Watch Ted Lasso now on Apple TV +. This live episode blog is updated weekly.
Following last season’s triumphant promotion to the Premier League, AFC Richmond, led by head coach Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), is widely predicted by the media to finish last, which is greeted with uproar by the club’s owner Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham). If that wasn’t enough, Nate (Nick Mohammed) has jumped ship to become head coach at West Ham United, owned by Rebecca’s ex-husband Rupert (Anthony Head). In the wake of Nate’s exit, Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) steps up as assistant coach for Ted alongside Beard (Brendan Hunt). Meanwhile, Ted continues to wrestle with personal issues back home involving his ex-wife Michelle (Andrea Anders) and his son Henry (Gus Turner), and Keeley navigates the trials and tribulations of being the boss of her own PR agency. Can Team Lasso deliver the fairy tale story as underdogs, or will it fall apart? Developed by Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly, Ted Lasso is based on Sudeikis’s character first portrayed in a series of promos for NBC Sports’ coverage of the English Premier League.
EPISODE ONE: Smells like Mean Spirit
“I can’t tell if it’s more crazy or less crazy that we’re still here.”
And so we return to AFC Richmond for the third and possibly, but unconfirmed at the time of writing, final time, following an emotionally cathartic second season that delved into mental health and African politics whilst maintaining its mature stance on the intricate nature of human relationships. Crucially for a show formally grounded by its unbounded optimism, it unveiled our lovingly cheerful coach Ted to be a rather broken figure underneath his usual happy surface as he opened up about a lifelong traumatic wound from his childhood with the help of sports psychologist Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles). It was an ambitious development but one that proved successful as Ted lifted an emotional weight off his shoulder and learned that in order to heal others, he must heal himself.
So it’s more than fitting that Season Three of Ted Lasso doesn’t begin in the bowels of AFC Richmond but with Ted and his son Henry (Gus Turner) parting ways at the airport after a much-needed summer holiday together. It’s clear that Ted has been dreading this moment as he delays the inevitable by engaging in light small talk with the flight attendant. But what I admire about this quiet opening is that it re-establishes the mature growth that Ted underwent during the last season whilst displaying that he is still the same happy-go-lucky man as he was when he first arrived at Richmond. As he gets in the taxi from the airport, he has a therapy session over the phone with Sharon, expressing guilt for leaving his son to fly alone that traces back to his dad forgetting to pick him up late from school. Instead of bouncing these thoughts away with toxic positivity, Ted understands the importance of therapy as a tool for confidentially alleviating his worries, even if his son is living thousands of miles away across the pond. Simply put, this is another example of how the writers beautifully articulate therapy with nuanced complexity.
But despite this, Ted’s time with Henry has given him doubts about his purpose in Richmond – “I knew why I came, but it’s the sticking around I can’t quite figure out”. Sharon thinks it’s down to perseverance, but throughout this episode, Ted’s mind drifts back to that nagging question: why am I still here? If this is to be the final curtain, the writers have established a potential endgame.
“Bloody hell, all of them have us finishing last!“
Ahh, the pre-season predictions. For football fans, this is when everyone from pundits and journalists to, as Rebecca describes it, “lonely middle-aged sports blogging losers” conjure their own crystal ball of footballing knowledge and team bias to predict the upcoming season. For our beloved Greyhounds, everyone has predicted they will finish bottom. Naturally, Rebecca is furious, and it doesn’t help that her ex-husband Rupert’s West Ham is predicted to finish in the top four. In addition, Rebecca’s mood has seeped into a tetchy dressing room, and team morale is sinking fast. So to help with their worries, Ted organises a motivational day out, a trip to the London sewers. I adore these moments in Ted Lasso because they harness the show’s familiar warm tone and demonstrate how you can uncover motivational lessons in the unlikeliest places. Whether it’s the diamond dogs or the cheesy “Believe” sign in the dressing room, this is where Ted Lasso finds its resonance in unexpected ways, and I hope this continues throughout the season.
“Nathan Shelley, you are a killer.“
If there’s any character storyline I was most looking forward to this season, it was Nate. We first met him in Season One as a shy, timid kit man with low self-esteem who gained confidence under Ted’s leadership. But Season Two showed Nate as a product of a lifetime of anxious ambivalent attachment problems thanks to an emotionless father who casually neglected him. He wants to be feared and respected – to become Nate the ‘Great’ – but deep down, he wants to be constantly coddled. Now, he seemingly has everything he wants as head coach at West Ham. He barks orders and enacts harsh punishments during a military-like training session; he is given a snazzy supercar as a present by cold-hearted Rupert, who spoils him with praise (Anthony Head). When his anxiety kicks in, he bottles it through verbal hatred. Although this episode is establishing the parameters of the season, the show is not hiding where Nate finds himself through Rupert’s rather menacing office bearing the aesthetics of a tyrannical emperor’s throne room. This is a hell of his own design, even if he doesn’t know it yet. It could be a long road back for the ‘wonder kid’.
- Bar West Ham’s kits, the London stadium and some Premier League-sponsored mics at Ted’s pre-season press conference, it looks like we’ll have to wait until next week before we see the fruition of Apple TV+’s licensing deal. Although the trailer teases a trip to Stamford Bridge and the Etihad Stadium, will we be getting any real player/manager cameos? If so, then Pep Guardiola vs Ted on the touchline could be a spectacle.
- One of my favourite aspects about Ted Lasso is how it incorporates real-life members of the English footballing community. Step forward James McNicholas, real-life Arsenal correspondent for The Athletic, star of Horrible Histories (CBBC) and now a journalist at Nate’s press conference.
- There were some excellent one-liners throughout the episode, but Rebecca’s “Crying is an orgasm for the soul” offered wisdom and a loud cackle from me.
- Henry handing a Lego miniature of the Premier League trophy to his father is adorable but potentially sets up the unthinkable: could AFC Richmond win the Premier League?
- Of course, Rupert will be off on holiday with the Sacklers!
- Nick Mohammed’s performance as Nate is going to be a highlight this season, particularly if moments like his quiet bubbling rage at Ted’s press conference offer goosebumps.
- So Roy and Keeley broke up, which feels like a shock, but I really like how they revealed it through having a sit-down with his niece Phoebe as she will be the one most impacted by it.
EPISODE TWO: (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea
So after last week’s bombshell that Keeley and Roy broke up, the writers have decided to tackle some of the themes left hanging (this is only episode two, so we’re still very much in the setup). Meanwhile, we had plenty of transfer talk involving the destination of an arrogant superstar striker, Zava (very much the Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the Ted Lasso world).
“Maybe you and I can see how good it feels to believe in someone else, yeah?”
Let’s start with Keeley, whom I didn’t mention in last week’s recap, as the focus was on Ted and Nate. But in episode one, we did get a brief glimpse of her PR firm KJPR and her rather stoic CFO, Barbara (Katy Wix). This week offers us a more detailed exploration of Keeley and Barbara. One is learning to be her own boss while trying to bring her introverted team together, and the other is acting as a semi-mentor but equally lacks social skills outside of the workplace. We got a classic Ted Lasso moment between Keeley and Barbara after the former bumps into her old friend Shandy Fine at an advertising shoot (Ambreen Razia) before hiring her as ‘Client Relations Co-ordinator’. After Barbara rudely chastises Shandy via an on-the-spot interview revealing her lack of experience and higher education, Keeley storms into Barbara’s office and rightfully challenges her snobbish attitude. Arguably, there’s a similarity to be drawn from Keeley’s belief in Shandy and Ted’s belief in Nate in season one. What’s clear is that Keeley’s arc in season three will be fascinating.
“I was 17 years old; this fucking wrecked me!”
And so we come to Roy “FUCKING” Kent, who had quite an eventful episode as the news of his breakup with Keeley surfaced. Firstly, his biggest peeve Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster), offers him a genuine hug which Roy outright refuses due to their well-established animosity, leading to a fantastic punchline as Will Kitman overhears their conversation (he always seems to be accidentally in the room when private matters are discussed!). The AFC Richmond dressing room finds out, which then leads to a yelp from Coach Beard and Ted briefly passing out, perfectly timed with Roy sauntering in and being greeted with a deafening silence. Brett Goldstein’s much-bellowed “TAAAARTT” is similar to Superintendent Chalmers yelling at Principal Skinner in The Simpsons, and it had me in stitches. Finally, he has to share an office with former Independent writer Trent Crimm (James Lance), who has been commissioned to write a book about AFC Richmond, leading to Roy informing everyone not to discuss anything football-related around the plucky reporter. What a lovely welcome!
But if we’ve learned anything from the show, everything will eventually be laid out for discussion. So after Ted quietly tells Roy to explore his differences with Trent for the team’s sake, we learn he has had a long-term resentment of the reporter since he published a hatchet job regarding his Premier League debut at seventeen years old. This reconciliation does not entirely convince me. Roy uncharacteristically accepts Trent’s apology quickly (“It’s alright”) before saying that they “had a lot in common back then”. It’s all a little too forced, especially when Roy has kept a paper clipping of his report neatly tucked away in his wallet all this time. Still, I suppose the writers didn’t want Roy’s self-ego to sabotage the season and any potential development between the pair. Who knows, maybe Roy might give Trent a hand of balloons with kindness instead of aggressively bursting them by episode twelve!
