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Jamie, Nate and Ted find their way forward.
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Season 3 Episode 11: 'Mom City'
Just like last seasonthe eighth episode, “Man City,” was an exploration of the wounds inflicted by bad fatherhood, this week focused on the healing power of a mother's love. In that earlier episode, we first learned that Ted's dad killed himself; this time, he and his mom find at least a modicum of long-overdue closure. And Ted has what seems like a long simmering revelation that... But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I have noticedlast weekthat with so many stories and only a few episodes left, "Ted Lasso" should - in a strategy adopted by fourth graders since time immemorial - write the remaining words smaller and smaller in order to fit them all on the page. What I overlooked, of course, is that streaming television now offers an alternative to simply zooming in on pages.
When "Man City" came out last season, it was the longest episode of "Lasso" to date, at 45 minutes. “Mom City” puts that number to shame, clocking in at one hour and nine minutes (the series' last longest running time). However, unlike several episodes this season, the extended length isn't spent jumping between unrelated subplots, but instead developing a relatively consistent theme. In keeping with that mood, I'll also be abandoning my typical subplot-by-subplot format this week.
We open with a typical Ted morning, where he's walking down the street exchanging pleasantries with everyone he passes, even a longtime semi-antagonist who insists on being called a "jerk." And then the morning suddenly turns atypical: on the bench at the end of the street is none other than his mom, Dottie Lasso (Becky Ann Baker).
When we return to the two after the title sequence, Dottie explains that she decided to travel to England as a "Mother's Day gift to myself." She's staying in a hostel full of backpacking Aussies who "have so much sex," and she's been in town for a week. This is clearly not a typical mother's visit, and Dottie and Ted will spend the episode circling each other, with mother, like son, brushing off any question about what's wrong with some variation of "Don't worry about me." (Mae sees through it in the pub, recites Philip Larkin's poem "This is a verse” That is, through a pinball machine.)
Meanwhile, Dottie will regale the team, the pub and pretty much everyone else within earshot with vastly exaggerated tales of Ted's youth. (No, that's not him dancing on stage with Bruce Springsteen in "Dance in the Dark"video.) It will also show Ted where his decidedly cocky demeanor comes from, as the two exchange lines from “Sunny side of the street” on the way out the door of his apartment. Perhaps most importantly, she will finally speak for all of us when she informs Trent Crimm that his hair is "beautiful."
Nate and Jamie, meanwhile, have both fallen into a rut of self-doubt. For Nate, this consists of abandoning his miracle child training persona behind in favor of a job as a waiter at A Taste of Athens and declines an invitation from Colin, Will and Isaac to rejoin Richmond as an assistant coach. "It didn't end well for me there," he explains to Jade guiltily.
Jamie is an even bigger mess, rejecting praise for winning Premier League Player of the Month and apologizing for the goal he accidentally scored while trying to pass to a team-mate. With the team on a 15-game winning streak and an upcoming game against their nemesis Manchester City standing between them and a title shot, this wilting flower is not what the team needs, as Roy explains in typically sweet fashion.
But Jamie only muttered in response. He can't eat, he can't sleep, he's even given up using conditioner when he showers. He's like the guy from the Red Bull ad, but with the wings ripped off. Roy, feeling that Jamie needs a higher emotional I.Q. than he can provide, he quickly enlists Keeley to help. Her first attempt fails, reminding Jamie how brutally he will be booed in his hometown of Manchester, where he also played. (His description of the trunk as a "drawer without a home" underscores the point.) Things go from bad to worse when she tells him that his hair is being made fun of on social media.
So after a team viewing of "You've Got Mail" where Dani says how nice it is to see them together again - I'll have more to say about the movieipair below — Keeley and Roy secretly follow Jamie across Manchester to the home his mother (Leanne Best) shares with her partner. In her motherly embrace, he explains that all his drive was a product of his anger towards his father, whom we got to know all too well in the aforementioned "Man City" episode.
