“Headspace” doesn’t introduce new conflicts; rather, they feel like natural extensions of what the show has been building towards throughout the season.
After a football-heavy episode last week, this week’s proceedings deal exclusively with the off-the-field issues of the show’s primary players, picking up right where the show left off. No new conflicts are introduced; rather, they feel like natural extensions of what the show has been building towards.
Ted’s mental breakdown at the end of the match last week leads to him finally agreeing to meet with Dr. Sharon. But the process is slow going at first, as Ted’s uneasiness manifests itself in several forms. First, he literally can’t find a way to get comfortable in the room, leading to a funny bit of physical comedy from Sudeikis as he tries all manner of different positions to lay down on the couch. Next, he lashes out at the idea of therapy in general, inferring that therapists are disingenuous in their relationships with their clients, faking a friendship in order to gain insight. And yet, because Ted refuses to quit on anything he starts, he finally returns to Dr. Sharon’s office and they, presumably, have a session together. Strangely, we never see the meat of that session, nor do we get any immediate payoffs regarding whether it’s worked or not, and I don’t suppose we will until we see Ted outside of the workplace, where he’s free to express himself. And though I’m sure Ted feels comfortable enough around Trent Crimm (who’s been sorely absent this season) in a pub, he’s smart enough to know that he doesn’t need to bare his soul to a journalist.
Roy and Keeley’s relationship so far has been fairly drama-free, where the show has instead built them up to show the strength of their bond. So it was all but inevitable that some kind of conflict would come up. But whereas the writers could have cooked up some new, external source of conflict, it simply boils down to one thing: they spend too much damn time together. Roy’s new stint as a coach means that Keeley can’t get a minute to herself and begins to feel smothered by him, regardless of whether he’s intentionally doing so or not. I don’t need any earth-shattering revelations to come to light, or outside forces to work against them – thank god the show has so far avoided even entertaining the notion of a potential reunion between Keeley and Jamie – but smaller tensions help me stay invested in their relationship as much as anything else.
The darkest carryover from last week, and the entire season so far, is the antagonism of Nate. My fears that Nate’s late-game coaching heroics would go to his head was largely correct (hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day) and he continues his slide to the dark side this week. His Twitter feed seems to be constantly refreshed to show his social media stock, and he goes out of his way to point out the newspaper’s coverage of himself to his father. To some extent, Nate’s obsession with his sudden fame is understandable. Here’s a character who spent most of his pre-Ted tenure under the shoe of everyone else in the club, despite the fact that he may know more about football than anyone else. Now he’s responsible for winning the latest match and a local hero. Does this episode show all of that effectively? Maybe not, but Coach Beard, at least temporarily, cuts him down to size by effectively reminding him of Ted’s primary philosophy: be nice. Whether he takes that to heart in the long run is up in the air, especially after his lashing out at Will in the closing minutes.
We’re now officially in the second half of this already great season of television. While the first half was fairly light on Ted’s personal drama, instead choosing to further deepen our understanding of the show’s supporting characters, I’m hoping that the second will continue to delve into his personal struggles. It’s come to my attention that there may or may not be a growing “backlash” against the show’s second season for playing into its overt niceness (this is just one of the perks of largely avoiding social media as I try to do). I wouldn’t disagree that the show has leaned into Ted’s quirky sayings and whimsy, but I would push back by saying that this season has done an effective job of exploring the darkness behind Ted’s sunny disposition. Ted has always had demons haunting him, whether from his failed marriage or his inability to be present for his son, or even his struggles to get his players and the community on-board with his philosophy. But what season two has on its agenda is exploring the unstable mind behind someone that projects so much stability to everyone else. “Headspace” effectively does this without even showing Ted rebuilding his inner walls that have started to crumble. It’s been difficult to avoid bingeing the season and watching all of the press screeners at once, but after this week’s episode, the temptation is even stronger.
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.