Chelsea Away Day
So Richmond snatched a late draw against the Blues from SW6 (hooray!), but aside from that, was anyone else a little… underwhelmed? As much as Apple’s licensing deal with the Premier League has allowed the show to use Stamford Bridge, the club’s shirt from last season and some of its image rights, I expected a bit more than the name and Harry J Allstars’s “The Liquidator” being played before the second half (which to my knowledge rarely happens at Chelsea). It’s possible the vast upheaval in the club’s ownership in real life following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to a more reserved involvement than previously planned, but still, a brief current player/ex-player/manager cameo couldn’t have gone amiss.
- I might be reading too much into Barbara’s snow globes collection. Even though Keeley saw it as a visual display of how much the firm believes in her, I thought it conveyed how she has been unappreciated in her role, bounced from firm to firm and country to country with only the snowglobes to show for her efforts. Just look at Katy Wix’s nuanced performance as her downtrodden expression conveys Barbara’s guilt for her snowglobes and the accompanying Hammond Organ in the soundtrack, further implying a tinge of melancholy underlying this brief interaction. Let’s hope Keeley shows her a bit of love!
- “What’s that fucking face?” “It’s called empathy, you dusty old fart!” My favourite dialogue of the week, but who would’ve thought that Jamie Tartt (do-do-dodo-dodo), the arrogant, selfish boy from season one, would now express empathy for his former locker room enemy Roy?
- I only mentioned him briefly, but it’s great to see Trent Crimm back, performed with such swagger by James Lance. We’ve all met a few people like Trent, their library of knowledge delivered with obnoxious arrogance. Thanks to his employment at Richmond, we get to spend more time in his company!
- So Zava is heading off to Richmond after Rebecca knocked his ego down a peg or two in the urinal, primarily driven by Rupert’s appearance at the match. Speaking of which…
- “I guess I’m just like any man, just get bored with the same old.” Rupert loves rubbing it into Rebecca at every opportunity. West Ham v Richmond will surely be a fiery encounter with each passing week, but I’m waiting for Rebecca to lay into her ex-husband finally.
- No Nate to be seen in this episode, but let’s hope that the West Ham player from last week has been taken off the dumdum line.
EPISODE THREE: 4-5-1
“I am an empty vessel filled with gold; I am your rock. Mould me.“
We begin with, undoubtedly, the biggest addition of the week, Zava. Firstly, I must give massive credit to Maximilian Osinski for his stand-out performance in this episode suitably titled “4-5-1” (the formation used by Richmond on his debut). For long-time football watchers, it’s pretty notable that Zava is channelling the egotistical energy of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (who is remarkably still playing at the age of 41 for AC Milan), someone who defines themselves through a one-man philosophy and parts nonsensical words of wisdom for their fellow teammates. And Osinski hilariously taps into this egotistical mindset thanks to pseudo-philosophical lines like, “Time is a construct”, delivered in a slow husky voice, greeting Higgins in a forehead-to-forehead exchange and breaking Richmond’s traditional huddle by walking into the circle and getting the team to touch his body as though the second coming has arrived.
Personally, I’m already won over by Zava and think he’s a great addition to the show (Just look at that mosaic tattoo on his back!). Even though Ted has great experience handling arrogant players like Jamie Tartt, he hasn’t managed a proper superstar figure yet, so I’m excited to see how this will all pan out. Judging by the montage showcasing Zava’s immediate impact on the team – scoring sensational goals from the halfway line and with a bicycle kick – it’s a match made in heaven. But I’m really hoping the writers don’t fall into a cliché trap-door by having him betray Richmond or, worse, force a transfer to somewhere like Richmond as a catalyst for the Rebecca v Rupert storyline. Watch this space!
“I’m a strong and capable man.”
One of my favourite elements about this show is when we get small glimpses into the players’ lives which helps us understand the bigger picture of the team as a collective. This was brilliantly captured in one of my favourite scenes last season when Jamie leaves the ITV studios taking selfies and signing autographs to fans on autopilot accompanied by sincere Jazz piano to reflect his head being entirely elsewhere. This week, a popular fan theory is confirmed during the cold open revealing that Richmond midfielder Colin Hughes is gay as he warmly embraces his partner Michael (still in his dressing gown) before leaving for training. There’s also a lovely callback to season one as we see Colin struggling to drive his Lamborghini as he hits the bins on the driveway (timed with an excellent audio fake-out of the show’s theme). But, most of all, I love how this reveal provides deeper meaning to Colin’s mantra of being a “strong and capable man” because not only is it a motivational phrase to overcome his insecurities but a tool to hide his sexuality from his teammates through the familiar heterosexual footballer image, such as when he jokingly says “okay I’ll have sex with Zava” seen as light-hearted banter by the dressing room (notice Isaac’s casual homophobic remark during this scene too), or introducing Michael as a hetero “wingman” which was painfully sad to watch. Simply put, Colin must conform to being a “strong and capable man” in a heteronormative environment. It will be fascinating how the writers explore this mantra in a sport widely known for its homophobia.
From this perspective, Colin’s storyline is a critical moment for the show in a contextual manner, as homosexuality in English football is widely viewed as a taboo subject by both players and the media. Despite the Premier League having initiatives like Rainbow Laces in collaboration with Stonewall to promote equality and diversity as well as encourage LGBT+ acceptance among children and young people, there is only one openly gay male footballer in England’s top four divisions, Jake Daniels, a forward for Blackpool F.C (who came out only last year to widespread media attention). That’s not to say this storyline will give more LGBT+ players further confidence in coming out to their fellow teammates and clubs but considering how homophobia has been systemically widespread in the game for decades, it’s, without doubt, refreshing to see a representation like this in a major TV show about English football. And judging by that ending of Trent catching Colin “in the moment”, I think we can assume what will happen next.
“A reminder to come back again and again.”
The episode ends with a pre-opening gathering at Sam Obisanya’s brand-new Nigerian restaurant. This is a gratifying moment for Sam’s arc after last season as he finally achieves his goal of putting something from his heritage back into the community. Crucially, there’s a proper reunion vibe to the scene with these various characters across the seasons coming together in an intimate moment to congratulate Sam and a sense that this is potentially the last dance with many storylines coming together: Sassy’s back (yay!) and perks up a rather despondent Ted; Coach Beard and Jane are, somehow, still together despite their evident toxic relationship; Roy and Jamie have another retrospective moment and fast becoming a neat odd couple this season; Rebecca catching feelings for Sam again (the moment where she gets handed the green matchbox from him as a restaurant souvenir was spine-tingling). It’s just a very well-written scene reminding loyal viewers of the incredible progress of all the characters since day one, reinforcing the status quo whilst paving the way for upcoming episodes. Hooray for Team Lasso!
Premier League Watch
Two stadiums appeared during the montage sequence, mainly Burnley’s Turf Moor and Manchester United’s Old Trafford. The show looks intent on not treading into cameo territory, but I still have my fingers crossed on a current player briefly turning up for a one-liner or a full scene.
- Is it me, or did Roy Kent getting all gooey-eyed about Zava after his debut feel somewhat out of character? He’s never been starstruck by any players throughout the show, so I’m quite curious as to why he’s completely enamoured by him.
- “You will have a family. You will be a mother.” Rebecca storming out of psychic Tish’s house was very funny but did the writers just signpost Rebecca’s destination for this season? I suspect so.
- A phone call to America before the match means a warm welcome back to Andrea Anders as Ted’s ex-wife Michelle and, as alluded to at the end of episode one, she has a new partner Jacob who was the doctor that provided their marriage counselling. Unsurprisingly, this will get very icky for Ted, but it’s also noteworthy that he has a panic attack soon after on the touchline. As I wrote in the episode one recap, his triggers come from parental concerns, and now with Jacob re-entering his life, I think he’s more scared about losing Henry to another father figure like him.
- Only a brief appearance from Nate this week as he reads up on Richmond’s unbeaten run. For a character so pivotal to this season, we haven’t seen enough of him but looking at next week’s episode, that’s about to change.
- For any Wolverhampton Wanderers fans, what did you think when Ted mispronounced your team as the “Wolverhampton Wandering Wolves”? Might it catch on with the fanbase?
EPISODE FOUR: Big Week
If we’re dividing this 12-episode season into three acts, then episode four, “Big Week”, concludes Act 1. And there was only one score to settle: West Ham United vs AFC Richmond at the London Stadium.
“Am I a mess?”
Let’s begin with AFC Richmond, specifically with Ted and Sassy having a bedside chat the following morning. After some brief flirty banter, Ted asks Sassy out on a date, to which she adamantly declines because she likes their Friends With Benefits (FWB) status and thinks he is a mess (paraphrasing Ted, she wants to keep things 2011 in reference to the rom-com No Strings Attached). Even if Ted feels slightly down at the outcome, it’s in these scenes where Ted Lasso is at its most therapeutic and honest. Because despite Ted desiring to move on from the heartache of Michelle and Dr Jacob by hooking up with his FWB, this is arguably a rather stupid idea and as Sassy poignantly says, “I’m a two-years ahead-of-you mess.”
