Tasso first, AKA “The Last Resort.” If Ted is the affable, nice, rootable protagonist, Led is the cartoonish supervillain alter ego that while not believable as a real person, works enough to get attention off Jamie and on himself. The tactic works well enough, even though not a soul buys that Lasso has virtually any Tasso in him. It’s the meaning behind it that gets to the heart of the matter, which indeed defines Ted himself. Small niceties or details like daily biscuits, cute slogans, and the word “BELIEVE” above the door are just cheesy enough to work, because they’re authentic to who Lasso is as a human being.

“Touch your toes. Those are your feet fingers! Let’s go dummies.”

What’s funny about Led Tasso is how well it would have worked as a Jason Sudeikis recurring Saturday Night Live character. It had a Farley or Ferrell quality to it, didn’t it? Think about “I drive a Dodge Stratus” or Matt Foley or Bill Brasky. The ridiculous coach saying ridiculous things always works, and while it was over the top, I laughed a lot during that three minute sequence, especially when we got to touching other people’s toes and Tim Burton movies… EVEN FREAKING DUMBO!

Hannah Waddingham may have had her strongest episode yet, because she had to simultaneously deal with relating to her friend’s daughter as well as the Obisanya situation, including the person that could have gotten him out of the endorsement instead asking her to cut Sam from the team. Ole Richard Cole. Nora was more accurate with her descriptors actually, but imagine Roy Kent being the wise adult that understands how to be around the youth of 2021, namely just letting them see what life actually looks like and including them in that world, rather than galavanting around into various fantasies like tea parties and pretentious doll shops. (Although, the whole orphan conversation about Great Britain was hilarious).

Through that, Nora then gave Rebecca her answer about Sam’s situation. “Sometimes you have to do the right thing, even if you lose.” Despite Nora’s crush on Obisanya, she’s right. Never should a personal win override what’s right. If it did, we’d all be kleptomaniacs. We’d steal, because we’d get a personal gain out of the item we didn’t pay for but not possess. But it’s wrong and someone else loses, so most of us purchase it if we want it bad enough. And, as the episode title makes clear, sometimes “right” still isn’t right enough. There can be degrees. Settling for “great” is often the barrier to “best.”

Roy on TV is still gold, as he cuts George Cartrick to the ground as Jeff Stelling and Chris Kamara watch on in a mixture of anxiety and perhaps, quiet delight. We see the near brawl between Jamie and Roy on the day Tartt returns to AFC Richmond. “Jamie Tartt is a muppet” reminds me how much more I hope to use that word going forward.

Again, Sam’s decision itself wasn’t hard to predict. When he spoke to the media after the match, the writing was flat out off the charts. It was beautiful in its directness and, as always with this show, in its heart. Even Tartt’s explanation to Sam is succinct and perfect. “We’re a team ain’t we? Got to wear the same kit.”

This was without question one of the best episodes of the series thus far. so much so that I feel I haven’t said enough about so much of it, yet I just want to leave it here. Season 2 has been terrific, shows no signs of slowing down, and only adds to the joy of each week we have a new installment. It’s also become a blue show in our household, which is a term I coined a few years ago to describe those shows or movies you can watch in any mood at any time, have on in the background, and never have it feel out of place.

Dunster, Waddingham, and Sudeikis especially shined, as did Brendan Hunt, whose Coach Beard is basically the offensive lineman of the series, where you notice him just enough to know he’s done great stuff as he anchors a lot of the scenes without ever stealing the thunder. His brain helps run this series, and it shows. Goldstein as always is strong. And credit to Kiki May, who made Nora much more than the brat kid that usually gets in the way of a good comedy episode.

But it was Toheed Jimoh’s performance that had to be pristine, and holy cow was it ever.

This is about as good as half-hour TV gets. We’re not even worried about streaks in our draws with Led… errrrr Ted.