Ted Lasso “Rainbow” Spoilers Ahead
Ted Lasso’s fifth episode, “Rainbow,” written by Bill Wrubel, is as close to perfect as it gets. It’s witty, it’s hilarious, it’s emotionally propelled, and it’s structured brilliantly to frame itself in the same vein as a romantic comedy. The meta tone, in essence, is a treasure worthy of great praise. Its vigor pushes its thematic memorandum onward, forward through another point of view that touches impeccably on what it means to do what people are meant to.
It serves as a gorgeous reminder of the fact that rainbows show up after the rain, which sets the stage to encourage going forward. We’re not even halfway through, and there’s still so much beauty to be found.
Ted Lasso’s “Rainbow” is the episode that subtly goes into depth about what it means to be on the outside looking in and how crucial it is to remember what it’s like to have fun. It’s never too late or too early, but it’s about the right timing in every area of these characters’ lives.
He’s Like a Rainbow
Commence the chant. It’s time. Roy Kent! He’s here. He’s there. He’s every f—king where! Roy Kent!
“Rainbow” is, in a myriad of ways, Roy Kent’s episode. Where “The Hope That Kills You” is structured in the form of his swan song, the events of Ted Lasso’s “Rainbow” exemplify what it means for him to find his onward, forward. It’s his new beginning, the right thing—the triumphant return back on the pitch.
But of course, nothing is ever immediate or easy, and in true romantic comedy mode, it needed its uplifting, climactic spectacle.
When Isaac’s frustrations as team captain begin to luster through more than his joy, Ted realizes that he needs a big dog like himself to talk him out of his own head and thus confronts Roy. At his favorite kebab place, too. Ted starts off by asking Roy to join the coaching staff to which he objects by stating that he now likes what he’s doing (and that people’ tweet’ about him with ‘jifs’). It’s gifs, Roy, but okay—you’re allowed a flaw or two.
But when the restaurant owner presumes that Ted and Roy are father and son, he starts to chime in about how his own father was displeased with his decision to open up a restaurant despite the fact that he knew it was the right call for himself. A character at a restaurant or a café inadvertently gives the hero a sign that will not be addressed immediately but harps on the theme? Another romantic comedy checkmark.
However, when Ted states that Isaac is all up in his head and that’s why he’s really here, Roy remarks by: “let me finish my kebab and pray on it.” (Ted getting down to pray on it might have just been one of the funniest moments in this Ted Lasso’s history followed closely by Roy’s “well, this place is ruined now.”) Is it, Roy? Or is this your classic comedy diner where all problems will be solved now.
Roy then tells Ted to bring Isaac to a specific location (the courtyard where he grew up and learned to play football) to remind him that the game should always be fun. While Isaac is hesitant at first, after a few moments, and after a successful pep talk from Roy, he starts to actually enjoy himself. Also, either Brett Goldstein perfectly breaks character, or Isaac’s joy is so infectious, it starts to impact to Roy, too. (I’m going to go ahead and say it’s the latter because yes, Isaac’s joy is that infectious, and this is a direct aftermath of Roy seeing what it’d be like if he were the coach. He can make an impact still.)
And though Ted continues to ask Roy about joining the coaching staff by quoting classic romantic comedies (my personal favorite being The Princess Bride’s “as you wish” bit), our grumbling hero continues to resist. He gets it. Ted is trying to get to him to see that he is meant for this, but ultimately, we all know the moment has to hit Roy in the head organically. He needs his big Eureka effect—the vulnerability, the excitement, the fears, all of it.
Now that they’re back at Sky Sports and the pundits are watching a newfound excitement in AFC Richmond’s warmup routine, when it’s stated that perhaps Roy doesn’t miss the cold, he responds with: “I miss all of it.” Brett Goldstein packed everything into that one line, and his expressiveness conveyed every ounce of his longing brilliantly. From that moment on, you could see the padlocks in his brain turning towards making the decision that would change his life.
He has to go. He has to get to this game. This is it. It’s now or never.
The entire montage to The Rolling Stones’ “She’s A Rainbow” is, in short, everything. It’s a masterful montage comprised of a whirlwind of emotions that’s so meticulously edited that it’s entirely a work of art. This is Roy’s catharsis. This is his moment to shine. He’s even more vulnerable now than ever before because starting something new, no matter how familiar you are with it, can be terrifying, and it’s even more terrifying when you want it bad enough.