However, his coaching staff thinks differently about the situation. After hijacking a tactical brainstorm for West Ham to instigate a Diamond Dogs meeting, Coach Beard, Higgins, and Roy thinks their gaffer is a mess because he’s playing down their upcoming match against Nate as “not a big deal” and that he’s not overly upset about his villainous betrayal at the end of last season. Even when Beard and Roy get incredibly eager over Trent recovering CCTV footage of Nate ripping the sacred ‘Believe’ sign in half, Ted knows that hatred is not a wise emotion to harness a team’s belief. Personally, I don’t think Ted is angry at Nate because, as I mentioned in my episode 1 recap, he sees the vulnerable, coddled version underneath Nate’s newly found hard exterior. Nonetheless, it’s interesting how the Diamond Dogs lean into the sports cliché of ‘former friends, now foes’ when approaching West Ham v Richmond, and, as displayed later, the show cleverly deconstructs this notion to the viewer.
“No, um, yeah, we’re gonna destroy, right?”
Moving on to West Ham, we had two amazing scenes involving Nate before the big match. Firstly, Nate revisits the restaurant where he crucially overcame a lack of self-belief in Season Two. Instead of booking a table, he ordered a takeaway lunch for his whole staff, while his opening conversation with Jade was very informative. He’s eager for her to remember his face (unsurprisingly, she doesn’t) whilst subtly boasting about his “big new job”, which Jade describes as silly. Suddenly, this is contrasted by the restaurant manager Derek, who is a Hammers fan, recognising Nate before proceeding to shower him with accolades while imploring that his lunch is on the house (“This man’s money is no good here” was a very telling line regarding relationships between celebrities and local business). It’s only a two-minute scene, but it offers a fascinating juxtaposition between Nate’s projection on people and how he reacts when people project onto him.
Secondly, Nate has a late-night discussion with Rupert (Anthony Head continuing to chew pantomime villainy), asking for advice about meeting a former colleague. This leads Rupert to reassure his top boss that he made the right choice, whereas Nate starts feeling a hint of self-guilt. But what’s most important from the scene is at the end, when Nate calls him Rupert and thanks him as he leaves, he turns around and corrects him by his professional title, “Mr Mannion”. Similar to the restaurant, a tiny bit of dialogue demonstrates the powerful, unhealthy dynamic shift growing between the pair.
“Good luck out there.”
So after 25 minutes of careful build-up, the episode moves to the London Stadium, and there are some great character interactions before we reach kick-off. Rebecca greeting Rupert and Bex was as frosty as you would expect from a divorced couple turned bitter rivals; Ted and Nate reuniting in the lift with its awkward silence as well as a potential reconciliation before being interrupted by Rupert escorting Nate away, and the intercutting between Nate’s militaristic team talk and Ted’s inclusive one. As the teams walked onto the pitch to the rendition of ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’, I had goosebumps all over my arms. Much of this season’s first act has built up to this one monumental game in the Lasso-sphere, and as an audience, we are ready! But while the match itself reasserted Nate’s tactical ‘wonder-kid’ genius (his little screw-turning gesture informing the defenders to press will undoubtedly be seen on the local Sunday league pitch in a few years), we also witness Ted’s resistance to use Nate’s betrayal as ammunition being unanimously justified. Because as Coach Beard and Roy show the CCTV footage to the squad at half time followed by the slow-mo shots of them staring at Nate with vengeance as they walk out for the second half, our cliché knowledge of sports movies/TV informs us that we expect them to come back and beat West Ham 3-2.
However, our expectations are subverted as Richmond get three players sent off, a brawl ensues, and West Ham score two more (with Zava getting a consolation) to give the final score of 4-1 to the Hammers. Understandably, some viewers would perceive this as anti-climactic due to this critical event being defined by a lack of self-discipline. But as already mentioned above, Ted Lasso tends to challenge conventional sporting cliches like ‘old friends now enemies’ and how they feed into football’s toxic masculine culture. I admire how the show gently reminds us that using hatred for motivation is not sportsmanship. This is reinforced when Nate’s desire for competitive greatness means he forgets to shake Ted’s hand at the end (the post-match interviewer calls him a snob for doing so, which brings more self-guilt). According to John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, friendship and cooperation are the foundations for competitive greatness, and Nate will discover this the hard way sooner rather than later.
- “We have a good time together, yeah?” “They’re called simultaneous orgasms, Ted, yes.” Despite Ted’s rejection, I love Sassy as a character because she brings out all the embarrassment with Ted whilst not shying away from sex talk, and this dialogue is the perfect example.
- Although I already discussed the restaurant scene above, I want to praise Nick Mohammed’s performance as Nate, who nails that mixture of subtle arrogance within the timid anxiety of his character’s architecture. Observe how he switches from overconfidence to a more humble figure through his stuttering speech when he casually insults his trainers as eating like “cows”, thinking Jade will giggle before quickly correcting his mistake and referring to them as “lovely people, just vegetarian”—brilliantly simple yet complex characterisation.
- I believe the three players sent off for Richmond were Bumbercatch, Montlaur and Zoreaux. Speaking of Zoreaux…
- Following another philosophy babble from Zava regarding ‘you can be whoever you want to be’ and that he allowed his kids to name themselves at the age of 7 (“My eldest is called Schmingus Dingus” left me in stitches), Zoreaux now calls himself “Van Damme”. Let’s see how long that lasts.
- I had my sneaking suspicions last week but didn’t want to write them down until this week. However, it has come to my attention that Shandy and Keeley could have a potential fallout. This week she had eyes on Keeley’s ex Jamie Tartt, and then she recklessly changed Bantr’s slogan without Keeley’s permission in front of investor Jack Danvers (Jodi Balfour). Speaking of that investor…
- “So I assume Jack is short for Jacqueline, right?” “No, it’s short for my father wanted a boy.” It’s pretty self-explanatory why this brief dialogue between Higgins and Jack is terrific.
- So, at the end of the episode, Ted finally gets off his chest to Michelle about his relationship with Dr Jacob, and it’s a beautiful monologue. It’s nuanced, open-hearted, slightly messy, yet unashamedly humane. And that brilliant smile from Andrea Anders as Michelle was the perfect way to close the episode.
SLOW HORSES (APPLE TV +)
EPISODE FIVE: Signs
👏🏼 Don’t worry, we will get to THAT ending in a moment; whereas last week was very much around AFC Richmond vs West Ham, this week was jam-packed with significant moving parts geared around the episode’s aptly themed title. In true Ted Lasso fashion, it’s handled very gently, gradually building into something cathartic and loaded with deeper meaning. Simply put, this might be one of my favourite episodes yet (and we’re not even halfway through the season!).
“The worst people often think they’re the best. My Dad calls it ‘talent dysmorphia.”
Cutting to the chase, Keeley fires Shandy from KJPR, and although I was right about this development after last week’s Bantr fiasco, I certainly didn’t expect sparks to fly until much later in the season. But that displays the hallmarks of a great show when the writer’s team doesn’t delay the inevitable but tackles it immediately. So despite Keeley using Jack’s ‘compliment sandwich’ technique, we get to see Ambreen Razia in outrageous form as Shandy launches an unhinged rant at Barbara and KJPR employees that climaxes with “bunch of fascist fucks” (there’s that brilliant moment of self-reverse where she spats “I hate all of you” before running into Keeley’s arms begging her to stay). For Keeley, it’s a big personal step in her CEO role while admitting that she made a mistake Barbara noticed. But even though it’s unlikely this is the last appearance of Shandy, I hope we get into the “why” of her character, as it seems there is plenty of insecurity yet to be explored. As Keeley signposts early in the episode to Jack, Shandy ‘does not have a good relationship with rejection’.
Speaking of Jack and Keeley, their drunk intimate moment on the sofa after cleaning up Shandy’s sabotage present feels like rapid story development considering we met Jack last week; we’ve only learnt that she’s quietly rebellious through her boarding school days and lives a hedonistic lifestyle after implying to Keeley that she had an orgy with 31 birthday clowns. But I think it’s important to note that before their passionate embrace, Keeley is honest with Jack about not feeling ready to openly discuss her breakup with Roy just yet, alongside exclaiming her current depressive state (“I used to be a happy person”) which Jack is seemingly surprised by. In other words, I think Keeley sees Jack as a form of escapism away from the elephant in the room, which will get larger until she finally confronts it head-on: why did Roy break up with her?
“The universe is full of things we can’t explain, Rebecca.”
