‘Ted Lasso’ Recap, Season 2, Episode 8: Father Figures

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‘Ted Lasso’ Recap, Season 2, Episode 8: Father Figures

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Game Highlights

Rebecca finally meets her mystery correspondent, and nervous laughter ensues. Dr. Sharon gets a concussion, and she reaches out to Ted. The jerk store called and they’re all out of Jamie Tartt’s father, but fortunately, Jamie’s got plenty of good dads in his corner.

Play-By-Play

Sharon and Ted

Dr. Sharon starts her day on a call with her own therapist, Bridget, who tells her that her frustration with Ted might have something to do with the fact that she deflects just like he does: He uses humor, and she uses her intelligence. She might have to be more open herself, says Bridget, in order to make progress with him. Sharon isn’t fully convinced, but she heads off to the office on her bike (the folding one we admired in a previous episode). She’s enjoying the ride, until she gets hit by a car.

Fortunately, Sharon is OK despite a concussion, and it turns out that while she was woozy, she left a bunch of messages for Ted, which get him to the hospital in time to take her home. She’s uncomfortable having him in her personal life, but after he calls to check on her regularly, she eventually at least tells him that she was scared when she got hurt. We also get a peek at Sharon’s depressing apartment (corporate housing during her assignment to Richmond), and we find that while it doesn’t have a lot in it, it has a lot of … bottles.

Later, after a very difficult loss to Manchester City and an even more difficult scene involving Jamie’s father, Ted feels another panic attack coming on. He calls Dr. Sharon and tells her something: His father died by suicide when Ted was 16. It’s a beginning and not an ending, but at least he’s begun.

Jamie and Roy

Roy’s story this week starts out as pure comedy: He’s called in to Phoebe’s school, because she’s been swearing. After talking to her teacher, he begins to worry that as Phoebe’s surrogate father, as much as he adores her, he’s been a bad influence on her, and he makes her promise that she’ll stop swearing, even as he admits he can’t quit himself.

Elsewhere, Jamie is reluctantly getting game tickets for his father and his two buddies, who will be rooting for Man City in their game against Richmond. (So yes, Jamie’s father forces his son to get him tickets so he can root against him.) When the game against Man City is a slaughter with Richmond on the losing side, Jamie’s gleeful dad makes his way down to the locker room to taunt and harass Jamie and his stung teammates. Having endured all he can, and after giving his father a number of chances to retreat peacefully, Jamie punches him in the face. Coach Beard efficiently removes Jamie’s dad. As everyone stands around in the awkward silence, wondering what to do, an introspective Roy, fresh off spending a lot of time thinking about how he influences others, goes over and hugs Jamie.

Rebecca and Sam

We learned last week that Sam is Rebecca’s secret Bantr correspondent, and that he was waiting on pins and needles to hear from her after suggesting that they meet. This week, he decides to just suggest a place and time, and she agrees. Sam cashes in his once-per-season haircut from team captain Isaac, but when he arrives at the designated spot, he and Rebecca realize that they have been talking online to each other.

His initial reaction is amusement and delight; hers is horror, both because she’s his boss and because he’s 21 (!). But he persuades her to at least hang around and have dinner, and a montage illustrates that they have a tremendous amount of fun together and are well suited to each other, in spite of the obvious impediments. At her door, they share a quick kiss, but she then demurs and says that it’s just not a good idea, and they part. Buuuuuuut later, after the Man City loss and an interview she sees in which Sam talks about the importance of at least trying your hardest, she reaches out via text, and he sends her his address. But when she opens the door to go see him, he’s at her door. Why did he send her his address? she wonders. “For next time,” he says. Smooching ensues as he comes inside.

Game Analysis

Sometimes I think in the broader conversation about prestige dramas and peak television, and about streaming and multiplying platforms and binge-watching, we don’t talk enough about how serialization has affected comedy.

