The Ted Lasso Power Rankings are a weekly analysis of who and/or what had the strongest performance in each episode. Most of the list will feature individual characters, although the committee does reserve the right to honor anything from animals to inanimate objects to laws of nature to general concepts. There are very few rules here.
Season 2, Episode 11 — “Midnight Train To Royston”
HONORABLE MENTION: Higgins (I need the entire team to perform the play he wrote, perhaps as a web extra for me and me alone); Phoebe’s teacher (love her); Mae (runs her pub with an iron fist and I respect it); Will (doing the best he can); Colin (ditto); free champagne (one of the only lessons I’ve learned in life that has actually stuck is “never say no to free champagne”); a little room in the crotch (more valuable than plutonium); my sweet prince Dani Rojas (somehow, somewhere deep in my brain, before this episode even aired, I knew he could nail the ‘N Sync choreography); snakes (get them outta here); Henry (STILL ON THE PHONE); Banksy (I’m sorry but Banksy jokes will never not be funny to me)
Everything kind of went to — or is headed toward — hell this week, with Sharon leaving and Ted having feelings about it and Trent Crimm preparing to publish a story about Ted’s panic attacks and Keeley telling Roy about Jamie’s declaration of love and Sam getting wooed by another club and Nate kind of becoming the Joker. We’ll get to all of that soon enough. But first, the Rebecca-Sam thing.
I haven’t known what to make of this for a while and I do not think I’ll know what to make of it for another week or two, at least. It’s all strange. Part of me wants Trent Crimm to start sniffing around, if only because “owner of sports franchise begins torrid fling with star player” is just about as juicy a sports story as you’ll ever see. The tabloids would go nuts. I do not wish Sam or Rebecca any ill will (quite the opposite), but still. Picture that happening in the real world. It would be anarchy.
But there’s no time to focus too deeply on that because my brain has latched onto something else and won’t let it go. Follow me down this path:
- This episode is titled “Midnight Train to Royston”
- This resulted in the song “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight and the Pips getting stuck in my head all weekend
- That song is about a woman who leaves her life and everything she knows to be with a man she loves who is leaving town, featuring the line “I’d rather live in his world than live without him in mine”
- Sam is considering leaving Richmond to return home to Africa to play for a super-team in Casablanca
- DO YOU SEE?
- DO YOU SEE WHAT MY BRAIN IS DOING TO ME?
- YES I KNOW ROYSTON IS STILL IN ENGLAND BUT COME ON
Do I think, honestly, that Sam will leave for Casablanca and Rebecca will follow him there? No, I do not, for a bunch of reasons. I just want to lay this all out so you can get a window into how my brain works. I think it explains a lot, but especially how these rankings work. You are welcome and I’m very sorry.
9. Trent Crimm, The Independent
I do not believe for a single second that Trent Crimm, a serious journalist with glasses, would give up a source to the subject of a damning article. Like, I got mad when it happened. It makes Trent one of the least ethical journalists in all of film and television, slotting in somewhere below Eddie Brock, probably, depending how you feel about a journalist and his symbiote literally biting off the head of the subject of a story.
This brings me an interesting point, though. What if season three of Ted Lasso opens with Venom inhabiting the body of Trent Crimm? Trent Crimm eating people and talking to a space monster. And the rest of the show stays exactly the same. Think on that for a few minutes this week.
8. Dr. Sharon
I will miss Dr. Sharon if this is indeed the last we see of her. Dr. Sharon is cool. And, Lord in heaven, do we ever need her back to deal with the Nate thing. That’s a problem. She should at least write him one of those letters.
Speaking of the letter… I’m glad we didn’t find out what it said. I’m curious, and it’s killing me a little because I am a nosy child with no patience, but I think this way is better. It makes it all more personal and touching. And it meant that no one on the show had to go to the trouble of actually writing something out that delivered the emotions it needed to. I’m sure laziness wasn’t their primary motivation with any of this but I do respect it anyway.
Hoo boy. Things are not going great for Nate, who is teetering over into supervillain territory to such a degree that I kind of expect him to show up next week sitting in a hollowed-out mountain and cackling in the dark. Some highlights:
- Complained loudly about receiving credit
- Kissed Keeley, the partner of his fellow assistant coach
- Leaked sensitive medical information about his boss — the man who elevated him from Kit Man to strategic wizard — to the press
Not great. Far from ideal. And he did this again, too.
The takeaway here is probably that Nate is going through a personal crisis about his self-worth and how he can square the competing factors of professional success and staggeringly low self-esteem, but, knowing and accepting all of that and being as understanding as I know how to be, I need him to stop.
