Recap: Ted Lasso – 3×09 – “La Locker Room Aux Folles”

Written by Chuck Hayward Directed by Erica Dunton

It’s the big coming out episode for Colin! And the best part of it is, it’s not that big in that’s a spectacle or massive drama. Actually, the person who struggles the most with it is Isaac, but not because he’s a homophobe, but because, as expected, he feels betrayed by his best friend. The tension between them remains palpable, so it’s still unclear going into the episode if he’s a homophobe – but the show wouldn’t let us down like that, and also not one of its Black characters. It would have felt off to make him a bigot generally, but especially now that several white people have been shown to be accepting or even queer themselves.

Isaac has his breaking point when Colin misses a shot and a Richmond fan harasses them going back inside for halftime, shouting the f-word – not “fuck”, the other one. Isaac runs up to the stands and immediately gets sent off with a red. Even though his teammates try to calm him down, he isn’t having it; “what if one of us is gay?!”, he screams, and runs off. Roy goes after him and the scene that follows is Ted Lasso at it best. Isaac’s teary-eyed attempt at pushing Roy away mimics Roy’s own with Keeley in the season 1 finale, and cements why Roy picked him as his successor as the team captain. He tells him that he needs to work through what actually makes him angry, otherwise it will fuck up the things he actually cares about. Because it’s the boot room, Will Kitman chimes in with a metaphor about snowflakes and avalanches that’s similar to Beard’s speech to Ted earlier this season – fitting, given it was Will who dressed up as Beard in “The Strings That Bind Us”.

Roy meanwhile is also forced to work on himself when Ted can’t do a press conference cause of his remote parent-teacher one and Rebecca and Keeley have him do it instead. Because he’s Roy, he passes it off to Beard, who somehow manages to turn it into a chaotic shouting match about Led Zeppelin within minutes. So Rebecca goes to rip Roy a new one – he has been waiting all season to be scolded by someone and while it’s not Julie Andrews, Hannah Waddingham is pretty damn close. Rebecca’s speech about him thinking he doesn’t deserve anything good and standing in his own way brings full circle Roy’s “struck by fucking lightning” speech to her in season 2, and is obviously as much about Keeley than it is about taking his job as coach seriously. Especially now that Keeley is single again, with Jack ghosting her and then jetting off to Argentina. At the end, Roy does press, and it’s like Ted with way more swearing. The Sunderland player anecdote hits hard, and Roy of all people publicly saying that he gives Isaac love? I had expected Nate to return and coach Richmond, but what if it’s Roy that takes over? He seems primed to now. Or it could be both, if Beard leaves with Ted.

Nate meanwhile keeps working on not being tempted by the Dark Side, as Rupert meets Jade (who isn’t having any of his shit), and promptly invites him out for drinks (and girls) to Bones & Honey. Nate’s still way to keen on Rupert’s approval and wants to see the best in him, but goes home to Jade instead of following his path of booze and adultery. There’s been much discussion about whether or not Nate has been redeemed sufficiently and how it’s tied to this romance, so much so that apparently, once again, “fans” have been harassing Nick Mohammed online. 1. He’s an actor, not a writer on the show. 2. Even if he were, fuck off. Leave him be. After the end of season 2, the backlash against him was huge, and a lot of it has to do with racism, but it also has to do with people’s apparent inability to distinguish fact from fiction, and that’s just sad all around. Even if the storyline maybe does not play out how you personally want it to? Tough luck. Move the fuck on. And leave the actors and writers alone.

But finally on to Colin, who comes out to the team. Curiously, we cut away for that exact moment he says he’s gay. I’ve already also seen criticism of this online (naturally, because it wouldn’t be Wednesday anymore if people weren’t complaining about every little detail on Ted Lasso).  But I think it’s brilliant – Colin has already come out, to Trent. In private. He has said he doesn’t want to be a spokesperson. Having him say it again would not only be narratively repetitive, it would also lean into a public performance of queerness he doesn’t want to do. And of course, everyone’s supportive. It’s the usual “we don’t care” at first, but Ted cements that they do, in fact, care. They care about his struggles with this, they care who he is, and he no longer has to go through it alone. Ain’t nobody in this room sad and alone, after all. That Ted first fumbles it with a metaphor about being a Denver Broncos fan is both hilariously in character and a nice nod to the fact that straight people might try to relate, but ultimately can’t. It absolutely sticks the landing. Of course yes, I agree with Colin that the only better alternative to this coming out would have been a scenario where everyone on the team is gay – or publicly admits to it as an act of solidarity like in the finale of In & Out, down to the journalist in the room actually being the other one who’s gay. Funny nobody seems to have clocked Trent and his Dolly Parton t-shirt as such, but maybe it’s different, cause he’s not on the team. Jamie however is just flattered someone might think he’s gay, so I will remain a bisexual Jamie Tartt truther to the end.

After winning the match despite being a man short, thanks to Colin who plays “like a man reborn”, Isaac and Colin also get their own heartfelt moment. Isaac comes by his house, and they reconcile and play FIFA. Isaac asks all the typical clueless hetero questions, but it’s so nice to see them be best friends again. “I love you, boyo.” – “You can’t say it, can you?” – “No, but you know I do, yeah?” I love them all so very much.

WTF of the week: Probably the Denver Broncos metaphor and the dip story, but only because I want to bring up that one of my favorite SNL skits ever has Jason Sudeikis as Jesus visiting the Broncos locker room. Close second, and somewhat related, Ted’s country song about farts.

Line of the week: “Every single one of you knows my arse isn’t hairy, and yet none of you spoke up, and I will never forgive you” is probably now in my top 10 lines of the show. Or all of television.

Trivia of the week: The title is of course a nod to La Cage Aux Folles, the 1973 French play by Jean Poiret, turned into 1983 Harvey Fierstein/Jerry Herman musical about gay drag club owners, also brilliantly adapted for screen by Mike Nichols as The Birdcage (1996), starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.  It’s a gay classic and one of my absolute favorite things I constantly quote at people. We hear two songs from it at the beginning of the episode, the titular “La cage aux folles”, and at the end, the anthem “I Am What I Am”, also made famous by Gloria Gaynor.

P.S. The Writer’s Strike is still ongoing. Please donate to the Entertainment Community Fund, or stand in solidarity with the WGA via #wgastrong, #dothewritething, #fans4WGA, or my attempt at making fetch happen, #Scholars4WGA.