'Ted Lasso,' more strike fallout, 'Succession' conspiracy theories, and a tale of many headshots
People need to stop watching fictional television as if it's a Reddit thread on a true crime podcast. They are generally terrible at figuring out what's going on, they ignore established facts within the narrative, it becomes a competition to guess the craziest thing just to have bragging rights if their long-shot guess turns out to be correct.
Alan I've been following you since the earliest of Star Ledger days (when I was a teenager in my memory so you also must have been ?!?). Even as I moved to Brooklyn (for barely a year) and then to wilds of central jersey I kept my Ledger subscription for two reasons (you and the best comics page). Well the comics page shrunk and you departed and so did my subscription. But I followed you on Twitter and into other formats. Those old Star Ledger pics brought back some core memories!
I know you called this week's Barry episode a departure episode in your season preview. But now that I've actually seen it, I'm not sure that term exactly works for me. To me a departure episode, like the one in The Last of Us or the flashbacks in Mythic Quest, is almost incidental to the central plot of the show. It's a true departure in location, timeline, theme, character perspective, and perhaps could be cut and not drastically impact the season's arc, albeit probably lower the show's overall artistic merit.
But in this case, the two main characters were still largely present, and it clearly sets up the action in the back half. Yes there's a time jump, but presumably the rest of the series takes place eight years later. Even if we never return to this Midwest/Southwestern location (personally I've interpreted it as Oklahoma where Hader is from), it still served an important part of the plot.
I guess put another way, I view it as akin to the New Hampshire scenes of "Granite State," which I wouldn't call a departure. Admittedly that episode still featured Albuquerque scenes so it's not the best comparison.
Anyway, just my two cents.
I remain baffled as to what Ted Lasso is trying to accomplish this season. It feels like so many subplots have been set up and they are in no rush to conclude any of them before the season ends. Instead we keep getting these Very Special Episode formats where we get trite solutions to nuanced issues.
Like you said, the show hasn't put in the work to earn Nate being presented in a sympathetic light. Isaac's reaction to Colin felt forced to me as well. I don't know who first compared Jack to Poochie from the Simpsons, but I can't get that out of my head now.
Rebecca and Roy's scenes were very strong. More of that, please.
This is the first I've heard that season 3 of The Great is imminent, which means someone in Hulu's marketing department should be fired. Or, the way things have gone recently, it probably means someone was fired a month ago and their tasks didn't get reassigned.
Richmond are now on a 9 game winning streak after starting the season with 2 or 3 wins (can’t remember exactly) before the West Ham game and following 5 or 6 (can’t remember exactly) game losing streak, meaning they’re a minimum of 33 points, safety in the Premier League is usually about 38 points so with half a season to go there isn’t gonna be a relegation subplot but in the Man City era you can’t be winning the league with 15 dropped points in a row
This is to say that I’m both an idiot for caring about this and any finale tension is gonna be off the pitch not on it
Love the headshots! It's funny you are going back in time in the newsletter this week, because I was reading an old issue of Astro City this week, and whose name should I see on the letters page but one Alan Sepinwall! Maybe someday we'll actually get that Astro City show and you can recap it.
Reddit is a cesspool for television watching. Just the worst of all fan theorizing. I actually saw a post today that Frank is Ken’s real father. I’m still hoping it was a joke but the fact that I’m not sure is a sign of how bad it’s gotten.
Odd that you found this weeks Ted Lasso somewhat improved. It’s reached full cringe levels for me. I kept giving it the benefit of the doubt. Now I’m fully confused as to how these writers/show runners got so hopelessly lost. So disappointing and sad
I didn’t watch Lucky Hank. I didn’t know it was related to Straight Man, but I love that book! So now I’m looking forward to it.
This week’s episode of Ted Lasso was a particularly lovely and compassionate episode of television. Very well done.
I haven’t had the same issues with Lasso as you this season. Keeley’s chunk has been a little off putting but Nate has made sense to me. The idea that he did a heel turn at the end of season two because his ambition got the best of him and was suddenly a villain didn’t make sense to me. His confidence came from Ted, who was the opposite of his berating parents/Rupert. To suddenly find himself in that world and realize he doesn’t like being there is an acknowledgement of who he really is.
This whole season has definitely spread itself a little thin, but it seems like the main theme is characters taking the lessons they’ve learned since Ted’s arrival and, rather than fixing their relationships, fixing themselves. The alternative would have been to create false tension between our core when we just spent two seasons solidifying these relationships. These characters are now applying those lessons to better their choices. It’s an interesting an unexpected take but a logical one. It creates many singular stories which spreads it thin, but I have enjoyed the payoffs.
Like you said, the dinner party episode of “Lucky Hank” was great. Another Emmy nomination for Odenkirk? Mireille Enos has the greatest uncomfortable smile.
The rest was solid. But it works fine as a limited series. No need for season 2.
i have loved reading your great writing in the Star Ledger, and happy to read now this way now that i left N.J. I appreciate your thoughts on shows..reading about series episodes is a love of mine
I also love The Straight Man book. The show doesn’t really feel much of an adaptation but the two stars are excellent and I enjoyed the series
I agree that most of the time the online theorizing is over-thinking (and in this case likely too) and certainly a twist like that is not what “Succession” really does as a show, but for me it speaks to the spilling of the beans about India feeling way too convenient and just there to drive the plot. It felt more like the writers needed the info to spill to move the plot forward rather than it feeling all that believable that it would happen like that even from these arrogant and messed up characters. At least for me personally. So I can see people trying to find an alternative explanation.
I had a similar issue recently with “Beef” where Danny attends a party at someone’s home that felt more plot driven than in character. You could dig deep to make it fit the self-destructive nature of the character. Maybe. But seemed more about moving the plot. Loved it otherwise (except the crows. Big swing that didn’t work for this viewer!)
So glad you enjoyed Lucky Hank enough to warrant a writeup, Alan. It's the best TV I've seen this year. Having never read Straight Man, I was shocked to learn that Lily (Mireille Enos) is hardly in the book. Super kudos to the writers.
As far as a second season goes, a part of me wants it and yet a part of me does not. No question Lily's reaction at the end of the final episode warrants a followup -- but this season was so perfect. In my mind, Hank and Lily will continue to live and love and struggle in their lives together...and I don't need to see it. At the same time, Enos was a revelation. Having only seen her in Big Love and The Killing, I had no idea she could be so dynamically charming. Couldn't agree more -- more Mireille!