Ted Lasso season 2, episode 8 recap – what happened in “Man City”?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: September 10, 2021
View all
Apple TV plus series Ted Lasso season 2, episode 8 - Man City


The Richmond team gets destroyed, but many find themselves closer than ever.

This recap of Apple TV+s Ted Lasso season 2, episode 8, “Man City,” contains significant spoilers.

Read the recap of the previous episode.

The term “slow burn” came into popular discourse with the rise of Breaking Bad — for lack of any better way to succinctly describe the way the tensions in that show slowly began to rise episode by episode before reaching a brutal intensity. But what’s often eluded is how well that show did to create individual, episodic conflicts, that kept the season (or series) conflicts in the background but upped the stakes by depicting that conflict in miniature every episode.

You could definitely describe Ted Lasso’s second season as a ‘slow burn,’ which would go a long way towards giving a reason to the backlash. But unlike that other show, Ted Lasso hasn’t done a perfect job of giving each episode a steady structure and rhythm — often it feels like a series of scenes building up to something bigger.

For example, the scene where Roy talks to Phoebe’s teacher about her swearing is intended to explicate the episode’s themes (her father is a “piece of s**t” apparently) but has no follow-up scenes showing Roy learning from his actions (his frequent swearing is leading Phoebe to imitate him). In isolation, it adds up to very little.

Ted Lasso season 2, episode 8 recap

Luckily, “Man City” is where many of the slow-burn conflicts come to a boil, but the episode, like many of the season, feels meandering. For starters, it’s 45 minutes long (forty-five!), and features what should be a season-defining game of football that lasts around five minutes and leaves little to no impact on the characters (this is, on the surface at least, a show about football). 

We open with a particularly blunt bit of exposition, where Sharon talks to her own therapist about Ted, who “refuses to open up and when he gets anywhere close to being vulnerable he fires off a zinger or an obscure reference to something very familiar to a forty-year-old white man in America.” It’s accurate, but then her own therapist claims Sharon does the same thing, but with intellect rather than humor. Before she can work out those issues she’s struck by a car, leading to a tonally jarring segue between the sight of blood on the ground and Marcus Mumford’s crooning “yeeeaaahhhh” of the theme song.

If that left you worried about Sharon, consider yourself a fool, for the incident only acts as a way for her and Ted to break down their barriers. It’s a little clumsy, but does end up leading to the two (somewhat, at least) opening up to each other. Still, it feels lazy that after weeks of Ted slowly making his way further and further into her office, a freak accident is what does the trick.

During the big match, the announcer sets up the stakes — doing in dialogue what the show should have been dramatizing all along. It’s probably the most we’ve seen of the sport all season but is just a series of Man City goals (nobody but the announcer really seems to care about the significance of replaying the team that sent them to relegation). 

Before the game, Ted manages to divulge his panic attacks to the rest of the coaching squad, who all support him and share a secret too (Beard once came to a match accidentally on mushrooms). Later, after seeing a display of father/son tension, he breaks down and tells Sharon the source of his anxiety. “My father killed himself when I was sixteen.” He doesn’t want to talk more, but it’s one of the few emotional beats in the episode that really lands, even if just in isolation.

The ending

The storyline that does work, however, involves Jamie and his own father. He overhears Mr. Obisanya talking to Sam and feels envious of that affection. Buying tickets for Tartt Sr., Jamie has a heart-to-heart with Higgins. After the match, James Tartt enters the locker room and begins taunting the players. Jamie stands strong, turning down his requests and his mean words, finally delivering a punch with the power of years of unkind words. Beard drags Tartt Sr. from the locker room and Roy embraces Jamie. The once bitter rivals are no longer that.

Meanwhile, Sam and Rebecca are (unawares) planning to get dinner. Sam gets a haircut from Isaac (apparently a huge deal, and a sweet montage) but when they arrive at the restaurant it takes a moment for it to click. Rebecca is horrified (partly by Sam’s youth — does Bantr not have an age setting?), but Sam convinces her to get dinner anyway, and they end up having a great time, even kissing at the end, despite Rebecca’s desire to not get involved.

In a post-game interview Sam tells the cameras that even though they lost, they tried. “What’s worse is not to try.” Rebecca takes that advice to heart and (with another jarring needle drop, there have been so many this season) sends him a text. Sam appears at her door, and they begin making out.

What did you think of Ted Lasso season 2, episode 8? Comment below.

Apple TV+, Weekly TV
View all