This episode…hmmm. I thought about it a lot between my two viewings, the first on Saturday morning, the second Sunday evening. The idea kept occurring to me that every season has a lull episode, one where not much happens but the pieces are all getting sorted into the right places to build towards bigger developments in the future. That made a lot more sense back in the day when a full season included 20+ episodes and you had to work in some breaks. In the modern era, where a “season” is often 10-12 episodes, a lull episode feels like a waste.

I’m hoping that’s what this week’s episode, “The Signal,” was. Based on the last five minutes, when shit suddenly started happening quickly, I’m pretty sure that’s the case. But those first 25-30 minutes felt a bit wasteful.

Let’s discuss.

“Wait, your mum’s your cleaner?”

Good for Rebecca for getting shagged! One of the great things about this show is how it takes a very modern and fair view of sexuality. Women are just as free to be sexual beings and have casual relationships as men. No one tell my daughters I feel that way.

“Stupid barking means it’s over, right?”

The way Roy knew to immediately step out when the Diamond Dogs meeting began was just perfect.

“Hey, Roy. You know you’re paid to coach the whole team, right?”

“No, no, that’s fine. Just take four percent of my paycheck.”

“You’re an ugly, ugly boy. With bad hair. Say it.”

“I am…I am an ooglay, ooglay boy…with hair that maybay, could be slightlay…with bad hair, fine.”

First, it’s fun to try to write in Jamie’s accent.

My favorite part of this week’s episode was the Jamie and Roy stuff. So, YES! It has taken far too long to get Jamie worked into the main plot lines this season. I’m just going to assume that Phil Dunster was filming another project and they had to back off on Jamie while he was away.

I didn’t buy for a second that Jamie had somehow matured so much that he would effortlessly slide in and become a perfect teammate. I liked that we saw that while Jamie has indeed matured, he’s still not totally comfortable with it. I love that he finally realizes geezer Roy Kent can teach him a ton about the game. I love that Jamie can swallow his ego enough to beg Roy to make him better.

And I thought it was a great that Roy was the one reluctant to engage. He’s been a leader most of his playing career. He had the moment last week where he felt the magic of passing his knowledge along to younger players and seeing it make a difference in their games. And now he’s on the coaching staff. But he still has so much baggage with Jamie, and is so fucking stubborn, that he has to be pushed to work with Jamie.

When it happens he is spot-on with his assessment: being a good teammate doesn’t mean that you forget what made you great. It’s fine to pass the ball and to care about your teammates’ feelings. But Jamie was a budding star because he had an uncanny ability to get the ball past the keeper. Maturity is finding the middle ground of those two behaviors, and the right moment to apply each.

“The little prick’s gonna fucking score from there.”


By the way, it was something to see Jamie stand over that free kick as Cristiano Ronaldo would, THE EXACT SAME WEEK CR7 RETURNED TO MANCHESTER UNITED. Are the writers Rebecca’s mom’s psychics or something?

“Looks like the coaching staff are panicking, Arlo. This is what a fish pie can do to a team.”

The fish pie lines made me laugh.

I was kind of shocked that there wasn’t a 15-second description of what the FA Cup is, or what the soccer term “park the bus” means. I guess the writers have decided we all either know that stuff already, or we’re fully capable of looking it up on our own without some patronizing aside within the show.

“Tartt buries it in the back of the net! Richmond, impossibly, are on top!”

I found the way we experienced what should have been the episode’s, and entire season’s, biggest moment fascinating. Here we have tiny Richmond taking out giants Tottenham in the closing seconds of an FA Cup quarterfinal, at home, and we only hear it in the background while Rebecca searches for Ted. That’s a tough choice but I think it worked. A lot of shows would have cut back-and-forth between the action on the field and Rebecca’s search, building the drama in the process. The way it was presented deprived the audience of a moment of tremendous joy, which cranks up the anxiety about what the hell is wrong with Ted even higher.