It’s a long story

When I was growing up, television comedies were mostly episodic, meaning aside from the broadest arcs (romances like Sam and Diane or Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky falling in love, for instance), each 23-ish-minute segment was self-contained. This made sense in a world in which the ultimate payoff for comedy was syndication, where people might happen upon any episode from anywhere in the run on any given day. It also made sense in a world where summer reruns were shown as a matter of course, but not every episode in order.

This is part of what led to the rebellion against sentimentality in comedy: whatever was to have emotional impact or take on a serious subject, it would go from introduction to conclusion in under a half-hour. That’s what “very special episodes” are. That’s part of why “no hugging, no learning” was Seinfeld’s rule.

The genuine comedy-drama that unapologetically mixes genuine dramatic elements with silliness, a show like Barry or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or Fleabag or GLOW or Insecure, while it isn’t entirely new, has found a home in the present streaming landscape that didn’t necessarily exist 20 years ago except in rare cases. And that brings us to this week’s episode of Ted Lasso.

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It’s complicated

I have mixed feelings about some of these stories.

I love Rebecca and I love Sam, and I want them to make out because they seem to enjoy it so much. But Rebecca really shouldn’t sleep with a player on her team; especially one who is this young. That really is an inappropriate power differential for a romantic relationship. If the genders were reversed and this were a man Rebecca’s age who was going to date a college-aged woman whose career was in his hands, the peril in it would be obvious.

On the other hand! Serialization has meant that over a stretch of a good many episodes, they’ve been able to lay a foundation for this to be the rare case of a relationship that is a bad idea structurally, but an understandable impulse personally. Sam is obviously a very mature 21, they have a lot in common, they’re both hot, and they spent quite a while conversing over text and building their fondness for each other without that power differential in play. They’ve had opportunities to build some trust in each other, particularly during his protest over the sponsor, which we now know might have helped nudge this one oil company out of Nigeria for now (a satisfying short-term outcome is not an uncommon outcome of high-profile protests). And the show focuses the montage (set to Rex Orange County’s pleasantly chill “Loving Is Easy”) on how happy they are and how much fun they’re having — it looks like a great conversation.

But his career is in her hands. This is a thing we ask people with power not to do. It’s hard to root for.

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Believe it or not

I think the single biggest question coming out of this episode for a lot of people is going to be: Do you buy that hug? Do you buy the fact that Roy Kent, established originally as the gruffest man alive, would walk across the locker room and embrace Jamie Tartt? The question isn’t really whether Roy could be supportive of Jamie; Roy’s growth has certainly justified that. The question is maybe more like … is that how Roy would choose to be supportive? And do you want that from this show? After all, they are literally hugging and learning.

Again, I think because it’s serialized, that scene works better than it ever could have in an episodic show. Jamie’s stuff with his father goes back to last season, when we learned that his father was (at the very least) verbally abusive and probably always had been. And as hard as it was for Jamie to come back to Richmond after tanking his relationship with his father’s team out of spite, the hardest nut for him to crack has been Roy. He wanted Roy’s help, and he wanted Roy’s approval.

As for Roy, he spent a good chunk of this episode specifically thinking about his role as a surrogate parent. What parts of himself does he want to pass on? What is his obligation to Phoebe to be himself but also give her what she needs? If you tilt your head to the side, Roy doesn’t want to pass along his demeanor to the guys he coaches just like he doesn’t want to pass along his swearing to Phoebe. It doesn’t come naturally to him not to swear, or not to shout “Oi!” instead of giving a guy a hug. But he’s trying to be the best possible version of himself when he’s responsible for other people. So this isn’t just Roy having grown as a person generally; this is Roy reevaluating his approach to mentoring and parenting specifically, especially when he deals with people whose own fathers come up short. And given that backdrop, I do buy that hug.

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It’s therapy, Ted

I love Sarah Niles' work as Dr. Sharon this season so much. I consider her one of the best second-season additions to any show, ever. I think Sharon rebalanced Ted Lasso by providing a counterweight to Ted, and Niles provided a counterweight to Sudeikis and his comedic energy — which can be subdued, but which on this show tends to be … zany.