Thus, this is the new beginning that matters most to him because all eyes will be geared towards him in a way they haven’t before. The storms and battles with his body have shadowed his days on the field for far too long, it’s time for the rainbow to make its appearance. It’s time for hope.
And that little bit about quoting Behind the Music: Mötley Crüe—”you’ve got to date your wife” was perfect because that’s precisely who Roy Kent is. He doesn’t do anything in halves, as a soccer player, that’s why he needed to retire because his knee no longer allowed him the opportunity to give 110% to the game. But in all other areas of his life, much like a rainbow, he brings all colors to the surface—especially today, especially now, especially because of how much he has grown by allowing himself chances to accept things that might have once been terrifying. The fears, the vulnerability, the softness, the rage, it’s all a part of the colors within him and it’s so damn beautiful, it’s raining on my face. (Also, if he and Keeley ever get married, Roy Kent would clearly never wait last minute to buy an anniversary gift.)
This is just the beginning for Roy Kent. It’s the culmination of a magnitude of heartaches and repression that up until this moment, he didn’t quite understand fully. As mentioned in “All Apologies,” it was difficult for him to figure out who he’d be when he was no longer Roy Kent the football star; it took some time—trials and errors and uncertainties for him to get to this moment where he knows, without a shadow of a doubt, this is what he is meant to do.
As he watched Isaac get it, despite how much he’d later deny it, you knew clearly that it had hit him in a moment equivalent to transcendent joy. He was part of Isaac’s joy, which means he is now part of something bigger than himself. It might no longer be his time to shine, but he can be part of someone else’s light, and after some time on top, that’s more rewarding than one’s own glory.
Frame by frame, the moment where he walks onto the field is a work of art. The slow, quiet moment as the music fades and we hear what’s his own, but also almost sounds like a sigh of relief from the ethers is magic—the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow is this very moment of homecoming. This triumphant return, this piece of a puzzle that was meant to fit into the story all along. The crowd’s cheers, Keeley’s reaction, Ted’s simple but evocative, “hello, coach…glad you” and every single conversation that led this moment was entirely transformative.
And his reaction to Ted’s “hello, coach” could not have been more heartwarming as Goldstein softens his demeanor just a smitch to deliver: “shut up, just shut up; you had me at coach” without losing Roy’s gruffness was utter perfection.
And then there is Beard’s reaction. My God. Brendan Hunt floored me with a single moment that was so palpable, it was quite literally breathtaking for us as the audience too. Roy’s homecoming is completing their team beautifully.
You can pinpoint the exact moment where Beard realizes that for the first time, everything feels right, and he could allow himself this quiet moment of vulnerability to release some of the crosses he himself has been carrying. Sure, he and Ted know what they’re doing with Nate on their team, but with Roy standing alongside them, they are now that much stronger—they’re now complete. It’s a single moment, but it’s so evocative, there are genuinely so few words to properly describe the kind of absolution it showcases.
Roy Kent is here, he’s there, he’s home.
Something Brave, Someone Big
Nate’s parents are celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary and when he struggles with getting a reservation at a restaurant his dad likes, he turns to Keeley for help in order to make him “famous.” She counters that by stating that he doesn’t want or need fame, but he should be appreciated for what he brings to the table everywhere he goes, and they turn to Rebecca for help.
When training him to be more assertive fails during their first approach, Rebecca gives him a little tip about how she makes herself big every time she walks into a room where she feels she’ll need more confidence. And it’s such a fantastic scene where Hannah Waddingham commands the room in a way that only she can. (Seriously, invent a new word of praise just for this woman. It’s what she deserves.)
Nate takes this advice to heart and finds his own way to boost his confidence, landing himself the window table he originally wanted. The streak continues later in the game as he dons a suit this time around, which he clearly feels and looks great in.
But … the ending happens, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Nate’s expression. In “Lavender,” I had questioned whether or not Nate is facing imposter syndrome, which could result in him lashing out on Will, and with the look of fear in his eyes as Roy walked onto the field, I’m beginning to think that might actually to be true. Whatever it is that Nate is feeling, there is clearly a plethora of fear in him that this will all be stripped from him at one point. That perhaps, it was always too good to be true. There is no other logical reason for him to be apprehensive in any way about Roy joining the coaching staff when he was the one person who’d always defend him while the players bullied him.
