Fucking hell, this show is exquisite. First, "Man City" is such a profoundly perfect name for the episode because our fave Richmond team is playing their rivals "Manchester City" and because this show EXPOSES AND HEALS so much negative social conditioning of men.
So, the main thing is they're about to play the team that caused their demotion last year- and the team to which Jamie Tartt belonged briefly last season before turning to reality TV and eventually coming back to the fold. We've been introduced to Jamie's dad before- an abusive, hypercritical, egomaniacal Manchester superfan who is presumably the source of a lot of Jamie's schmucky behavior and angsty self-hate/arrogance. Anyway, he shows up demanding tickets for the big game and then after Richmond gets completely trounced, he swaggers into their locker room to rub it in Jamie's face. He gets aggressive and insulting and, as the whole team watches, Jamie hits him to defend himself. The looks on Jamie's face throughout this scene are so gut-wrenching, so pitch-perfect. There's a LOT going on in his silence. And then, when his dad's been unceremoniously removed by Coach Beard, our favorite man, Roy Kent, goes and holds Jamie's broken heart in a tight hug, AND JAMIE LETS HIM AND CRIES and it's the most beautiful moment, maybe ever.
For all the shows and movies from the start of time that have featured men (almost all) I feel like this is one of the first to actually feature men as fully human. It's fascinating to watch. It often still feels idyllic, but fucket, I'll take it.
The other interesting aspect of that scene is that Coach Lasso, usually such a problem-solver, de-escalator, defender of his teammates, just stands watching, lost in himself, looking helpless. During this episode, he's continued seeing psychologist Dr. Sharon professionally, and also is trying his best to do his work-colleague/best-friend bit with her. She is stolid and cautious with him, only showing her irritation with his bouncy antics to her own personal therapist, as she reflects on their sessions (I love it when shows show helpers getting help) . Ted shows up for her at the hospital when she is hit by a car while riding her bike and takes her home and she is just as careful and boundary-full with him there as she is at the clubhouse, only accidentally revealing some things about herself in that he sees a LOT of empty bottles of booze in her kitchen. Her therapist tells her that Ted is gonna need to see some vulnerability/sharing from her before he cracks, so, after the Manchester major loss, she shares that even though she had been insisting that she was fine, getting in the accident really freaked her out....then Ted shares that his own dad died by suicide when he was sixteen and he thinks *maybe* some of his issues come from that. WHOOOOOAAAAAA and now we are even more IN IT. Bless this show and the realistic depth of pain-and the spectrum of ways we try to cover it up. So damned good.
Meanwhile, it seems that Isaac, in addition to being team captain, is a pro at cutting hair and offers the team members one cut/season, which they use for special occasions- and there's a whole ceremony where they gather around and watch, which is all just so charming and silly. Sam decides to use his seasonal divine cut for a first date with the woman he's been chatting with seriously on the dating app...the same app the owner of the team, Rebecca has been using....so Sam (player on the team, aged twenty-one, hair perfection) and Rebecca (owner of the whole damned football club, forties, always looking toit), show up to the restaurant, and once they realize they are each other's secret somebody's, they have hysterically different reactions...she immediately says no, this will not work, oh my God, I'm your boss, you're too young, have I been grooming you, am I a pedo-bear, etc, and Sam just laughs and says, no, no, you diidn't know and let's just eat and see what happens.
I can't help but reflect on why he is as mature and wise for twenty-one- the trauma that he experienced growing up in Nigeria, moving across the world from his family in his teens, being a sports celebrity, helping to lead a political movement...he's an old soul in a young man's body, but shit, how is that fair that he has to be?! But also I can see how women his age would feel trite and boring and he'd want someone who'd lived as much life as he already has- and that would require (of a wealthy privileged white woman in a dominant white culture) a few extra decades on her to catch up. It will be really interesting to see how this goes. I hope they're very careful with him because he needs to be more than just an impossibly nice Black folk hero. At least by the end of the episode they show them snogging, so they're letting him have some sexuality to him, which is a start. In her interest- the montage of them over dinner shows her smiling with her whole face. You don't see that much with her as she's so reserved and regal. He had her sparkling. I'm very curious what comes next here. Also, I just Googled to find a pic of "Sam and Rebecca" and fucking "Cheers" popped up.....y'all know that's not an accident.
That's the main stuff. Oh! And at the end, instead of coming back with the team on the bus after the hella bad loss, Coach Beard took off on his own in the city- I was just thinking, "God, I hope we get a Coach Beard centered episode, and this week's ep is called, "Beard After Hours." BLESS THEM.
It's incredible how much big human stuff they can pack into an episode when they want to...I'm wondering if they fluffed us up early in the season so that we could handle this now and it wouldn't all feel too dark and scary, OR if they shoved the Christmas episode in August so they could put the suicide reveal in September's Suicide Prevention Month.