‘Ted Lasso’ 2×01 Review: “Goodbye, Earl”

Ted Lasso is finally back with its highly-anticipated second season. After plenty of award-show sweeps and countless nominations (most recently, 20 Emmy noms) for its first run, the beloved comedy is back on Apple TV . Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 1, “Goodbye, Earl,” catches us up with our favorite characters a few months after season one’s finale, finding Richmond at the start of a new and unlucky football season.

The decision to start the season this way is more than suitable as it raises plenty of questions to spark even the casual Lasso Heads’ interest. Season 1 ended on a sour note for the team, but the finale offered enough stability in that the Richmond family was a more united front than ever before. Ted successfully brought hope back to a team that had lost all semblance of it or denied themselves the opportunity to believe in it. 

“Goodbye, Earl” reunites us with the found family in a way that doesn’t sacrifice what made Season 1 so great. Ted Lasso could have gone in another, maybe even darker direction after Richmond’s loss to shake up the story and keep viewers engaged. There is still time for that to happen. But, the show knows its audience well enough to understand what makes Ted Lasso so exceptional and surprising to us. It subverts the world’s overwhelming pessimism for a refreshing optimism from doing things the Lasso way. 

The Season 2 premiere is an entertaining step back into a world where everyone still values that mindset, but it may not be sufficient on its own anymore. The big, overarching arc is getting Richmond promoted, but the smaller character beats are what’s going to get them there. The team has tied every match of the season, so something needs to change. Something or someone has to push this team forward into promotion and this new season. 

Introducing Dr. Sharon Fieldstone

Sarah Niles joins the cast this season as sports psychologist Sharon Fieldstone, and she does not play around. Sharon is somehow immune to Ted’s charm, which already sets her apart from everyone else in the clubhouse. With the introduction of Dr. Sharon, Ted Lasso uses its first episode as an endlessly necessary reminder that mental health is equally as important as physical health. That message isn’t new to this series, but Dr. Sharon’s presence suggests that the show will examine the team’s mental health in an even more direct way. 

The show doesn’t waste time pointing out that Dr. Sharon does what Ted wishes he can do for the players. We see plenty of ways that Sharon reaches the Richmond players in ways that Ted can’t, like speaking Spanish and French. Just as quickly as Ted Lasso sets up the parallels and varying effectiveness of Ted and Sharon’s practices, it does the same in addressing any animosity from Ted towards Sharon. Once again, the show denies the usual mindset of assuming Ted would be jealous of Sharon. 

Instead, the show circles back to a very reasonable aversion Ted has towards therapists after his own experiences with one. Rather than making Sharon Ted’s enemy, it’s exciting to think of how Sharon could become one of Ted’s advisers, if not his therapist. Ted may believe that “All people are different people” at that moment, but his relationship with therapy isn’t going to change overnight. Well, it could, but it would be a much more realistic story if it unfolded throughout the season. 

For the most part, Ted keeps a lot of the darker stuff inside or lets it out with a bit of humor. That’s all fine and well, but he can’t do that forever. Mental health is equally important as physical health, even if you aren’t a player on the pitch. Ted puts everyone above himself a lot of the time, and I hope that he finds a way to realize that it’s not selfish to take care of yourself this season. If that means he takes Sharon up on a free appointment, then so be it. 

Nate the Not-So Great

One of the most jarring (but not necessarily in a bad way) developments in “Goodbye, Earl” is Nate’s attitude. There are glimpses of his hot-headed nature in the first season. Usually, Nate is good at redirecting those feelings into something useful, like the team’s pep talk in “Make Rebecca Great Again.” Nate’s never directed so much vitriol at one person since he thought that Rebecca fired him in the season finale. Nate berates poor Will (who is now working in Nate’s old position as a kit man) for wanting to leave early to be with his mother on his birthday. Thankfully, Ted steps in to let Will out of Nate’s wrath.

Nate doesn’t stop there because he also suggests showing Dani his paycheck to whip him back in shape. This comment is the one that raises a lot more questions than his odd tension with Will. Whatever is happening with Will could have been explained away as Nate wanting this kid to do an excellent job at what Nate once did because he has pride in that position. Nate’s simply going about it the wrong way. Or, it could be that Nate wants to make himself known in this new position of power. Regardless of his reasons, bullying someone is never the right choice.

Nate will be a big part of this season, or else the season premiere wouldn’t have opened on his face. The first shot we see is of Nate’s eyes. Hopefully, this means as the season progresses, we will learn to see things from Nate’s perspective. Ted Lasso puts such an emphasis on accountability that it’s difficult to believe the show will try to make excuses for his behavior. Alternatively, the upcoming episodes will likely help us understand Nate Shelley a bit more. Nate’s a little hard to love in this premiere, but I’m choosing to be curious, not judgemental.

Keeley and Roy are a strong couple. They handle their issues better than most couples on TV. They even handle Keeley being a bit pushy about the Sky Sports position better than most would. That said, I’m conditioned to believe a couple on TV can’t stay happy forever. Tension has to come from somewhere. I’m concerned for them, but mostly Roy, that it’ll come from him bottling things up again. The alternative is that Roy will become frustrated with Keeley trying to find him another outlet. Keeley only wants the best for him, and getting out and talking to people who aren’t Phoebe’s age about football could be the right move. His time with the yoga moms used to be a haven, but even that is a bit tarished by the episode’s end. 

During “Goodbye, Earl,” Dani Rojas reframes the iconic phrase, “Football is life,” to remind us that the sport contains multitudes, just like life. Dani is one of a handful of Richmond players who seek help through Dr. Sharon’s guidance because football is life. Unfortunately, Roy is not immune to the effects of either game. Roy can’t keep all of his anger to himself and expect to be okay. If that happens, I’ll be just as concerned as Nate last season. There has to be a healthy outlet that Roy wouldn’t mind because he can’t let his emotions out on the pitch as a player anymore. Either that or Phoebe is going to be a millionaire before the end of the season. I’m sure Dr. Sharon can make room for football legend Roy Kent. Besides, Roy has to make his way back to AFC Richmond, right?

Other Winning Moments:

  • Sam is filling the Roy Kent void on the team. 
  • “It’s funny to think about the things in your life that could make you cry just knowing that they existed, and then they become the same things that make you cry now, knowing that they’re gone. I think those things come into our lives to help us get from one place to a better one.” – Ted
  • I guess I’ll always smile like a big goof when Ted refers to the team as goldfishes. 
  • The photo of Ted’s son wearing a bunch of ties.
  • Beard is reading Matthew Syed’s The Greatest.
  • Rebecca’s office gets an upgrade with that new couch.  
  • Barkingham Palace is a good name. 
  • Higgins watching Empire Strikes Back with his kids.
  • The Hamilton reference when Beard and Ted are at The Crown & Anchor
  • Phoebe got a red card for elbowing a girl in her neck. 
  • Phoebe’s face when she sees Keeley is too pure for this world. 
  • Ted should rock nail polish more often!
  • The team hyping up Dani before he makes the shot again is so sweet. They’ve come so far. 
  • Higgins giving up his office and trying to fit into any small space he can is generous, but someone needs to find him another office. 
  • “I haven’t seen someone that disappointed to see me since I wore a red baseball cap to a Planned Parenthood fundraiser.” – Ted
  • I always love a Flo mention! 
  • I love that Ted puts Roy’s tickets under different female musicians’ names. Roy would find that annoying, which makes it even better. 
  • Roy’s fun socks remain incredible. 
  • Jamie Tartt’s being on Lust Conquers All, a twist on Love Island, is something so personal to me. 

New episodes of Ted Lasso stream Fridays on Apple TV !

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