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The Beauty of “Beard After Hours”

Regarding the second season episode of Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso (Apple TV)

Ted Lasso’s ninth episode, “Beard After Hours,” took a very different direction than we’re used to when it focused on Coach Beard’s night after Richmond lost the semifinals. This episode barely featured familiar characters like Ted and Roy. Rather, its focus on Beard led us through the dark alleys and bright clubs of London alongside some supporting characters and some new introductions.

This episode takes a sharp departure from the general good-natured humor one would expect from Lasso. It continues season two’s trend of changing what we would expect from the first season. This time, however, it also plays with the storytelling and themes. Part of what this episode does is show something we’ve never really explored: The impact of losing a game.

This isn’t the first game Richmond has lost since getting relegated and far from the first since Ted’s taken the helm. It is, however, the first time we’ve explored the ramifications of losing from the coach’s perspective. It builds upon a scene in the first season where Coach Beard snaps at Ted for being so positive and uncaring after yet another loss. This episode builds on that tension. While Beard is fiercely loyal to Ted and one of his closest friends, they don’t always see eye-to-eye, especially with losing.

The Richmond game isn’t all this episode explores, but it’s a constant thorn in Beard’s side. Wherever he goes he finds himself dogged by the failures of Richmond. At the pub, on the TV, even with his burly savior at the end of the episode. It also takes a look at the fraught relationship between Beard and Jane, his on-again, off-again girlfriend since moving to London. The most recent complication comes from Beard crossing the massive milestone of telling Jane he loves her and not hearing it back.

“Beard After Hours” doesn’t just depart from the normal structure by focusing on a single character, however. It plays with the very foundations of the episode. Ted Lasso is a relatively straightforward show with little visual flair. But this episode takes the story to new heights.

Beard’s odyssey is almost dreamlike. He drifts between locations, some familiar like the pub, others new. Bad luck plagues him the whole way through; Beard never manages to keep his keys in his pockets for more than ten minutes. He bumps about obstacles and twists like a leaf caught upon a current. First at the pub, where he spills his thoughts on mortality. Then the posh, members-only club he and the boys sneak into before Beard gets thrown out. Beard gets picked up by a woman, pursued by her boyfriend, and encounters an old foe who pummels him down in London’s back streets. The storytelling and cinematography change wildly for this episode.

It’s fitting, however. Beard has always been the quirky one of the group. This eclectic collection of events and encounters suits him particularly well. This kind of episode wouldn’t work as well if it focused, or even included, any of our major cast members. This is the kind of storytelling you can only get when you focus on the character whose name is a mystery. Part of the joy here comes from delving into the mind of a character seen often but heard from little. Much of Beard’s arc this season has focused on his relationship with Jane. This gives a breath of air to the man himself, letting us not only explore the relationship but what it means to Beard.

This episode stands out from the crowd by nature of its telling but also shows the strength of Ted Lasso. The second season has been very distinct from the first. It would be easy to have another season with Ted cheering Richmond on and helping the team through their troubles with a smile on his face and biscuits in hand. Instead, they took a different route. They made the optimism Ted proudly bore into his weakness for the season, the obstacle he must overcome. This episode feels like a vibrant extension of that “different” as the writers push the show to become everything it could be. This week’s episode wasn’t a normal episode of Ted Lasso. Because of this, it managed to be one of the show’s best.

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Andy Walser

Andrew Walser is a freelancer writer and former barista who edits the Tears In Rain publication and runs its associated YouTube channel.