“Ted Lasso” is back, but not quite the same
"Ted Lasso" is back, but feels different
It’s hard to say if the somber tone of Ted Lasso’s season three premiere is due to the news that this season very might be its last, or if this episode really was just that heavy.
The tone is set early on in the episode, with Ted (Jason Sudeikis) dropping his son Henry off at the airport after a 6-week vacation. His normally optimistic outlook on life is tangibly clouded by a sense of regret and confusion, as he voices to the former team therapist Dr. Fieldstone that he is now unsure of his purpose at Richmond. Saying goodbye to his son seems to have brought up the overarching question in Ted’s mind of “is it all worth it?” Dr. Fieldstone’s relationship with Ted gives us more insight into Ted’s mental health – which will likely be explored more this season.
As for the other beloved characters, the episode explores the complex internal conflicts that many of them are secretly fighting, showing that Ted isn’t the only one struggling despite what he may believe.
Nate (Nick Mohammed), Ted’s former assistant coach and AFC Richmond’s former kit boy, has moved up the ranks and is settling into his new position as head coach of West Ham United — and as Rupert’s lap dog. His routine consists of ignoring colleagues, bullying players (placing them on the “dumb-dumb line” when they mess up), and obsessively checking social media to boost his low ego. He is also turning to Rupert (Anthony Head), Rebecca’s ex-husband and owner of West Ham, to improve his self-esteem and happily listens when Rupert sings Nate’s praises and buys him a new car. In return, Nate drags Ted and Richmond’s name through the mud – publicly cursing Ted’s name.
The entire Richmond team seems to be in their own heads as the public, including Paddington Bear, has unanimously predicted that Richmond is going to finish last in their division. Though they all collectively fall under the theme of confusion and purpose as well, as they are the perpetual underdogs, their group banter offers the familiar comedic relief the show is known for.
We see Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), the ever tough as nails owner of the Richmond team, beginning to revert to her season one self. Rupert has gotten into her head and she is intent on beating him. As she, Ted and Higgins (Jeremy Swift), Rebecca’s lovable assistant, have a meeting regarding the new season, she repeatedly refers to West Ham as “he,” showing that her focus is seemingly back to solely beating Rupert. She tries to explain to Keeley (Juno Temple) that unlike before, she doesn’t want to take and destroy everything Rupert has, she just wants to win. Keeley, like the rest of us, remains unconvinced. There is also no mention of the Sam and Rebecca romance, but I’m sure that dynamic will be explored, or at least mentioned later.
As for other romances in the show, love is definitely not in the air. It is revealed that in the time that has passed between season two and three, the fan-favorite relationship between the gruff Roy and perky Keeley has ended. While Roy and Keeley prepare Roy’s young niece Phoebe with pre-dinner ice cream to break the news, the audience does not get the same treatment. When Phoebe asks follow-up questions about the news, there is tension and obvious miscommunication regarding the decision. Roy calls the split a “breakup” while Keeley refers to it as “a break.” Phoebe later asks Roy if he is sure that he is doing the right thing, the very same question that Ted is asking himself. As if Ted isn’t going through enough, the premiere ends by revealing that Ted’s ex-wife has a new “friend,” Jake, who has bought Henry a new toy. The news clearly upsets Ted, and will no doubt further his internal struggle with finding the answer to the question of his purpose in London.
It’s fair to say that this season is going to be tackling a lot of complex storylines and character arcs, and it’s hard to say what is in store for each one. However, the show’s reputation is built on a sense of familial support and love that we will no doubt see, and lean on, if it is in fact true that we will have to say goodbye to this beloved community at the end of this coming May.