Something interesting happened at the end of the second season of Ted Lasso. Nate, the team’s brilliant tactician who had been elevated from kitman to assistant coach, left Richmond to become the head coach of another team. A team now owned by Rebecca’s ex-husband Rupert, who used to own Richmond and remains devious and slimy behind that charming smile, and who stepped in as Nate’s new Bizarro Ted father figure – lord, does Nate love a father figure – when various life stuff caused Ted to point his laser beam of positivity and attention in another direction for a bit. Things got a little dark. There was a surprising amount of spitting involved. I did not enjoy that part very much.
The result of it all is that Ted Lasso enters its third with as close as it has ever had to a real, actual villain to deal with, unless you count things like “anxiety issues” and “family struggles” and “general befuddlement about the sport you are being paid to coach” as villains, which, I mean, I won’t fight you on. But this is a more concrete thing. The new team – the one owned by Rupert and coached by Nate – literally wears black, if it all wasn’t clear enough for you. It’s kind of a Mighty Ducks situation in reverse, where the protege leaves to become evil and destroy the sweetheart mentor, but with a lot more swearing. Roy Kent remains a maestro with the f-word. So… not everything has changed, I guess
My suspicion here is that you, like me, see where this part of the story is probably headed. There is probably a redemption in our future. I don’t see how this show — a show whose whole deal is overcoming personal issues and a slew of imperfect people becoming more whole with the help of the people around them — can build Nate up and turn him into Darth Vader all of a sudden and have Ted destroy him. Or have him destroy Ted. Something has to give there, even if it would be kind of funny if the show just leans into it all and goes full Breaking Bad in the final season.
Oh, about that: This is the final season of the show. Allegedly. Probably. The braintrust at the center of it all has been a little cagey about what that means. Brendan Hunt, who serves as an executive producer in addition to playing my beloved Coach Beard, summed the whole thing up thusly when asked about it.
“It’s not necessarily the end of the series. It’s just likely the end of this story because we always saw it as a three-part thing. We never even knew for sure we’d be able to tell all three parts — and suddenly, here we are. So, there will be some type of closure to this beat but closure is not necessarily the end.”
Which is, you know, both helpful and maybe not very helpful. He also suggested a spinoff where Coach Beard starts a band, which I wish he hadn’t done because now it’s the only thing in the world I want. We all have problems. The main thing here is that the story as we know it is coming to an end, both for better and for worse, in a few different ways.
It will also, if the first few screeners released to critics are any indication, be a pretty busy affair. People are growing and branching out and taking on new roles and/or challenges. Keeley is off running her own public relations firm and the show sometimes follows her path over there. We check in on Nate and Rupert a lot, sometimes with more spitting, which I still do not enjoy but am starting to understand. Trent Crimm, fired at the end of last season for outing Nate as his source on the story about Ted and his issues, is back in the fold to work on a book, and if you wondered if this resulted in me sending a text to a fellow critic that read “I would watch a show where Roy and Trent go on a vacation together,” the answer is yes and I stand by that.
It does put a lot of balls in the air, though. More than the show had up there before when all of its main players were under one roof. I’m interested to see how the new season deals with all that. A lot of balls in the air can be fine! It can also be messy, especially when you are not allowed to use your hands to control them. (This is a soccer joke.) (I’m sorry.) The people who make this show have done a good job of navigating a tricky premise so far (a goofy concept — American football coach with a goofy name flies to England to coach the other football — that went on to become one of television’s most honest depictions of mental health in the workplace), so I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
There’s also the thing where the setup is promising for a last ride, though. Richmond, back in the Premier League and widely assumed to be headed toward relegation again, has a natural enemy. Ted’s mustache-based Midwestern niceness will be put to the test by various outside forces. Roy, now an assistant coach of the team he used to play for and dealing with some of his own self-inflicted personal issues, has plenty of excuses to swear and grumble. There’s a minor character introduced early on whose last name is Disco. At one point, Jamie Tartt says the phrase “it’s just poopy,” but with his accent, it sounds more like he’s saying “poop-eh.” These last two things are admittedly less important than the other stuff but I’ve been holding them in for like 48 hours and I was going to explode.
It’s a bummer that one of our better shows is coming to an end, especially with… all the other good shows coming to an end soon, but it might be for the best. Let’s let these maniacs try to bring it all home before it gets weird. They’ve got their work cut out for them so far, but if there’s one point Ted Lasso has pounded on in its first two seasons, it’s that it doesn’t cost you anything to believe a little bit.
The third and final season of Ted Lasso premieres on Apple TV+ on Wednesday, March 15, with new episodes dropping weekly