This season of Ted Lasso, AFC Richmond has been a middling team racking up losses and ties. The team has been going through the motions and lacking an edge and bite. Hopefully, new assistant Roy Kent can get the boys on track and avoid relegation for a second time.
“The Signal” effectively balances several plot points while advancing the main narrative. Kent’s introduction reenergizes the squad and they ride a four-game win streak. He commands the respect of the players but there are some who aren’t excited for his arrival. There’s the obvious tension between Roy and Jamie.
The coach’s analysis of his former teammate is spot on (that’s why he made a good pundit) and it leads to us receiving glimpses of old Jamie Tart. It’s been good for his character that he’s become a good teammate, but he’s a neutered version of himself. He’s his most entertaining self when he’s the cocky jerk and needs to unleash that side to reach his potential on the pitch. Spurs find out the hard way in their FA Cup quarterfinal match-up. Ted Lasso also sets up the long-term arc of winning the national tournament.
Nate is also someone who feels threatened by Kent’s return. The show has done a good job building the underlying hostility he has towards the new assistant coach through subtle looks. He is frustrated to see how easily the team embraces Roy while he’s had to work his way up from kit man and still not be taken seriously. The story continues his growth from last week when he began asserting himself. In the squad’s most desperate moment, he steps up.
Love, or the lack of it, is also in the air on the episode. Coach Beard has had a complicated relationship with his current girlfriend but almost no one wants to tell him how toxic Jane is. Higgins is the only person willing to tell Beard the hard truths because he cares for his fellow Diamond Dog. Some time last season Jeremy Swift’s Leslie Higgins evolved from bumbling lackey to the unsung heart of the show. From the time he stood up to Rebecca to champion Ted Lasso to hosting the team for the holidays this season, he puts himself out there for those he cares about.
Another troubled romance we see is between Rebecca’s parents. It’s a recurring cycle of break ups to make ups and it’s probably shaped the boss’ views on relationships. She has her boy toy on the side, which we find out via a hysterical opening that ratchets up the awkwardness. At least her Lucca isn’t ashamed of himself. However, things are also heating up with her BANTR flirtations and that reveal of who’s on the other side of the DMs is so titillating and you can see it working out…maybe.
Then there’s inevitable Ted Lasso breakdown. Ever since Dr. Fieldstone began working for the team, compounded with the coach’s reluctance to take her offers seriously, we knew that this was where his story was going. We saw his vulnerability and his depressive tendencies during the holidays but at least he has the initiative to seek out help now. It’s interesting that although the high pressure of the match ultimately causes him to snap, it’s the more minor event, the phone call from his son’s school, that leads him into that frame of mind. Let’s hope the good doctor can help our titular hero manage his mental health.
In “The Signal”, the AFC Richmond boys begin to turn things around on the pitch but it’s the compelling drama off the field that drives the narrative of the episode.
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