I only briefly mentioned Rebecca’s meeting with psychic Tish in episode three’s recap because that week centred on Zava. But I’m glad this week saw the show dive into the heavy meaning of Tish’s psychic predictions of Rebecca becoming a mother. We’ve already seen the green matchbook from former lover Sam, but this week saw another significant encounter with the return of John Wingsnight (Patrick Baladi), who now has a new fiancée Jessica (Victoria Elliott). There is a natural degree of awkwardness about the conversation as John passive-aggressively patronises Rebecca for dumping him while bragging about another celebrity encounter on Broadway until Jessica brings Tish’s prediction to fruition by calling him his ‘Shite in nining Armour’ – notice how each of the predictions involve one of Rebecca’s past relationships. Things get even weirder in the corridor where Ted casually remarks he can be a little psychic, so, with all the signs calling out to her, Rebecca takes matters into her own hands by visiting her local doctor to ask about her fertility. It’s a moving sequence sincerely dealt with as Rebecca sits in the waiting area, glancing at all the couples filling out paperwork before having a candid appointment with the usual greetings and disclosures. Equally, when Rebecca is given her test results over the phone later, we are placed in Rebecca’s perspective through Hannah Waddingham’s quietly devastating performance, particularly when she imparted a slight scoff as though she was proven right all along – a green matchbook is just a green matchbook. There’s no doubt the emotional ramifications will be significant for upcoming episodes. Still, it’s important to praise how Rebecca’s story this week was handled sensitively as the showrunners calmly destigmatised this sensitive subject matter.
“You’re right; it is a sign.”
So everything leads up to this symbolic moment. Like myself, you were probably shocked as Ted calmly tore up the “Believe” sign before a beautiful speech about the nature of self-belief that neatly tied up the episode’s themes. However, that’s not to say that this scene should come as a massive surprise to the viewer, particularly in the cold open when Baz, following Richmond’s loss to Newcastle, adding to a winless streak since West Ham, rather tellingly mutters lines like, “I knew positive thinking was bullshit.” Let’s remind us why Ted hung up that sign: he entered a divided dressing room with a toxic team dynamic, low self-esteem and, most importantly, no self-belief. Two seasons later, this team has self-belief in abundance but is still influenced by superstitious thinking, such as when the eponymous yellow paper falls apart midway through Ted’s speech about Zava leaving (see below), thus causing doom and despair to spill across the players’ faces. For the dressing room, the Lasso motto “Believe” is viewed in a literal sense due to the gravitas of that sign. But as Ted eloquently puts it, “Belief doesn’t just happen because you hang something up on a wall; it comes from deep within us”. But due to the daily human pressures of life, that self-belief can be overshadowed by negative emotions like fear and shame. I’ll let Ted have the final say:
“I don’t wanna mess around with that shit anymore […] you know what I wanna mess around with? The belief that I matter, regardless of what I do or don’t achieve. Or the belief that we all deserve to be loved, whether we’ve been hurt or maybe we’ve hurt somebody else. Or what about the belief of hope, yeah? That’s what I wanna mess with. Believing that things can get better, that I will get better, that we will get better…”Oh man, to believe in yourself. To believe in one another? That’s fundamental to being alive. If you can do that if each of you can truly do that? Can’t nobody rip that apart.”
It might not be the most original monologue in the show, but it might be the most important to date.
- There were some great jokes this week, but I imagine the writer who created “Jessica Darling” for John’s fiancée will be delighted with themselves.
- On another point about John, if you haven’t been convinced by his sheer obnoxious nature to the universe, you won’t find anything more evident than a posh Londoner brandishing a half-and-half scarf from the Manchester Derby. A shite in nining armour indeed!
- So Richmond bid farewell to Zava, who decided to retire to spend time with his family and his avocado farm. Considering he communicated this announcement by not turning up to play for his own team, I have complete confidence that he will keep his promise and not reappear for the rest of the season (not!).
- “You ever think sunshine gets jealous of her?” Despite Jack’s brutal summary of Barbara, I’m still hoping for the KJPR storyline to get into the Barbara-ness of it all and provide some interiority to her character. After five episodes, we understand Jack more than Barbara; the former was only introduced last week! Surely there’s more to her than snow globes?
- Even though I discussed three huge storylines this week, I haven’t talked about Nate this week as he got a well-earned date with waitress Jade after being rudely dumped by star model Anastasia. It’s also the first time this season that Nate’s hardened shell has eroded as he timidly invites Jade to share his Baklava for two, which he described to Anastasia earlier as ‘divine’. Fingers crossed, Nate is finally turning a corner here.
- Finally, I want to note the outstanding score from the show’s composers, Marcus Mumford and Tom Howe, for this week’s episode, particularly the stirring piano accompanying Ted’s speech—simply exquisite work.
EPISODE SIX: Sunflowers
It’s been a while since we saw AFC Richmond on a significant away trip; in fact, you have to cast your mind back to their memorable night out in Liverpool in season one for a similar journey to that of season three, episode six. Following the cathartic highs of last week’s terrific episode, Sunflowers takes the Greyhounds back on the road and abroad for the first time in the show’s history as they travel to the Dutch capital Amsterdam for an exhibition match against footballing giants AFC Ajax. Even though the episode begins in media res as the final whistle blows on a 5-0 defeat to the team nicknamed de Godenzonen (Sons of the God), it’s important to emphasise how this week is bookended by Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ – a song adopted by Ajax fans as their club’s unofficial anthem. Like the song’s memorable lyrics, this week had a laid-back, “don’t worry bout a thing” vibe as domestic issues were parked, and we got to hang out with some newly formed odd couples in the so-called Venice of the North for an hour-long episode. Why? Because as Ted Lasso announces on the team coach post-match:
“No Curfew Tonight”
As Ted describes it, “It’s the three words no coach ever says unless they dang well mean it.” As the art of football has got increasingly commercialised and sports science has advanced to the point where every single detail of a footballer’s life is choreographed for maximum efficiency and impact, stories of footballers having a few pints down the pub before hitting the dance floor are now few and far between. So when Ted ushers these three words, the surprised faces turn to instant delight, like a group of school children being told no lessons for the rest of the day. In the hotel lobby, team captain Isaac is adamant that the whole squad needs to stick together and decide on their evening destination as a group – Sam wants a movie night in, Zoreaux eyes up a sex show, Dani wants tulips, and Jans suggests a party helmed by his cousin and Dutch DJ Martin Garrix. Meanwhile, as the team struggles to decide with Isaac trying various methods like voting on napkins and a pillow fight, Leslie Higgins takes Will the Kitman on a personal pilgrimage to a jazz club to pay respects to the Jazz trumpeter Chet Baker (as a musician and lifelong lover of Jazz, hearing ‘Let’s Get Lost’ was a fantastic needle drop) as we got to know Higgins and Will more.
“All I want is, for when we win a match, to be able to kiss my fella the same way that guys get to kiss their girls.”
One of the strongest parts of this week’s episode was the unexpectedly lovely coupling up of Colin Hughes and Trent Crimm. After episode three, where Trent discovered Colin kissing his partner Michael outside Sam’s restaurant Ola, I don’t think it was churlish to expect the Independent journo to leak the Richmond midfielder’s sexuality to the tabloids later in the season. It suits his character and his track record of twisting journalistic ethics. There’s still a sense of foreboding when Colin abandons the team’s argument, quietly sneaking out of the hotel to find a gay bar, and Trent follows him. But thankfully (and with a massive sigh of relief), this outcome doesn’t come to fruition as Trent has a good reason for keeping Colin’s secret. It’s shortly revealed in a deep conversation at the Homomonument – a memorial that opened in September 1987 in Amsterdam’s city centre for queer people persecuted worldwide, and the first of its type to commemorate the gays and lesbians who the Nazis killed – that Trent is also gay.
As Trent confides in Colin about coming out to his wife and daughter, he asks how Colin keeps his sexuality a secret as a professional athlete. The response is a nuanced thoughtful assessment of the current state of gay equality in the sporting world. Here Colin talks about leading “two lives” that he longs to merge into one. It sounds very cliché in light of the enormous progress in LGBTQ+ representation over the last decade (Mac’s artistic coming out in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia springs to mind). But as I mentioned in episode three’s recap, homosexuality in English football is still considered taboo. So when Colin says lines like “I don’t want to be a spokesperson, I don’t want a bunch of apologies,” it sounds outdated from a TV perspective but, sadly, it isn’t from a football one (examining the unprecedented media attention given to Jake Daniels when he came out makes these words ring true). As two previously closeted characters find much-needed comfort and solace in a place of remembrance, it’s satisfying to see Ted Lasso addressing a timely and urgent equality issue with honesty and a lot of heart.
“I saw you walking just there, and I thought, ‘I have to say something to this beautiful woman'”
Following last week’s revelations of her infertility, I wrote that Rebecca’s arc was about to have emotional ramifications for the rest of the season. Well, judging by this week when she is being given a foot massage from a mystery man on his swanky houseboat, that feels somewhat redundant (although I hope it gets addressed at some point down the line). Nonetheless, Hannah Waddingham and guest star Matteo van der Grijn’s chemistry was an incredible sight as their meet cute of Rebecca falling into the canal (fitting Psychic Tish’s third prediction of her hanging upside down drenched) transitioned into a mellow night in with dinner and brandy, bonding over their previous marriages. Their scenes are lovingly ripped straight out of the romcom handbook through the yellow colour palette and warm lighting of the houseboat, and Van der Grijn is exceptional in convincing us that he genuinely cares for the wellbeing of Rebecca. He doesn’t know anything about her wealth, power and fame as Richmond owner, so they connect in a manner that Rebecca hasn’t managed with anyone else because of this blank slate. Will this mystery man return later? I hope so despite saying Rebecca will forget him.
