Ted Lasso Coach Beard 301

‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 1 in conversation: You ever wonder why we’re here, coach?

The Ted Lasso season 3 premiere sees Ted struggling to decide whether his life in London makes any sort of sense anymore, right when Rebecca needs her maverick manager more focused than ever on the task at hand. Read on for our review of Ted Lasso season 3, episode 1, ‘Smells Like Mean Spirit.’

In the Ted Lasso season 3 premiere, we pick up with Ted in the midst of AFC Richmond’s pre-season training, with a new football season looming closer on the horizon. After a long summer vacation in London, Ted’s son Henry returns home to Kansas, and the separation sets Ted off into a spiral of doubt, questioning his purpose and his aims, and the matter of still being in the UK at all, three years into a job he took under false pretences.

For Rebecca, Ted’s purpose is clear — he must stick to the promise he made her after the team’s relegation, that once promoted again, they would go on to win the league title. The stakes, for her, are all about beating her ex-husband Rupert, the new owner of West Ham, and Nate Shelley’s new boss.

Nate’s departure leaves Roy fretting over his own abilities as a coach and tactician, though the ideas he offers up have an important real-life precedence of success, and Keeley is also feeling out of place and insecure at her new company — she’s nominally the boss, but the more experienced executives assigned to her by her backers are making her feel small and incompetent. But the beloved pair aren’t able to take comfort in one another, as, somewhat inevitably after the season 2 finale, they have recently broken up.

Related: Coming out of the dark forest: The ‘Ted Lasso’ season 2 finale in conversation

The Apple TV+ synopsis for the episode reads “The newly promoted AFC Richmond face mockery as pundits predict they’ll finish dead last this season,” and Nate, at Rupert’s urging, tears into Ted and his former team during a major press conference, but Ted finds his own way to hit back without compromising his own principles. And as the players themselves begin to feel the weight of so much negative press, Ted comes up with a rather unorthodox lesson plan to help them regain their focus. His most attentive student turns out to be Jamie, who enters season 3 in probably the most positive place out of all our lead characters, determined to step up and be a force for good in the Richmond dressing room as the new football season gets underway. Read on for our in-depth discussion of ‘Smells Like Mean Spirit.’

‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 1 review in conversation

Natalie: So, welcome back to the Prem! I mean, Ted Lasso season 3. I am handing you a Lego trophy in my mind. Man it’s ugly, though. Let’s get that out of the way right away — thanks to a deal made with the Premier League, Ted Lasso now has the rights to the full scope of teams, kits, fonts, logos and imagery. Including the trophy. So we will see a lot more realism in the football this season. But let me say again…. Man that’s an ugly trophy.

Megan: I’m really looking forward to the football realism in general, but have to agree on the trophy front. It is better than some — FIFA World Cup I’m looking at you — but it’s not great.

Natalie: Look, if they get to lift it at the end, I’m sure no one is going to care what it looks like.

Megan: But until then, we are free to judge.

Natalie: But let’s get into it. As predicted in our season 2 finale reflection, our opening close up shot is of Ted! He’s not looking so great, emotionally, and the entire opening scene is framed as if he, himself, is about to get on a plane somewhere. For a few moments, I assumed he’d gone home to America for the break and was heading back to London, then the tannoy said it was a flight TO Kansas City, and I thought he was heading back for an emergency or something. And they really are going to make people panic with that text message. Your first impressions there?

Megan: There was a tiny split second where I thought we had time-jumped to the future and the end of Ted Lasso, and Ted was about to get on a plane back to Kansas after leaving Richmond. The text from Michelle definitely reinforced that, making me think they had gotten back together. But it quickly becomes apparent that the text is for Henry, and Ted is with him at the airport so he can fly home. We discussed Michelle a fair bit in our season 2 reflection, but this moment definitely to me reinforces the idea that Ted is still at least a little bit in love with Michelle. I don’t think that’s changed for him. My other big impression here is that Henry Lasso is great.

Natalie: I agree on both counts! I’m not the biggest fan of children, but Henry has gone from like, age 8 to about 10, or something? And he’s much more dynamic as a whole-ass human character who can hold his own in a scene, and will likely add a lot to the ongoing plot of the season.

