My Ted Lasso season 3 emotions have been a lot like AFC Richmond's season itself. At first, I was way up, giving the series five stars in my Ted Lasso season 3 review that covered the first four episodes.
Then, much like after the Greyhounds saw the footage that explained the torn "BELIEVE" sign in their locker room, my emotions became a mix of love and hate. I began wondering "WTF?" My central frustration? Rebecca's nothing-burger plotline, which felt like much less than the excellent Hannah Waddingham deserved.
My concerns got worse until Tuesday night, when I watched "International Break," (season 3 episode 1). What begins as one of the weirdest episodes of the series quickly became a favorite, and reminded me why it's one of the best Apple TV Plus shows. Here's why.
Ted Lasso season 3 episode 10 started off with almost too much chaos
If the latest Ted Lasso had any real flaw it was that the opening 10-minute stretch had more twists than a whole Knives Out movie. First, the Soccer Saturday hosts inform us that Nathan Shelley (Nick Mohammed) is out of West Ham, then we see the twisted side of normally bubbly Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernandez), then we learned Nate actually quit and then Barbara (Katy Wix) tells Keeley that KJPR's been shut down.
And while I stand behind my instant reaction that this opening was "made of whiplash," I'm willing to accept it given the results.
Keeley's finally getting her time in Ted Lasso season 3
A lot of my positive feelings about Ted Lasso season 3 revolve around how we finally got more of Keeley from "International Break."
Keeley's KJPR agency's over, as its funding's been pulled and everyone's carrying tax boxes out. I don't want to endorse anyone's possibly dangerous day-drinking, but from the scene at the pub where Mae (Annette Badland) gives Keeley advice to her moments with Roy (Brett Goldstein) and the needed unfurling of emotions with Rebecca were tremendous.
Sometimes you truly need your friends and strangers to verbally reboot your brain. It may not be the end of Keeley's story, but it was utterly relatable. Roy giving her the ego-boost that she so duly needed was wonderful, especially because of how it helped her regain the confidence to climb back up the proverbial mountain Mae was talking about. Also, when Keeley and Mae had a little case of "who's on first?" when talking about the latter's name, it felt like the old Ted Lasso was back.
With each of her scenes in this episode, we saw someone talk with Keeley, not at her. And that's what I've been waiting for.
Uncle Day is one of Ted Lasso's latest great inventions
Putting Roy Kent in a shiny rosé-colored hat is a sure-fire way to make him curse and make me laugh, but Uncle Day is so much more than that. Another out-of-nowhere move that truly works, Phoebe (Elodie Blomfield) and her mother throw Roy an "Uncle Day" party, using a made up holiday to help Roy out. I guess we couldn't have had a Roy Kent birthday party, as he already turned another year older earlier this season.
Either way, the show benefitted from Phoebe's return, as she's been gone for far too long — basically disappearing since the season premiere. Blomfeld's got a tough task, making a precocious youth character still work in 2023, but she's got the chops to pull it off. But as she took fees for the boys' vulgarity, she got to imbue the series with more of the joy that it's built around.
The wholesomeness which which she says the red, orange and yellow tones of a tie-due shirt she made for Roy spell his name out, made my heart melt. And then a second returning character, Phoebe's teacher Leanne Bowen (Ruth Bradley), gave Roy the final kick in the right direction he needed, mentioning that Roy might have caused some damage.
After realizing that he could have hurt Keeley, we got the proper amount of the evolved version of Roy Kent, as he opened up the emotional flood gates. Roy needed a season of a rut to understand himself, something I think other characters could have used (more on that below). Then, I swooned when Roy said "you are, and always will be, Keeley f**king Jones," before apologizing for possibly making her feel less than, and saying he loved her.
Great villains make for better TV
Why would someone, anyone, kick humble old Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) when he's down? After being rejected from the Nigerian international team, and sharing an awkward-but-wholesome interaction with Rebecca, Sam didn't need to see Edwin Akufo (Sam Richardson), the Ghanaian tech billionaire whose offer he spurned last season.
In town to try and ruin football with a Super League, Akufo made a pit-stop at Sam's restaurant Ola's. Utterly mean-spirited and childish, Akufo is setting up his own Nigerian restaurant within spitting distance from Sam's. And as Akufo revealed how petty he is, Richardson visibly delighted in each moment that showed he was responsible for Sam not getting selected.
But Akufo's arrival enabled something even bigger: putting Rebecca and her ex Rupert (Anthony Head) in the same room. After listening to the plan for the Super League, Rebecca saw the billionaires in the room as the children they are, and delivered an impassioned speech condemning the idea.
And that speech pushed Rupert, Ted Lasso's primary villain, to try and rekindle their romance. Rebecca politely rejected his attempted kiss, and moved on. Before we knew it, Rebecca was "over" Rupert, and her drive for revenge. This made for a far better character moment than any of those weird little ideas from the medium that followed her around.
Wonder Boy's very bad day
Nate's redemption story is probably the weakest and most-rushed part of Ted Lasso season 3. This episode, though, saw him wallow in his own misery after walking out on West Ham. Again, we don't exactly know why he made that call — not enjoying working with Rupert seems likely — but his escape from the mud makes some sense.
Going back to his parents house, and self-infantilzing himself by going into lockdown in his childhood bedroom, Nate got in touch with his inner child — the one who's still hurting, He then shared a moment with his father Lloyd (Peter Landi), where the elder Shelley admitted he could have done a better job of raising his son, and gave him the praise he's always desperately needed.
Nate's story seems to have been told in fits and spurts, and this nadir could have lasted longer. The lower he sank, the more this moment of happiness could have counted. Still, Nate's part of the episode worked for me by the end, especially when he tried to redeem himself with Will (Charlie Hiscock) the kit boy, who he bullied last year.
But I don't feel bad about it anymore, as I've said, my kvetching is over (for now).
Outlook: And then there's all the other little things
Since this latest episode was a whole hour and change, I'm not particularly shocked there's more roses to give out. I absolutely loved Dani Rojas' darker side, toying with goalkeeker Thierry Zoreaux (Moe Jeudy-Lamour), making it seem like Rojas lives a double-life and he's only positive when he plays for Richmond.
Trent Crimm asking about where Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) grew up? Leslie Higgins' (Jeremy Swift) belief that the mean children died at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory? Both excellent and delightful sprinkles. Oh, and then there was the I Think You Should Leave homage with the Russian football owner trying to exit Atufo's meeting
Now, with two episodes left, it's time to see if Ted can un-rut himself, and I've got more confidence that it will work now than I did before.