DISCLAIMER: This recap of Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 6, “Sunflowers,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Diamond Dogs! “Sunflowers” is the season’s strongest outing thus far. Hands down. Ted Lasso is at its best when exploring new character dynamics while pushing them to their limits. We get plenty of character development, too, and it’s glorious. Jamie and Roy’s blossoming friendship continues to be a highlight of the season, while Ted’s breakthrough idea comes when he’s missing home. We see these hints of home for Ted multiple times in the episode. I wouldn’t be surprised if he considers returning to Kansas at some point this season.
Rebecca’s intimate night with the nameless Stranger Man opens her eyes to the kinds of men, the ones that aren’t Rupert, that are out there. You know, Stranger Man isn’t that different from Ted (wink-wink). Ted sending Rebecca 12 texts is slightly unhinged, given that he doesn’t seem to realize he has feelings for her. Again, this episode presents parallels between Ted and Rebecca. Both of them embark on new, mind-opening adventures. They “let loose,” in a way.
Colin and Trent’s heartfelt discussion and subsequent night at the club is a balm for the soul. We get official confirmation that Trent is gay, and he’s now a mentor for Colin. Colin’s monologue tugs at the heartstrings. I’m glad Ted Lasso is giving us more representation this season.
Ready to delve into “Sunflowers”? Let’s get to it.
We open with AFC Richmond playing a friendly match in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, they lose, as has been the modus operandi since Zava’s departure. Higgins (Jeremy Swift), Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) and Keeley (Juno Temple) prepare to leave their box seats. Jan (David Elsendoorn) participates in a post-match interview alongside Roy (Brett Goldstein). While Jan claims the team’s morale was already in the dumps, Roy brushes off the match altogether, claiming it’s not real. Rebecca wants to make plans for a night out in Amsterdam, but Higgins has a date with a “special someone” in the Red Light District, while Keeley has a date with Jack on a plane. ¡Qué romántico!
Roy notices Keeley walking away and asks Rebecca where she’s going. Rebecca notes Keeley’s going somewhere “that believes they deserve her.” Ouch. Roy spots a Zava picture and takes his frustration out on it. Later, Beard (Brendan Hunt) persuades Ted (Jason Sudeikis) to let the guys unwind for the night. They deserve it. So, Ted announces to the team that they don’t have to be back on the bus until 10 am the following morning. Well, except for Jamie (Phil Dunster). Roy wants him training right now. Roy’s frustrated re: Keeley.
Higgins asks Will (Charlie Hiscock) if he wants to accompany him to the Red Light District. Like Rebecca and Keeley, Will assumes it’s a sex thing, but he goes along with it anyway. Meanwhile, Jamie enthusiastically provides Roy with a tour of the sights while they run through Amsterdam. Jamie would make a killing as a running tour guide. Rebecca receives a call from Sassy (Ellie Taylor) while walking through the busy streets. A man on his houseboat (Matteo van der Grijn) calls out to Rebecca, claiming he had to say “hi” to the beautiful woman on the bridge.
We see bikes whizzing past Rebecca as she attempts to steady herself. Suddenly, a biker knocks Rebecca into the canal. The man on the houseboat offers Rebecca a place to dry her clothes. She loses her phone in the canal waters, which is unfortunate because Ted just texted her asking if she wants to hang out. When she doesn’t respond, Ted decides to get weird with Beard. “Weird” means “try drugs” in this context.
Meanwhile, Sam (Toheeb Jimoh), Isaac (Kola Bokinni), Dani (Cristo Fernández), Thierry (Moe Jeudy-Lamour), Colin (Billy Harris) and the others try to decide what to do with their night. As the team captain, Isaac asserts authority, believing they should stick together. Dani wants to see one tulip, while Sam thinks they should stay in and watch movies, and Thierry feels they should check out a sex show. Higgins and Will depart for the Red Light District, while Colin backs out when he hears talk of a sex show, claiming he has a stomachache. Trent Crimm (James Lance) notices Colin’s instant pivot. He knows!
