(Warning: Spoilers ahead for the latest episode of Ted Lasso!)
Yes, you read that headline right. In the latest episode of Ted Lasso, the American football coach (played by Jason Sudeikis) trips on magic mushrooms, while traipsing around Amsterdam. Ted, my man, what in the world is going on with you?
Apart from this bizarre drug storyline, “Sunflowers” is actually one of the better episodes of the season thus far. As team morale continues to tank, Ted allows the players to let loose for one night of epic highs and lows in the Red Light District, after an International Friendly match in the Netherlands. But it’s really only Higgins (Jeremy Swift) and Will (Charlie Hiscock) who end up in the notorious area, oddly enough.
The rest of the team really has the most boring night of all. Most of their free time is spent arguing over what to do; some want to see a live sex show, a handful want to head to a big party over two hours away, and all that Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernández) wants to do is see a single tulip. Someone get this man his tulip!
In the midst of all the arguing, Colin (Billy Harris) sneaks out for his own escapade. Reporter-turned-author Trent Crimm (James Lance) has been stalking the player after discovering that Colin is gay, which feels a little weird—is Trent trying to out Colin in this book? Why is there always creepy music playing in the background, as Trent lurks behind Colin? The arc between these two has felt a little unsettling, but thankfully, we get some answers in this episode as to what Trent’s been up to.
Trent finally confronts Colin as he enters a gay bar, which leads Colin to storm right out, fearful that Trent will out him to the rest of the team.
“Colin, I already knew. I’ve known for months. I haven’t said anything to anyone,” Trent says, trying to calm Colin down. “I must have a good reason for that, mustn’t I?” (Isn’t the respect of not outing someone enough of a reason? I digress.) Trent then reveals that he, too, is gay, and empathizes with Colin, as he struggles to come out to the rest of the football team. The pair share the rest of the night out raving at gay clubs all over Amsterdam—what fun!
Though some of Colin’s coming-out story feels a little dated in comparison to other shows and movies’ representation of the LGBTQ+ community—in which gay characters can just be gay without an elongated coming out story—it’s important to remember that the sports world is an entirely different beast. Last year, Carl Nassib became the very first openly gay NFL player. Also in 2022, PinkNews published a report on why Premier League players don’t come out—there are currently no active players in the league who are openly LGBTQ+. A coming-out story is actually a big deal, when it comes to sports stories like Ted Lasso.
Sadly, this part of the episode is largely overshadowed by Ted’s shroom trip, which takes up the bulk of the runtime. Fed up with poor coaching and earning no response from Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), who’s too busy on a boat with a handsome Dutchman to send heart reacts to Ted’s GIFs, Ted asks Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) for some guidance. Instead of offering any guidance, naturally, Beard simply serves up an unspecified concoction, promising it’ll offer Ted “a different perspective.”
It takes Ted around 30 minutes to actually try the liquid, which looks a little like tea—Ted’s nemesis. At first, Ted is simply dazed as he wanders around the Van Gogh Museum. Perhaps the beverage was a simple weed-infused tea. But no: After Ted finds himself at a hokey “American diner” (which features a giant mural of Chance the Rapper and Michael Jordan, Chicago’s two icons), he can’t even manage to dollop barbeque sauce onto his fries.
This is a shroom trip, a completely unexpected turn for both Ted Lasso and Ted Lasso to make. It also is completely unbelievable, as Ted falls out of reality and into a dark world of neon shapes and a deep-voiced narration. This scene feels more like something from a children’s show, as opposed to a shroom trip. Nevertheless, the voices and the shapes lead Ted to realizing the perfect football formation, which, he believes, will break Richmond out of their rut.
We’re now halfway through Season 3 of Ted Lasso—which may or may not be the show’s final season—and this is the first episode that’s felt like a true return to form. Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Jamie (Phil Dunster) have witty banter, Rebecca explores her dating life, and we get a peek into the personal lives of some of the players.
But it still feels odd that Ted has had little-to-no character arc this season, other than his ongoing separation issues and inability to be a real football coach. Plus, Ted Lasso has always felt like an incredibly human, grounded show, which makes this drug scene seem even more out of place. No amount of shrooms will turn a poor football coach into a great one, nor will they spin a boring plot into a fun one.