Ted Lasso‘s eighth episode of season two, ‘Man City’, felt like two separate narratives were coinciding. On one end, you have Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) revealing his father’s death. Meanwhile, Rebecca Welton’s (Hannah Waddingham) arc painted an empty picture. One that began and ended with her phone. Framing her relationship with Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh) as this sweeping romance that actually felt more like a revisionist move than a pivotal and necessary point for Rebecca.
Well, this tenth episode, ‘No Weddings and a Funeral’, proved itself worthy of fleshing out the narrative. It’s also one of the most emotional episodes of the entire series. An impossible thing to consider after ‘Man City’, but the writers managed to achieve it. Modeling the episode to films like Eulogy and Four Weddings and a Funeral, this episode toes the line between parody and tragedy in ways that make you wonder whether this is a comedy after all.
At the center of it all are Ted and Rebecca’s underlying traumas. Only this time, the show makes an explicit parallel between the two. It’s hard to deny that Ted and Rebecca are both each other’s center of gravity. Much like their gravitational pull, viewers go back to them time and time again. As captivating as it’s been to see them individually navigate their traumas, it’s always in the context of one another that the cracks emerge. Foils to each other’s pains, if you will. The writers somehow made Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” into a romantic overture during a funeral eulogy, which is something you can only see.
In a scene that beautifully cross-cuts between characters, Ted and Rebecca unload the crux of all their issues leading up to this episode. This scene felt like holding your breath underwater until you feel lightheaded from it all. Like the crest of a giant wave. For Ted, it’s the reminder of his own father’s death on the eve of Rebecca’s father’s funeral.
“Life is so hard.”
Ted chokes on these words as tears gently stream down his face. He’s recounting the harrowing day his father took his own life to Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles). He was the one to find him. Ted was also the one to shoulder the pain of his father leaving him at such a young age. He felt guilty for not seeing something he wasn’t meant ever to be aware of. For feeling like he was left by his father, tethered to the sense of being forsaken by his wife. For being the caretaker of everyone around him but himself.
In five minutes, Sudeikis channels the confusing predilections of grief and loss, illustrating why Ted Lasso has become the topic of so much discourse. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Does it even matter what it is? Perhaps it’s its own undefinable thing that is actively redefining what television can be. It can be about kindness, grief, loss, romance, laughter, and everything at once.
Between each frame of Ted’s retelling, it cuts to Rebecca unloading all the hate and anger to her mother Deborah (Harriet Walter). We find out Rebecca was the one to find out, and keep secret, her father’s infidelities. All these years thinking her mother was blind to them, she finds out Deborah “knows everything” but chooses love instead of anger and resentment. A moment of clarity both for Rebecca and the viewers. One that happens to be the thread of the entire series: choosing to love rather than hate.
It’s not Deborah’s lack of apathy towards the cheating that surprises Rebecca, but realizing just how complicated her mother unveils to her. That underneath Deborah was simply a woman of faults and virtues who understood herself better than her own daughter. Thanks to Walter and Waddingham’s phenomenal work, viewers can better piece together Rebeeca’s motivations throughout her season two arc. A Rebecca that has been operating under the illusion of her mother’s utter ignorance towards an unfaithful husband and can now begin to let it go. It also means letting go of Sam Obisanya. A relationship she started in search of meaning amid so much internal turmoil. A relationship she now recognizes as a symptom of her distorted view on intimacy and loneliness.
Interwoven throughout the episode are subtle yet foreboding moments between the supporting characters. After learning to confront his past, Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) opens old wounds for Keeley Jones (Juno Temple). Specifically, he reveals to Keeley that he’s partly back in Richmond because he loves her. With this, Keeley’s shocked expression becomes the resounding ripple that is sure to rock her relationship with Roy. More ominous than that is the small moment between Nate (Nick Mohammed) and Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head) after the funeral service. It’s a quick and inaudible exchange that could make anyone feel a cold chill in the air.
What better backdrop for an episode filled with unresolved grief and loss than a funeral. Even more poetic is the funeral of a dead father. As comical as the phrase “daddy issues” may sound, that’s the theme of this season of Ted Lasso. It is a series that isn’t all that concerned with the format, football, or even any particular genre but with the integrity of its characters. If you think this series is interested in what you believe as opposed to how you feel, then you’ve created a gilded cage of your understanding – further limiting yourself to empty discourse on what this show should be doing.
It should come as no surprise that this is not just my favorite episode of the series, but the best at reminding viewers why season one was so special to begin with. It’s pure alchemy. A delicate concoction of plot and characters that weaves together a picture of trauma that has touched almost every surface of this series. It also reminds us that the narrative north of this series is Rebecca and Ted, which seemed to get briefly lost on its way to this point in the season. – Mariana Delgado
Ted Lasso is now streaming on Apple TV+.