Megan: And there’s so much of Ted in him, just in the way he speaks. Very much feels like his father’s son.

Natalie: Regarding Michelle, yeah. I think that it’s extremely realistic that Ted hasn’t moved on, but I didn’t quite expect the season to immediately thrust that under my nose as the main issue Ted is facing, coming to terms with his divorce. It wasn’t so much at the forefront in Ted Lasso season 2, but this is absolutely shouting in your face that this is A Big Issue in season 3, probably The Big Issue. Everything to do with back home — whether Ted has moved on yet, what it’s like losing Henry like this, just everything to do with Kansas. You said before that you thought the LAST shot would be of him in an airport and I now expect that to happen, an almost exact mirror of this but with a whole new attitude. I definitely think he has to go home — not to pursue Michelle, but to be with his kid and come to terms with himself — but I didn’t expect Ted Lasso season 3 to tell me that in the first scene so loudly.

Megan: Hopefully when he does, he looks a lot less wrecked. Unless of course he’s really hungover from celebrating winning the league, but that’s a different kind of wrecked. But yeah, I feel like they lean into that right from the get go this episode — you can see right away what that main conflict for Ted will be.

Natalie: It’s interesting that right up until after they say “paging Passenger Lasso,” they want you to think it’s Ted travelling, and that the message is for him. They’re trying to direct our feelings somewhere, that’s for sure. Of course, the Henry answer makes sense, but they had a choice of how to shoot it. They could have been clear what it was about just from the first second, and they chose to tease or scare people. Hmmmm.

Megan: Hmmmm is about right. The second they make it clear it’s Henry, it all makes sense, but for a moment there I really believed it was going in a very different direction. I do love that Henry spends the whole six weeks in London with Ted. In my mind I always assumed Ted would go back to America for the off season, but I like Henry coming to stay with him.

Natalie: I won’t do too much maths about the mid-season break and how much work the manager would be doing during that time, but six weeks off is about right in terms of a stretch for the players to have off, between end of season in the Championship, which for these guys was May 2, 2021, and the start of pre-season training for the Prem. How are you feeling about this season covering the whole season, from pre-season in say, late June or early July, until presumably the final day? Ted Lasso season 1 only covered January to May of that football season, and season 2 came in around late September, two months into the proper season. This year we get the whole thing.

Megan: I am obviously very excited. I did wonder if we might see them doing a pre-season camp overseas somewhere, given a lot of clubs do, but it makes sense that they stick to Richmond rather than trying to explain that to viewers. But either way, I’m excited to see the entire length of a Premier League season and all the ups and downs that go with that.

Natalie: I wonder how much of a role that Lego Nelson Road will continue to play, given the metaphor of it all. People being moved around the board and such. Speeding through Ted’s clean-up and readying himself for work while overdubbed by a phone therapy session with Sharon worked for me very well though. I am extremely glad they are still talking, after the way they split last season. Ted reaching out to her to pick up their sessions, and her agreeing even though she officially has a new job shows a dedication they both have to this relationship. Not sure if she still saw private patients when she worked at Richmond, or if Ted is just special.

Megan: I was really pleased that we had her back so early in the season. And hearing Ted talk about himself, opening up and actually being vulnerable was so healthy! It almost felt weird, seeing how well Ted is doing at therapy. But I’m very pleased he’s getting it. I really love Ted and Sharon’s relationship. I hope they interact in person at some point too, not just over the phone.

Natalie: I am putting a pin in the fact that this conversation is the second story we have heard about Ted being neglected as a child. Like, forgotten or left behind somewhere.

Megan: We know that Ted’s mother has been cast for this season. So maybe we can take that pin back out when we meet her.

Natalie: Not sure if this was just intended as a quirky joke, but it’s the second occasion after the clock tower so… yeah.

Megan: It also felt a bit uncomfortable, hearing Ted question why he was there still, and if it was the right thing. Again, I love that he’s opening up about those doubts to Sharon, but it is unnerving!

Natalie: I think that is exactly the right question for him to be asking but I am shocked it’s being given to us in the first few minutes. I am also a bit shocked she cites the “don’t quit things” thing. I get that in regards to suicide, but I see that quality as a flaw in Ted. He needs to learn to walk away, like the divorce. I thought she would be encouraging him to let go more. But we shall see where that all goes.