So with that, we’re halfway through the season! How have you found it? I think it’s been a pretty solid third outing with all the various plot strands coming together nicely through KJPR, Ted’s family, Rebecca’s psychic predictions, Colin’s sexuality, Jamie and Roy’s odd couple, and Nate’s stint as head coach at Rupert’s West Ham. But plenty is still left to tie up as we enter the second half of the season. I’m still crossing my fingers for a Premier League cameo, but I’ve learned to trust this show since season One and will continue to do so until the end.
- It’s a nit-picky point here, so bear with me. As an avid football fan, sometimes you have to take Ted Lasso’s depiction of club football at face value rather than scrutinise its inability to uphold realism. But even I am a bit baffled as to how Richmond, during an intense Premier League season, can find the time to have an exhibition match with Ajax.
- Jamie teaching Roy how to ride a bicycle to B.J. Thomas’s ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’ was a joyful reference to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It’s remarkable how their relationship has developed from sworn enemies in season one to mentor-mentee in season 3.
- There are a couple of lovely cultural difference moments during the episode, such as Higgins being corrected on his pronunciation of Johan Cruyff and an American-style diner in Amsterdam where the waiters don’t understand Ted’s lingo.
- Ted devising Total Football (a tactical system in which any outfield player can take over the role of any other player in a team originated in Jimmy Hogan and Hugo Meisl’s Austrian national team in the 1930s before becoming synonymous with Ajax and the Netherlands national team in the 1970s).
- It’s doubtful, but I would love to get ‘Beard After Hours Part 2’ as judging by his Aladdin Sane cosplay, he must have embarked on an epic odyssey through Amsterdam’s underbelly.
- I’m desperate to know if Jeremy Swift played the double bass in his brief stint onstage in the jazz club because, if so, I’m seriously impressed.
CHERRY (APPLE TV+)
EPISODE SEVEN: The Strings That Bind Us
The second half is underway for Season 3, and although I’ve enjoyed the ride so far, they have crammed a lot of storylines into recent episodes, making it tricky when writing these recaps. However, in a season where the cast has significantly expanded, episode seven, The Strings that Bind Us, is probably the tightest episode so far as it focuses on three key storylines, resolving each one in a wholesomely satisfying manner.
“How do you know if a girl likes you? You don’t.”
Love was well and truly in the air this week, with two key relationships intertwining. First, Jack and Keeley are officially dating, and things are swell as Jack gifts Keeley a first edition of Sense and Sensibility, signed by Jane Austen. Even when a potential hitch occurs, Jack resolves it by announcing to the entire KJPR office that they are dating (reinforcing Jack’s hedonism). However, during a much-needed catch-up over an expensive dinner with Rebecca, the Richmond owner draws parallels between Jack’s extravagant gift-giving and Rupert, who acted similarly at the start of their relationship. This is reasserted when the bill arrives, and Jack’s already paid it. The show covered this ground last season with Roy and Keeley (regarding private space and attachment), so it’s entirely understandable that Keeley telling Jack over a croissant that she wants their relationship to be equal feels like déjà vu.
Meanwhile, Nate finally plucks up the courage to ask Jade out on a date, and the build-up to this is lovely, particularly the recurring gag of him asking, “How do you know if a girl likes you” with the reply, “You don’t”. When his Mum and sister show him an elaborate map that his father once made to ask his mother out for their first date, it is fascinating to see a different side to his stoic father. There is a crucial moment when Nate retreats into the bathroom. As he stares into the mirror, he controls his emotions, returns and tries again – a huge learning curve in Nate’s story as he chooses not to succumb to his toxic masculine insecurities. And after attempting to emulate his father by crafting a beautiful gift box for Jade which gets destroyed by a car (classic rom-com trope), he asks the critical question, and she says yes. I don’t know about you, but as I watched Nate shyly greet Jade on their date by the river, it felt like the wonderkid slowly embraced his insecurities without shame.
“Stop going ‘to’ me and start going ‘through’ me.”
Following Ted’s hallucinatory revelation in Amsterdam regarding Total Football, we now see how he and his coaching staff try to implement it in training. For non-football fans, this could have been a very jargon-heavy section cluttered with minutiae detail (e.g. positional play, midfield rotation, high defensive line etc.). But I think the writers have done a solid job in simplifying a very complex tactical system thanks to Coach Beard’s presentation featuring some eye-raising quotes (“It’s Einstein, it’s Curie, it’s Gaga, it’s my mother proudly displaying her vibrator on the bedside table!”). In addition, Ted invites our favourite trio of die-hard Richmond supporters, Baz, Jeremy and Paul, to their training sessions – greeted with scepticism by Roy and Beard. As the episode progresses, more fans turn up to experience this rare glimpse of footballing management (As Paul feverishly realises that their favourite players are no different to them is such a perfectly astute observation about the distorted relationship between fans and football stardom). As Richmond’s bemusing training sessions continue, Roy’s idea of teaching positional awareness by having the players linked to each other via ropes tied to their penises has near-fatal results. It’s fitting that Jamie Tartt’s tactical tweak in the dressing room by asking the team to play ‘through’ him becomes the vital breakthrough for Total Football to work. Upstaged by Zava earlier this season, Jamie has finally regained the ‘star player’ mantle, and hopefully, he will spearhead this squad’s newfound Total Football towards the unthinkable scenario: Premier League Champions.
“I’ll tell you what’s wrong. The world is full of evil people who do shitty things, but I can’t deal with that right now as I have to kick a little ball around… which those same people love me for!”
Sam’s storyline this week was undoubtedly a tough watch, mainly because of its political relevance in eerily mirroring recent events. As Sam’s friend Simi (Precious Mustapha) raises concerns about the language of fictional Home Secretary Brinda Barot regarding refugees entering the UK by boat, it’s not hard to draw clear parallels between her rhetoric and current Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s. Even when Sam attempts to strike a dialogue on Twitter opposing her remarks, Barot’s snarky reply that footballers “should leave the politics to us and just shut up and dribble” is also uncanny. It’s important to note this is entirely coincidental as this season was produced last year, but it certainly added plenty of poignancy, particularly after Sam retaliated by calling Barot a “world-class bigot” and, then found her supporters had vandalised his restaurant with ‘shut up and dribble’ spray painted across the wall. This is emotionally devastating for Sam, someone we’ve come to see through his upbeat optimism. All this leads to an emotional breakdown in the dressing room (Toheeb Jimoh is astonishing here), but when Ola arrives to comfort his son (guest-star Nonso Anozie’s formidable performance is a highlight of this week) all is healed. It’s a lovely scene between a father-son. And as the Richmond squad surprise their teammate by repairing the restaurant and celebrating with a team meal cooked by Ola and Sam, his joyful smile says it all.
- Some exceptional needle drops this week that I wanted to highlight: “Dreams” by The Cranberries, “Sometime in the Morning” by the Monkees, “Shoegaze” by Alabama Shakes, “Enjoy” by Tekno and “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” by The Miracles.
- I’ve seen some complaints regarding the ever-increasing runtimes of this season’s episodes. Although I can understand this critique as it slightly overstretches the show’s status as a sitcom and can feel indulgent (particularly when storylines like Jack and Keeley are retreading familiar ground), it feels like there is still plenty left to cover as we hit the run-in.
- Isaac misidentifying Johan Cruyff as Tim Robinson from I Think You Should Leave (one of the funniest shows on TV) was one of those gags that I can imagine was funny in conception but onscreen lands bizarrely due to how this niche reference sits squarely against the show’s mainstream appeal. I only mention this as it brings the show’s identity (a US product set in the UK) to the forefront as its pop culture quirks are juxtaposed against the backdrop of English football.
- On that note, it’s the second week in a row where the mispronunciation of Cruyff’s name was brought up. Have some respect for the Godfather of modern football!
- “Marriage is a big commitment, ya know.” “No, I’m talking about pegging.” What a zinger exchange of words between Ted and Beard! That said, considering the subject matter of their conversation, it’s undoubtedly finally time for the show to address the increasingly worrying relationship between Beard and Jane because these brief jokes aside, the last two seasons have built a disturbingly toxic picture; I would be astonished if this couple last when the finale credits roll.
EPISODE EIGHT: We’ll Never Have Paris
‘I’m just cool – just cool and casual.’
