After a streak of a few more than solid episodes, the latest, episode 10 of Ted Lasso’s 3rd and most likely final season takes a pivotal step in the wrong direction despite the momentum swinging in the shows favor. In football terms, the newest episode would be given a yellow card for disrupting the flow of the back half of the season. The one complaint I like many others have had regarding Ted Lasso has been the set up and eventual failure of subplot after subplot, resulting in questionable choices from the writing team that don’t hold any significant weight to the overall outcome by series end.
I’m still somewhat getting over the travesty of cutting to a different scene mid Colin (Billy Harris) finally coming out to the team last episode. For anyone of the LGBTQ+ community, that is a significant moment in their lives and all Ted Lasso gives us after weeks of buildup is the aftermath with the camera first placed on a 3rd tier character after cutting back to Colin post announcement. In the sea of bad judgment calls, this one is unforgivable, and this is the same season that introduced Shandy and Zava.
On the pitch, AFC Richmond has also gone streaking, winning 10 matches in a row. Once again, we don’t get to see the team in stunning action but maybe it’s easier to show the team lose and continue to be underdogs than finally cracking the strategy bug that has plagued them for 3 seasons and show them put the Total Football theory to good use. Nobody actually tunes in to watch their favorite team win, who wants to see that? Completely obvious sarcasm aside, missing out on seeing a cohesive team finally play to their strengths together has left a pitch sized hole as the season reaches the remaining episodes.
The eventual path that the team’s success is heading toward is facing the Rupert (Anthony Head) owned West Ham team in a rematch. That team won’t feature the wonder kid Nate (Nick Mohammed) as head coach going forward as the two amicably parted ways. Nate’s departure from West Ham opens the door wider for the predictable apology tour Nate owes us all but most importantly Ted (Jason Sudeikis). It’s but one of 4 squeezed in storylines that episode 10 focuses its mostly wasted energy on. The others follow Keeley (Juno Temple) as the funding from the former girlfriend and investor Jack (Jodi Balfour) is pulled with 48 hours’ notice. The 3rd plotline follows Roy (Brett Goldstein) heading down a path to reunite with Keeley. The entire Jack storyline became an obvious catalyst for the two to rekindle their love and in hindsight was more unnecessary since it was Roy who had to grow as a person.
The final plotline in the exhaustive hour-long episode follows Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) receiving an invite to an exclusive discussion for an even more premier league than the premier league called the Akufo league. At the head of this discussion is everyone’s favorite insufferable immature billionaire Edwin Akufo (Sam Richardson). If memory serves correctly, Edwin in season 2 tries to poach Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) to join the team he just purchased. Well, Edwin is back again for another round of spiteful sore loser behavior surrounding one of the sweetest characters the series has introduced.
One insult is fine but Edwin at the mercy of the writers continuously berates Sam to get a response that ultimately ends up going nowhere when the episode finishes up. Most of the subplots begin only to fizzle out into complete obscurity. That’s just how season 3 has gone. But regardless, out of the 10 episodes that have released, the good far outweighs the bad however the bad does not get overlooked or forgiven, not with the quality Ted Lasso has brought over the years.
Titled International Break, several characters get excused from AFC Richmond to play for their respective national teams. It isn’t until Edwin makes his ugly appearance that Sam’s exclusion from the Nigeria national team is met with understanding leading to the writing to become predictable and at times shallow in some respects. Aside from Roy and Keeley, episode 10 winds up being empty calories that are instantly regrettable. However there are still some redeeming qualities throughout the episode. For one Jamie (Phil Dunster) continues to make me ever forget about how self-indulgent he was in season 1. The characters empathy and kindness to his teammates and others around him is admirable.
Two of the players joining their respective national teams are Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernández) playing for Mexico and goalkeeper Van Damme (Moe Jeudy-Lamour) playing for Canada. Once announced, the friendly teammates become opposition as Dani’s temperament flips a switch when found out that Mexico and Canada are going up against one another. The first joke sticks the landing and so does the second, to a degree, until its revisited a 3rd and 4th time and run directly into the ground.
And with Rebecca her confidence to see the subtle games Rupert plays as a misogynist. The show continues to hint at Rebecca and Sam reigniting their passion and I for one hope that’s what happens by season and series end. I am a firm Sam and Rebecca apologist and never once thought Ted and Rebecca ever had the spark to pull off a romantic relationship. Ted has always struggled with his identity as a single man – he’s still broken from his marriage and jumping right into another relationship with his boss is a bad idea.
During these last few episodes, Nate and his relationship with Jade (Edyta Budnik) has evolved from shy guy with a crush to the two openly and happily dating. In the eyes of AFC Richmond, Nate is the enemy and what he has done to Ted and the team is inexcusable, believing he’s owed more than his worth. Anyone could have seen Nate leaving West Ham a mile away given the elitist personality Rupert has but since Nate and Jade have been in a relationship, the two couldn’t have less chemistry together if they tried. There’s the incompatibility of Ted and Rebecca and then there is Nate and Jade. Sure the beginning was a pleasant surprise but as the season progressed, one thing was made abundantly clear that we all already knew – Nate is nothing like Rupert. The two were never meant to work well long term.
With potentially 2 episodes left in Ted Lasso (believe me the thought is terrifying to come to terms with), and the sudden halt in momentum episode 10 leaves us with, the confidence that the series will come to a finality is troubling. Where does the show conclude when the dust settles, and the extra time runs out? Does AFC Richmond become the darling of the Premier league taking home the coveted trophy? Does Ted finally face reality and begin to move on from all the damage that he’s endured? There are so many questions and I fear that there is little to no time left to address them all. I have continued to be optimistic regarding the path of season 3 and for the first time im skeptical.
Overall, I still lean more positive when it comes to Ted Lasso, I’m a sucker for his puppy dog optimism which is infectious regardless of if he’s missing in action for 55 minutes of the episodes runtime. Ted’s impact on the organization and the series as a whole has spoken volumes to the betterment of these characters and the world that gets to experience his charm on a weekly basis.
Created By: Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt & Joe Kelly
Episode 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: May 17, 2023
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
Based On: Characters and Format by NBC Sports