This isn’t like Sam’s reservations towards Jamie, someone who used to bully him. Roy was always good to Nate, so what’s the deal?
Nate’s father doesn’t necessarily peg me as someone who might be abusive or anything close to what Jamie probably goes through, but he’s also clearly not the kind of father we know Ted’s must have been like. But what I gather is that he’s just been hard to please, not necessarily conniving, or terrible to his family, but difficult to satisfy. If we continue with the theme of fathers and sons as we’ve started this season, it could be that this led Nate to believe the other men in his life will eventually find themselves displeased with the work he puts in when someone seemingly better comes along.
Whatever Nate’s internal battles are, I can’t wait until we start to see the walls come down and get to the root of the issue. There is a lot more to him than a man who’d like the opportunity to command rooms he walks into, and if anything, we could trust Ted Lasso to flush out the character even more later on.
A Captain’s Transcendent Joy
Transcendent joy is the most infectious kind of medicine and this episode of Ted Lasso, along with the essence of romantic comedies is that they are healing. As a captain, Isaac sets the tone with everything he does and because his frustrations were taking a toll on him, they were taking a toll on the entire team.
But when he finds the joy needed, and he sprinkles it onto the field and into the players, their joy is so infectious, it affects someone like Roy too. It affects everyone. Whatever they’ve got, everyone wants it. Everyone needs it. And it’s the very thing that Ted Lasso’s “Rainbow” as an episode evokes seamlessly. Just seeing Isaac’s face and the childlike joy in his excitement as Roy walked onto the field added years into all our lives.
True Love’s Transcendent Joy
We can’t dig into this episode of Ted Lasso without paying proper homage to Higgins and his wife Julie. When Rebecca hears “She’s A Rainbow” is Higgins’ ringtone for his wife, she asks how he knew she was the one for him. He tells her about the embarrassing time where he tried to show off his skills once the song came on at a bar and spilled his beer all over himself instead. Everyone laughed, except one woman who handed him a “damp, disgusting bar towel.”
And in that scene where we watch him wait for her while she’s in the camera frame just as the lyrics say: “Have you seen her dressed in blue? See the sky in front of you,” I wept. I was already weeping like the utter sap that I am, but my goodness, that moment got me good.
Higgins and his wife are soul mates—they’re an example to everyone on this show of the fact that true love not only helps people overcome all of life’s hurdles but where there is such infectious love, there is a home. It’s why they were the perfect pair to host Christmas in last week’s “Carol of the Bells.” Their house is a home to all because their love is an example of triumph. Their love is a strength to all. Five kids later, and they’ve still got it.
Deepest Fears and Treasure
Vulnerability isn’t easy and opening one’s own heart to love after it’s been broken might just be one of the most challenging things in life. But it requires tremendous bravery and more importantly, it requires a conscious choice to try.
Rebecca’s mystery man on Bantr not only makes her giggle, but he’s quoting Rainer Maria Rilke with “our deepest fears are like guarding our deepest treasure.”
This quote in this very episode also serves to my theory about Nate’s imposter syndrome. He’s trying to hold on to his deepest treasure, which right now is his position as a coach. (While we know there’s no need for him to hold on so tightly because there is no way they’d let him go, it makes perfect sense that this could be his deepest fear.)
But Rebecca is trying and the moment where she admits she is looking for love then immediately throws her phone is just utter proof of how hard this is for her. And the effort alone is everything because it shows that at the very least, she is trying.
And don’t think I didn’t catch the camera panning to Ted on the phone smiling at whatever he was looking at too. That is classic rom-com framing, and that’s all I’m saying on the matter for now.
This episode’s structure and the homage to romantic comedies feels like it was written just for people like me who constantly scream about the fact that this genre is so much more than meets the eye. And Ted Lasso gets it. He understands the essence of romantic comedies, why we need them, and the kind of hope they fill us with when life gets too hard.
