Just as football continues to be life, so too does Ted Lasso continue to be its charming, heartwarming (and occasionally heartbreaking) self in Season 3.
If you enjoyed the Emmy-winning first two seasons of Ted Lasso, which sees American Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) coaching London-based football team AFC Richmond, then you’ll surely enjoy Season 3. Based on the first four episodes given to critics for review, Ted Lasso remains consistent in laughs and tone, all while upping the stakes for its beloved characters.
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Ted Lasso and AFC Richmond face many new challenges in the Premier League.
Juno Temple and Hannah Waddingham in “Ted Lasso.”
Credit: Apple TV+
Following their promotion at the end of Season 2, the Greyhounds of AFC Richmond find themselves back in the Premier League. Unfortunately for them, everyone expects them to finish dead last. It’s up to Ted, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), and Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) to keep their team’s spirits high — although a victory or two would certainly help.
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Not helping matters is that rival team West Ham United is predicted to do very well in the Premier League under new manager Coach Nate (Nick Mohammed). Not only did Nate leak Ted’s panic attacks to the press and rip his “Believe” sign in half, but in joining West Ham, he’s also thrown in with Rupert (Anthony Head), the piggish ex-husband of Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham). Facing off with Rupert continues to light a fire in Rebecca, with this season seeing her come into her own as the owner of the club.
Just like in Season 2, Ted Lasso continues to expand its world beyond its core cast. Keeley’s (Juno Temple) new PR firm introduces her new employees and friends to the show’s circle, while Trent Crimm (James Lance), formerly of The Independent, takes on a bigger role as he plans to write a book about Richmond’s season. Elsewhere, the show gives more time to Richmond’s players, including Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster), Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh), and Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernández), who remain an excellent comedic ensemble. A fun addition to the cast is Maximilian Osinski as top-class footballer (and total diva) Zava, whose move to the Premier League sends shockwaves through Richmond and its player dynamics. Still, it’s a lot to cram into a comedy, and the episodes’ 50-minute runtimes are a bit of a drag compared to the snappier half-hour pacing of Season 1.
Ted Lasso continues to tackle mental health in Season 3.
Nick Mohammed, Anthony Head, and Jason Sudeikis in “Ted Lasso.”
Credit: Apple TV+
Mental health remains a large part of Ted Lasso Season 3, with Ted continuing to speak with therapist Sharon (Sarah Niles) as he processes his panic attacks and his divorce. The show’s treatment of these scenes is sensitive and sorrowful, as we see how Ted’s overly cheery exterior masks a deep sadness that he is still reckoning with. Any time his jokes or lessons feel too saccharine, as is the case with a team field trip in the very first episode, there’s a constant sense that Ted is overcompensating for his own stresses and fears.
And Ted is far from the only character experiencing mental health issues. Players like Jamie and Colin Hughes (Billy Harris) struggle with their self-worth, while relationship troubles affect both Roy and Keeley. Then there’s Rebecca, whose wounds from her time with Rupert are reopened every time their teams face off — whether it’s on the pitch or in the press.
The most fascinating of these arcs is poised to be Nate’s. Now completely isolated from Richmond, Nate finds himself seduced by the riches of both Rupert and West Ham. He begins to embrace cruelty on and off the pitch, although his occasional hesitation suggests a hope for redemption. Set apart from the brilliant ensemble of Ted Lasso for most of the season so far, Mohammed makes great work of surfacing Nate’s complicated inner battle during his every scene.
The possibility of Nate’s return to the light side is helped by the fact that Rupert is the closest thing Ted Lasso has to a mustache-twirling villain. As he stalks around West Ham’s sleek offices in all-black attire, it’s not hard to draw a connection between him and Nate and Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. Given that Season 2 was Ted Lasso‘s Empire Strikes Back season(Opens in a new tab), could we see Nate turn on Rupert in the same way Vader turns on the Emperor in Return of the Jedi?
A potential redemption arc for Nate is just one of many storylines Ted Lasso is meticulously setting up in these first few episodes, along with the continued Richmond-West Ham rivalry and frank looks at each character’s vulnerabilities. Do I know exactly what the future holds for our Greyhounds? No. Do I believe Ted Lasso will carry us through a sweet, satisfying narrative? Most definitely.
Ted Lasso is streaming on Apple TV+ starting March 15, with new episodes weekly.