Next, Rebecca emerges from the shower after her impromptu swim in the canal. Honestly, Stranger Man’s houseboat looks so chic. I’d live there. Rebecca dons a robe while waiting for her clothes to dry. She sips tea courtesy of Stranger Man. Higgins tells Will about jazz legend Chet Baker, who died in the spot they’re standing. Beard prepares his and Ted’s drug tea. Granted, Ted’s never tried anything except alcohol and Sour Patch Kids, so this’ll be a trip. However, when it’s time to drink up, Ted pretends to down his tea while Beard practically breathes it up his nostrils.
Then, the team puts their night out up for a vote. Trent follows Colin through the streets of Amsterdam. Stranger Man returns from the store. He wants to prepare dinner for Rebecca. Initially, she feels she should wait for her clothes to dry and then leave, but he persuades her to stay for dinner and drinks. We also learn from Rebecca’s tour that he has a young daughter. Roy urges Jamie to slow down so he can breathe. Roy wholeheartedly believes the city isn’t real — not even the windmills. Jamie, offended on behalf of Amsterdam, claims they need bikes. Hmm.
Next, Ted notices the tea is kicking in for Beard. He urges his pal to take advantage of the night, so Beard makes a beeline for the door. Colin ducks into a gay bar and asks for a drink. Trent approaches Colin and also asks the bartender for an alcoholic beverage. Suddenly, Colin backtracks, stating he walked into the wrong establishment. He leaves hurriedly, with Trent hot on his heels. Poor baby. Outside, Trent reveals he knows Colin’s gay. He’s known for months, and he promises not to tell anyone.
Ted looks down at his phone, noticing that Rebecca hasn’t responded to a series of GIFs and texts. We see Keeley’s commercial playing on the TV. We see Ted leaving after he drinks most of the drug tea. Uh-oh. Rebecca emerges after putting on one of Stranger Man’s ex’s dresses. He’s kept a plastic clothing container from his ex-girlfriend, who cheated on him. Stranger Man cooks a sumptuous feast for them while they sing some Kenny Rogers together. Jamie pays for bikes for him and Roy. Roy admits he doesn’t know how to ride a bike. Why? Because his grandfather promised to teach him, but he died. Jamie insists it’s “for Granddad,” so he encourages Roy to get on a bike.
Next, the most delightful montage in existence plays out, featuring Jamie teaching Roy to ride a bike. In true grumpy old man fashion, Roy becomes increasingly frustrated with himself. He also threatens Jamie for making this happen. However, Roy finally masters the bike. His anger dissolves, and he cheers for himself (as he should). Higgins and Will attend a jazz club in the Red Light District. So, Higgins’ “special date” is with jazz. Colin and Trent have a heart-to-heart about living as a gay man in football.
Colin insists he doesn’t want to be a poster child, nor does he want apologies. He merely desires just to be. He wants to kiss his man after winning a match without anyone making a fuss. Colin feels the struggle between his two identities. He wants them to merge to form one. Billy Harris and James Lance deliver compelling performances here. Colin’s story is heartwarming and heartbreaking. Trent talks about coming out to his loved ones, including his daughter.
Meanwhile, Ted, feeling the effects of the tea, attends a Vincent van Gogh exhibit. He becomes enthralled by the legendary painter’s sunflowers piece. Ted tells a museum worker that sunflowers are Kansas’s state flower. Said worker hands Ted a notebook and reminds him that the exhibit is about to close. Isaac loses it in front of the boys. They can’t find a solution to their going out dilemma. Bokinni is hilarious in this scene.
Later, Jamie and Roy ride their bikes, searching for a windmill. Jamie tells Roy about his first trip to Amsterdam with his father. He was 14 years old, and his dad took him to the Red Light District to lose his virginity. Jamie doesn’t recall much from that trip. However, when he and his mom traveled to Amsterdam, he remembered everything vividly, especially the tours. It sounds like Jamie was sexually assaulted, and he doesn’t recall anything because his brain is trying to block out the trauma. My poor boy. Jamie and Roy apologize to each other for being dicks. This is growth, lads. Progress!
