‘Ted Lasso’ Season 3: A beautiful set-up, but can the show finish?
Andrew McGuinness | Friday, April 21, 2023
There is nothing more exciting — or agonizing — in sports than watching a beautiful through ball head into the box. Anticipation rises as each second passes till the ball comes to Earth, and its fate is revealed. It can be exhilarating if finished off, but equally (if not more) devastating if it misses the target.
The same applies to many Americans’ most prominent exposure to football/soccer (myself included): “Ted Lasso.” The unique-but-undeniably-a-hit Apple TV+ show is back for its third and likely final season. In truth, even if rumors of the show weren’t suggesting it would end after this season before it began, its arc is angling toward a finale.
Seemingly every moment of the first six episodes is either a display of how its beloved characters have grown since the show first aired in August 2020, how far they have to go or both. We see Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster), defined by his ego in Season 1, putting it aside to not just be a leader on the pitch for AFC Richmond, but off of it, as well. Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), his teammate in the first season, does the same with his former rival in his second season as an assistant coach with the club. Most of the other returning players have largely been the same as they were in the first two seasons. However, they figure to feature more prominently over the next six episodes because of hints that we have more to learn about them, which carry both intriguing and terrifying potential as to how they could come to the surface.
The show has always been about much, much more than what happens off the pitch. However, results are what ultimately matter in the Premier League. So far, Richmond has endured an up-and-down season. This hasn’t phased Ted (Jason Sudeikis), whose improved support systems have allowed him to handle both football and personal problems better than ever. This is done through several unique, developed and impressively shot ways.
But team owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) isn’t handling things as calmly. Her ex-husband and former Richmond co-owner Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head) is back in the Premiership, owning West Ham United and employing disgruntled former Greyhounds assistant coach Nathan Shelley (Nick Mohammed) as his manager. The rivalry between the two sides is intense, though there are signs that the lovable, innocent Nate who audiences fell in love with during Season 1 still remains somewhere deep inside him.
The show’s episodes are longer than ever this season. All but one lasts longer than a full half of the game it portrays. But that length is necessary, and the show hardly feels like it’s dragging things out unnecessarily. The writing is as sharp as ever, both from a humor, plot and realism standpoint. The little details have always been the strong suit of “Ted Lasso,” and Season 3 is no different. No matter your experience with football or sports in general, the writers do a tremendous job of making the football jargon understandable and translatable to “real life” experiences. And I’m not the only one with a Notre Dame connection who agrees.
What makes this season so ambitious is the sheer amount of places where the action takes place. Most of the major events of the first two seasons took place at either Nelson Road Stadium, the Greyhounds’ practice facility or a local pub. Things are more spread out in Season 3. Ted’s ex-wife Michelle (Andrea Anders) and son Henry (Gus Turner) — who Ted left behind in Kansas to accept the job in the first place — are a bigger part of the story this season. Keeley Jones (Juno Temple), a love interest of both Jamie and Roy at different points during the first two seasons and Rebecca’s best friend, is on her own running a PR firm. She’s still a part of Richmond, albeit from a distance now. But the new role gives us more space to truly explore her authentic self.
Every storyline is well scripted, acted and thought out. The rushed arc of superstar talent Zava’s (Maximilian Osinski) role and Rebecca’s awkward stand-alone adventure in episode six are exceptions, but could not be farther from the rule of thumb. The only problem “Ted Lasso” could really run into is trying to find time for a satisfying finish for all of them. That may sound like a good problem to have, and it is. But it’s still a problem and one the show needs to nail to go out on a high note.
And while “Ted Lasso” has done a fantastic job of balancing triumph with adversity, in the end, it has to pick a side. Yes, you can win, lose or draw. We learned at Ted’s introductory press conference back in the show’s inaugural episode. But there’s only one champion, and it will either be Richmond or someone else. The show can finish on top regardless. In the end, though, it needs to make sure its wonderful characters are all in the right position, or else this golden chance to dazzle could go unfinished.
Show: “Ted Lasso” Season 3, Episodes 1-6
Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Phil Dunster, Brett Goldstein
Favorite episodes: “Smells Like Spirit,” “Big Week”
Where to watch: Apple TV+
Shamrocks: 5 out of 5