Ted Lasso season two episode two picks up with Jamie Tartt, who’s swapped his football boots for a bathing suit and quit the Premier League. Now starring on a Love Island-esque TV series Jamie quickly learns he’s not as popular as he thinks he is and is booted off the show. Returning to the UK, he presumes he’ll be welcomed back to Manchester City with open arms, but his old club soon make it clear they have no intention of having him play for them again. Lost and with nowhere to go, Jamie drifts back to the closest thing he has to a family, AFC Richmond.
Jamie’s realisation that he’s selfish is the main emotional thrust of the episode. In the first season, we saw hints that Jamie was growing as a character, and it’s nice to see that continue in the new season. It was also refreshing that the show addressed his cruel treatment of the other Richmond players. So often on TV, characters who’ve done bad things are easily forgiven, but this episode makes it clear that Jamie’s behaviour in the first season was unacceptable, and he has to atone for it.
Something that Ted Lasso has always excelled at is balancing sentimentality with great gags. and despite Jamie’s story in this episode being quite sad, it still manages to be very funny. A lot of that comes down to Phil Dunster, who gives Jamie a naivety that makes him just vulnerable enough for the audience to empathise with him while also sleazy enough that you don’t mind laughing at his misfortune. It’s a difficult balance to strike but Dunster pulls it off with grace.
The Jamie storyline also features some implicit criticism of morning TV that I found absolutely hilarious. The line, “Have scientists really discovered a low-fat custard that doesn’t make you sad,” might be my favourite Ted Lasso joke yet.
While Jamie grapples with his future, Ted’s (Jason Sudeikis) forced to confront the present when Wiggins (Jeremy Swift) hires the sport psychologist Sharon (Sarah Niles) full time. She continues to be the only person immune to Ted’s normal charm, seemingly able to see through his usual disarming persona in a way other characters can’t.
It’s her words to Ted that convince him to make a decision this episode that’ll have major repercussions on the rest of the series. I like the decision to give Ted a foil a lot, last season, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) served as the show’s villain but that kind of felt antithetical to the shows spirit of goodwill and did a disservice to Waddingham.
Waddingham is just too likeable to be a bad guy, and Sharon is a much more natural counter to Ted in that she’s not really an adversary, she just has a different way of doing things. Indeed, if this episode’s final moment is anything to go by, she may have more respect for Ted than it seems, even if she doesn’t like his shortbread biscuits.
Outside of Nelson Road Stadium, Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) continues to have the best storyline on the show. Whoever thought to make him an under-9 Girls Football coach deserves a raise because it’s an inspired idea. His no-nonsense relationship with his niece has always been a weird highlight of the show. Hence, the decision to put Roy, who refuses to moderate his behaviour or language in any way, in charge of a group of kids is a masterstroke.
While the idea of laughing at participation trophies would seem a bit trite coming from another character, it makes perfect sense that Roy would hate the idea of giving a ‘best-dressed trophy’ to a footballer when every player is wearing the same thing.
Roy, however grits his teeth and goes along with it anyway because he loves his niece. There’s also an exciting development with Roy this episode that feels like a fantastic opportunity for more comedy gold, although in my heart, I think we all know where Roy’s search for purpose will lead him.
The second episode of Ted Lasso season two was a fun character study of Jamie Tartt, but I did feel it was a set-up episode where the writers were moving the characters to where they need to be for the rest of the season. Still, if they can make the set-up this engaging, then the payoff should be all the sweeter.