(CW: The review contains mentions of suicide.)
“I swore right then and there, nobody was ever gonna get past me like that again. That if they were in pain, I would help ‘em. Any way I could.”
Welcome back to The GateCrashers coverage of Ted Lasso S2. I’m Justin Partridge III, subbing in for our regular gaffer Ethan, and I couldn’t be happier about it, y’all. I feel just like a Slinky right outta the box about it. Springy and good goin’ down steps.
I have been generally enjoying a lot of Ted Lasso’s second series, but this week’s episode, “No Weddings and a Funeral”, is on a whole other devastatingly beautiful level. One that takes the show to new emotional peaks while also continuing to prove the assertion that it’s unconcerned with real healing for its characters wrong.
Written by veteran TV comedy writer Jane Becker (the same scribe who gave us S1 standout “Trent Crimm, The Independent”), Episode 10 finds both Ted and Rebecca confronting their core traumas. To soaringly emotional, genuinely warm ends. Picking up the morning after last week’s Coach Beard focused sojourn into darkness (“SHUT UP, Thierry Henry!”), we see the aftermath of Rebecca and Sam Obisanya’s charged kiss. Which has led, wonderfully, into a passionate night and glowing morning for the new couple. Obviously, Rebecca is still feeling torn about it, but it’s amazing just as a viewer to see her FINALLY on the verge of something real.
Which makes the next turn even more heartbreaking, as their flirty morning breakfast is broken up by Rebecca’s mother. Who in turn reveals that her father’s latest dalliance has been with death. And therein lies this week’s main drive as AFC Richmond and various other side characters of the ensemble rally around Rebecca, who doesn’t seem to be mourning like everybody else.
Though the raw, beating heart of this episode is hinged around Rebecca (and Ted, but more on him in a bit), Becker does get some genuinely funny comedy from the solemn main crux of the story. Obviously, nobody knew (or hated) Rebecca’s dad more than her and her mother, but Becker does a lot of work with the whole ensemble to show how the loss has reverberated through the club.
Some of it plays pretty broad, admittedly, but it’s still a fun “grease cutter” to the heavy, heavy emotions that come into play in the episode’s final acts. The runners about poor Danny Rojas being tormented by dress shoes and Roy Kent’s hysterically spartan take on death (“No, but where do you think he is, SPIRITUALLY?” “In a drawer. At the funeral home.”) consistently kill. As does the reappearance of “Sassy” Collins and Rupert Giles (I know that’s not his name here, do NOT @ me), sporting a hilariously twat-ish silver goatee.
But the comedy of “No Weddings and a Funeral” is merely the stage dressing to the truly harrowing, but effective emotional storytelling at play here in this episode. Storytelling that not only does major work for our characters, but for the audience as well. Proving once and for all that this stuff was always going to get dealt with eventually, it just had to be forced out of both Ted and Rebecca by the circumstances.
It also runs beautifully parallel to one another too, presented in a bravura cross-cutting sequence, flipping between Ted and Rebecca as they relay their stories, both a painful difference of experiences but one dreadfully alike in loss. You see, as the funeral is being prepared and the assembly gathered, Ted experiences another panic attack. One so debilitating he has no choice but to call Dr. Sharon (Sarah Niles providing yet another solidly impressive performance next to Sudeikis).
As Rebecca and her mother start to have one of the first real conversations they’ve ever had about her father, Ted starts to open up to Dr. Sharon about his own. Revealing the actual story of his father’s suicide while Rebecca, at the church, reveals to her mother just how closely she experienced her father’s infidelity. The kicker is, both of them experienced these events on the exact same day. Friday The 13th, 1991, deep into their own teenage years and scarring, shaping them for decades still to come. For Rebecca, it came in the form of callousness and caustic wit. For Ted, it formed the nucleus of his “constant optimism” and self-appointed responsibility (even to the cost of himself) to make sure everyone who knew him knew that they were loved.
Again, Becker absolutely DOES temper this truly harrowing sequence and the episode’s finale with much-needed comedy. There is a joke toward the end of Ted’s section that had me gasping for breath, laughing, even as tears just poured down my face. Rebecca’s part too receives another tremendously deployed punchline and follow-up gag hinged around Rick Astley that had me in total stitches. But the true power of this episode absolutely lies in the Ted/Rebecca reveals and they are both just so masterfully handled and acted. So much so, it’s almost astonishing how good it all lands, especially when couched around the show’s broader comedic beats and sensibilities.
Ted Lasso S2, for the most part, has kept a pretty consistent upward trajectory. Both in terms of joke rates and emotional beats. But “No Weddings and a Funeral” absolutely levels the show’s emotional centers up several rungs, presented wonderfully by a gamely talented cast and emotionally intelligent directing/staging. It also, hopefully, quells a lot of the nebulous criticisms that the show doesn’t plan on dealing in real emotions and therapeutic fallout for its characters. Sure, it shouldn’t take direct grief to pull these revelations out of them, but like the man Russell Watson always said “it’s been a long road, gettin’ from there to here.” We, along with Rebecca and Ted, are there NOW, and that’s all that really matters.
I wanna thank y’all so much for letting me jabber on about this silly show. And I wanna thank gaffer Ethan and the GateCrashers staff overall for letting me walk this beat’s pitch for a little while. It means a lot to me, just like Ted Lasso does, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity.
Richmond Till We Die (We Know We Are, We’re Sure We Are) We’re Richmond Till We Die.