Megan: Yeah, that is interesting.

Natalie: Either way it feels like they’re telling us straight away that this is the deal: Ted has gotten to a point where he does not understand why what he is doing in London even matters, if it matters at all, if it’s hurting more than helping. Hurting his kid, hurting the team who could thrive under an experienced “real” manager. Why is he still here? Especially with the knowledge he was hired under false pretences. But the answer seems like it’s to win the Premier League for Richmond like he promised, and then go home. It feels like the show is TELLING us that, now, in these first minutes. So either get ready to expect that conclusion, as a promise. Or get ready for them to flip it on its head in some way.

Megan: I am ready for either, but I am personally very invested in him winning the whole fucking thing before he goes home. Who knows whether or not it’ll actually happen. Watch this space I guess!

Natalie: There’s some fun details as we are welcomed back to Richmond, like the baby dressed up as both him and Beard — in real life that is Brendan Hunt’s partner and kid. And the renamed training centre. It used to be named after Rupert, now it’s dedicated to Earl.

Megan: That dog storyline will not stop following us around. But it’s an improvement on Rupert.

Natalie: Indeed. But the most fascinating part here is the fact that they seem to have an ongoing deal where Ted is able to ask Sharon some personal questions too. In season 2, Sharon got to the point of admitting that sharing her personal vulnerabilities with Ted was effective and helpful in her work helping him. Getting personal is a new tactic for her, because Ted is a league of his own. Do you think those questions are just a carry on from that? “This is our deal, you give me some personal information too or I can’t do therapy”? Or are the lines getting blurry? I will admit that last season, I did wonder if there was a potential romance here, a very weird, boundary crossing one, but a vibe nonetheless. Then somehow in the last 18 months, I became sure Sharon was a lesbian. She is not.

Related: ‘Ted Lasso’ lacks queer characters, but the show may be hiding them in plain sight

Megan: I think the lines are probably getting a little bit blurry, though I’d say that’s more Ted’s fault than Sharon’s. He is not very good at boundaries. I actually like the idea of Ted and Sharon. She pushes back on Ted’s bullshit way better than anyone else and I think he needs that. But on balance, her pushing him as a therapist is probably healthier than her pushing him as a partner. I think a lot of people thought Sharon was a lesbian! I’ve seen that said in a few places. But no, while she’s been talking to Ted, her very attractive partner has been waiting in the bedroom. I liked that they show him with headphones — a small detail, but it shows he’s respecting her patients’ privacy.

Natalie: Low rent John Stones.

Megan: THANK YOU. I didn’t want to say. I thought it might just be me.

Natalie: Nah, he’s what you get if you order John Stones on Wish.

Megan: For a second there I thought John Stones was guest starring this season, and it would turn out that Sharon was working for Man City. I am cackling. Bootleg John Stones. Poor guy.

Natalie: I did have to wonder if he was a patient, or just like, a guy. Like, is she banging one of the rugby players? Surely not. But then again, maybe? Hmmm.

Megan: I think he has to be just a guy.

Natalie: She absolutely could still be queer, but she is not a lesbian, and I just find it interesting that the first scene with her in person is after Ted asks about her dating, and then it shows her about to bang John Stones. Why was that Ted’s first question? Why does he apparently ask it repeatedly? I’m like… is this a hint? Or is this just fun, to remind us that she is a sexy motherfucker as per her pinball handle? Why are they showing us her romantic life? I feel like we have to be coming back to it, and I want to know why Ted cares.

Megan: At current count there are four people that I could conceivably see Ted ending up with in some way, shape or form, and Sharon is one of them. But I think it could just be a fun scene to remind us she’s hot, and another chance for the writers to make sure we all know that in their show, the women will get off.

Natalie: Four being Rebecca, Michelle, Sharon and… Trent? Sassy?

Megan: Oh, make that five, because I meant Sassy. I actually think the show will end up with Ted single, if I’m honest. But he’s got options!

Natalie: Fair. I do not think he is going to go for it with Trent, sadly.

Megan: Very sadly.

Natalie: Anyway, I enjoyed Sharon’s pyjamas but I feel like she has a role to play down the line. She might stop being a remote therapist and come back to London.

Megan: I hope so, I’d like more of her in person.

