Recap: Ted Lasso – 3×06 – “Sunflowers”

Written by: Brendan Hunt Directed by: Matt Lipsey

Brendan Hunt wrote a love letter to the show, to its cast, and to the city of Amsterdam. It’s everyone’s “Beard After Hours”. And it is chock-full of references to other episodes and the creators’ real lives that I don’t have enough space for here to all point out to you. The most crucial part of course is that Ted Lasso would not exist without Amsterdam, as it’s where creators Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly met while being part of the improv troupe at local comedy club Boom Chicago. Truly, Ted and Beard have never felt more like Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt than they do here, and generally, the episode caters to almost everyone’s talents and origins: David Elsendoorn speaks Dutch (and so does Hunt), Hunt’s Beard brews Ted some mushroom tea and joins a Bowie cover band called Piggy Stardust (unfortunately off-screen), Hannah Waddingham sings, Jeremy Swift plays the bass. Brett Goldstein and Phil Dunster get to do goofy shit together. (Where are the bloopers?? The fact we still have not seen them must violate the Geneva convention).

But anyway, plot: Rebecca keeps walking on the – very obvious! – bicycle path on everyone’s night off, and ends up falling into a gracht. She gets rescued by a handsome, still nameless, stranger (Matteo van der Grijn) and loses her phone – which is also why Ted can’t reach her all night, presumably making TedBecca shippers everywhere mad. But it’s just what Rebecca needs to finally get over being hung up on her pain and anger over Rupert: she spends a magical night of food and wine and terrible Dutch and German schlager. (Peter Maffay, really?! I once reversed my car in his driveway in Tutzing. This will mean nothing to most of you). And unlike in Beard’s adventure, Rebecca does not even get chased out by her meet cute’s partner. It feels like a little bottle episode (Kathryn Van Arendonk will hunt me down and demand my firstborn for saying this), or at least reminds me of one of my favorite bottle episodes, Girls’ “One Man’s Trash”. And no, they may not have fucked, but they did fall in love.

Keeley, meanwhile, is barely in this episode, as she now has a girlfriend that flies her around the world, a fact casually mentioned. Rebecca knows and is happy for her, Roy is obviously a lot less happy. But neither them nor Jamie are fazed by the fact her new partner is a woman. Brendan Hunt said bi rights.

Higgins and Will go out, and Will loses his virginity in the red light district, but not in the way you think. It’s about jazz, as Higgins shares his love for the music with the young kitman and takes him to where Chet Baker died. And well, Will does have a threesome, as he casually tells his Mom on the phone. Have I mentioned Brendan Hunt said bi rights?

Roy however, is much less jazzed and gives a very Dutch interview after another terrible match and on top of it, learns Keeley has moved on. To deal with his anger, he pulls Jamie away from a fun night out to train with him instead. Jamie makes the best of it, taking him on a sightseeing trip, cartwheels and bicycles and all. As it turns out, Roy has never visited Amsterdam, but Jamie has, because of his abusive asshole of a father, who we learn more horrible things about. Roy also shares more memories of his Grandad: he does not know how to ride a bike, because he passed before he could teach him. So Jamie teaches him, and then they go see a windmill together. It’s so incredibly sweet and funny, and I frankly can’t believe it’s not a figment of my imagination. They’re heart-to-heart is so genuine, too, they really have come a long way.  (Brendan Hunt said bi rights???)

The rest of the Richmond Greyhounds get into a seemingly never-ending fight  about what to do on their night out as a team: Zoreaux/van Damme plans to see a live sex show, Jan suggests to take them to a private club, but in Groningen; Richard would rather be in France, Sam is in the mood for a movie night, and Dani just wants to see a tulip. When they finally decide to party with the locals, they realize they need to eat dinner first, and get back into it, until Isaac has an epic meltdown. Sam suggests they channel their conflict into the only possible option left: a pillowfight. It brings their trip to Liverpool in season 1 full circle (another nod to the same is Keeley dubbed into Dutch on the hotel TV). Apparently, both pillows and people got hurt in the making of this episode. We’re not sure about hotel furniture.

Colin however, does not join them, he fakes being ill and sneaks off to a gay club. Trent follows him, and vindication, Trent’s gay, too. (As telegraphed quite a while ago, so if I read one more tweet about any character being “suddenly” queer, I will also throw my iPhone into a canal.) Billy Harris gave a wonderful interview to Variety about his story arc this season, I recommend you read it; the little speech he gives as Colin is heartbreaking. Hunt’s writing is so careful here: Keeley’s bisexuality is not a big deal, but Colin being gay is, because he is a professional footballer. And yet nobody is pretending being queer has been easy, historically – the mention of the pink triangle is a wonderful nod to this sad fact. (Amsterdam is one of several places in the world that have pink triangle memorials to the persecution of queer people by the Nazis, as well as to those lost to AIDS). Given all this history, it’s so nice to see Colin and Trent, two gay men of different generations, bond. Just writing about it makes me weepy again.

Ted, left to his own devices, has an epiphany, reinventing total football. We finally got to the triangle of success! But hey, Ted, that may be impressive, but it’s nothing, Grealish can play the triangle(,too). (Sorry this is a joke aimed at like 3 people). It’s illustrated by a wonderful little sequence reminiscent of the science-factual clips of the Disneyland TV show from the 1950s, with voiceover by Corey Burton as “the true spirit of adventure.” To achieve this breakthrough, our titular hero has to go to the Van Gogh Museum while high – or not actually, because apparently the batch of mushrooms was a dud. So it must have been the art that inspired him (and of course Arthur Bryant‘s BBQ sauce at the horrible themed American restaurant). Sunflowers are also the state flower of Kansas, we learn, bringing all of this full circle.

And with that, Ted is finally out of the forest. And every little thing, is indeed, gonna be alright.


WTF of the Week: Jamie’s father took him to lose his virginity at the red light district at only 14 years old and clearly did leave him traumatized because he does. Not. Remember.

Line of the Week: “When you know you’re doing what you’re meant to do, you have to try.” I have nothing to add here, I’m too verklempt about it.

Trivia of the Week: Brendan Hunt also wrote a play about van Gogh. Naturally, the famous painter had to feature in some way on this show that so centrally deals with mental health. Especially as Hunt himself has spoken about his own depression and suicidal ideation on Films to Be Buried With (Brett Goldstein’s podcast); something that meant a great deal to me. Brendan, what a gift you have given us with this hour of TV.