Ted Lasso (Season 3 | Ep 7) 2023

* Minor Spoilers Ahead *

What’s this? Am I actually feeling sympathy for Nate (Nick Mohammed) in season 3 all of a sudden? A character that has made an irredeemable decision at the end of Ted Lasso season 2 and joined the dark side against his former mentor, friend and team. Could episode 7 be the beginning for the Nate redemption arc that could lead to the reunion with AFC Richmond by seasons end. And If the rumor mill is true that this is the final season of Ted Lasso (boy, I hope not) what better way to go out on a high note than the self-proclaimed wunderkind coming home where trust, friendship and loyalty are practiced day in and day out.

Episode 7 so painfully titled if you identify as a male, for obvious reasons “The Strings that Bind Us” begins the decent into the ending destination for season 3. With 5 more episodes to go, the writing has settled into a groove which will go on to determine where all these subplots and the main one will likely meet and unironically bind together. By the looks of it, Ted Lasso is still in capable hands – continuing the well-balanced laugh out loud humor with devastating and grounded drama.

“What does this situation need” I’d argue is the unofficial episode title and catchphrase for this weeks events. The main plot follows AFC Richmond, of course, continuing to struggle with their play on the pitch. After last week’s episode “Sunflowers” Ted (Jason Sudeikis), inspired by the mid 90’s Chicago Bulls triangle offense (and the 00’s Lakers), comes up with Total Football. Was it a hallucination or just total dumb luck brilliance, the writers leave it up interpretation, but Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) says it’s the former, so I’m inclined to believe that. Having very little time to learn Total Football before their match with Arsenal, the team struggles to understand the concept which leads to a majority of the comedy coming during the days of practice.

Where the title comes into play, it’s during the teams practice between long bouts of jogging and swapping positions, unsuccessfully.

Breaking off of the main plot, episode 7 mostly follows Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) days before his restaurant Ola’s is set to open when a heated twitter exchange with a bigoted cabinet minister turns heartbreakingly ugly, Nate as he courts Jade (Edyta Budnik), the hostess that has caught Nate’s eye, and Keeley (Juno Temple) and Jack (Jodi Balfour) exploring the boundaries of their blossoming relationship.

For the second time this season, an episode hits an hour in length, joining Sunflowers as the longest episodes thus far. For their respective runtimes, every minute is full of what makes Ted Lasso one of the best series on streaming the past 3 years. Over the top and borderline slapstick comedy is brought down to earth with grounded character driven storytelling. Sam’s subplot this week overpowers all – reminding us that despite how warm and friendly this show and these characters are, there is still hate and racism in the world. But what do footballers know about politics? They need to shut up and dribble.

Ted Lasso allows its athletes to be humans first and footballers second. It’s why the connection to the team is at an all-time high. Sam since being introduced has always stood up for his culture, home and heritage and is quickly reminded by those who don’t matter how horrible people can be. Writer of the episode Phoebe Walsh wastes no time setting up the confrontation but wisely shows us the aftermath without saying much. It can all be seen in Toheeb’s devastating expressions. Sam is one of the most genuinely sweet characters brought to life by Toheeb’s calming presense and when his heart breaks, we all feel it in our souls.

However, Sam and Toheeb’s performance is overshadowed by his warm and larger than life father Ola (Nonso Anozie). With what little screentime Ola has, Nonso does profound work, making an impact beyond reminding Sam to fight forward as the best revenge. After the embrace Sam and Ola have with one another, I firmly believe the two are father and son in real life. If ever there was a perfect casting for this series, its Nonso, adding yet another friendly face to an ensemble built on Ted’s stunning optimism.

Perhaps the best encounter Ola had was being introduced to Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham). An awkward pause follows “My son has said a lot about you” and Hannah’s nervous expression says more than what comes out of her mouth.

On the pitch, AFC Richmond and coaches Lasso, Beard and Kent (Brett Goldstein) have finally solved the mystery. With Zava a distant and forgettable memory, It’s Jamie (Phil Dunster) continuing to step up as a leader in the locker room and be so un-Jamie like. This new and improved Jamie has been special to watch bloom into a more mature and selfless character and Phil Dunster is taking every advantage of the new role within the Greyhounds.

What has been even more surprising are to see are the kit’s – replacing the dark blues are oranges and in this episode, bright yellow with pops of blue. Suggesting that brighter days are on the horizon and brighter days are coming with the remainder of the season. For the first time this season, AFC Richmond has hope, beyond that yellow piece of paper with blue letters spelling “Believe” on it.

Echoing throughout the episode, what does this situation need can be applied to just about anything. In episode 7’s case, it needs the team to once again band together to aid one of their own. AFC Richmond even when they are on the furthest pages from each other in different books in different libraries is a completely unified collective of humans that support one another. It’s the power of sports – creating lifelong bonds between people of different backgrounds coming together for one purpose but finding a multi-layered meaning. At the end of the day, this club is a family, they lift each other up when times are tough through sarcasm, humor and genuine affection for one another. For Colin’s (Billy Harris) sake, the struggle to be 1000 percent himself in front of the team is challenging but given the unconditional support from top to bottom, Colin has nothing to worry about when he’s ready to come out. It may come as a surprise to the team, but the club will remain who they are at their core – a team and a family.

Ted Lasso season 3 episode 7 is the strongest episode of the season thus far and one of the best episodes of the series. The warm hug is more comforting, and the spirits are at an all-time high. The new motto is a perfect replacement, representing the selfless acts of kindness the club has shown time and time again.

Created By: Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt & Joe Kelly

Episodes Directed By: Matt Lipsey

Music By: Marcus Mumford & Tom Howe

Cinematography: David Rom & Vanessa Whyte

Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Phil Dunster, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed, Juno Temple

Where to Watch: Apple TV +

Release Date: April 26, 2023

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Based On: Characters and Format by NBC Sports

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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