So Nate and Jade are together (woohoo!), but this week saw the wonderkid topsy-turvy about their relationship status. This personal anxiety flexes out to the point where he sets up his own equivalent to the Diamond Dogs called the Lovehounds, which gets greeted with the same enthusiasm as a wet towel. But despite this makeshift attempt at transferring the Lasso spirit to West Ham, it’s here where we see the old Nate resurfacing. Most importantly, as each week passes, his interests and those of his boss look less aligned, especially when he hesitates over Rupert’s text message about banning Ted from attending any home games at the London Stadium. Nate wants to reply that he didn’t mind, but because he fears Rupert’s likely toxic reaction, he texts back, “Good. Thank You”, despite his honest opinion. This slow warming towards Ted is also noticeable when he reads the news report of the Richmond coach attending the match, and a wry smile breaks across his face. “There it is”, whispers Jade, noting how he should enjoy his victories before this. As I suspected, Jade is the key for Nate to regain his confidence and overcome those insecurities that have plagued his psyche since season one. As we head into the final four episodes, I can’t wait to see how Nate’s arc concludes.
‘I don’t regret making that video. And I don’t regret sending it.’
So it looks like the end of the road for Keeley, and Jack after the latter displayed her true colours during the conclusion of this week’s episode. As much as I’m not surprised by this breakup, how it happened was undoubtedly abrupt. After a sexually explicit video of Keeley was leaked on the internet as part of a broader hack of celebrities, Jack promises to assist her in sorting it out. Unfortunately, this assistance results in a formal apology written by Jack’s lawyers to be posted on her social media platforms, which implies that she regrets making the video in the first place. Soon after, Jack takes Keeley out for minigolf, but when they encounter a friend of Jack’s on a hen-do, she introduces Keeley as her ‘friend’, which dampens the mood between the two. And then we get to the big scene as Keeley is watching Sex and the City, Jack offers a toned-down version of the statement, but her ‘friend’ still refuses to post it. A passive-aggressive critique follows as Jack values her reputation above Keeley’s welfare (“It’s not a great look when the person I’m seeing, whose company I fund, has a porno online”) before shaming her for creating the video in the first place. She storms out of Keeley’s house in frustration, and, well, that’s that, I guess.
But then we get a deserved additional scene as Jamie Tartt turns up at Keeley’s house, and after some soul-searching and apologies from Jamie, we are treated to a well-earned hug between the pair. This sincerity from Jamie is a reminder of the extraordinary character growth he’s gone through from arrogant, selfish prat to an empathetic, selfless soul. It likely won’t rekindle their romance, but it’s great to see them rekindle their friendship.
“You have the power to take a sad song and make it better.”
Despite Richmond’s Total Football hitting its stride, Ted is still nervous about the one thing that has plagued his psyche all season: losing his son Henry post-divorce. After this week’s cold open where, over a pub breakfast at the Crown & Anchor, Michelle quietly reveals that Dr Jacob is taking her on a surprise trip to Paris, Ted’s insecurities hit overdrive. On the plus side, he gets to spend more time with Henry, who enjoys hanging out with the Richmond staff and wants to attend a live football game. But he’s so utterly paranoid over Michelle’s potential engagement to Dr Jacob that he calls a Diamond Dogs meeting, where the staff inform him not to worry about something that hasn’t happened. However, it’s only after attending a West Ham match with Henry and Beard that Ted and Henry’s most crucial lesson arrives. Because as Ted phones Rebecca for an update for his PI, a nearby busker starts playing ‘Hey Jude’, which catches Henry’s attention. Beard explains the song’s origins (the divorce of John and Cynthia Lennon and a child, Julian, caught in the middle) and tells him, as the lyrics say, “to take a sad song and make it better”. Simultaneously, Rebecca tells him to stop worrying about his past with Michelle and focus on his future with Henry, specifically to ‘get back to the pub and sing ‘Hey Jude’ with your boy’. It’s a rousing scene that, hopefully, brings closure to the chapter of Ted and Michelle this season, and it’s pretty ironic in the last scene, as he waves off Henry (giving a cold reception to Dr Jacob) and his ex-wife, that he comes to the realisation there is no engagement ring on her finger.
- When Ted, Beard and Henry clinked their glasses and tapped them on the table before drinking, it brought a wonderful grin to my face, reminding me of my time at university again.
- Being asked to sing one of the most iconic songs ever is not easy. In that respect, hats off to Alex Vargas for his stirring rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ outside the Crown & Anchor this week (known as the Prince’s Head in real life).
- I loved the bit this week where Annette Badland, the Crown & Anchor’s owner Mae gives Ted and Beard a scowl down after they took Henry to a West Ham match (“You two are on probation,” she states whilst reluctantly placing their pints on the table. It is a very accurate scene if you travel to any pub with solid connections to their local football team.
- As a Manchester United fan, Ted reading Henry ‘The Breakfast Club Adventures: The Beast Beyond the Fence’ by Marcus Rashford MBE at bedtime was very wholesome.
- So it looks like we’re finally returning to Colin and his relationship with the dressing room, particularly with Captain Isaac’s casual homophobia. Isaac’s disgust as he scrolls through Colin’s private videos is clearly the potential pressure point in next week’s episode.
- Of course, Jamie’s password would be that old chestnut ‘password’.
EPISODE NINE: La Locker Room Aux Folles
THEO IS TAKING A SHORT BREAK THIS WEEK BUT WILL BE BACK FOR EPISODE 10.
Colin and Isaac’s friendship is tested. Roy is asked to do a press conference. (Apple TV)
EPISODE 10: International Break
Apologies for the lack of recap last week. Life just got in the way, but I’m back as we enter the final three episodes of this season of Ted Lasso. What a week it’s been, so let’s not fuss with any intros; let’s get straight down to business!
“I just want my son to be happy.”
What an emotional week for Nate, and boy, has his character arc been building up to the frank conversation we saw in his bedroom between father and son. As I wrote in my episode one recap, “Nate is the product of a lifetime of anxious ambivalent attachment problems thanks to an emotionless father who casually neglected him.” This fed into this personal need to be constantly coddled by those around him. But this season has portrayed a slow blossoming for the wonder kid as he learns to love himself again. Beginning with laughing at his own jokes, which exposes an honest vulnerability (“Our Baklava is DIVINE”), smiling in the mirror rather than spitting at his reflection, learning to enjoy his victories with Jade and finally, breaking free from Rupert’s influence after nearly luring him into a “boys night out.” Honestly, I’m pretty glad we didn’t get a clichéd dramatic scene of Nate vs Rupert with the former storming out of the latter’s office in an angry display of resignation. Football management rarely ends with public fireworks and is coyer with a club statement politely thanking a person for their services and a corner flag photo. Following his departure from West Ham on his own terms, he sneaks back to his parent’s house, spending most of his time in bed dejected and exhausted. However, one afternoon he starts flicking through some old photo albums and then goes up to the attic to uncover the violin that he used to play as a kid. After his father Lloyd quietly enters Nate’s room, beckoned by the sound of his violin playing, what follows is a lovingly honest admittance about the mistakes of parenting and the fact he didn’t know how to raise, in his own words, a “genius”. Nick Mohammed and Peter Landi are incredible in this scene, the former bewildered by his father’s unexpected outpouring and the latter defiantly stoic even if he’s emotionally drained. “I just want my son to be happy”, whimpers Lloyd fighting back the tears before quickly leaving him in peace, tissue in hand.
“You are and always will be…Keeley Fucking Jones.”
Another big resolution was Keeley and Roy, even if it concluded in a more anti-climactic fashion than expected. Beforehand, there was the small drama of Keeley getting to grips with KJPR shutting down after Jack’s superiors pulled funding for the company. As she drinks away her sorrows in the Crown & Anchors in light of the news, she has an honest one-to-one conversation with owner Mae (Annette Badland is brilliantly tender here) about the trials and tribulations of running an independent business (apparently the opposite of having the Midas touch is the Midas shits). She then bids farewell to Barbara by ceremoniously gifting her a snow globe of Richmond, and that’s that for the short-lived KJPR.
Meanwhile, Roy is celebrating Uncle’s Day with his niece Phoebe (“You know it’s not a real holiday, right?” Roy begrudgingly asks her) and specially invited guest Jamie Tartt, much to his annoyance. Jamie poignantly gifts him his original 2014 World Cup kit for England, whilst Phoebe’s present is a flamboyant tie-dyed shirt with the colours spelling his name (red, orange and yellow). And in a brilliant sequence synced to “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, he confidently strolls in his usual Roy-isms into AFC Richmond with his new look while the staff gape in shock, awe and horror. But after crossing paths with Phoebe’s teacher Ms. Bowen in the playground (“Are you off to protest the Vietnam War?” was a killer line), something notably startles Roy after he asks whether she was flirting with him. She responds, “I teach kids; I don’t mind cleaning up a mess. I just hope that mess didn’t cause too much damage”. Cue ponderous guitar music, a quick mood switch and an elongated “fuuuudge” (you can’t swear in front of a teacher). Because, as suspected, it wasn’t “busy schedules”, as Roy put it in episode 1, but rather his own insecurities in a period where he was coping with retirement and being left behind in the football world and Keeley’s professional life whilst flirting with the attention of Ms. Bowen. Cue more ponderous guitar music and Roy reading a sincere letter of apology to Keeley outside her front door without knowing that her firm had just closed down before cutting to the next scene where Roy walks downstairs with a robe on, implying they are back together again. Whether it lasts is another conundrum, but considering we have two episodes left and other characters left to wrap up, I won’t be surprised if this storyline is now neatly wrapped in a bow.
