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  • Writer's picturecasey

Ted Lasso episode 3.09 “La Locker Room Aux Folles”

I was trying to wait for the series to end before I covered Ted, but this episode really stood out to me. There was so much in it that I found perfect and meticulously executed, and those parts are all the more impressive to me given the problems I have with its central premise.

Still from "La Locker Room Aux Folles". Image courtesy of AppleTV+.

There are multiple ways to read this episode, and ways that I can make it make sense for myself, but I still just have to say: what the fuck, Isaac? I give the episode some credit because literally everyone immediately said the same thing, and if this is what they were going to do with the episode they handled it as best they could, but something about it just didn’t quite sit right with me.

The episode picks up where the last one left off, with Isaac icing Colin out after grabbing his phone and seeing some gay stuff on there. Just like Trent earlier this season, I never came close to suspecting the worst in Isaac, so I don’t really appreciate this show continuing to play the “is he a homophobe” game with Colin and me. And without really entertaining the question they want me to be asking, it’s just a little weird. What’s his deal?

It all comes to a head at halftime when Isaac’s inexplicable pent up anger leaves Richmond down 0-1 at the half. As they shuffle into the locker room, a belligerent fan shouts down that the team is playing like f**s, and that’s the straw that breaks the mysterious camel’s back. Colin and Sam both hear it too and avoid engaging, but Isaac leaps into the stands and starts pummeling the guy, with Roy of all people being the one to break it up.

Again, the thing that makes a character’s bizarre behavior work is when the show acknowledges that it is indeed bizarre. Isaac is rightfully red carded and Richmond is down a player for the rest of the game, and the dude comes in shaking. Everyone just looks at him, and finally Ted breaks the silence with “okay, no one’s gonna say anything? I’ll say somethin’. What just happened?” This just sends Isaac hurling his captain band across the room and storming off into a closet with an aggressive shout of “what if one of us was gay?!” But when Ted tries to go after him, Roy says he’s got it.

Kola Bokinni in "La Locker Room Aux Folles". Image courtesy of AppleTV+.

While Roy ambiguously talks him down, with little Will’s help, we’re not given much more insight into what’s really bothering him. Roy’s utter respect for people and willingness to mind his own business is a really great perspective to add to this episode’s conversation, and I really appreciate him here. Later, at the post-game press conference, I’ll appreciate him even more.

While he tells Isaac to handle whatever he’s “really mad about”, the rest of the team speculates on what in the world has gotten into him. Colin stays quiet, but Sam mentions that he heard what the fan said that got that reaction. The pacing in this locker room sequence is perfect. The comedic beats keep this from getting more serious than it needs to be (coming out is a big deal, but this isn’t a melodrama, nor does it need to be when it’s all love, as we know it will be). So Sam tells the team that the fan said the F-word, which is met with choruses of:

“Fuck?”

“No, the other F-word”

“ohh fuck…”

The team reaches the inevitable conclusion that Isaac must be gay. Finally, Colin admits that Isaac isn’t gay. He is. We don’t actually see him come out, though, which is an interesting choice that I actually think is really classy. I know Colin isn’t a real guy, but a big theme in this episode is giving people their privacy, and I like that the episode itself found a way to let him have this moment with the team in private without us feeling like we’re missing any plot points.

There’s a really nice moment after this that we do get to see, that adds to the impressive, thoughtful storytelling here. The team of course is quick to douse Colin in love, with Jamie saying, “you got us, we got you”, among some other choruses of “yeah bruv, we don’t care”. But something about that last part doesn’t sit right with Ted. He tells a little story about a friend of his who was a Denver Broncos’ fan in a place where that was not a popular team. He didn’t write off his friend the way everyone else in his town did, because he ‘didn’t care’, but he found out later that his friend spent two consecutive super bowls alone because Ted ‘didn’t care’, which also meant that he didn’t think that friend might need some special attention.

Jason Sudeikis in "La Locker Room Aux Folles". Image courtesy of AppleTV+.

During this really sweet monologue, Sam and Jamie have a silent conversation over who should wear Isaac’s captain band for the rest of the game. Sam caught it when Isaac flung it off, and Jaime is gesturing for Sam to give it to him. Sam instead flips him off and puts it on. It breaks up the moment without detracting from it, and it was perfectly on brand for the two of them.

When Ted’s story ends, Colin asks if he just compared being gay to being a Denver Broncos’ fan, and Jamie asks what the fuck a Denver Bronco is. Ted’s anecdote here is such a great choice for this episode in a few ways. First, as a viewer, I found that to be a powerful comparison, and the point Ted is trying to make is well taken. But that story is for us, the viewers, not the team. It reached us, but not his intended audience right in front of him, and his tripping over himself within the story continues to serve the scene. It’s another comedic break, and I appreciate the show’s acknowledgement that straight people don’t always nail it when people come out, despite their best intentions. But Ted sums it up for everyone: “the point is, Colin, we don’t ‘not care’. We care very much. We care about who you are and what you must’ve been going through”.