One of the things I think has been so great about Sharon is that she functions like a therapist: She refuses Ted’s efforts to charm her, to befriend her — she’s there to work. But inevitably, there’s a personal relationship between these people too (Ted is her colleague as well as her patient, which seems … complicated?), and I’m apprehensive about the show sort of sentimentalizing the blurring of those lines. A therapeutic relationship has boundaries, and therapy isn’t friendship, and so forth.

At the same time, what Sharon tells Ted is very limited and not overly personal, not much more than the acknowledgement that she, too, has feelings. But the bottles in Sharon’s apartment seem to suggest possible future directions that make me nervous about the execution of the story. If it turns out Dr. Sharon needs more help, it shouldn’t be from her patients.

It’s also a short story

The irony of the influence of serialization on a show like Ted Lasso is that I also think of this show as being very good at using the structure of each episode to draw dotted thematic lines. It’s not obvious at the outset that Sharon’s bike accident and Jamie’s awful father and Phoebe’s swearing have to all be in the same episode, but it snaps into place at the end: Jamie’s father, Ted’s father, Roy as Phoebe’s father. The writing staff is good at drawing long arcs, but they’re also good at structuring individual episodes so that they hang together and don’t feel like they’re just A-plot/B-plot/C-runner kinds of setups.

Furthermore, formally speaking, to shape an episode so that it has everything that should be in it and nothing else, you sometimes need a bit of flexibility on the running time, which was practically never available on networks and very limited on cable. This episode is 45 minutes long, about half again as long as most episodes of Ted. A lot of extra-long episodes are just muddled and not edited enough, but some episodes use that flexibility sparingly to let stories unspool as they should, and I think Ted produces the latter more often than the former.

Nice touches

Love the barber scene. It feels real that getting a haircut from Isaac would mean a lot.

It’s interesting not to see Ted until six and a half minutes into this episode, when we find him at the hospital having the NHS explained to him.

I’m glad the show has not backed away from the fact that Ted is fundamentally unqualified for his job. For him not to know that pitches are different sizes is genuinely appalling, but now that he has three other guys on the coaching staff who do know the basics of the game, it seems less terrible? But let’s face it: Ted is unqualified for his job.

It’s good that Ted decides to share the fact that he’s been having panic attacks with his fellow coaches, and because of that discussion, you get Beard coming out after the confrontation with Jamie’s dad to check on Ted. I am curious about Beard’s mood after the game when he wants to go be by himself. What’s up with this man of few words and many noises?

It’s rare on a sports show for a big game to be as anticlimactic as the game against Man City turns out to be. The last time these teams met, the game was fabulously suspenseful, but not this time. Richmond comes in as underdogs who one would think would get a thorough thumping from this Man City team, and that’s … exactly what happens. And yet, the episode ends on a note of hope, because of what’s happening with the individuals: Ted, Roy, Jamie, Rebecca, Sam … they all just took a huge loss, but they don’t seem defeated. People will try to tell you sports-set shows aren’t about sports, but decoupling the mood of the show from the fate of the team is the only way to make that actually true.

I know I don’t catch everything on this show that’s drawn from real football, but note that Mike Dean, who gives Nate his yellow card, is a real referee.

I gotta say, when Jamie hits his dad, that looks like it hurts. That’s not your basic big swing where all the sense that there’s even any impact comes from the sound effects. That’s a solid stage punch right to the face.

Another shout to the terrific music department. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that while Ted often uses offbeat and unfamiliar music to fabulous effect, this episode ends with two sort of epic and beloved songs: Oasis' “Don’t Look Back In Anger” and Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know.” They know how to signal that things are building.

This Week In Ted

Peak Ted

“I want you to close your eyes. Look around.”

