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Waiting For The Ball To Drop: Penultimate ‘Ted Lasso’ Season 2 Episode Was A Big Tease

Season 2 of “Ted Lasso” has been building to a crescendo for a while now. Since Episode 208, the hits have kept coming. But the penultimate episode of the season, “Midnight Train To Royston,” felt a bit like a big tease. There were no real major plot revelations and the one new storyline felt forced and awkward. 

Warning: This article contains major spoilers for “Ted Lasso” through Episode 208. 

Episode 211 had four major plotlines. Each was somewhat interesting, and none were all that revealing. Altogether, the episode struggled to maintain the intensity with which recent episodes have come at us. Maybe this was a good thing, as when “Beard After Hours” gave us a reprieve following two major bombshells. Or maybe it was just the creators not wanting to give too much away ahead of the season finale. 

Either way, “Midnight Train To Royston” wasn’t a bad episode, it just felt like you spent the entire 42 minutes wondering when the ball was going to drop and the action would pick up again.

The biggest revelation in Episode 211 was Nate’s turn. Any TV viewer of the last decade knows what I mean when I say “turn” because it happened so often in Game of Thrones: either a good character goes bad or vice versa. 

With Nate, his descent into a villain was made evident this week. 

We’ve seen for a few episodes now how Nate has grown increasingly cocky. The formerly timid kit man who was shocked whenever anyone remembered his name has treated his replacement kit man, Will, with the sort of harassment he used to revile when he was on the receiving end of it from Jamie. Nate has also been rude to others in the locker room, like Colin.

In this week’s episode, Nate’s frustrations over not receiving more credit for his tactics began to boil over. He expressed annoyance at Ted Lasso getting all the credit for all of his ideas, and it’s clear he’s on a bad path. When Keeley takes him shopping for a suit, Nate kisses her, creating an awkward moment between the two. Nate spits at his own image in the mirror of the changing room afterward, a sign he may hate who he is becoming.

Nate’s worst moment comes right at the end of the episode. Right before the credits roll, Trent Crimm (of the Independent) texts Ted a story running in the next day’s paper about Ted’s panic attack during the Spurs match. This information wasn’t public before — he claimed it was food poisoning that caused him to leave the field — and an anonymous source told Trent what really happened. Having become friendly with Ted, Trent reveals to Ted his source was Nate, who it seems wanted credit for the win.

Nate’s descent into villainy is complete. Now we just wait to find out what Rupert whispered to him — and how he eventually redeems himself, because it’s “Ted Lasso” and basically everyone is redeemable. 

The other major storylines in 211 were fairly pedestrian, if I’m being honest. 

Ted created conflict with Sharon where there was none. Afraid of being abandoned again, he becomes angry with her for leaving without saying goodbye in person. The two reconcile over beers and then Ted ghosts her, leaving Sharon with one of the toy soldiers Ted’s son sent him in Season 1. 

The Roy-Keeley relationship hit a few more speed bumps during this episode, but no major plot twists were made. Keeley told Roy about Nate’s unwanted kiss, to which Roy responded by admitting he didn’t tell Phoebe’s teacher he’s in a relationship. Then Keeley revealed how Jamie told her he loves her. The two seem to be sabotaging their relationship for no reason — the question now is whether they cut out the tomfoolery or one of them does something stupid and they break up. 

The final storyline of the episode was simultaneously the most interesting and the most infuriating. Edwin Akufo, a Ghanaian billionaire, arrives to buy Sam in such a bizarre manner it’s clear the writer of the episode is not familiar with how soccer transfers work (or just doesn’t care). The whole incident merely serves as a catalyst for Sam and Rebecca’s relationship to either metastasize or dissipate. 

Edwin seems like a really great guy; it’s no accident he uses the same “Now you’ve both met a cool person” phrase Ted used in Season 1. He treats Sam well and has great visions for African football, saying he wants to create the impetus for an African nation to win the World Cup within 20 years. 

Everything else feels off, at least from a soccer perspective. 

Edwin’s desire to build an African superpower at Raja Casablanca — a three-time African Champions League winner — seems plausible enough but feels a bit misguided. Any African club is going to struggle to become a superpower if it can only play European competition once per year (at the Club World Cup). I honestly love the idea of a club made up entirely of Africans, but it would be more feasible if he did it in a European league where they would face the best competition — otherwise the team would just play uncompetitive matches 95 percent of the time. I know the point is to have the players in Africa, but it just doesn’t really fit in with how soccer works. 

To me the most frustrating part of this new plotline was Edwin’s ultimatum to Sam that he must decide within three days. This being a few days before the end of the regular season, there is still some time before the transfer window opens, so it makes no sense for Edwin to make such a demand. It really seems the only reason this character exists is to force Sam and Rebecca either together or apart. 

Alas, like the other storylines in Ted Lasso Episode 211, we didn’t get any resolution to Sam’s dilemma. All in all, the episode was just a big tease. It all makes you wonder if the “Midnight Train To Royston” title is a reference to “Midnight Train To Georgia,” in which Gladys Knight sings about her man giving up on his dreams to go home, and whether Sam, Roy, Nate or Ted is the man heading home (or maybe Sharon?). 

This week’s release of “Ted Lasso” was arguably the least impactful episode of the season. It’s clear the writers are gearing up for a big finale, but it felt like the series could have done a little more with this episode. 

As we approach the end of the second season of “Ted Lasso” I find myself wondering why Season 2 is 12 episodes. Not that I’m complaining — I’ve enjoyed every episode of the series — but Episode 211 felt like a lot of filler, merely keeping plates spinning as we approach the season’s conclusion. Combined with Episode 209, you feel like they could have trimmed the season to 10 episodes like the one before it, as many people (not me) did not like “Beard After Hours.” Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded if they made the other episodes a little longer and condensed the season a bit. 

Again, I’d rather have more episodes than fewer, it just feels like as we reach the conclusion of this season it could have been paced a bit better. I suppose you could sum up my feelings on this episode in the same way Ted reacted to the news Rebecca and Sam had a steamy affair. 

The final episode of the season will be released on Oct. 8. Titled “Inventing The Pyramid Of Success” it feels like a callback to the very first episode of “Ted Lasso,” when Coach Beard was reading Jonathan Wilson’s “Inverting The Pyramid.” For anyone who hasn’t started watching yet (if so, why are you reading this spoiler-filled story?), now is the perfect time to take advantage of the seven-day free Apple TV+ trial, as you could watch all of Seasons 1 and 2 ahead of the finale on Friday. 

There are quite a few issues to resolve in the final episode (or punt to the next season). Obviously, the status of AFC Richmond is of major importance, and it seems like they’re heading for a promotion (hopefully without a playoff so the soccer doesn’t take up too much screen time). The Keeley-Roy and Rebecca-Sam relationships are either headed for heartbreaking breakups or heartwarming revivals. Nate will either need to be redeemed or turned into a villain in Season 3 — perhaps Rupert is buying a rival Premier League club and wants him as manager. And finally, the eponymous Ted Lasso is clearly not over the death of his father and his divorce — will he have another panic attack or will he seek more mental health assistance?

One last note before I sign off for the week: As others have pointed out on the interwebz, we’re nearly done with the second season of “Ted Lasso” and we still have yet to see a prominent LGBTQ+ character. While there’s been one hinted at — Colin briefly mentioned Grindr — you wonder if it’s something that will happen this season or if the otherwise feel-good show will finish another year without such an inclusion. 

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