As I watched Ted Lasso season 3 episode 9 with my morning coffee, I started grumbling about this, the latest chapter of Coach Lasso's run. With only four episodes to go in the season (and likely the series), Ted Lasso spent one on side-stories — and not doing them quite well.
Yes, I'm starting to join the chorus of folks with bones to pick about Ted Lasso's current run, including my colleague who judged Ted Lasso season 3 as disappointing. And it all makes me ready to revise my Ted Lasso season 3 review at the end of the season.
While this latest episode may have hit us with the expected feel-good moments, along with some character growth, it also had me releasing profanity like I was Roy Kent. Not as loud as he does it, mind you. I'm not trying to wake my neighbors. But I've got to explain why this episode has me upset.
This article contains spoilers about Ted Lasso season 3, up through episode 9.
Ted Lasso season 3 is playing with fire, and fumbling the torch
I know I'm probably mixing metaphors when I say Ted Lasso is fumbling the ball, but much like Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) back when he took the job at Richmond, I don't really know football (or what Americans call soccer) that well. That said, I have been getting more and more annoyed since I wrote about how there are aspects of Ted Lasso season 3 that I love and hate.
The story of Richmond left winger left winger Colin (Billy Harris) being a closeted gay man has felt like a risky story plot the jump. But up until this week, it's felt like one that Ted Lasso's handled well, especially when writer Trent Crimm (James Lance) and Colin shared excellent conversations about being in the closet back in Amsterdam.
But this week's next segment of that story truly felt like a mistake, and one to fill time and create unnecessary tension. We spent far too much time waiting for team captain Isaac (Kola Bokinni) to explain himself to Colin after Isaac learned his secret.
Then, we had to wait until 40 minutes into this 44-plus minute episode to see Isaac simply tell Colin he felt betrayed that it took so long for him to tell him. And throughout the episode, Isaac was consistently weird to Colin in the locker room and on the pitch, creating some sort of possibility that his reaction was something negative.
Sure, there were clues, starting with Isaac's attempt to bring the NBA's "Malice at the Palace" to Richmond. You could have seen the captain nearly brawling with a fan who shouted "you're all playing like a bunch of fa**ots!" as a sign that he was definitely on Colin's side.
I don't buy that Isaac would take this long to have that conversation if he's as much of an ally as he seems to be. All of the episode, I think, would have been better had it been bookended with Isaac asking why Colin didn't tell him up front, and then asking his doofy questions at the end.
The women of Ted Lasso continue to get the short end of the stick
Next up, we need to talk about Keeley (Juno Temple), a long-time main character, and Jade (Edyta Budnik), someone who has gotten a lot more time than you might have expected. And I hate to lump them both into the same section, but they're emblematic of a bad pattern this year. Last time I wrote about Ted Lasso, I groused about Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) getting lackluster plotting, and now I'm back again to talk about two of the other female characters on the series.
Keeley's spent the last two episodes dealing with the aftermath of an NSFW video she recorded and sent an ex that leaked onto the internet — and the entire story has barely been about her. It was originally about her boss and lover Jack (Jodi Balfour) mishandled all of it. Then, we pivoted to the Richmond team's history of sexting, followed by Jamie (Phil Dunster) processing it all maturely and Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) failing to do so.
You may have noticed a severe lack of Keeley in the above, in her own storyline. Yes, while there was a brief moment where Keeley refused to apologize for it all, but I can't fathom an explanation about why she's feeling so tangential to her own scandal.
Even in episode 9, as Keeley's story was reduced to waiting for Jack to text back, after having (relatably) sent way too many texts without getting a reply, she felt like more of an aside than a character.
Next, there's Jade, a tertiary character in Ted Lasso season 2, who we met as the hostess of A Taste of Athens. You know, that Greek restaurant that Nate's obsessed with. Well, somehow Nate lucked into sort-of-dating Jade, after she was mean to him. She's somehow becoming an important character in Ted Lasso, or at least a part of Nate's redemption story.
But aside from that all, there's nothing to Jade. She's as thinly-written as the models that Rupert (Anthony Head) has tried to set Nate up with this season. We don't know why Nate likes Jade beyond her looks, though one might guess that her being cold to him could be a turn-on. This may very well be because Nate tends to take up all of the oxygen in any given room (unless Ted's there), but it's made Jade feel like a one-dimensional character.
Outlook: Make it all make sense
Right now, with three episodes left to go in Ted Lasso, I'm not sure if any of these plots can be saved, though I'd love to think they will be. The best case scenario for Colin would have him be the face of a new Pride campaign in the world of football, while I'm still wondering what took Isaac so long.
Keeley seems destined to choose being alone, which would come right after Roy Kent works up the confidence to admit he deserves something more than the nothing he's got. Jade? I'm not sure if Nate will be welcome at the inevitable end-of-the-season party at Ola's, Sam's (Toheeb Jimoh) restaurant, or if she and Nate will even last the season.
None of these plots is truly central for the show, but they will matter somewhat for the end of the season and how we see Ted Lasso in retrospect. Will season 3 wind up being seen as a plodding way to end a once-beloved show? I'd hope it can still make us 'believe,' but I'm more apt to quote Mr. Kent and say "oi, f**k off!"