*Contains minor spoilers*
The penultimate episode of Ted Lasso season 3 has finally hit the pitch and the series is back on the offensive attack after the missed shot on goal last week. If this happens to be the second to last episode of the series, what a run AFC Richmond has gone onto, cultivating a 15-game winning streak with two games left to play. By any stretch, regardless of the sport, winning 15 games in a row is quite impressive with the focus of this weeks episode coming against a crucial matchup facing rival club Manchester City. A win for Manchester City means the premier league championship is their’s but if AFC Richmond steals a win, there’s a chance the ultimate underdog team that we have all grown close with could pull off the improbable and win it themselves.
Once again, Ted (Jason Sudeikis) is given supporting character duties to allow other characters to be front and center. This week the series should have renamed itself Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) as the superstar for AFC Richmond is the clear focus for this episode. A match against Man City also means Jamie returning home for the first time since the Wembley Stadium game where a confrontation with his father James (Kieran O’Brien) ends badly for the two men. Being on a rival club, Jamie anticipates ridicule from the opposing crowd but mostly his father, throwing Jamie off his game, making him distracted and uninspired.
Jamie has been the true MVP this season for AFC Richmond and the season as a whole, giving his teammates their due but at some point a bit of that superstar arrogance needs to poke through the humble. Phil Dunster continues to inspire especially when his character its himself.
When the episode titled Mom City does focus on Ted, as the title suggests, Ted is visited by his mom Dottie (Becky Ann Baker) without warning of her arrival, reopening the many wounds Ted has been busy putting band-aids on over the course of 3 seasons with no success. Within seconds, we can see where Ted gets his oversized optimism from. To wrap up episode 11, Nate (Nick Mohammed) and his unearned redemption arc has come full circle without too much adversity against him. The writers have let Nate off the hook easy after his betrayal. Ted being Ted, anyone could easily predict that Nate would be forgiven without an ounce of a grudge held but for the rest of the team, Nate never earns the forgiveness he’s so desperate to achieve.
There is still the matter of Nate quitting West Ham and the falling out with Rupert (Anthony Head) however, Rupert is too self-absorbed to probably notice the wonderkid even left his facility. Many of the subplots season 3 has set up have fallen by the wayside and have convoluted the season altogether and this is a major one that followed season 2 with the potential of being the main source of conflict for the team to beat their former assistant coach on the field, which failed, and for Ted to overcome with his panic attacks.
Neither has been resolved with 1 episode left this season and likely the series.
Nate’s story this season instead has driven him into the arms of a girl he once thought was unattainable – Jade (Edyta Budnik), who has become Nate’s compass the more lost he has gotten. Though there isn’t much chemistry between the characters themselves, the two complement one another nicely on screen.
Much of season 3 has been rewarding for certain characters to overcome personal roadblocks. For the most part, characters like Keeley (Juno Temple), Roy (Brett Goldstein), Colin (Billy Harris), Sam (Toheeb Jimoh), and Jamie have conquered their struggles, some more than others, but there is still a lot that has been left unsaid and unresolved. I’ve brought up Colin’s moment far too often to let the series off the hook. His moment of personal growth and acceptance being omitted is perhaps the biggest disappointment of this season in my eyes. Moments are built toward only to fumble the ball at the goal line and its happened far too often to be excused. Ted Lasso has always been better at allowing their characters to heal fully before tackling the next big issue that pops up. There have been many instances where season 3 has made us all collectively, laugh, cry, smile, become angry and furious with some of the choices being made to its characters and this new episode is no different.
Mom City at its core is about forgiveness. Jamie’s forgiveness of his father and Ted’s forgiveness of his mother. Without forgiveness, we cannot properly move on from the pain that has been caused.
And for the two characters, Jamie and Ted that share the spotlight, their moms play a big role in helping the two move forward with their respective grief. In season 2 we finally are privy to the source of Ted’s unhappiness other than living on an entirely different continent than his son Henry and the separation to his ex-wife. In comes Mae (Annette Badland), in the absence of Dr. Sharon (Sarah Niles),owner of every Richmond fans favorite pub who perfectly sums up a parents impact on their kid – something the writers have always nailed when it comes to these characters relationships.
Without realizing it, parents project their insecurities that they were handed onto their children. That is exactly what Dottie did when Ted was a boy and his father suddenly died. Dottie unknowingly sets Ted up to be emotionally unavailable and out of control with his feelings hence his panic attacks. With the time allotted to Ted and Dottie, a fraction of what Jamie is given, it’s the moment at the very end of the episode that an honest conversation can be had which leads to healing and the somewhat predictable outcome for Ted’s character in the finale.
When given the opportunity, Jason Sudeikis delivers on a powerful moment as Ted. He’s gotten so few of these chances to show off his dramatic side since Ted is positive first that the impact of Ted finally addressing whats wrong opens the flood gates. It’s easy being positive, pushing down the discomfort until it cannot be contained anymore. “Thank you and F— You.”
The finale has been set – regardless of if the destinations are predictable or not. On the football side, it looks like AFC Richmond will fulfill their destiny and win the premier league and on the character side, based on his one line to Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), this could be the end of Coach Lasso across the pond, away from his son. Overall, the season as a whole is not without its flaws however, it’s another strong reminder of the power this show has had for 3 years. Ted Lasso has been a consistent healing experience for anyone and everyone going through something personal.
Created By: Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt & Joe Kelly
Episode Directed By: Declan Lowney
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, Toheeb Jimoh, Kola Bokinni, Cristo Fernández, Billy Harris
Where to Watch: Apple TV +
Release Date: May 24, 2023
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
Based On: Characters and Format by NBC Sports