Natalie: Getting into the body of the episode, the credits are the same length as before but the names are reeling FAST because they’ve added a ton of people to the headlining cast, who now get a real credit. When Ted Lasso started it was eight regulars. Now it is Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Phil Dunster, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed, Anthony Head, Toheeb Jimoh, Cristo Fernández, Billy Harris, Kola Bokinni, James Lance and Juno Temple. Juno being at the end with that “with” is a negotiated credit that says she’s the most prestigious person after the first name on the list. That’s how credits work usually, anyway. But they’re packing them in!

Megan: I am pleased that we’ll be getting deeper storylines for some of those additional characters, especially the likes of Dani who hasn’t had a ton of personal stories, and Trent Crimm. But that is a lot! This first episode is 44 minutes. I think they’ll all have to stay that length to get all these characters’ plotlines in.

Natalie: Tony Head being upped to a regular, as well as James Lance as Trent Crimm means a lot of new story there. But I have no idea how they’ll give all those footballers proper plots the size of say, Sam’s, and my worry is always, always, that they’ll cut back on Jamie as our main footballer character because his arc peaked so much last season and it now may be someone else’s turn. But we will see. We know from the trailer and the press that there is a lot going on with new characters too, it’s just — yeah. 45 minutes minimum, as opposed to how this used to be a half-hour show. SO MANY BEAUTIFUL BABIES.

Related: A ‘Ted Lasso’ season 3 trailer breakdown so exhaustive it may actually be unhinged

Megan: I will trust the process, but my fears are the same. I love all the existing characters so much and have such high hopes for their emotional arcs this season, but they clearly have a lot of stories they want to tell!

Natalie: Let’s take a moment to say how glorious Rebecca looks. I like that as she’s loosened up they’ve softened her hairstyles. But she is pretty wound up right now all the same.

Megan: Look, Rebecca always looks incredible, but I agree, her styling here is fantastic. She is not impressed with the fact that en masse the world of sports journalism has very little faith in Richmond’s ability to do well in the Premier League this season. And by not impressed, I mean completely raging.

Natalie: The joke about Leslie’s son’s home office for tax purposes was seriously my first laugh out loud moment of the season. Higgins kills me. And then Rebecca’s response… She takes Terry Higgins’s opinion quite seriously!

Megan: Unfortunately, Terry Higgins seems to be in sync with everyone else.

Natalie: I can’t tell if this is a fair and realistic judgement or not. They’ve been doing very well in the Championship and it sounds like they were solidly mid table for years before that. They were average, but they were only relegated due to intentional meddling. They hadn’t faced the threat of it for a long while, as far as we know. So I don’t see why they wouldn’t immediately get back to a medium placement, but everyone is worried about Nate and West Ham. I do like that when Ted arrives here, it’s just like, a day. Not “first day of school” vibe, a normal day. It looks like they’ve been back at work for a fair while, so Henry must have been coming to the club a lot. Getting to know the players during pre-season training and all, maybe. Cute! But now the season is close to starting and the pundits think Richmond will come 20-Lth. And that West Ham, with Rupert and Nate, will make the top 4 and therefore the Champions League.

Megan: I know it’s to set up the conflict and spur on Rebecca’s rivalry and determination to beat Rupert, but this level of out and out dismissal of Richmond does feel a little unrealistic to me. I love the idea of Henry hanging out at the club a bit though. Have him and Jamie become friends? Does he still like Jamie the most? I can’t imagine he doesn’t, that’s just good taste.

Natalie: It’d be rude not to like Jamie the most.

Megan: Rebecca’s delivery on “I think they probably fly higher than that,” and Higgins’ “Definitely,” also made me laugh, very quiet understated British humour. I really really love Rebecca and Higgins’ relationship, and I’m glad we’re getting them interacting so early on.

Natalie: I also just want to point out that when Ted arrives to this news, he opens with “What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happening,” which is from Jesus Christ Superstar, and I swear to God, these writers need to stop making musical theatre references before I come over there and force them to make the whole cast sing.

Megan: There is one later from Nate, and it’s a song I once performed in a singing competition, and it has been rattling around my head non-stop thanks to him. So yes, I am with you there.

Natalie: Oh God, yeah, that bit is so awkward too. I mean, delightful. More musical theatre in football, please.