“Don’t forget at one point, they were all just a bunch of little boys.”
In a week of resolutions, Rebecca had to deal with the weakest subplot in the episode and probably the entire series. After an unsuspected visit to her office from ex-husband turned TV pantomime villain Rupert Mannion, the Richmond owner is invited to attend a meeting about a Super League proposed by Ghanaian Billionaire Edwin Akufo featuring some of the Premier League’s top teams. This subplot bears uncanny similarities to the European Super League, which launched two years ago amid the COVID-19 Pandemic and effectively collapsed two days later. I remember very well laying in my uni bedroom and watching the news unfold throughout the day, barely unable to concentrate on my countless coursework deadlines and dissertation. Watching Gary Neville’s rant calling those who devised it “bottle merchants” and that seismic Monday Night Football where Neville and Jamie Carragher sent out a call to arms to the English footballing community – it felt like football was at this significant tipping point. So I can understand why the writers wanted to provide their satirical spin on this monumental event, particularly through the caricature of Akufo’s petulant arrogance (he names the league after himself). But as Rebecca’s monologue about why football is and always will be the people’s game narrates over a montage of Ted Lasso characters, it might be my cynicism taking over, but it all felt slightly disingenuous. Considering Rebecca wanted to destroy AFC Richmond to spite her ex-husband in season 1, I just don’t buy it, even if its heart is in the right place. Nevertheless, this indirect speech aimed at Rupert became a signal for him to make another move on Rebecca, a reminder of his womanising nature, which she would never fall for, and he hastily leaves the room soon after. Most importantly for Rebecca and Keeley, she is now the new investor for KJPR!
- Edwin Akufo’s appearance this week meant the return of Sam Richardson, one of my favourite comedians and if you have watched his appearances in I Think You Should Leave, you know why. He perfectly captures this unhinged childish energy as an unhinged childish billionaire and can simultaneously deliver playground insults like “pinky dick” while performing deranged British and French accents. Despite a weak subplot, his presence was a much-needed saving grace.
- “Like the man once said, once you make it to the top of the mountain, what’s left for you but lightning?”
- Eagle-eyed Ted Lasso viewers would’ve noticed that Roy’s sister/Phoebe’s mother (Sofia Barclay) is Dr. O’Sullivan, who cared for Dr. Sharon after she got hit by a car last season in the episode ‘Man City’.
- A brief voice cameo from Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler as he introduces Jamie Tartt coming on as a substitute for England.
- Is this all we’re going to get with Barbara? Just snow globes?
EPISODE 11: Mom City
So we’re nearly there. Only one more hour of Ted Lasso is left before AFC Richmond bows out for the, at the time of writing, final time. But before that, we have a tremendous feature-length penultimate episode to unpack, which manages to carefully establish the endgame while providing greater insight into one of the show’s most important characters with nuance and heart. And it’s all thanks to two new motherly faces.
“Sometimes you lose, and sometimes you win, but most of the time you just tie. All we can do is keep playing.”
It seems late to introduce Ted’s Mum at the tail end of the season, but after watching the whole episode, it makes sense in showcasing the development of our lovable coach in getting some personal grievances off his chest. The minute Dottie greets her son out of the blue in Richmond Park, it’s noticeable how the show’s writers, alongside Jason Sudeikis and Becky Ann Baker’s performances, are keen to observe the distinct differences between the pair. While Ted has come to terms with his father’s suicide through the support of Dr Sharon, Dottie conceals her emotions under a blanket of positivity, exactly mirroring Ted’s behaviour when we first met him in season one. Everyone loves her, from the Richmond squad in the changing room during what Ted wryly calls “Storytime with Mama Lasso” to the die-hard Richmond fans in the Crown & Anchor, with Baz telling Ted, “Your mum’s the bollocks.” There is praise for how Dottie has brought up such a kind, empathetic son from everyone except Ted himself because Ted sees right through the veneer, just as we do. After their victorious away trip in Manchester (more on that below), Ted comes back to his apartment with Dottie and, over a home-cooked meal, confronts the elephant in the room:
“Thank you for all the little silly things you did in my life, the notes in my lunchbox and putting googly eyes on the fruit at the supermarket to make me laugh and fuck you for not working on yourself or seeking help after we lost dad, and for not talking to me about it either. For glossing over the whole thing and acting like everything was alright.”
Even though it’s an emotionally blunt expression of his trauma, Dottie returns with a genuine apology of heartfelt sincerity. But this isn’t what shatters Ted into a million pieces; it’s his mother’s message that his son Henry misses him. It’s been the thread running through Ted’s storyline since the beginning of this season when he waved goodbye to Henry at the airport and questioned his purpose in Richmond (“I knew why I came, but it’s the sticking around I can’t quite figure out”). As Ted breaks down in tears, he says he sometimes feels scared to get close to Henry because “I know he’s gonna leave” and be hurt again. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a little sob on the sofa. In the end, as Richmond stands on the verge of eternal glory, it’s all been about looking after Henry in Ted’s world. After healing a decade-long silence with his mother, Ted now knows where his priorities are taking him next. It’s time to go home.
“You’re not lost […], you just don’t know which direction you’re going in…yet.”
Before Ted and Dottie, there was the small matter of a title decider up in the blue half of Manchester at the Etihad Stadium, a team which sent them packing down to the Championship, thrashed them in an FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley and is now the one team standing in their way from English football immortality: Manchester City. It’s a side that has constantly broken the hearts of Richmond, but for Jamie Tartt, it’s an uncomfortable homecoming where he has to potentially face a torrid reception from City fans and his alcoholic, abusive father, James (Kieran O’Brien). After a brief scare down the streets of Manchester, Jamie takes Roy and Keeley to his childhood home, where they meet his mother, Georgie (Leanne Best) and her baking-obsessed partner Simon (Steve Edge). The contrast between his father and Georgie is stark, with the Tartt household all you’d expect from an idyllic family: warm and inviting, with Jamie’s old bedroom frozen in time (Roy Kent photo to boot) waiting for his return.
As Jamie lays on the sofa, head nestled in his mum’s lap, behind a table full of photographs of Jamie’s footballing achievements, he confides in her about the expected abuse from the City fans and his Dad. It’s noticeable how their mother-son relationship has been infantilised (which can happen concerning abuse). There’s an affection from Georgie towards her son, which we’ve rarely seen for Jamie. Leanne Best and Phil Dunster are an excellent pairing in this scene, particularly the former when she tears up that she bawled her eyes out when he came on for England in last week’s episode. Even though it doesn’t give Jamie the answers he needs, this brief visit is very informative in the next setpiece of the episode.
“You ain’t giving him anything. When you choose to do that, you’re giving that to yourself.”
Out of all the matches ever shown on Ted Lasso, this away encounter at Man City is up there with the most nail-bitingly tense games in Richmond’s history. Of course, Jamie Tartt is booed from the home support, but he plays a crucial role in the opening goal scored by Colin Hughes. From then on, the show gleefully plays on the tension as City sustains continuous waves of attack, with Van Damme making miraculous save after save. Surely Richmond will concede? However, disaster strikes as Jamie injures his ankle following a spectacular goal-line clearance with ten minutes left and, remarkably, Ted makes the brave decision to continue playing with ten men in the hopes of Jamie recovering and returning to the pitch.
But while Jamie is on the side-line scanning the stands to find his Dad, trying to prove him wrong and rid his mind of past psychological trauma, Ted offers some sage advice he’s slowly learning to embrace: forgive his father. Don’t do it for him, but do it for yourself because when “hurt people, hurt people”, the only way to break that vicious cycle is free yourself from their burden and fix them for everyone and yourself. Suddenly, the characteristic swagger returns in Jamie and soon after re-entering the field of play, he scores the decisive goal to win the game. Cut to Jamie’s father watching the game in rehab with a profound smile. Personally, it’s one of the most profound images of this season because, despite his piece-of-shit self, there’s an almost idyllic comfort knowing that he’s not being portrayed as a villainous parent but a flawed human being who has done the right thing and sought help. Thankfully, Jamie is unaware of this significant development because he didn’t do it for his fractured father; he did it for himself.
- So according to Ted, Sleepless in Seattle (1993) is better than You’ve Got Mail (1998); both films are written and directed by the incredible Nora Ephron. But is he right?
- Coach Beard opening up to Nate about the history of his relationship with Ted not only displayed the importance of second chances and forgiveness when possible (which connects to Ted telling Jamie to forgive his father). But it also added some much-needed depth to a rather prominent figure in the show. It doesn’t skew Nate’s own trajectory this season as it re-establishes his baseline between him and the Richmond dressing room, so hopefully, there won’t be loads of awkward chats in next week’s finale.
- It was another week where Marcus Mumford and Tom Howe’s score knocked it out of the park. The refrains of the betrayal theme accompanying Jamie and Georgie’s cuddle on the sofa and the 1991 theme over Ted and Dottie’s confessions at the end were perfect in their lo-fi piano and tremolo strings.
