When I say every scene in Ted Lasso is worthy of a scene breakdown, I mean every scene, every little detail, every moment because what this show has done in evoking such visceral reactions in people is unmatched.
“Make Rebecca Great Again” was one of the best episodes of TV we all watched in 2020, and it’s one we’re still not over. And much like with the finale “The Hope That Kills You,” this episode is full of deeply vulnerable moments that change the dynamics beautifully. Watching the entire team let go of all their losses for a moment and embrace their win with karaoke night already made for an exemplary scene, but then you bring in a woman who’s lost so much (and herself in the process) to sing a song about deliverance, and you’ve created an indescribable moment.
The characters on Ted Lasso are all so nuanced and layered that even the presumed worst of them has more to say than meets the eye. Thus, when we first meet Rebecca, it’s easy to question her motives, but at the same time, it’s easy to see that there’s tremendous pain buried deep within. And though she doesn’t give us much room to decipher in the first few episodes, this one does the trick effortlessly. The moment we learn that this weekend matters for Rebecca because it’s her anniversary, it isn’t hard to predict that something big is coming.
When she’s visited by a friend who she’s abandoned, it’s clear to see that once upon a time, she’d given herself entirely to people. She didn’t mean to abandon Nora—it’s painfully clear that her goddaughter means the world to her, but after the divorce and ultimately, in her relationship, Rebecca lost herself completely. Rebecca lost her greatness.
And while she was en route to finding it again, the moment the notes hit, it happens transcendently. Hannah Waddingham’s rendition of the Disney number hits like a ton of bricks, and it does so because the character she’s embodying, for a moment, is truly living again. Rebecca is letting go of the heartaches that bind her and holding on to the people surrounding her. Rupert’s club was his, but now it’s hers. This team is her family. This moment is her homecoming. To have this spectacle of genuine sincerity and vulnerability in front of the people who care about her is so utterly moving, it’s left a lasting impression on us all.
And in the midst of this, seeing Ted face a panic attack feels almost cathartic for viewers. Because while one character lets go of the waves that have been drowning her, another is right in the middle of it. This detail then makes Rebecca comforting him not only the ultimate showcase of her full awareness and compassion, but it reveals to the audience that this moment holds great strength.
At its core, this is an episode that thematically represents the colossal power of believing in someone. If Sassy hadn’t believed in Rebecca before and after, she might not have found this catharsis. Additionally, if Ted’s kindness wasn’t so fervently grounded in the amount of faith geared towards her as a person, Rebecca may have been lost for a while longer. Belief in those we appreciate matters, and much of Rebecca’s belief in herself and her team now comes from the support she’s surrounded by. No one can and should have to achieve anything alone, and that’s a beautiful message to leave viewers with.
This is partly what this show is so phenomenal at showing—people showing up for each other will always be an important part of humanity. We don’t often see men have such moments of deeply rooted anxiety and panic attacks on-screen, but Ted Lasso is revealing to viewers that not only is this normal, but it’s entirely okay. The waves will pass. The panic will pass. And people needing others is a showcase of strength, never defeat. As the person who is there for everyone in his life, it was lovely to see the one character who was perhaps most engulfed with her own perils show up for him.
This is a scene that would’ve been excellent no matter who came to help Ted, but because it was Rebecca and after what she’d experienced, it made it that much more powerful. As scene partners, Waddingham and Sudeikis were masterful in the way they brought the momentary calamity and calm to the surface.
It’s the way her voice starts fading out from the song to the ringing that’s heard in Ted’s ears, which the audience can feel so viscerally, especially if you’ve ever experienced a panic attack. (If he weren’t battling his own demons, Ted would’ve been screaming just as loudly as everyone else to Rebecca’s singing.) And Rebecca runs to him with no judgment, no hard feelings, only the profound understanding of the fact that she needs to be beside him. The mist in her eyes serves as a reminder to everyone watching that sometimes, the people who are always lending a hand to others, the people who are positive and smiling all the time are the people who need us most.
There’s a lot to say about what makes both these scenes so compelling to analyze. We can take apart each and every person’s reaction to Rebecca hitting the chorus notes (like Keeley screaming her heart out). We can take apart the fact that grown men like Roy are mouthing the lyrics. We can take apart the lighting and the intimacy of a found family. We can talk about how hard Ted is trying to fight the waves rising within. We can talk about the fact that Rebecca doesn’t just apologize to Sassy (a nickname we love, by the way), but through Waddigham’s unbridled sincerity and the framing of this song, she shows with actions just how apologetic she truly is. She owns up to the part she’s played in all this, and she’s moving forward by lending a hand.
Sometimes you can’t stop the pain from creeping up and engulfing you. Sometimes you can’t stop the tears from falling. Sometimes the situation is so overwhelming you forget how to breathe. Ted Lasso visually shows the audience what it’s like to experience a panic attack, and while we all go through it differently, it was a comforting reminder to know it’s something that’s shared amongst so many of us. And it’s a comforting reminder to those watching to be the Rebecca whenever you can.
It’s an episode that reminds us of the fact that no one is too far gone. We can all be pulled from the darkness that’s shadowing us, and we can find our strength again. We can let go, and we can find release.
Sometimes all a person needs is to be held for a moment and be reminded that they’re okay. The waves haven’t drowned them out. They’re still on shore–they’re still standing. They’re okay. Rebecca came down from her “kingdom of isolation” to a world full of healing; she took the belief that was instilled in her by everyone around (but especially Sassy, Keeley, and Ted) into every ounce of the support she poured into comforting Ted. It brought the idea of belief to unparalleled abreaction, and we trust that this is the start of this show continuing to remind us of how crucial support and kindness are in coming seasons.