Then, Ted stumbles upon an American restaurant. Rebecca bonds with Stranger Man, who teaches her the Dutch word “gezellig,” which essentially means “pleasantly sociable and friendly.” When the dryer stops, Rebecca checks to see if her clothes are dry. She douses them in water, as does Stranger Man, and they restart the dryer. And so the night continues. While at the restaurant, Ted watches an old Chicago Bulls game — it’s one he used to watch with his father.
Ted gets a stack of onion rings and fries. Briefly, he spots Nate (Nick Mohammed) waltz past him, dressed to the nines in cowboy gear. Of course, Nate isn’t actually here. The waitress brings over Arthur Bryant’s BBQ Sauce, the same bottle Henry sends him in Season 1. After dipping his fries into the BBQ sauce, Ted starts experiencing a trippy vision of sorts. He learns about triangles and their history as shapes. We see the hand of God Herself. After riding the wave of the drug tea vision, inspiration strikes Ted. He starts jotting ideas down in his notebook.
Next, Will convinces Higgins to take the stage and play bass alongside the jazz band. He wows the crowd with his talents. The Richmond crew forgoes all previous plans for the night by engaging in an intense pillow fight. It’s like the one in Community. Honestly, it looks like so much fun. Rebecca and Stranger Man dance the night away, as do Trent and Colin in the club. Jamie and Roy find their windmill, and Jamie learns that Keeley has a girlfriend.
Stranger Man massages Rebecca’s feet until she falls asleep while Ted stays at the restaurant, feverishly documenting his ideas. The following morning, Rebecca changes into the clothes she wore when she fell into the canal. Stranger Man makes breakfast for them. However, Rebecca reveals she needs to leave. She asks him if they had sex. He claims they didn’t. They kiss passionately, with Rebecca departing with neither his phone number nor his name. After she departs, Stranger Man confirms they did, indeed, have sex.
Later, Will chats with his mom while loading luggage into the bus. A van pulls up next to the bus. Beard, dressed as Ziggy Stardust with a pig nose, emerges. He speaks Dutch animatedly to the van’s occupants before it speeds away. He orders Will not to tell Jan that he knows Dutch. I love Beard so much. We get absolutely no explanation for his attire. It’s Piggy Stardust!
Then, Ted presents his ideas for new plays for the team. Beard reveals that while what he “invented” is already a thing, that doesn’t mean they can’t try it. Oh, and the drug tea didn’t work. Beard didn’t feel anything. So, what was Ted high on? Life? BBQ sauce? The world may never know. The bus fills with football players, Higgins and Trent Crimm. Rebecca sits with Ted and Beard in the back. Ted asks her why she didn’t respond to his 12 texts or “haha” his three GIFs. She tells him her phone is at the bottom of a canal.
After Roy and Jamie hop onto the bus, Rebecca leads everyone in a rousing rendition of “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. You know, the song she despised at the beginning of this episode.
“Sunflowers” certainly delivers what it promises: many truths come to light with a heaping helping of sharp comedy and a dose of heart. Jamie’s trauma he endured at 14 when his father forced him to have sex in the Red Light District is heartbreaking, as is Roy’s confession that he never learned to ride a bike after his grandfather died. I love how they help each other in this episode, especially Jamie teaching Roy how to ride a bike to honor “Granddad.” The Season 1 versions of these characters would never behave this way. They’ve come so far.
I hope we see more Keeley in the coming episodes. I’m not a fan of the PR drama storyline, as it doesn’t seem to serve the larger narrative, or Keeley, for that matter. That said, her arc with Jack is intriguing. I’d like to see her interact with the other characters more.
Additionally, I hope one day Colin feels comfortable enough to come out to his teammates. I think they’d all support him. However, he needs to do it on his terms. With Trent in his corner, it might happen this season. Who knows? Regardless, I love how these characters have evolved over the seasons. Their burgeoning friendship is beautiful.
“Sunflowers” develops these characters brilliantly and gives us a lot to mull over. Will Ted and Rebecca finally see what’s right in front of them? Will Roy continue riding his bike for fun? Only time (and more episodes) will tell.
Ted Lasso drops new episodes every Wednesday on Apple TV+.
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