Ted Lasso 2×09 “Beard After Hours” Spoilers Ahead
Let me be completely transparent in admitting that I had no idea how to approach this episode review at first. While Ted Lasso’s “Beard After Hours” isn’t necessarily a filler because astounding character development is happening right before our eyes, it also doesn’t give us the aftermath I was hoping for. And quite frankly, the tonal shift is jarring. It acts like a disturbance in the force, which is riveting when you consider all the Star Wars references we’ve gotten thus far in season two.
Much like the once-in-a-blue moon occurrence thematically leaves us in a state of uncertainty, the episode achieves whatever it was meant to. I’ve not had a single drop of alcohol in the past week, and somehow, I feel hungover after watching this, apropos, I suppose, for the series evoking such reactions.
“Beard After Hours” gives Brendan Hunt plenty to work with, and that alone is fascinating to dissect—Hunt not only gets to show off his range as an actor, but the episode allows him to expand further on the character whose traits we know very little about. Beard has a myriad of emotions and can indeed be extremely vocal. While we are still learning about all of these characters, there is not much we know about Coach Beard, including his name. And distinctly, “Beard After Hours” acts as a character study of sorts.
He’s not just Margaret’s little boy—he is his own person, and while the episode doesn’t necessarily reveal who that is to us, we can see him come to terms with a lot of what is needed.
Beard After Hours
For a character who says very little, Brendan Hunt always shows the audience that there is a plethora cooking within. Beard is observing, he’s listening, and he steps up whenever necessary. But outside of the pitch, away from the game, like each of the characters, Coach Beard has demons he battles. Bird by bird isn’t necessarily the way for him.
At times, the episode’s doozy approach almost made the story feel like it belongs in the horror genre, which is interesting to note considering how “Rainbow” frames itself like a romantic comedy. We aren’t just told about Beard’s time in the dark forest, but instead, we see every minute of it. And while I’m not as well versed in this genre as I am in romantic comedies, it was easy to pick up on the ominous symbolism. “Beard After Hours” made me question everything because it made me want to understand the ins and outs of both the character and how the episode works in the entire season.
At some point, I kept wondering whether or not he’d find somewhat of an all-knowing guide much like Luke Skywalker’s search for the Jedi master Yoda in Empire Strikes Back. While Coach Beard wasn’t overtly looking for answers, he was undoubtedly looking for something. A way to cure his broken heart, a means to escape from everything that had ruptured in “Man City.
There are also the bus sequences which at one point gave me Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind vibes. If we examined the story that lens and Beard’s apparent inability not to let Jane go, it could work, but more so, the stream of consciousness framework felt as though it was alluding to something much darker.
What is … love?
Beard is a well-versed man. He knows a lot more than he lets on, and it’s so riveting how so much of that comes to play in this episode. Throughout the entirety of “Beard After Hours,” it felt as though the episode was trying to convince itself that Jane could be good for him. And that alone was off-putting because why spend so much time showing us how unhealthy the relationship actually is, only to turn around and have him confess how much he loves her? But that’s the exciting thing about love from this angle. It makes you question what’s in front of you, the people, their motives, and their desires.
From the thriller-like films I’ve seen, it’s never really an overtly contrived linear path. The ripples are part of the story, and the darkness is meant to be questioned, both by us and the characters within the story.
Ted Lasso is a show that handles vulnerability beautifully. It’s why it stands out through its impact on audiences because writers know how to deal with real, complex human emotions. So, as Coach Beard sat in the pew and started praying about his feelings for Jane, I wasn’t entirely sure how to examine it.
There is always something so achingly raw and beautiful about non-believers approaching prayer for the first time because it’s their last resort. It’s done because they’ve reached sheer desperation, and there’s no longer a place to look—a place to seek guidance from. And thus, Beard’s confession broke me because how is it that he cares for someone so profoundly who’s often trying to change him? What kind of a home did he grow up in to believe that this could be healthy, or rather, why is he convinced he cannot find someone who’d make him better? Is a life that’s more interesting that much more intriguing than what he has, and what could be greater?
Have we all wrongfully judged Jane as opposed to using our curiosity to analyze her? Have we taken her at face value and assumed that she isn’t good for him without ever questioning that maybe she’s just right? I don’t know the answer to this. I don’t think we have, really. So much of this feels and is framed like a one-dimensional relationship. And maybe that’s just it. Maybe, for now, Beard isn’t lucky enough to find love like Roy or Higgins have. But if we look at the song playing as they danced the night away while she stood at a distance, something tells me the answer is darker than a mere “yes” or “no” concerning her love for him.
“Hello” is a song with a lot of repetition, and the repetition tells me that maybe, just maybe, the love that was professed through 52 messages wasn’t the kind of love Coach Beard was hoping for. It was easy to question whether or not the moment was even real or a figment of his imagination, especially with the way the football commentators followed as the Greek Chorus of sorts. Was Jane even there? The night clearly happened, but did she happen? The detail that there was no physical touch throughout the scene tells me that it was as though the choice was painting the distance they’re meant to be at. There’s also the detail that if this is real, she physically places a hula hoop around him as if to signify that this relationship is something that consistently goes in circles.
