The fifth episode of Ted Lasso’s third and final season finds pretty much everyone and everything at a crossroads of some kind. Richmond is in a game-losing slump, while Ted kind of gives off a devil-may-care vibe about it. Nate, the “wonder kid,” is dating supermodels now (but still calling his mother for advice beforehand). Ted’s aw-shucks positivity starts to feel a little at odds with reality, so much so that Leslie during a meeting with Rebecca actually gives voice to the unthinkable (is the team losing so many games because of the players … or the management?).
All of which leads, in the final moments of the episode, to one more rousing locker room pep talk from Ted. An all-time great one, if you ask me. Without spoiling the gist of it, Ted basically offers the team a subtle update of his “I believe in believe” mantra — such that it’s not just the power of belief by itself that counteracts “the hope that kills you.”
His point is that Richmond’s players, with the possible exception of a newly self-aware and mature Jamie Tartt, need to start believing in themselves. And in each other.
Ted Lasso spoilers below.
Here’s a brief recap of the show’s just-released Episode 5, titled “Signs.” Which is a very apt title, by the way, considering how most of the main cast spends this episode reacting to events by considering various signs and what they mean. Some signs being more legitimate, while others are of the seeing-what-you-want-to-see variety.
Among the highlights of this episode, in no particular order:
- Keeley fires her wacky friend who never should have been allowed into the professional orbit of our favorite PR maven to begin with. Keeley handed down the bad news in the form of a compliment sandwich … then apparently realized she has the hots for Jack (the last we see of the pair in this episode is of some intense snogging). She also comes right out and says it — she’s still hurting about the breakup with Roy.
- Remember that psychic who told Rebecca she’d be able to become a mother, notwithstanding her age? Rebecca sees a number of signs in this episode that suggest to her the psychic might have been right. So she goes to a doctor, and he delivers news via a phone call that we only see Rebecca’s end of. Based on Hannah Waddingham’s acting, it’s not clear to me whether it was good news or bad.
- Zava disappears, is a no-show for a crucial game against Manchester City, and then resurfaces in the form of a video message announcing his retirement from football. I’ll be honest, this storyline has been kind of weird. Why introduce a superstar player into the mix and then just … send him packing a couple of episodes later? It feels like the writers didn’t really know what to do with him. Having said that —
- The handling of the Zava situation does feed into what’s starting to be a “has Ted finally hit his limit as a coach?” question that some characters are beginning to ask themselves. And you can kind of see where they’re coming from. Ted rode into the picture on a wave of the kind of positivity that everyone sorely needed. In this episode, meanwhile, he gets a call from his ex-wife about their son back in the US who’s had a bullying episode at school. His mind, in other words, is elsewhere these days.
There are some things that a smile and a folksy quip can’t magically repair, right?
A parting thought:
It also feels like what the show might be setting us up for is for Ted to be confronted by a very specific choice. His Richmond coaching gig was never supposed to be a permanent or even a serious thing. Rebecca hired him as a joke, hoping he’d run her ex-husband’s beloved team into the ground — not realizing that, whoops, we’d all come to appreciate his upbeat charm.
What this episode has got me suspecting: Ted Lasso, the show, is going to bring things to a close by letting Ted maybe give one more rousing speech, tell Richmond he’s proud of them — but that he’s got to go home to focus on his family. Leaving everyone, among other things, with the question of who the next coach will be. And —
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it turns out to be Nate, having been brought back into the fold.
Because blah blah, we’ve got to forgive him, that positivity is what Ted Lasso is all about, blah blah. I hope I’m wrong, that the show won’t force some sort of happy reunion with the constantly muttering, approval-seeking, treacherous Nate. I can already feel the curmudgeon at the New York Post who penned the headline “Nauseatingly nice ‘Ted Lasso’ doesn’t work without COVID” sharpening their knives for more. This is the kind of thing that’s definitely caused some fans to ditch the show early, and I kind of get it. Even if I wouldn’t go that far myself.
Nevertheless, I had a Bob Dylan song running through my head throughout this latest episode. “People are crazy and times are strange / I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range / I used to care, but things have changed.”