Like most Ted Lasso fans, I’ve been anticipating the reunion of Roy and Keeley since the news of their break up caused shockwaves throughout Nelson Road. Unfortunately, it was a plot point that felt not only unnecessary but was badly augmented by the widely panned KJPR storyline. With this week’s most recent episode, Keeley’s storyline has finally turned a corner, even if that corner means undoing what’s happened over the course of the season. Like a thoroughly shaken Etch-A-Sketch, Keeley is primarily starting off with a brand new slate, save for keeping Barbara (and her Juicy Couture tracksuit) in her employ, one of the season’s only worthwhile new faces. After Jack cruelly withdrew the VC funding—presuming the, “There was nothing I could do,” text is simply an odd cop-out (not to mention an unnecessary post-script; I would have greatly preferred silent villainy, instead)—and one dark afternoon of the soul, it appears KJPR will live on, thanks to Rebecca’s willingness to invest in her friend’s business. But the big moment of the episode, one of the biggest moments of the season, is the long-awaited reunion between Roy and Keeley.
All for that blessed moment to happen off-screen.
Granted, Roy did write a very nice letter, and Brett Goldstein sells the hell out of the apology. But any surprise that the writers wanted for us to experience at the sight of a shirtless Roy walking down her stairs while shrugging on Keeley’s hot pink bathrobe was immediately drowned out by the inevitable question, “When the hell did that happen?” On rewatch, after Roy walks to the car, you can see Keeley move for a literal fraction of a second. That’s it. No big romantic moment to speak of, no swelling music, no falling into one another’s arms. Not even a kiss. Just fast forward to several hours later, once Rebecca appears in her ruined outfit (Keeley’s screech followed by, “Have you been shot?!” was admittedly excellent) after her sit-down with Edwin Akufo goes sideways, with Roy giving her a friendly salute.
There are several occurrences of significant off-screen plot developments within the hour, each with varying degrees of success. There’s Nate’s contrite gesture to Kitman Will, complete with a note of apology. I found it sweet, especially seeing as how the “Wonder Kid” sign-off acknowledges his cruelty to Will’s well-intended nod to the nickname Nate accidentally acquired. It’s a good first step on what should be a sizable road to redemption.
Then there is the botched Akufo meeting. Admittedly, the jump cut to Rebecca and her fellow club owners covered in their dinner spread makes for an amusing sight gag—Akufo’s assistant wiping his hands as he and his boss depart is an especially nice touch—but behind the humorous moment lies yet another question, specifically why a group of absurdly rich men would turn down what sounds like an almost sure moneymaker. Because of Rebecca’s (slightly schmaltzy) speech? Was it the overlaid instrumental music that did it? Nick Mohammed does, in fact, play the violin in real life (fun fact: it was his wife who provided the piano accompaniment, a fact tailor-made to tug on my heart); perhaps that stirring rendition of “Spiegel im Spiegel” in Nate’s childhood bedroom miles away was enough to briefly resuscitate a conscience in those multi-millionaires who were so touched by the distant memory of appreciating football as a fan and not merely a money-making scheme? Even in the feel-good world of Ted Lasso, it’s a development that defies logic entirely (though I appreciate the risk taken to humanize Rupert a bit, who doesn’t deserve redemption in the least, but had a refreshing moment of humanity after spending that brief time with Rebecca; Anthony Head kills that change in temperament).
Despite the mixed feelings, none of these left me as frustrated as being denied Roy and Keeley’s reconciliation. We won’t even be clear on whether or not they’ve truly reconciled until next week; although it’s hard to imagine their afternoon being merely physical, especially since the last line before the letter’s final sign-off was, “I love you.” Relationships are complicated. Keeley’s outlook at that time likely didn’t simplify things either. The day after throwing herself a (deserved) pity party, fresh from losing the business she’s worked to build from the ground up, thanks to an asshole ex, by having comforting sex with another ex, even if he wasn’t Roy Kent, would be the most natural thing in the world to do.
It’s impossible to know how or if they’ve truly made up. Even if the next episode, the penultimate one in the series, gives us a run-down, it will be yet another case of Ted Lasso ‘telling but not showing.’ It’s almost endemic at this point, such as Nate’s father having his abrupt switch from constant curmudgeon to worried parent. There were enjoyable moments in this episode—the blessed return of the show’s true star, Phoebe, for one—but overall, I’m going to remember this episode mainly as the one in which a moving moment wasn’t maximized to its fullest potential. Ironic, in a show that encourages the pursuit of that very thing.
Ted: “Well, boss, I’m like an incomplete list of Madeline Kahn’s best films: I ain’t got no clue.”
Jade: “Do you want to come to Poland with me? You can help me and my family screw in lightbulbs.”
Nate: “That’s very funny.”
Jade: “Why is it funny?”
Jaime: “Your name’s on the back there. I got ‘em to change the E to a U.”
Rupert: “Sneaking in here today reminded me of the first match I ever saw at Nelson Road.”
Rebecca: “When they used to play by candlelight.”
Rebecca: “I don’t think that’s what happens, Leslie.”
Higgins: “I hate to break it to you, Rebecca, but those children are dead.”
Kaleena Rivera is the TV Editor for Pajiba. When she isn’t thinking about starting a petition to let Juno Temple rock her natural hair texture, she can be found on Twitter here.