After Ted springs a quick trio of references to “Mad Men,” the “New Yorker” and “The Sopranos,” Sharon offers her most significant line of the season to date:
“Don’t worry, Ted.”
Like many, I’d initially imagined that Sharon would be a new foil for Ted, the old ones — Rebecca, Jamie, et cetera — having been so completely won over. But no. She is not here, like the others, to be helped by Ted. She is here to help Ted. And he clearly needs help.
This will be the first of three visits Ted takes to Sharon this episode, and two out of three will end with him storming out angrily in distinctly non-Ted Lasso (maybe more Led Tasso?) fashion. The irony, clearly deliberate, is that Ted’s profound suspicion of psychotherapy is driven in large part by the fact that it is the professionalized version of what he does himself as a nonprofessional: get inside someone’s head as a paid quasi-friend and try to “fix” them. (Sharon makes this point herself fairly elegantly.)
By the end of the episode, we still have little idea of precisely what is eating at Ted beyond his recent divorce. But Sharon’s role in the season — she is played, again, by the wonderful Sarah Niles — is much clearer. Stay tuned.
That said, this is still a nascent story line. Let’s go back, for now, to our two big, pre-title-sequence subplots.
Nate’s state of mind, which has been headed down a dark path for most of the season, has taken a still darker turn. His abuse of Colin, both on the pitch and off — you may recall he called him a “dolt” last episode — is accelerating, with him ultimately comparing Colin to a painter whose work hangs in a Holiday Inn. (Genuine question: Are Holiday Inns a significant presence in the U.K.? Or is this one of those moments when the series’s American roots show?)
One of the things I’ve appreciated about this arc so far is that it understands that a deterioration like Nate’s isn’t linear. It takes place in fits and starts, sparked — in both directions — by specific occurrences. This episode, Nate has two clear moments of contrition, of maybe resetting himself in a good way for him and others alike. The first is when Coach Beard calls him out and a visibly stricken Nate asks, “Did you tell Ted?” (Beard subsequently disapparating is a nice touch, but one I hope won’t become a shtick.)