Season two juggles new plot developments and ignores newer ones, to mixed results.
One of the quieter revolutions in the new streaming days has been the return to the old-school release strategies of services like Apple TV+ and Disney+. Rather than dumping an entire season all at once, they’ve been releasing one episode per week. This not only helps to build buzz around a show throughout the course of a season, but it takes the pressure off the creative forces to make every episode intricately connected and airtight. Last week’s “Carol of the Bells” was designed as a one-off episode because of its holiday trappings, but this week’s episode feels disconnected from season two’s overall narrative in a different sense.
The show still hasn’t addressed the fallout from Sam’s Dubai Air protest from two week ago, which feels a little strange given the weight it had and the stakes at play for the entire cast. In fact, many of the plot threads that the first three episodes has been setting up are largely set to the side this week. Instead, “Rainbow” focuses on Nate and Roy’s personal and professional ambitions. Nate’s storyline feels the slightest on the surface, in that it doesn’t relate to Nate’s relationship to the team or his fellow coaches. The episode opens with Nate going to book a reservation at his parent’s favorite Greek restaurant, but failing to secure their favorite table by the window. He goes on to enlist Rebecca and Keeley’s help to project more confidence, which provides some nice back-and-forth that we haven’t seen, as well as some decent introspection into Rebecca’s mindset as she goes up against the various condescending men in her industry. Nate’s arc throughout the series has been all about the team’s perception of him, going from bullied equipment jockey to a beloved part of the team, yet we haven’t seen or heard much about his home life. We get a small hint of his father’s stern demeanor, but not enough to have the emotional impact that the show wanted to have. Still, it’s a harmless subplot and Nick Mohammed does well when given the spotlight for an episode.
The one bit of continuity in “Rainbow” has to do with Roy and his tenure away from AFC Richmond. When Ted notices that Isaac, now the team’s captain, has lost his mojo and enlists Roy’s help, since he served in the same role before. Ted throws out a reference to the team’s relationship to romantic comedies, which leads to some funny bits where various characters subvert the tropes that rom-coms are known for. As unnecessary as these bits are, it gives the episode an extra spark that’s otherwise missing. While it would have been nice to see the show expand its already solid cast of supporting players by focusing on Isaac, “Rainbow” slyly makes this segment about Roy and his uneasiness with retirement. I always suspected that the show would eventually find a way to bring Roy back into the fold amongst the team, no matter how much I was enjoying seeing his life away from it. What’s frustrating is how abrupt it all happens, especially given how much Roy seemed to actually enjoy being in the commentator chair for a change.
Ted’s uneasiness with Dr. Sharon comes creeping around the edges, so I’m sure we’ll see more unfold soon. And Rebecca’s love life is still a major subject, as she’s preoccupied throughout this episode with flirtatiously texting a mystery man on a dating app, though the show seems to be heavily implying it may be Ted on the other end. Is the Ted/Rebecca just another riff on rom-coms, specifically You’ve Got Mail, or should we take it at face value and await the inevitable reveal? Also mysteriously absent, though still present on-screen for at least once scene, is Jamie Tartt. I don’t think it’s even remotely close to the time to hit the panic button with season two yet. I also don’t think the show is trying to juggle too much at once and forgetting which storylines to focus on. It still remains a joy to see the show pair off its characters with new and interesting dynamics. As Ted has stressed early on, it’s not about wins and losses, it’s about seeing everything and everyone come together to do the little things right.
About the Writer: Ben Sears is a life-long Indianapolis resident, husband, and father of two boys, as well as a contributing writer on ObsessiveViewer.com and a recurring co-host on The Obsessive Viewer Podcast, and a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. Aside from watching movies and television, Ben enjoys photography and running marathons, but never at the same time. That would be difficult.