(spoilers aplenty for this week’s Ted Lasso)
This week’s episode picks up right where it left off last week: a dispirited AFC Richmond reeling from a brutal loss with Coach Beard walking away from Ted and out into the London night beneath a weighty blue moon. Beard takes a train home, lost in introspection and bitterness—so much so that for the first time ever we’re not greeted by the now-familiar opening theme song with its bright blue and red stadium seats displaying the title card—only to be greeted by famous pundits Gary Lineker and Thierry Henry detailing the ill-fated match. Richmond’s coaching staff is critiqued and Beard begins to take it personally (hallucinating them taking shots at him, which gives us insight into the dynamic he perceives when it comes to his relationship with Ted) and when he makes it down to Crown & Anchor, Mae gives him grief as well. As Beard sits with his pint, Jane texts him numerous times despite them being “off” yet again. He resists the urge to meet up with her, recognizing that he’s stuck in an unhealthy cycle with Jane. Instead, he drinks with our favorite pub knuckleheads, Jeremy, Paul, and Baz, and when Mae closes up for the night, the foursome hit the town.
Beard and The Boys pull off some shenanigans to gain entry into an exclusive nightspot called Bones & Honey. While Beard gets some beers at the bar, making eye contact with a beautiful redhead across the room in the process, The Boys are at a pool table getting quietly mocked by a trio of upper-crust snobs. Beard cuts in, introducing himself as Professor Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus (the real name of Elvis Costello, minus the Aloysius), successfully passing himself off as a retired Oxford professor. It gives The Boys the confidence they need to take on the snobs in a pool match for £20 (which they’re barely able to come up with, bless them), while Beard goes to talk to the mysterious redhead. However, his frustration that’s lying just below the surface is set off due to an incident involving a nail, which attracts the attention of a bouncer who kicks him out.
In a bit of kismet, the redhead is standing on the corner mere feet from him, like the femme fatale in a noir film. She invites him to her flat to fix his trousers, offering him a loaner pair in the meanwhile from her convenient (and more than a little weird) rack of souvenir trousers from past lovers. She hands him a sequined pair of bell-bottoms from a former lover who’s now dead, which is essentially the film noir version of hearing children whisper 19th-century nursery rhymes in an old attic. But we know this isn’t enough to scare off Beard, even if this woman makes Jane look downright conventional. Her cell phone rings and she asks him to answer it, which makes for red flag number two or three depending on how you’re counting. Sure enough, the person on the other end is her boyfriend, a man who looks like Roy Kent’s Wario, and is making his way up the flat at that very moment. Enraged, he chases Beard up to the rooftop. Trapped, Beard escapes the only way he can, leaping off the roof down to a dumpster below. Negaverse Dave Bautista emerges on the street a minute later, but Beard manages to get away on a passing bus.
Beard’s safe on the bus and relieved, that is until he realizes that he left both his wallet and phone at Femme Fatale’s place. He’s kicked off the bus and walks to a nearby hotel where he is then turned away by an unhelpful concierge. Hearing some people down a nearby alley, Beard starts walking toward them in the hopes of being able to borrow a phone. Unfortunately, it just so happens to be James Tartt, who just hours ago was yanked up and out of Richmond’s locker room at Wembley by Beard himself. It’s clear a fight is about to happen and with it being three to one, Beard does the smart move and runs. Alas, he arrives at a dead end and as he squares up, he imagines Lineker and Henry offering commentary on his present situation. Beard gets a few licks in, but James and his two friends beat him soundly. Not knowing when to quit, Beard continues, and in a heart-stopping moment, James is about to club his head with a pipe but is stopped by the last person we would ever expect: Femme Fatale’s angry Bluto of a boyfriend. He chases off the three men and returns Beard’s wallet and phone along with an apology.
Phone back in hand, Beard sees that he has missed an astounding number of missed calls and messages from Jane. As he tries to respond to her (litany of toxic) messages, his phone dies. Frustrated and in physical pain, Beard walks down the street until a limousine pulls up beside him with none other than Jeremy, Paul, and Baz in the back of it, clearly having a better night than Beard. They have the driver drop Beard off at home, but as he struggles with the key, it snaps off in the lock, just in time for a rainstorm to come in. This evening is clearly damned, so it’s no surprise that when Beard makes his way into a church (one sporting the same purple neon cross outside like the one in Jane’s picture) he sits down in a pew and begins talking to God. He talks about Jane and his longing for her despite the fact that she does little to ease his problems. Beard is suffering from a larger crisis, one that he doesn’t quite seem ready to fully face. Once the rain comes to a stop, it almost seems like a sign God is listening, which is when Beard starts to listen and realizes he can hear something. As he walks beyond the nave, he discovers a secret nightclub within the church’s inner recesses. He goes straight to the center of the dance floor and begins to dance until Jane appears. She hands him a hula hoop, which he handles with a remarkable amount of skill. It twirls around his waist as he moves along with the music, even imagining Lineker and Henry looking on encouragingly before he and Jane dance the rest of the night away.
The next morning at Richmond, Beard makes a late appearance. Ted, Roy, and Nate can tell something’s amiss, especially since there’s no hiding the black eye from his fight with James, but Beard shrugs it off in Beard fashion. Although the coaches have no desire to relive yesterday’s match, Ted softens the mortification of watching this sort of tragic game that happens “once in a blue moon” by speeding up the video and setting it to the Benny Hill theme song. Beard, who’s had more than enough of a blue moon experience, kicks his still-sequined legs up on the table and pulls the brim of his cap over his eyes to catch up on a few minutes of sleep.
Going purely off of definition, this would qualify as a “filler episode,” yet I don’t feel that label is quite accurate for an episode like this. Granted, it doesn’t technically move the plot forward, but I maintain the position that it doesn’t need to do so. A character study can simply exist and still enrich a story arc, a task admittedly made easier by the fact that each of these characters is already interesting thanks to the amount of groundwork the writing team has put in. So it is with this episode devoted almost solely to Coach Beard, a man whom we’ve seen relatively little of this season and seems far less stable this time around (much like Ted, though we’ve had the benefit of witnessing his struggle up close). It’s clear Beard would benefit from a few sessions with Dr. Fieldstone, though I suspect he also has a complicated view of therapy (even if it’s not as hostile as Ted’s) which may stand in the way. As many people know, Apple requested an extra two episodes for this season, and Brendan Hunt recently confirmed “Beard After Hours” was the second add-in (with the Christmas episode being the first). We’re now three-quarters of the way through the season. If the still for episode ten is any indicator, next week is going to bring us back into heavy form, but for now, let’s just marvel over the way Hunt pulls off those bell-bottoms.
Gary Lineker: “A real David versus Goliath match, but where Goliath just curb-stomped David in the back of the skull like in that Ed Norton movie.”
Thierry Henry: “Moonrise Kingdom?”
Gary Lineker: “I think that’s it, yeah.”
Mae: “Just like my legs after a date with a guy who kept correcting me, we’re closed.”
Jeremy: “I heard they once turned away Cher.”
Paul, belting: “Would you be-LIEVE they did such a thing?!”
Ted: “Beard’s like the mailman: he always delivers and looks great in shorts.”
Kaleena Rivera is the TV Editor for Pajiba. When she isn’t chortling over the fact that Jane’s last name is Payne (Jane Payne, seriously?), she can be found on Twitter here.
Header Image Source: Apple TV+