However, the dance wasn’t so much about Jane as it was about Beard realizing that he is going to be okay. It was a moment for him to let go of all the darkness from the day and find himself in a moment of untarnished joy. Something to shake off. At least, I hope.
The Lady in Red
Charlotte Spencer guest stars as the mystery lady we meet in “Beard After Hours,” in a (stunning) red gown, a sight to behold. But this is where the analytical part of my brain started screaming because she couldn’t just be a pretty lady he’d meet who’d stitch his pants back. Beauty and allure aside, why was she devised like a ghostly figure of sorts? I started digging into color representation and came to find that the Lady in Red often represents the jilted lover (killed in passion).
I even looked into superstition behind dropping keys because of how often that happened, and it’s presumably a sign of upcoming death. It’s a doozy of an episode in every way, but more than that, I can’t help but think of it as a form of foreshadowing. We aren’t watching Game of Thrones; none of our main characters will be dying; however, I can’t help but wonder if someone will. And if that someone could be Jane?
Because ultimately, “Beard After Hours” isn’t about a lady in red we’ll likely never see again, or Jane Payne even, but it’s about Coach Beard and what’s going inside of him. It’s about the fact that though Jamie Tartt wasn’t sad and alone in “Man City,” Beard in this episode is. He isn’t like Ted in the sense that no matter the win or loss, he’ll be fine—he cares too much about the win, and he cares about all else he’s harboring inside. A night out with the bar boys was joyous for a moment, but really, when he said he wanted to shake it off, so much of this night didn’t manifest itself that way.
We are shown so much of his guilt through the conversations he imagines and the defeat he wears like an invisible scarlet letter of sorts. Beard can’t let this game go, he can’t let what he saw with Jamie’s father go, and he can’t let Jane go. But Coach Beard is also a mere mortal, and when faced with threats while he’s alone, the very place he didn’t want to be despite his decision not to ride back with the team, it terrifies him. And we see those fears so acutely when he’s being beaten.
As the man who physically threw out James Tartt from the locker room, it was so jarring to see him in such a state of both physical and emotional vulnerability. He kept his cool when need be, but there were moments of such intricate expressiveness Brendan Hunt’s performance floored me. I was so deeply concerned for Beard, and it came like a curveball right out of the blue.
It was a rougher night than anticipated, and knowing Beard, this might not be something he discusses for a while. Unless … something even bigger arises, and he’s left with no choice but to. Because ultimately, introducing Dr. Fieldstone in Ted Lasso wasn’t just for the teammates; it was for all of them. And I’d personally like to see Beard sit down with her as well. It’s gotta be where this all leads, right? A real and true breakthrough. She is, in a lot of ways, the character who’s most like their version of Jedi master Yoda.
We were told about a dark forest, we went into it, and now, in the fourth quarter of the season, while we’ll still probably be in it to the very end, each of these characters need to find their way out. They need to find the keys to open the right doors that are designed specifically for them. Dropping keys could symbolize death, but it could also be a representation of the detail that it’s just not the right key. They break in the end. And that, friends—makes “Beard After Hours” brilliant, albeit intricate storytelling.
Did I love this episode? Not as much as Beard thinks he loves Jane, it put me in a very strange funk. Did I appreciate every ounce of the visual storytelling and wish I had more time (and expertise) to dissect every little detail? Absolutely. And in that sense, this review essentially frames itself like the episode. As Beard tried to navigate through the hurdles, I did the same in trying to understand my writing process.
A stream-of-consciousness analysis can be a whirlwind at times. Questions on top of questions. Where one thing is answered, another arises. I also don’t know how to cope with the knowledge that while the universe is infinite, consciousness could end at any second. Was the club scene even real, or was it a drunken haze?
Did the bar boys really get to live their dream at Nelson Road? I hope so because what a moment, what a scene. Ted Lasso knows how to use Queen songs most evocatively.
Ted Talks and Further Thoughts
- The opening of this episode starting with an acoustic version of the “Ted Lasso Theme,” immediately crushed me. I was done for by then.
- I legitimately thought James Sr. was going to kill Beard in that final moment and I held my breath the entire time. I need to know who to send my therapy bills to for evoking such fear in me.
- I’m such a fan of Charlotte Spencer’s work from Sanditon, so it was lovely to see her in this episode.
- Showing up in the pants from the night before to work? Excellent choice. But also, that scene reminded me of something very specific and it’s driving me bonkers that I can’t remember what.
- The neon crosses at the church/club were a lot like the ones in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet and again, my theories stand. Is Jane going to be Juliet? Or are the two households AFC Richmond and Man City? There’s also something about Mary that reminded me of Satine from Moulin Rouge.
- Will we ever find out Beard’s name?
- Is the faux professeur name he gave really his? (Unlikely, but I can ask the question, still.) Edit: I wrote this review before the episode aired officially, (screeners don’t always have subtitles), so I missed the spelling and couldn’t look up what it was referring to.
- Was Mary named Mary after Mary Magdalene? Mary of Nazareth? Bloody Mary? Queen Mary I? I need answers. This will set a lot of thing straight. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe I wasn’t meant to figure out this episode.
Now streaming on Apple TV Plus: What are your thoughts on Ted Lasso’s “Beard After Hours?”