A visit to his mother partially restores Jamie, but it's up to Ted to complete his recovery. After Jamie is injured in the middle of a brilliant game against Man City, Ted refuses to replace him. If Jamie is no longer inspired by hatred for his father - who, strangely, is nowhere to be seen in the stands, Ted suggests he try forgiveness instead: "When you decide to do it, you give it to yourself." Needless to say, it works, as Jamie runs to a solo goal to secure the win. (And, yes, that's James Tartt Sr. we see watching the game appreciatively from a rehab facility.)
For Nate, the redemption offer comes not from his mother, but from Jade, who blackmails Taste of Athena manager Derek into firing him. But like Jamie, Nate needs another intervention. Beard was vehemently opposed to Nate rejoining Richmond, until Ted showed him a video proving that even when dressed in black, under Rupert's influence, Nate was still a wounded innocent. So Beard relents, telling Nate a story about a second chance like "Les Mis," that Ted once gave him. (Attentive viewers will note that this is the second vehicle theft we learn about from Ted and Beard's past, after he first rode in the family car as a 12-year-old.) And so, with the gentlest of pats on the head—clearly a callback to Roy's hug and Jamie in "Man City" — Nate is welcomed back to the Richmond circle.
Which finally brings us back to Ted himself. Tired of waiting for Dottie to say why she came to England, he breaks out into a litany of "Thank you" and "[Expletive] you" echoing Jamie's words on the field. Like Ted, she masked her grief at her father's death under a facade of eternal joy; like him, she "pretended to be fine". (As the Larkin poem Mae quoted earlier says, parents "fill you with the flaws they had.") The ice finally broken, Dottie tells Ted what she crossed the ocean to say: "Your son needs you."
We knew it, and Ted knew it. But like Nate and Jamie, Ted needed to hear it. He had to let go of his pain - the divorce, the jealousy - in order to see his path clearly.
The episode ends with Rebecca and Ted alone in his office. In a charming inside joke, she tells him that this is the time for her big reveal. (In Season 1 it was her deliberately undermining him; in Season 2 it was her sleeping with Sam.) Alas, she has nothing, "no truth bomb this year." "Well, that's fine," Ted replies. "I have one."
The check-out rush is rolling before he can post it. But for anyone unsure of Ted's revelation, the checkout credits are followed by a cover of Brandi Carlile's "Home" from the 1978 film.Wizard.” And we all know where Dorothy was supposed to return.
Odds and ends
So I may have jumped to the conclusion that Roy and Keeley were back together after the former showed up conspicuously underdressed at the latter's apartment following his "stuck" discovery and the letter that followed. During the viewing of "You have mail", they tell Dani that they are only there as friends. At first it seems like it might just be a slow maneuver. But later, alone in Jamie's childhood bedroom - where the prescient Jamie long ago put posters of the two on the wall almost side by side - Roy tells Keeley that he doesn't want to be "just friends". She was cut off before she could answer. And, unlike Ted, it is not clear what she intends to say.
Speaking of "You've Got Mail," someone at the Ted Lasso think tank really likes that movie. This is at least the third reference I've noticed, after Sam and Rebecca's Bantro in Season 2,Episode 5(LDN152 and Bossgirl, respectively) and choosing "Dreams" by the Cranberries to introduce the first sceneEpisode 7this season. And given the exit song this week, is it a coincidence that we see the team watching the “Over the Rainbow” scene? No, definitely not.
Also at the "You've Got Mail" screening, there's a significant look between Sam and Rebecca to follow up on their hallway encounter last week. Should our Dutch shipper be worried? I think I'm probably worried enough for both of us.
But enough of "You have mail." I agree with Ted: "Sleepless in Seattle" is a far superior film.
The idea that Freddie Mercury once owned Richmond AFC and tried to make a team song"Fat Girls"(played later in the episode) was fun. But better was the gag that, back at art school, Mercury considered his greatest talent "turning the straight." And no, it's not a poker strategy.
How awesome is it that Jamie's hair color is hazel nut? I say pretty great.
And speaking of awesome, I don't know what Rebecca, Bex, and Mrs. Kakes will be doing in next week's season finale. But I can't wait to find out.
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