After joining the team last week, Ted Lasso’s honeymoon period at AFC Richmond is already over after crushing defeats in his first two games. The fans never embraced their Yankee coach with no prior experience in soccer and now he’s beginning to lose the locker room. Not exactly a hospitable welcoming to the English Premier League. Can he turn it around before he gets sacked? In “For the Children”, the coach needs to address the team’s morale and he sees the owner’s, philanthropic gala the perfect place to do it.
[Slight Spoilers Ahead]
Rebecca holds her annual charity fundraiser to help underprivileged kids in the community; an event she regularly hosted with her ex-husband. As this is her first time running solo, she has additional pressure for it to be successful. Imagine her surprise when he unexpectedly arrives at the gala with an attention grabbing entrance. Not only must she ensure everything runs smoothly but also manage the drama and emotions her former spouse stirs up.
Meanwhile, Ted Lasso tries to get hotshot superstar, Jamie, and team captain, Roy, to sit down and hash out their differences. They represent the heads of the two factions in the locker room and the coach hopes their clearing the air will improve the team dynamic. Of course, with two such hard headed individuals, it proves a tricky situation to navigate.
For a show centered around football, it’s surprising how little of the sport we’ve seen so far. It’s used more as a backdrop to observe these characters and their development and how their different relationships grow and evolve. “For the Children” provides great cast interactions and individual moments of greatness.
The series may be called Ted Lasso, but it was the team’s owner, Rebecca Welton, who takes center stage. Hannah Waddingham imbues her character with the self-doubt and vulnerability an ex-lover’s presence can bring out. A much different side to Rebecca we haven’t yet seen.
Gradually, Lasso is winning her over by being a supportive friend in her time of need and this could all lead to a change of heart with regards to her team’s coach or a harder emotional turn when things go awry. After all, there is a reason why she hired Ted.
There are many other moving developments between characters. Though predictable, Rebecca and Keely’s friendship is cemented through their shared miserable experiences with men. It also gives an organic way to keep Keely around the team considering her complicated romance with Jamie.
But not everything has a fairytale ending. Though Jamie and Roy don’t become best buds, they do come to an understanding and mutual respect for the good of the team.
Nick Mohammed’s Nathan stands out in the few scenes he’s in. I like the emerging mentor/protégé relationship Nathan has with Ted Lasso that goes beyond the field. Seeing his newfound swagger while wearing a new suit is a joy to watch and the scene where he thanks Roy for sticking up for him is hilarious.
It is also a pleasure to finally meet Rebecca’s ex-husband, Rupert, for the first time. He is brilliantly played by Anthony Head, or as I know him, Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He captures the charm and sophistication of a high society socialite and you can see why he’s so likeable. However, when he’s with his ex-wife, his passive aggressiveness and subtle psychological digs provide a glimpse of how toxic their relationship was.
You feel for Rebecca for how much she has to swallow her pride during the evening in order to make sure the underprivileged children receive their much needed support. It’s refreshing to see that despite his small-town aura, Ted is able to see through the façade and sticks up for boss with insinuating jabs of his own.
With such a large cast, it’s difficult to provide everyone opportunities to shine, especially in a half hour show. I was underwhelmed by the subplot with Coach Beard and it seemed forced into the episode. Also, the ending gets a bit cheesy from the musical performance to the shot of Keely and Rebecca boozing it up after their men troubles.
“For the Children” is a nice break from the pitch and shows some excellent development with the characters and builds upon their different relationships. After meeting Rebecca’s ex-husband this episode, they tease appearances from more vaguely referenced characters next week; Ted’s wife and son. I wonder how their visit turns out?
Ted Lasso can be currently seen on Apple TV+ with new episodes released on Friday.