Ted Lasso Recap: Smells Like Mean Spirit

“Crying is the best, isn’t it? It’s like an orgasm for the soul.”—Rebecca

I’m not ready for it to end. That’s what I thought when I started the premier for Ted Lasso’s third and final season. It’s not what I thought would happen when I first tried this show three years ago.

When I began Ted Lasso’s pilot, I thought I’d watch a couple episodes, review them and move on. Instead, from that pilot on, I’ve been hooked. Ted is a gem, but the entire show has been nearly perfect. I don’t want it to end but we don’t always get to choose how long we have something; we just have to appreciate it while we have it. That’s also a great lesson for the characters in the show as we begin the final season.

When we left, Ted (Jason Sudeikis) was learning to conquer his anxiety, Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley (Juno Temple) were on thin ice, Nate (Nick Mohammed) went to work with Rupert (Anthony Head) at West Ham, and Ted was pumping up Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) as Richmond made it to the Premier League.

Ted has always been a good guy. He won over Rebecca. He won over the team. He won over the town. All thanks to his innate goodness and sense of humor. It was that innate goodness that led him to pour into Nate and bring him out of his shell. That made Nate’s betrayal stings all the more.

Months later, Nate still looms large over Ted’s life and the team heading into a new season. But that cuts both ways, something we’ll see play out over the course of this season and something that factored heavily into the dueling press conferences that were the heart of this episode. But more on that in a minute.

First, we see Ted sending his son, Henry (Gus Turner), back home to Kansas. After six weeks together, it’s hard to say goodbye. Ted’s missing his family and he’s also wondering why he’s still in England, coaching AFC Richmond. That’s a question he mulls throughout the episode and one that will likely factor into the impending ending here. But that’s a problem for another day.

The problem for today is the predictions for Richmond, which aren’t good. The team is predicted to finish last and get relegated again. This fills the team with dread. It concerns the coaches not named Ted. And it’s very vexing for Rebecca, who feels the pressure of going against Rupert this season. But Ted isn’t worried.

When he sees his team distracted by the doubters, Ted takes them on a field trip—to the London sewer system. It isn’t just a curious side note—it’s an object lesson about letting the stream of poop fly right by. And that poop for Richmond is the projections that have them as the laughingstock of the Premier League. Ted believes, if they stick together, they will conquer all.

After all, Sharon (Sarah Niles), tells Ted at the outset of the episode, “you don’t quit things Ted.” He won’t quit and he won’t let his team quit, either.

West Ham

Meanwhile, Nate is settling into his new role. He pulls up in his meager car to the beautiful and polished stadium, belittles the staff, belittles the players and tries to project the evil, steely exterior he’s adopted in this role. It’s likely part of what drew Rupert to give him this chance and Nate is fully committed. At least that’s how he wants it to seem.

On the inside, he’s still the same man, full of doubts and craving approval. He craves praise, something he felt he didn’t get enough of before. And his performance soon nets him a new car from Rupert, who wants to use Nate to not only win but to hurt Rebecca. Will it work? That remains to be seen.

Rebecca and Keeley

Rebecca, meanwhile, sneaks away for some time with Keeley. Rebecca needs a bit of a pep talk as she grapples with this season. She is worried that Ted isn’t taking the threat seriously enough. But Keeley, in her wisdom, urges Rebecca to stay the course and let, “Ted be Ted.”

Keeley has finally started her own company, and all seems to be going well. But she’s not as happy or set as she appears. When they’re alone together, Keeley breaks down, admitting she’s so busy she has to schedule time to cry. Rebecca tries to cheer her up, but Keeley is nervous about her dinner with Roy and Phoebe (Elodie Blomfield).

When we left the pair, their relationship was on shaky ground. As the episode ends, they are forced to tell Phoebe their relationship is over. She takes it well or seems to take it well. That only makes it harder for Roy and Keeley, both of whom are clearly struggling with the decision. In the car on the way home, Phoebe pushes Roy to reconsider, telling him he’s being stupid. He seems to take it to heart but will it be enough to reverse course here? Time will tell.

Dueling Press Conferences

The crux of the episode is the opening press conference for both teams and coaches. For Nate, it’s an opportunity to shine. But before he can get started, he has to push down the last of his impulse to be a good guy. He sees a flash of his time with Richmond, his gifts from Ted and he has to literally spit the memories out of his mouth to continue. Nate is now playing the heel, and he’s committing to the role.

The questions help tee things up for Nate, who takes swipes at Richmond in general and Ted in particular. It’s a vicious set of barbs that seem to set the stage for a bitter rivalry. But will Ted take the bait?

Rebecca urges Ted to fight back. When the question of Nate comes up, instead, Ted is who he has always been. He’s complimentary, self-deprecating and gets the whole room laughing. At first Rebecca is put off, but then she gets a text from Keeley praising the strategy.

I love The West Wing. There’s a point early in the series where President Josiah Bartlett (Martin Sheen) is floundering, and his staff writes a simple message—Let Bartlett be Bartlett. The path to winning was to let their leader be himself. That’s always been true of Ted, too. And that’s why he will win in the end, no matter who gets the Premier Cup.

Best Scene:

There were a lot of great scenes but I’m going with the moment between Phoebe and Roy in the car. I love Roy and Keeley together and I want them to work it out. They just need to stop being stupid.

Pop Culture References:

Video Games: We got Super Smash Bros and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Movies and TV Shows: We got references to It, Hoosiers, Sky Sports, The Simpsons, Twin Peaks, Carmen San Diego, The Exorcist, Field of Dreams and The Avengers

People: We get references to Dr. Phil, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Maradona, Joe Rogan, Paddington Bear, Ned Flanders, the Sacklers, and Muhammed Ali

Episode MVP:

It’s an easy call today, it’s Ted Lasso. He handled the pressure gracefully and made us all believe again.

That’s a wrap on the premier, I’ll be back next week with the second episode of our final season.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.


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