Weird week for Roy and Keeley with each of them getting tempted by former and/or suitable other partners and confessing it all to each other in the middle of a photoshoot with cameras pointed straight at their faces. It says a lot about both Roy and Nate that he just kind of laughed off the impromptu kiss. But it also says a lot about Roy and Jamie that the little muscle in his neck bulged out so far that it looked like a mountain range on a topographical map when she told him that part.
There is a chance this muscle always does this and is not, in fact, a result of him clenching his teeth so hard he risks grinding them into dust. I don’t know. I have not and will not research it. It’s more fun to pretend it’s true. I want to see him and Jamie fight, just because I still want to know who would win. Sportsbooks should set odds on this so people can wager. I am being serious here. Kind of.
This Trent Crimm article is going to be a problem, and not having Dr. Sharon in the building when it drops and the feeding frenzy begins isn’t going to help too much either. I am genuinely not looking forward to it all, at least in the kind of way where I also intend to smash “Play Episode” very hard on the season finale very soon. I’m conflicted, is my point. This whole season has done a number on my emotions.
But let’s leave that for next week. For now, let’s all stop and give a hand to Jason Sudeikis for that silent display of face acting when he read Dr. Sharon’s letter. That was pretty great. I have no idea how actors do that, the summoning of emotions at the drop of a hat. It’s borderline sorcery, really. Especially considering Sudeikis comes from sketch comedy, not exactly a field known for tears. Good for him.
4. Sam Richardson
While this section could (and probably should) focus on the idea of a young billionaire who wants to dismantle his father’s empire and use the remaining money to create an African superteam in Casablanca, which is cool and something more billionaires should consider, I would rather stop here and mention that Sam Richardson rules.
He really does. And has for a while. He ruled as Richard Splett on Veep and he ruled in the wildly underappreciated Detroiters and he rules whenever he pops up in sketches on I Think You Should Leave and he ruled as a burgeoning action star in The Tomorrow War. He’s one of those actors who makes everything he appears in a little bit better, every time, without fail. He’s the greatest.
It all leaves me deeply torn, in a way. On one hand, I want him to finally land a big juicy leading role in a hugely successful show that launches him into the superstardom he has deserved for a while. On the other hand, I like that he keeps popping up in my favorite shows out of nowhere to steal scenes and entire episodes. I want him to show up in The Righteous Gemstones next, maybe as a charismatic rival televangelist. He would be perfect. You can see it all crystal clear if you close your eyes for a second. But you can’t finish reading this with your eyes closed, so maybe hold off until we’re done here.
In the past two weeks, Keeley has had two world-famous athletes profess their love for her and had an assistant coach on the team she works for misread signals and slap a smooch on her out of nowhere, all while her career takes off in ways that get you photoshoots and interviews with fancy publications. She’s got a lot on her plate. Too much, probably. I imagine it’s all quite stressful.
It’s also nice to be appreciated. I guess that’s the silver lining here. Everyone just telling you that you’re great and that they love you. Again, it’s not ideal, as it’s creating a huge stinky pile of personal and professional crises, but also, like, it’s better than the alternative, you know? Plenty to consider here.
After a great deal of thought, analyzing the situation from every angle, with his relationship with Rebecca in a weird state of flux and this fascinating offer on the table to return to Africa to try to do something cool and none of it being compatible in any way that lets him have an ideal version of both at once, I have come to the following conclusion…
I just want Sam to be happy. I have no useful advice beyond that. He’s a good man. I do not expect him to take the offer in Casablanca because I do not know exactly how that would work for the show to have a main character on another continent, but it would still be cool if he did and became a huge star and national hero. Again, his happiness is most important to me here, though. Arguably too important. It’s probably not healthy to worry this much about fictional characters from the television. I’m fine.
1. Coach Beard
This was going to be about three paragraphs on Beard doing the eyebrow grooming in the GIF above, but then I saw this tweet from my colleague Steve Bramucci.
Perfect for a free-thinking coach.
— Steve Bramucci (@stevebram) October 1, 2021
And then I went to the Wikipedia page for that book and read this.
The book looks at fungi from a number of angles, including decomposition, fermentation, nutrient distribution, psilocybin production, the evolutionary role fungi play in plants, and the ways in which humans relate to the fungal kingdom. It uses music and philosophy to illustrate its thesis, and introduces readers to a number of central strands of research on mycology. It is also a personal account of Sheldrake’s experiences with fungi.
And then I had three thoughts crash into my head at once:
- It is perfect that Coach Beard is reading a book about fungi at work
- I would like an entire episode about Beard running a secret book club, possibly in another country, possibly that he takes a private jet to and from once a week under the cover of night and tells no one else about
- I can’t decide if I want to see him hallucinating on mushrooms or if he’s actually just been on mushrooms every second he’s been on screen since the first episode and the show just never bothered to tell us
It would explain a lot.