So ultimately, Ted did nail it. Colin flies back onto the field, weightless, telling Trent jokingly that the only way it could’ve gone better is if the entire team came out too. This was all so sweet, but there was nothing like Colin’s guttural, euphoric “YEESS!!!” on the field after carrying the team to victory. I’m tearing up a little just thinking about it.

Billy Harris in "La Locker Room Aux Folles". Image courtesy of AppleTV+.

That night, Isaac knocks on Colin’s door, wanting to know what about him made Colin feel like he needed to keep his sexuality a secret from him. To be honest, I’m getting a little tired of this being normalized as an ‘acceptable’ reason to react badly to people coming out. Isaac apologized, and Colin made the good point that he kept the secret his whole life and only lasted a month after Isaac knew. But the show had the option to have not made this a plot point at all. Everything else in this episode was so perfect, that I feel like I can tell that Isaac’s reaction was an unfortunately necessary vehicle to bring the story to this point.

Nonetheless, the two make up and play video games together and it’s all very nice, so I’m willing to let it go, especially with the rest of the episode’s events and themes in mind. I couldn’t help but think throughout this episode that Keeley’s coming out was not at all this belabored and serious, which I thought was normal and great. But now Jack is moving to Argentina for several months because Keeley was hacked and had her nudes leaked…? That revelation was a footnote of this episode at best, but combined with Isaac’s behavior, perhaps the takeaway to all this is just that sometimes people don’t always do the right thing.

I guess we’ll find out what to make of Jack later, but the culmination of everything this episode is trying to say has me leaving my heart open for her to redeem herself. Roy tells a great anecdote of his own at a press conference after the game that really sums up this takeaway- Rebecca had asked him to attend a press conference in Ted’s place earlier in the episode and he had sent Beard instead. Rebecca then laid into Roy, telling him to stop “ordering shit sandwiches and complaining about the portions”. This was a perfectly timed criticism because, especially with Brett Goldstein’s recent appearances on Sesame Street, Roy was starting to become a bit of a caricature of himself. It was very appropriate and self-aware of the show to show him being challenged and in the vulnerable position of having a boss.

So, Roy heeded her advice (or orders, depending on how you look at it) and went to the post-match press conference, despite Ted being available to do it himself. His commanding presence was the right choice, given that the press room was frothing at the mouth to ask what the hell had gotten into Isaac. The first question Roy takes is if Richmond condones Isaac’s behavior, to which Roy grunts “what a stupid fucking question. Course we don’t. What Isaac did was awful. He was lucky he only got a red card.” The natural follow up question is “then why’d he do it?”

Instead of answering, Roy tells an uncharacteristically vulnerable story from his past. When he was a young player, he had a teammate whose wife was expecting their first baby. One day at training, Roy made a joke that statistically, he was just as likely to be the father as his teammate. Not a great joke, but it didn’t warrant the guy breaking three of his ribs. The teammate was expelled from the team, and no other team wanted him after that. Roy ran into him at a pub months later, and took the opportunity to apologize for his joke. The teammate then told him that his wife had lost the baby a month before the incident, and never told anyone. “So for Isaac to do what he did today, even though it was wrong, I give him love. And as for why he did what he did, that’s none of my fucking business. Next question.”

Brett Goldstein in "La Locker Room Aux Folles". Image courtesy of AppleTV+.

If Isaac’s poor behavior was just a plot device to bring out the best in both Roy and Ted- and have them convince me to forgive Isaac in the process- I’ll allow it. Ted Lasso is love, and acceptance, and respect, even in moments that we don’t relate to or understand. I could watch Sam’s hands-in chant of “I love you guys so very much!” every day.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention Nate. I hate to see him on the dark side, but I think he’s doing something uniquely challenging by choosing goodness in a space where it’s met with so much opposition. The last few episodes have convinced me that he really is cute and charming and I want so bad for him to reach his own potential. He said himself that he owes a lot to Rupert, so taking the initiative to leave the “guy’s night” that turned out to involve Rupert setting him up with hookers took courage (a guy’s night that Rupert never tried to initiate before finding out that Nate had a girlfriend). His showing up at Jade’s door and wrapping her in a big hug made me so proud. I know Richmond will be waiting for him with open arms when he’s ready to come back, and even though we all know it’s coming, I will love seeing it happen.

How do you guys think Ted Lasso is going to wrap up its final episodes? What’s going on with the now promiscuous and mysteriously absent Doc Shannon? Is Rebecca going to have babies or what (with Sam…?)? Do you really want to eat at Ola’s or is that just me? What do you make of this being a British show built for an American audience?

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