“I wanna make an appointment.”

Two massive reveals in the closing moments. First, Sam is Rebecca’s Bantr buddy? SAM?!?! That is unexpected and verrrrrry interesting. It was funny to think back to the messages they’ve shown the past few weeks and think of them in Sam’s voice instead of Ted’s. And I told you they wouldn’t take the lazy Sam-and-Diane path with Ted and Rebecca! (Do not bookmark this comment in case they hook up in the season finale.)

Of course Ted’s panic attack – or whatever it was – is the biggest long-term development this week. Bigger than Richmond’s win since that’s where the cameras went as the game was won.

I thought it came about strangely. The only panic attack I’ve ever had was when I had to get an MRI without sedatives, so while I’m no expert, I know they can happen at any moment for any reason. However, Ted didn’t seem very affected by the call from his son’s school throughout the episode until – WHAM – it floors him at the end of the game? We know stress has been building in him. The Led Tasso thing a few weeks back, in addition to being weird, was not something a man who is in a good place does. I just thought the timing felt a little odd. I even wondered if there was a scene between those two points that set it up better that did not make the final cut of the show.

Regardless, we will finally get the meeting we knew would happen, Ted and Dr. Sharon. When she arrived she seemed like a threat to Ted. She just might be here to save him.

Ah, but there is still a threat to Ted. Maybe two, in fact. There is Roy, who every Richmond fan will be shouting for to take over since he’s English, played the game, and has had an immediate impact since joining the staff. And there is Nate, who has a gift for making strategic decisions akin to Ted’s gift of setting people at ease. It was fine to have folksy Ted making the players feel good about themselves when no one else wanted to coach Richmond (plus their owner was trying to destroy them). But when guys with actual soccer, excuse me, football acumen are on the staff? Game changer. At least for dramatic purposes.

I’m calling it now: no matter what happens over the next six episodes, there’s about a 92% chance that season three will involve either Ted coaching another club because Roy and/or Nate have taken over Richmond, or Ted remaining at Richmond while they take on another club(s) he must coach against.

Lock that in on your favorite betting app.

Not my favorite episode of the season, but the final five minutes seem to have us headed down a more interesting path.

Some more quotes and thoughts to wrap up:

I guess that last time in Charlie Watts’ life a Rolling Stones song was used in a new context on a TV show or movie was last week’s episode. RIP.

I love Bantr now being the prime sponsor for Richmond. We know Sam approves of that!

2MSCNT being Rebecca’s hookup app is hilarious. I thought it was a throw-away line last week but they went all-in with it.

I enjoy how British people pronounce the word “clothes.” They really stress that “TH.” It sounds very proper and dignified.

“I am a strong and capable man, I am not a piece of shit.”

“Colin, you don’t need the second part.”

“That is a joke for people born in the early to mid 70s.”

I mentioned this last week, Ted makes fun of himself for it this week.

“Steve Wiebes vs Billy Mitchells.”

If you know, you know.

“And then I stood up, I flushed the toilet, I pulled up my trousers, and I walked straight out of there.”

I wasn’t enamored with the Rebecca’s mom angle, nor the Beard-Jane stuff. I suppose they were both designed to highlight difficult conversations we put off to set up Ted’s conversation with Sharon. But this line made me laugh. Heavy conversations about the state of your marriage should always be done on the shitter.

“Aww, look at that sponge!”

“That’s rubbish!”

“Temper your chocolate, you twat!”

I missed the lads in the pub! This was a fine way to bring them back. Mae making faces and doing dances with them always gets me, too. I guarantee I’ll be thinking “temper your chocolate, you twat!” when I start watching my fall baking shows.

I miss Trent Crimm of The Independent.

Finally, there is the shot of Rebecca’s shoes that she kicks off when she arrives home after the game. Those are, what, six-inch heels? Isn’t the woman already 6-4, 6-5? Good Lord!

(Hannah Waddingham is 5-11, for the record.)