Ted Lasso (Season 3 | Ep 12) 2023

* Minor spoilers head*

In the span of 6 days, 4 beloved series and their remarkable characters have come to a bittersweet end for good. Some of these characters are more likable than others, sorry Succession and even a Barry character or two but none more positive, charming, sweet, and foolishly optimistic than Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis). In what turned out to be more of a roller coaster of a ride of a season, starting slow, setting up way too many unnecessary subplots that distracted from the main goal, the final episode of season 3 echoes that very sentiment. And out of the 4 series finale’s, Ted Lasso ends up in the middle of the road, not fully satisfying the die-hard series fans that have come to adore this team and characters but not a complete disaster either.

A finale, whether season or series faces an uphill climb to wrap up every minor and major plot point set up, or at least attempt to. Some meandering plot points thankfully wrapped themselves up episodes ago which made them a distant memory, never to resurface when all is said and done. For Ted Lasso’s sake, the finale, titled So Long, Farewell does a lot right in keeping with the tone of the series and its characters that are more like family after 34 episodes but there is a lot of missed calls and yellow cards to be handed out.

Following the penultimate episode, the team, AFC Richmond defeated Manchester City, preventing City from winning the premier league outright. Episode 12 sees the last match of the season and potential trophy raising for the Greyhounds if they win and Man City loses or draws against their final opponent. Richmond’s final opponent as predictable as it is, comes against West Ham, Nate’s (Nick Mohammed) old club where he took the role of manager and owned by Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head). The team has played inspired football winning 16 straight matches with the potential of ending the season with number 17.

There are but a few things in life more satisfying than the misogynistic, arrogant, trashy headache known as Rupert Mannion being called a ‘wanker’ by an entire stadium full of people. Finally, the rest of the world gets to see the real Rupert that only Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) and a handful of others have gotten to see firsthand over the course of 3 seasons.

If any team was the epitome of a Cinderella story, its Richmond and as many suspect all credit is due to Ted, coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), and former superstar Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein). But ask Ted who should get the credit and he would place himself at the bottom of that list – the team’s success was never due to just him but the culture he created in the locker room that the team applied to everyday life. In fact, the only note Ted had for team biographer and former Independent writer Trent Crimm (James Lance) was to change the name of the book Trent has been working on the entirety of the season whereas coach Beard left several multicolored post-it note amendments.

On the character side of the coin, it was speculated in Mom City that Ted would ultimately decide to amicably part ways with Richmond to return home to the States and his family. Once Ted finally opened up in therapy sessions in season 2 with Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles), Ted’s entire purpose was to get back to his son, being there for him in the ways that Ted’s father wasn’t. And with that mentality, Ted Lasso puts most of its efforts, when there aren’t a handful of unnecessary subplots, in exploring the fragile yet rewarding relationship between a father and son. If the Cat Stevens song playing at the end of the episode wasn’t enough of a hint, I don’t know what is.

Not just Ted but several characters have experienced key plot moments with their respective fathers. First the good in Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh) and his father Ola (Nonso Anozie), my favorite guest role of this season. Next the not so bad but misunderstood between Nate and his father, which never caused too much of a headache, and finally the ugly between Jamie (Phil Dunster) and his alcoholic and abusive father James (Kieran O’Brien). After their explosive confrontation in season 2, Jamie and James became estranged only to reconnect in this week’s finale episode where James is now sober, and Jamie has fully forgiven him.

Getting back to what has been shown on Apple TV Plus as the season 3 finale not the series as everywhere else has more than confirmed this is the end, I refuse to believe the latter is true (and I’m not the only one). Yes the episode wraps up several key storylines, but I refuse to think this is goodbye for good to a show that has touched so many people emotionally and allowed them to heal through these once in a lifetime characters. I refuse to consider the warm, comforting hug Ted Lasso has provided for 3 season is suddenly no more. And I refuse to acknowledge that some of these conclusions are final with the full intention of wrapping up character’s storylines the way they did.

If, and I say that with emphasis and exclamation (silently), if this is the last time Ted Lasso puts out a new episode, the finale rushes through the back half of the episode. All leading up to the final match is executed and paced exactly how the rest of the series has gone but once the final whistle blows and the screen fades to black for a hot second, the wheels spin out of control. Several key character storylines are unearned to that specific characters journey.

Consider Rebecca for a moment. Season 3 has been hinting at a possible future for the AFC Richmond owner, she considers selling the team in this episode which is fine since Rebecca accomplished the impossible with the team and hiring of Ted and Beard. But her personal life is where things get hairy. Early in the season, Rebecca visits a medium whom she proceeds to call a quack but said medium calls out moments that potentially lead back to a reunion with Sam.

Disclaimer – I have and will always be a Sam and Rebecca apologist. The notion of Rebecca ending up with Ted or anyone else is just silly and wrong.

More so as the season progresses, it’s the green matchbook, the quick moments shared with a smile, and meeting Ola that the possibility for them to rekindle their flame was immanent but the writing failed to follow through and instead rushes Rebecca’s story to an unsatisfactory and unearned conclusion.

Another example belongs to Nate the traitor, not the great, or the wunderkind. All of season 3 was building toward the eventual confrontation between Ted and Nate who betrayed Ted, and the team, leaked the panic attacks to Trent Crimm and the public and ripped up the Believe sign that serves as the basis for AFC’s cultural renaissance. And when everyone except for coach Beard acted like it was no big deal, Nate’s redemption arc loses its justifiability. The writing team made it so that Nate was the most hated character on the show, that his salt and pepper hair style was his James Bond villain moment and after seeing Rupert’s true intentions, his change in heart was simply accepted.

Chalk it up to being a bad day at the office.

Ted Lasso has done remarkable things over 3 seasons. Characters like Jamie Tartt and Colin Hughes (Billy Harris) have commanded the spotlight on several occasions with Jamie and counterpart Phil Dunster being the true MVP of the season, Sam’s proud heritage and love for his culture and home provides one heartwarming sensation after the other, Leslie’s (Jeremy Swift) comedic timing and masterfully profound philosophical moments are unexpected but absolutely necessary, Isaac’s (Kola Bokinni) loyalty and rough and tumble leadership as captain leads the team, Dani Rojas’s (Cristo Fernández) enthusiasm for the game and his teammates and Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) becoming a fierce multi-dimensional force of nature with her own PR firm KJPR.

Ted Lasso has taught us all to be a goldfish, keep a short-term memory when times get tough and forget all the hate and the poopy that everyone spews, to focus on what matters and has made us believe. Believe in ourselves when no one else does, believe there is good in the world and believe that you matter.

Who would have thought that a college American football coach could succeed at managing a football club and win the hearts of a town obsessed with the team? Only Ted Lasso, the foolishly optimistic, wears his gigantic heart on his sleeve Ted. The finale may not be perfect, but no one is, the diamond dogs made sure of that distinguishment, where it sticks the landing, it does so with flying colors and execution. Like Dani Rojas says, Fútbol is life and Ted Lasso is forever!

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 31, 2023

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

Based On: Characters and Format by NBC Sports

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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