Referential Ted

Winnie the Pooh, Grey’s Anatomy, Coolio, Ronnie Fouch, Stephen Sondheim, Kyrie Irving, Sling Blade

Coach Beard Noise of the Week

“Oops.”

Stealth MVP of the Week

Ruth Bradley as Ms. Bowen (Phoebe’s teacher) gets a great funny scene this week, in which she has to explain to Roy that Phoebe is swearing. That little coda about the glitter is wonderful.

Assist of the Week

Given how hateful Jamie’s father is, it would be easy to overlook Kieran O’Brien playing him, but to get somebody that purely hateful right isn’t as easy as it looks.

How to Romance Steph in Life is Strange: True Colors – GameSpew

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Wondering how to romance Steph in Life is Strange: True Colors? The good news is you can – and here’s how to do it.

There are three main pathways in Life is Strange: True Colors. You can romance Steph, the cool record store DJ that you may recognise from Life is Strange: Before the Storm; you can romance Ryan, the town’s park ranger; or, you can decide that this isn’t the time for romance and keep both of them as friends. But if you want to romance Steph, here’s what you need to do.

There are a few key moments where you can show Steph you’re interested in her. Doing all of these will absolutely seal the deal of pursuing your romantic interest. But even if you miss one or two, not all is lost. One is more important than the others.

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In chapter two, when playing table football with Steph, she’ll ask you if you’re interested in girls. Say yes.

Later on, Alex, Steph and Ryan are plotting how to get something from Diane, an employee of Typhon Mining. The plan essentially comes down to Steph or Ryan flirting with her. Choose Steph as the better candidate to flirt with her – she’ll take it as as positive sign.

The most important choice to make comes during the town’s Spring Festival. You see, it’s tradition that townspeople take a flower and gift it to the person they have feelings for. Take a rose and give it to Steph. She’ll then ask you to meet her on the rooftop later.

When you’re on the rooftop, you can choose to hug or kiss Steph. Seal the deal with a kiss!

Other than those important parts, simply make sure to chat with Steph whenever you can, and take any opportunity in conversation to pay her compliments.

The flower and the kiss are the most important elements by far; nail those two decisions, and Alex and Steph will officially be an item from that point forward. You can miss one or two earlier points and the pair will still get together as long as you give her the flower.

Need more help with Life is Strange: True Colors? Find more guides by clicking here.

Muslim man spent 15 years in prison after post-9/11 crackdown

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Yassin Aref was a victim of Islamophobia and a controversial arrest by the FBI that led him to 15 years in jail.

Chamchamal, Kurdish region of northern Iraq – For Yassin M Aref, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is a sad reminder of 15 lost years spent in American prisons.

Aref, 51, a Kurdish man and former mosque leader at the Masjid As-Salam in Albany, the capital of New York state, was arrested in 2004 on a conspiracy charge brought by the FBI in a “sting operation”. He was accused of aiding “terrorism” based on “secret” evidence.

His case drew criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union and other critics of post-9/11 counterterrorism policies in the United States.

Aref is a living victim of Islamophobia and hate speech following the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, which were later used as pretexts by the George W Bush administration for invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

As the world commemorates the 20th anniversary, this year is unique since the US and coalition forces have withdrawn from Afghanistan and are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of this year – bringing an end to the “global war on terror“.

Aref was deported to the Kurdish region of northern Iraq in 2019 after his release. Al Jazeera spoke with Aref in his tiny house in Chamchamal district in the Garmian area, west of Sulaimaniyah province, in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Aref and his wife, Zuhur, live together while their four children, two boys and two girls, are studying in the US.

On July 2 he published his memories in Kurdish. The book is more than 1,000 pages and includes details of his arrest and his life in prison. Son of Mountains is his English version of the memoir that was published in the US in 2008.

“I was 34 years old when I was arrested and at 49 I left the prison. During those 15 years which I spent in jail, I lost all my goals in life including completing my PhD and building myself culturally and financially,” said Aref.

