“Shouting is Roy’s love language.”—Trent Crimm
I’m not ready for it to end. I’ve felt this way watching shows before. There’s a sense of excitement and investment as we approach the finale, but also a sense of loss. Though it’s polarized some critics, I’ve found this third and presumed final season of Ted Lasso to be a beautiful and emotionally rich experience. As we hurdle toward the end, this penultimate episode was the best of the season so far, and perhaps one of the series’ best.
It focused on three stories, all deeply intertwined. We begin with Richmond on a 15-game winning streak, with two matches left in the season and a chance to be the top seed. To do that, they have to get past Manchester City. But, in typical Ted Lasso fashion, there’s more afoot than just an epic football match.
For Ted (Jason Sudeikis), it’s an unexpected visit from his mother, Dottie (Becky Ann Baker). For Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster), it’s an unexpected loss of mojo as he prepares to return to face his former team in his hometown. For Nate (Nick Mohammed), it’s an unexpected chance at redemption.
We begin with Ted finding his mom on a bench on his way to work. She has traveled to England unannounced and it’s throwing Ted for a loop. He dutifully takes his mother to work, where she shares wild stories about his life with the team. Then he repeats the cycle at the pub, but Mae (Annette Badland) is wise to the fact Ted’s struggling with having his mom here in the flesh.
Ted’s done a lot of work on himself these last three years. He’s learned to confront past trauma and consider how it has impacted his life. After dancing around, it most of the episode, Ted finally confronts his mother, and they have a real, open, and honest conversation. It’s an important step for both of them and for their relationship moving forward.
Dottie responds with a truth bomb of her own—about how much Ted’s son misses and needs his father. That, too, shakes Ted to his core. When he shows up to his office the next morning, he encounters Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham). She tells Ted she has no truth bomb to share this year. Ted tells her he has one. That’s where it leaves us, but I think we all know what’s coming. Ted came to England to escape but he found a place to heal. And now, it’s time for him to go back home. He didn’t say the words, but it’s all been leading to this. I suspect we’ll have some more goodbyes in next week’s finale.
Jamie’s Lost His Edge
Elsewhere, Jamie is in a funk. It begins during a press conference early in the hour where a bewildered Jamie actually apologizes for scoring a goal. Roy (Brett Goldstein) is perplexed. He tries giving Jamie some tough love, but Jamie merely breaks down weeping.
Befuddled, Roy turns to Keeley (Juno Temple) to help Jamie get on track. It’s also a chance for some awkward moments between Roy and Keeley—who healed their rift last week but whose relationship remains an open question. Keeley tries to ply her magic but, alas, it seems to make things worse for Jamie.
Following team movie night, Jamie heads out in the night. Concerned, Keeley and Roy follow. Jamie catches on to their tail and invites them on the journey with him. Turns out, Jamie is going to see his Mom (Leanne Best). Jamie introduces Roy and Keeley, who get a tour of the family home while Jamie gets some good advice. It helps get him somewhat back on track.
But, during the big game, after Jamie gets hurt, it’s Ted who gives him the final push. It’s the perspective Jamie needs, as he goes on to the field, scores a goal and cements a 2-0 Richmond win. It’s an exceptional moment for Jamie and the team, which now has a chance to go from worst to first in the Premier League.
Even better is the friendship between Jamie, Roy and Keeley. It’s been a journey for all of them and seeing them sip victory champagne at the end of the hour, Ted can’t help but be touched. I felt the same.
Nate the Waiter
In the final piece of the penultimate hour—which was really 70 minutes—we catch up with Nate. No longer a coach, he’s now a waiter at his favorite restaurant. He gets to spend time with Jade (Edtya Budnik), who is frustrated at how good Nate is as being a waiter. She’s also dismayed that he’s content to do that job when he’s made for so much more.
At the start, Isaac (Kola Bokinni), Colin (Billy Harris), and Will (Charlie Hiscock) stop by to find Nate. They have an offer, on behalf of the team, for him to return as a coach. Nate is flattered and asks if Ted sent them. When they reply no, Nate declines.
We soon learn this wasn’t done behind Ted’s back, but rather launched by Higgins (Jeremy Swift) in conjunction with Ted. Ted’s on board with having Nate back, so is Roy and so is the team. Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) remains staunchly opposed. But Ted has a plan.
So, too, does Jade. She gets Nate fired at the restaurant, forcing him to make a choice. Nate decides he needs to swallow his pride and return to Richmond for the season’s final game. He even drafts a lengthy apology letter to Ted. But he soon finds out Ted isn’t the one who needs convincing.
After the Manchester City win, Ted brings Coach Beard over to watch the security footage again. As I’ve long suspected, there is more to it than the chunk Beard and Roy used to motivate Richmond earlier in the season. It shows Nate and his shame, which led him to hide for hours after his act. Ted reminds Beard that people should be judged by more than their worst act of shame.
Beard, in turn, heads to Nate’s apartment. While Nate expects some vitriol, instead Beard shares the story of how he met Ted. It’s a beautiful story of friendship, redemption and loyalty. It’s also a powerful example of forgiveness. All of it prompts Beard to impart the same to Nate, while in turn offering him his job back. It was one of the most beautiful moments in a series that’s been filled with beautiful, emotional moments.
So, the stage is set for our finale. Jamie has his mojo back. Nate has his job back. And Ted is likely going back home. I’m not ready, but it’s coming anyway.
It couldn’t be anything other than Beard’s tale of his friendship with Ted and the mending of his relationship with Nate.
Pop Culture References:
People and Characters: We got shout outs to B.F. Skinner, Sherlock Holmes, Bruce Springsteen, Courtney Cox, Judas, Cold Play, Nora Efron, Paul Hollywood, Freddie Mercury, Freddy Kruger, Dolly Parton and John Wooden
Songs, Papers, and Films: We got references to Les Miserables, The Wizard of Oz, the Daily Mail, You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle and the songs Blue Moon, Fat Bottomed Girls and Islands in the Stream
It’s been a long time coming, but it’s Jamie Tartt. It was a beautiful journey for him capped off by an incredible showing on the Pitch.
That’s it until our finale next week.
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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