With only 3 episodes left in season 3 of the Apple Tv + series Ted Lasso (I keep reminding myself to hold it together when the inevitable comes), the season has been an improvement over season 2. By now, the entire AFC Richmond organization from the die-hard loyal fans that visit the pub every match to ownership should be considered family – we’ve gotten to experience all of the highs and lows that each member has gone through in 3 years. And with the attachment that we feel to these characters, Ted Lasso still finds ways to give us a new perspective on a character and their ideologies, their relationships and how at the end of the day, they aren’t just footballers, but they are people, first and foremost.
Once the season comes to its conclusion I think I’ll have to get an x-ray taken or 2 with how many gut punches Ted Lasso throws during the season. I may have a few cracked ribs that need to heal from all the damage done. Just when you think the emotional devastation couldn’t get worse and the dust is beginning to clear for one of the characters, the series opens up another unhealed wound that was established episodes ago. But for episode 9’s sake, the story picks up from the previous sequence of events.
After the seismic bomb that was discovered by team captain Isaac (Kola Bokinni) about his teammate and closest friend Colin (Billy Harris), the episode follows the two as they navigate rough waters of their friendship going forward. After not seeing AFC Richmond play a match last episode, the events that lead into walking the tightrope begins with Richmond at home playing Brighton & Hove Abian, or as Ted (Jason Sudeikis) puts it, the team that could also be considered a law firm.
Out of the many subplots that season 3 has set up over the course of the 9 episodes and followed through with, Colin’s has been the one to watch while the show has trimmed some of the fattier ones like Keeley (Juno Temple) and Jack’s (Jodi Balfour) failed relationship or the mini obsession with Zava. Even the Shandy subplot shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did.
Colin has every right to fear the rejection from his teammates for his sexuality as its always the expectation of the fans for star athletes and celebrities to live a certain lifestyle. But this is the 21st century and life isn’t black and white. With Colin and Isaac front and center and their friendship being tested, the remainder of the episode titled La Locker Room Aux Folles follows Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) performing something as simple as a press conference and the most hated traitor in England Nate (Nick Mohammed) beginning to lose the rose-colored glasses he has for West Ham owner Rupert (Anthony Head).
Leave it to Ted Lasso to give extraordinary depth to a general task a coach usually partakes in. The depth of course comes with Isaac, after being heckled by a fan and called the F word down at the half (only 1-0 mind you), no not that F word, storms into the crowd to confront the fan, receiving a red card in the process. The tension in the locker room proceeding the event could be cut with a knife. Knowing what Isaac discovered in episode 8, the fan triggered Isaac’s true emotions he was experiencing.
When all is said and done, the team, predictably as expected held no grudge or animosity against Colin’s declaration about his sexuality. No one shied away or acted differently proving no matter what is thrown at this team, they have each other’s backs, they are a family first and foremost with enough love for each other that can fill a stadium up. The team has always been inclusive to all backgrounds, sexualities, religions and have proved to be an extended family. In the final scene, we get a conversation between Isaac and Colin.
To avoid spoilers, the writing of Ted Lasso perfectly encapsulates the exact fear Colin had and the anger Isaac felt toward his friend. That’s the good part of this confrontation, the bad part is, we only experience the aftermath of Colin’s announcement from the teams reaction. This storyline has been built up over the course of the season and the payoff didn’t allow the buildup to stick the emotional landing. The Greyhounds may have come back to win 8 matches in a row, but the real victory happened behind closed doors.
To make the point clear that as fans of sports teams we have every right to buy a ticket and see the game up close. However, to the foundation of this episode, that does not give us as fans the right to say whatever hateful, harmful and offensive slurs that pop into our heads without facing the consequences. The fan may get removed but the damage to the player is already done.
Episode 9 squeezes even more depth out of its well lived in characters during the Roy Kent press conference post-match. Correlating to humans in general, the message of practicing empathy toward one another is fundamental, or it should be – none of us have the faintest idea of what the other is going through at any given time. Whether its calling someone a slur or making a misguided joke, none of us truly know what hardships someone is experiencing on a day-to-day basis.
Just when you think Ted Lasso is done emotionally laying it on thick in a particular episode, they add another layer to compound our suffering. Leave it to the heavily guarded Roy Kent to make the most sense when it comes to how Isaac reacted in the moment, giving his own experience that is sure to make the tears flow. When the two share what was thought to be a private moment until kitman Will (Charlie Hiscock) chimes in (seriously don’t these characters know by now that Will is always in that room), Roy out of the entire ensemble has shown the most development, besides Jamie. Mostly known to be upbeat and humorous, the duality of Ted Lasso has been at its best this season, opening the conversation to tough topics people aren’t normally comfortable with talking about in the open.
After the slow start, Ted Lasso has found its footing with its sharp boots, on and off the pitch with the end of the season in sight. If these are the final 3 episodes (rumored), there are still loose ends to tie up. If the quality remains, all the confidence should be given, the series has never once steered fans the wrong way when it comes to its more mature themes and messages regarding human nature and the condition. Episode 9 finds strength in the needs of the few outweighing the needs of the many while still driving home the hope that humanity is inherently good. With a few well-placed jokes that stick the landing minus the Denver Broncos one (more poor taste as an analogy), episode 9 falls on the better episode side of the spectrum.
Created By: Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt & Joe Kelly
Episode Directed By: Erica Dunton
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: May 10, 2023
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
Based On: Characters and Format by NBC Sports