“I believe in communism. Rom-communism that is. […] It is a worldview that reminds us that romantic comedies with folks like Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, or Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant […] Point is, if all those attractive people with their amazing apartments and interesting jobs, usually in some creative cold can go through some lighthearted struggles and still end up happy, then so can we. […] Gentleman, believing in rom-communism is all about believing that everything is going to work out in the end. Now these next few months might be tricky, but that’s just because we’re going through our dark forest. Fairytales do not start, nor do they end in the dark forest, that son of a gun always shows up smack dab in the middle of a story, but it will all work out. Now, it may not work out how you think it will or how you hope it does, but believe me, it will all work out. Exactly how it’s supposed to. Our job is to have zero expectations and just let go.”-Ted Lasso
Because of all the classic references, it’s impossible not to believe that this quote is something we are meant to carry throughout the series’ run. A majority of us look to Ted Lasso as the TV savior. It came to us at a time where we needed it most and in the process, it healed our hearts almost effortlessly.
Ted Lasso isn’t inadvertently kind or good or wholesome as a show. It didn’t gain its reputation by one or two people seeing something that wasn’t there. This series meant to be a beacon of hope amidst dark times, but this tells us to be aware of the fact that Ted Lasso also intends to continue touching on the darker parts of life. (Which this season is likely going to be the importance of caring for our mental health.)
It’s as though it’s setting us up to understand that even if things don’t work out as we want them to, the series intends to make sure that it doesn’t subvert expectations or leave us in the dark forest. We’re going to get out of it.
The laziest argument against romantic comedies is the notion that it’s because they’re predictable when that’s far from the truth. It’s not that they’re predictable, but it’s the fact that when using our critical thinking skills, we’re able to pick up what the writers are putting down. A good story does not subvert expectations last minute, but rather it’s the story that plants seeds into harvest. It’s the story that reaps what it sows, and when we’re watching it unfold, the happy aftermath isn’t a cliché—it’s the hopeful, rewarding outcome of making it out of the woods.
Thus, while the rainbow won’t last all day or throughout this season, the promise that everything will work out no matter how dark or rainy it gets is the showcase of superb, meticulous writing that not only cares about its characters, but it cares about the story that spreads a hopeful message.
This is why Ted Lasso is special. This is why romantic comedies are special. The happy ending doesn’t disqualify or dim the fire of the darkness by spreading false hope, but it authenticates the fact that darkness isn’t meant to be a lasting feeling. We could marinate it for a while, but at some point, we’ve got to pick ourselves up and make the conscious choice to do something about finding a way out of the forest. It reveals the strength that human beings are bestowed with and the actuality that rainbows are a sign of endurance.
Ted Talks and Further Thoughts
- Fun fact: 90% of my notes for this episode were in caps lock. Another fun fact: I sobbed so hard during the montage when I first watched it that I had to take a drive to calm down. But it was so cathartic, and I’ll always be thankful Ted Lasso evoked such a reaction.
- Why is a man like George allowed to talk when he makes claims such as “Richmond is like woman who needs guidance? Women don’t need guidance but clearly some men do.
- Nate has an indoor whistle now. Better late than never.
- The team breaking down romantic comedies was one of the most joyous scenes in this show, including Dani Rojas’ late “Jennifer Lopez!” addition. The three Kates!
- Ted quoting Queen’s “Under Pressure” to Doctor Fieldstone shouldn’t have been as heartbreaking as it was, but it’s the truth we could see painted all over his face.
- “My mother says I was born caffeinated” is now my favorite Dani Rojas quote to date.
- “It’s so odd to imagine you young.” Rebecca to Higgins.
- As an Armenian woman, it’s very cool to know that Roy’s church is a kebab restaurant. So much yes.
- “Ain’t no side-eye like a Roy Kent side-eye.” Truth.
- “I’m also just a coach, standing in front of a boy asking him to ….”
- “What does a British owl say?” “Whom.” Worth the wait. So glad they brought this back
- REBA MCENTIRE! R E B A !!!
- How on earth did the security not recognize Roy?
- Rainbow bike. Colors. God, the joy in this episode was everything. Also, Roy giving away his watch to get back to Richmond as opposed to someone stealing it? Genius.
- I also loved the detail that Keeley believes a job requires branding now. And it’s inspired me to say that if you’ve made it to the end of this review, thank you. I’ve been waiting impatiently to share it for weeks now, and it’s one I’m most excited for to be out in the world.
What are your thoughts on Ted Lasso’s “Rainbow?” Let us know in the comments below.