- Rebecca inviting Bex and Ms Kakes into her house is just one of those brief scenes that nicely move a piece into the endgame for next week.
- “I got one.” I love it when a piece of dialogue cuts through so pointedly that it leaves you stunned, which is what Ted did to Rebecca before a cut to black. And just like that, it’s onto the finale.
EPISODE 12: So Long Farewell
In the famous words of Kenneth Wolstenholme, “They think it’s all over; it is now.” After 34 episodes, three seasons, one relegation and one promotion, Ted Lasso bows out with what can perfectly be described as a feature-length finale that acts as less of a resolution and more of a victory lap. Barring a few revelations and some open-ended threads, “So Long, Farewell” is a resounding celebration of AFC Richmond under Ted’s tenure. It even has its own end-of-season video created by Coach Beard and accompanied by a brand-new Ed Sheeran song. Even if I expected more of a definitive sense of finality to its narrative, the show’s creators, Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly, achieved a careful balance in leaving the show open for any future endeavours or spin-offs while bringing this particular story to a rousing conclusion: the remarkable and unlikely tale of Ted as Richmond manager.
“So, do you, um…you know, do you want to talk about it?”
While there were some loose ends to tie up, the key focus of this finale was giving the necessary space for Richmond and us, the viewers, to say goodbye to the show’s titular character before he headed back home to Kansas to reunite with Henry and Michelle. As the finale’s title is synonymous with the musical ditty of the same name from The Sound of Music, it was fitting following last season’s dance routine to the NSYNC classic “Bye Bye Bye” that the Richmond players got the chance to perform a sweetly humorous rendition of the Rodgers and Hammerstein number in honour of Ted’s departure. As much as the routine was well choreographed, my favourite part was Ted thanking them, commenting it was perfect, with all the Richmond players, staff, and fans bursting into celebration as though the team had scored a goal. Trent Crimm spinning his tweed blazer around his head is a sentence I never thought I’d have to write until now. In football lexicon terms, the celebrations verged on limbs.
But while the squad and staff prepare for the post-Lasso era, Rebecca contemplates selling the club, symbolically leaving alongside Ted. “If you go, I go,” Rebecca tells Ted as they sit in the stands of Nelson Road. Despite an attempt at persuading him to stay by conjuring a plausible alternative future where they both carry on their roles as coach and owner (you can read this bit of dialogue as some form of meta-commentary from the writers in presenting some semblance of a fourth-season); however, Ted has firmly made up his mind. We’ll return to Ted later in his recap, but for now, let’s focus on the other big story of the week: Richmond’s final match of the season.
“When I showed up here, I didn’t know one thing about soccer. But now…well, now at least I know one thing about football.”
So it was final day drama at Nelson Road as Richmond, quite fittingly, took on West Ham United, recently coached by Nate – now assistant to Will Kitman – and now spearheaded by Richmond’s former manager George Cartrick (Bill Fellows). There were some lovely callbacks before the game, from Zava sending a package containing T-shirts and a giant Avocado from his farm to, as aforementioned, an emotional video recapping past season events like Higgins’s Christmas party extravaganza. Here the show reaffirms that this is the end of an era, and I loved it when Roy was sobbing on the touchline before kick-off, blubbering, “You fucking smashed it.” As for the match itself, it was a great set piece filled with unbearable levels of tension reminiscent of any football match. I particularly enjoyed how the writers honed in on details concerning final-day drama, such as fans checking their phones for updates on other games and agonising near misses.
But as the Greyhounds go into halftime 2-0 down, title hopes are all but shattered, and Ted decides not to motivate his players in the dressing room; he instead thanks them by saying it’s been an honour to be their coach for the past three years before offering some words of encouragement regarding the second half. But as he turns around to point at the empty space where the “Believe” sign once hung (forgetting that he tore it down), the players reveal that they have kept pieces of the ripped sign tucked away in their dressing room and, as a team, they reassemble it. This lovely symbolic gesture reminded us that even though the sign was not there, they still had that self-belief tucked away.
What follows in the second half is nothing short of eventful as Richmond achieves a fairy-tale comeback (it’s the final episode, what did you think would happen?). I’ve never seen a game where a penalty looks like it’s been missed, only for the referee to realise it was a goal. As I’ve previously said, you must leave logic behind regarding the show’s depiction of football, but I was still completely flummoxed. On the other hand, Rupert got his comeuppance with the Richmond fans chanting “wanker” after he assaults his manager George on the touchline, leaving the stadium in disgrace – a neat full-circle moment harking back to when Ted was greeted by the home support similarly upon arrival. Then there was the incredible last-minute winner from Sam Obinsanya, which had shades of Sergio Aguero’s iconic goal against QPR. Richmond wins 3-2, and the stadium bursts into celebration, brilliantly capturing the real-life elation of a football team winning a league title. Then two beautiful moments happen: Colin’s wish to kiss his boyfriend Michael on the pitch without concern comes true, and Ted performs a celebratory dance as shown in the pilot with the Wichita State Shockers.
Cut to the following day, and Ted is at the airport on his way to Kansas where, following a fan selfie, the news that City won the league and that Rebecca has chosen to sell 49% of Richmond to fans while maintaining ownership covers the front pages. At this point, the finale begins to wrap things up in quick succession. There’s a tearful farewell between Ted and Rebecca (“You’re going home to your family, and I actually want to stay with mine”) and another with Ted and Beard, as the latter decides he wants to stay and be with Jane (I’m pretty surprised by this story choice as their relationship was steeped in toxicity). The story continues for Beard and Rebecca, but for Ted, this is where we leave him: back in Kansas with Henry and Michelle, coaching his son’s soccer team, reminding him of his advice “Be a Goldfish.”
That’s a wrap on Ted Lasso Season Three. Roy FUCKING Kent is the new manager of AFC Richmond alongside his coaching staff Beard and Nate; a new Richmond women’s team is in the works; Keeley and Barbara have reopened KBPR; Dr Sharon is re-hired as Richmond’s new Head of Mental Health & Emotional Well-being; Trent has completed his book previously titled “The Lasso Way”; Rebecca finally gets her conventional rom-com style reunion with the stranger she met in Amsterdam, and Beard and Jane get married at Stonehenge in a highly pagan ritual. As much as they leave the door open for more with this status quo, the show and the Lasso sphere have reached a suitable conclusion.
As for the season overall, there have been some issues, such as characters like Shandy and Zava disappearing without leaving any significant footprints and some threads like Keeley and Jack acting as filler. But like in previous seasons, central themes around empathy and honesty were threaded through each episode. It’s not been perfect, but is any show? Still, it found new depths in this final outing through Nate, Ted and Jamie’s character arc, providing a genuinely rousing conclusion.
- The scene in the dressing room between Nate and Ted was note-perfect in bringing the former’s arc to a perfect climax. Because in the end, all that Nate wanted was a hug.
- “Tiki-taka? Tiki-fucking-tedious.” Rupert Mannion is a monster, but this line is so funny not because of its bluntness but because it taps into a broader reading of how tiki-taka has been viewed in some parts of the footballing world as bland and sterile.
- We got a returning cameo this week in the form of ex-official Mike Dean, who appeared last season during their FA Cup semi-final and is now here as referee for their final game of the season.
- A strange appearance from Rebecca’s ex John who gets bludgeoned by the penalty ball in the stands before celebrating the winning goal with a face mask and covered in blood. Gruesome but fitting for him.
- So Beard’s first name is Willis. Willis Beard…has a nice ring to it.
- Remarkably, for a show about football, I don’t think there’s been any mention of Video-Assistant Referee (VAR) throughout its entire run. A blessing for football fans!
- Watching Ted rant about the mechanics regarding the top four qualifying for the Champions League not making sense and Roy replying with “money” is some excellent commentary on the financial state of football.
- One of the most earned moments in this finale has to be recurring characters Mae, Baz, Jeremy, and Paul, all becoming joint-shareholders of Richmond which, for die-hard supporters of the club, is a dream come true.
- Another brief moment that reduced me to tears was Jamie reconnecting with his father; just the kindness in Kieran O’Brien’s eyes made something snap, and it’s another example of the show reaffirming its central themes of empathy and forgiveness.
- The question of whether Ted and Michelle are back together is going to be a hot topic as the show leaves it open-ended. While the scene of Ted moving back in with them implies some potential rekindling, it’s already been established that they no longer have romantic feelings for each other. Either way, he’s back where he wants, and that’s the most critical aspect to take from this final sequence.
- As the WGA are on strike at this moment, I want to highlight the writers for Ted Lasso Season Three in no particular order: Leann Bowen, Sasha Garron, Bill Wrubel, Brett Goldstein, Jamie Lee, Joe Kelly, Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, Phoebe Walsh, Keeley Hazell, Dylan Marron, Chuck Hayward and Jane Becker.
- Finally, thank you, AFC Richmond fans, for reading this live blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading each week’s recap as much as I enjoyed writing them.