Football is life and death in the Season 2 premiere of Ted Lasso, which sees Dani Rojas suffer a terrible case of The Yips after a traumatic event on the pitch.
When a penalty kick results in the horrific demise of AFC Richmond’s canine mascot Earl, the enthusiastic footballer is left in shambles. He is unable to wash the death off of him — not with soap or with prayer — and cannot get through the night without a bad dream harkening back to that fatal blow. This sets up the introduction of Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (new series regular Sarah Niles), a sports psychologist who is recruited by Higgins to sit down with Dani and work through his trauma. Ted goes out of his way to make Sharon feel welcomed, but the “doc, uh, tor” is not amused by the coach’s antics. He tries too hard to win her over.
“I think she’s just curious about him,” Niles tells TVLine of Sharon’s tepid response to Ted. “She [does want] to get to know him more, and she thinks there’s a lot more going on behind this, you know, this front. It is who he is, but this happiness, this fun banter… I think she knows there’s something more going on [inside him].”
And that there is. Over fish and chips, Ted reveals to Coach Beard that his “general apprehension” and “modest midwestern skepticism” regarding therapy derives from a disastrous stint in marriage counseling. But that doesn’t mean he won’t try to embrace Dr. Fieldstone, who works her magic and restores Dani to his former glory.
“It’s a kind of challenge,” Niles says of Sharon and Ted’s working relationship moving forward. “It’s like when you bring someone new into a family, and how there’s a bit of resistance… They make assumptions about each other. They start one way, and [the story is about] how they come out another way at the end.”
As for whether Sharon’s work with Dani’s teammates can help AFC Richmond overcome an unprecedented seven-game tie streak remains to be seen. In the meantime, we know at least one former footballer who could use her guidance: Roy Kent. Friday’s Season 2 debut reveals that the ex-captain hung up his cleats and has since taken a job coaching his niece’s pee-wee soccer team.
“Roy had no plan beyond being a footballer,” Emmy nominee Brett Goldstein explains. “He started football at age 3. He was like, ‘I’ll be a footballer until I die.’ But now he’s not a footballer, and he’s not dead, and he’s like, ‘Oh, s–t. Now what?’ He’s in a bit of a mess, but he would never admit that because he doesn’t like showing his vulnerability.”
Roy is clearly at a crossroads in his life, as girlfriend Keeley is flourishing in her role as AFC Richmond’s public relations guru. Throughout the episode, Keeley pushes Roy to consider a new career in TV punditry, despite his utter contempt for the profession.
“They’re on very different paths,” fellow Emmy nominee Juno Temple says of Roy and Keeley. “That can either be a true solidifier in a relationship, being able to support your partner going through changes, or it can destroy it. Season 2 is a really good exploration of what it is to properly love somebody, and what that means when you have differences going on but have a connection that is undeniably a monumentally important one.”
Also worth discussing from Episode 1…
* Team owner Rebecca is back on the dating scene. She begins seeing a handsome and successful businessman by the name of John Wingsnight (yes, that’s his real last name), but he doesn’t make her feel special. After a double date with Roy and Keeley, Roy encourages Rebecca to move on and find someone who makes her feel like she’s been “struck by f–king lightning,” and she dumps him.
* Jamie Tart is now a reality-TV star. The big reveal comes in the final scene, as Roy and his fellow yoga mums gather around to watch Love Island ripoff Lust Conquers All.
What did you think of Ted Lasso‘s first episode back? And what are your hopes for the rest of Season 2? Grade the premiere via the following poll, then drop a comment with your full review.