Yassin Aref with his book Son of Mountains [Dana Taib Menmy/Al Jazeera]

FBI ‘sting’

Aref was hired as leader of Masjid As-Salam a year after his arrival in the US. As an imam, he participated in several anti-war campaigns to protest the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“The FBI fabricated a sting to charge me … In court proceedings, there was no real proof against me,” said Aref. “The American intelligence could not arrest me for my political views or civilian activities, rather the FBI made a sting to arrest me on conspiracy charges.”

In June 2003, the American military found Aref’s name, Albany address, and phone number in a notebook written in Kurdish while raiding an enemy camp in Rawah, Iraq. That led the FBI to launch an investigation targeting him.

“The FBI initially claimed that the notebook included ‘commander’ next to my name, but I denied that and when a judge told the government to provide the notebook page, the FBI admitted that there was a mistranslation,” Aref said.

“The word in question was kak – which means brother and it is used as a common term of respect in Kurdish – and it does not mean commander.”

Aref said the Bush administration amplified his case for political gains when Deputy Attorney General James B Comey in a news conference in Washington, DC announced his arrest saying, “We have got the big fish.”

Aref said the FBI convinced an informant who was facing a long prison sentence and deportation for fraud to approach him through his friend, Mohammed Mosharref Hossain – a US citizen originally from Bangladesh and owner of a pizza shop in Albany.

The informant, known as Malik, secretly recorded his conversations with both men. He offered to loan $50,000 to Hossain and told him to launder money from the sale of a shoulder-fired missile.

A jury in US District Court in Albany found Aref and Hossain guilty in 2006 of money laundering and supporting terrorism, sentencing both men to 15 years in prison.

“I didn’t know about terrorism or terrorists or shooting or bombing. I knew about how many pounds of flour I used to make pizza,” Hossain told the judge after he was sentenced.

‘Little Gitmo’

Aref spent nearly two-and-a-half years in solitary confinement and several years at a maximum-security facility in Terre Haute, Indiana, nicknamed “Little Gitmo“.

“At Terre Haute, I have been subject to psychological torture … and this is contrary to US laws. Being too far, my family and children hardly could visit me. Even the family visits were a torture for me,” Aref said.

“I was not allowed to hug or kiss my kids. We had just a phone call on two sides of a thick plastic window. They used every technique to make you psychologically collapse.”

Aref said he is hopeful the “secret” evidence used by the FBI will be released at some point so he can prove his innocence.

“The injustices I suffered in the US washed out my views of the United States as a place for democracy and human rights,” he said.

“Since 9/11, the US has been in continuous retreat in terms of promoting democracy, human rights … The US has become morally bankrupt. I became the victim of wrong policies by Bush and the Islamophobia feelings in the aftermath of September 11.”

‘Generalized fear of Muslims’

Aref’s lawyer Kathy Manley also said there was no serious evidence against him.

“Yassin was definitely a victim of post-9/11 Islamophobia … He was convicted out of generalized fear of Muslims and because the judge told the jury the FBI had good reasons for targeting him,” Manley told Al Jazeera in an email.

“This was based on classified evidence we were not allowed to see, and later learned was false. His case was very high-profile and was used by the Bush administration in various ways … These sting cases do tend to be used for political purposes,” she said.

Ben Friedman, policy director of Washington, DC-based Defense Priorities, told Al Jazeera via Twitter: “US Islamophobia grew in leaps and bounds after September 11. And it has stayed at a high level as a result of politicians’ efforts, especially Trump’s, to use those fears to cast Muslims as a threatening other and win support for wars, immigration restrictions and other policies.”

Remarkably, Aref said he is not angry at the US despite his ordeal.

“Since my arrival to the Kurdistan region, I have become a defender of the US,” he said. “I do believe that still to some extent there is Islamophobia in the US, but no doubt compared to the time of my arrest the situation is changed and the environment is much better.”