Megan: I’ll drink to that.

Natalie: Okay, so the actually important thing here is a great example of Ted being manipulative in his Ted-playing-dumb way, because Rebecca is just manically fixated on Rupert. “We have to beat Rupert.” And Ted, fake-shocked, is like “Rupert’s gonna play this year?” His way of calling people out like that always tickles me. He does it quite a bit, but this was a good one. And you can tell that’s what he’s doing, rather than being real-dumb, because when Rebecca corrects herself but then reverts, he, extremely levelly, continues to correct her. Like “them, they” not “him, he.”

Megan: Yes! It always knocks them off course, and it’s so stupidly smart, because of course he knows what Rebecca means, but he wants to call her out on it and make her acknowledge it.

Natalie: His silliness is intended to gently show others their silliness.

Megan: He’s very good at it.

Natalie: But Rebecca can’t manage it, and Ted and Higgins are both extremely yikes about it.

Megan: As a football aside, another hint of the timeline setting for this episode is the fact that Higgins suggested they could update their roster and get some new players in. In the Premier League you can only sign new players during what’s known as a transfer window. There are two transfer windows a year — one in the summer, from the 1st of July to the 31st of August, and then the January transfer window which, unsurprisingly, lasts from the 1st to the 31st of January.

Natalie: Well, we haven’t even had the first match of the season, so we know we’re pre-August. But they have about maybe two weeks of real season, once it starts to sign people, if they haven’t already.

Megan: Yeah, they can play a few matches that way and get a sense of what they might still be missing on the pitch. Regardless, Ted doesn’t seem to think much of Higgins’ suggestion, but when he tells Rebecca he thinks they’ll be just fine she’s not very impressed by his laidback attitude. She’s holding him to his promise from the end of season 1, and so am I Ted. You can’t spit fizzy water all over a woman and then go back on your word.

Natalie: Yeah, Ted would rather stick with the dynamic he has, but we know that’s going to change soon because we all know about Zava. He’s not arriving in this episode, but he is coming in the summer transfer window, so something is going to change Ted’s mind, but here, in this episode, he really seems to want to avoid the idea of changing up the players. Rebecca’s insisting he fight and have more passion, but it feels like Ted doesn’t quite have the energy to give to that fight right now, what with his mind and heart at home.

Megan: On the one hand, it’s good he’s not pushing through with forced optimism, but on the other, for as long as he is here, he really needs to put some effort in.

Natalie: Rebecca is very determined, and it is all totally tied to her self worth. She’s lovely, and I enjoy her manic frazzled energy, it’s got shades of Silly Rebecca. But ooof.

Megan: It’s also probably the first time she’s facing Rupert on an equal footing. In season 1 she’s scrabbling to try and get back at him, in season 2 she is fighting off the ghost of the impact his relationship has had on her ability to form future ones. But this season she’s just determined to beat him at his level, on the football pitch, with this club she never expected to love this much.

Natalie: It’s understandable, but maybe a bit fixated on personal revenge rather than the club overall. But still, I mean, either way it means the club would be doing very well, which is what they all want. I think it’s a matter of like, how far will you go to win because of this personal drive, when the good of the team and stuff maybe didn’t need that sort of thing to do “just fine,” but not win or be relegated. Are whatever issues Zava will cause worth it? But ambition is generally seen as a good thing in sports. I’m sure some clubs know where they stand and know they are not a top flight contender and accept their role in the middle. Clubs who don’t ever talk about a title race. Richmond was probably that club for ages, but not now.

Megan: Yeah, it seems like prior to the start of the series, Richmond were just happy to be there! Now Rebecca has a mission, and she needs Ted to get with the program, and fast.

Natalie: He promises he will, but I get the impression he’d rather not deal with work being that stressful. He’s certainly not keen on new players, either because he doesn’t want to upset the chemistry they have, or because he’s just happy to coast.

Megan: I agree, and I get a little worried about the idea of new players upsetting the chemistry too, frankly, so you know what Ted, I know where you’re coming from. Rebecca does accept his promise on face value, but that might have more to do with the fact she needs to get out of there and go meet Keeley.

Natalie: Hannah Waddingham’s “Okay,” after the guys are riffing on their Keeley greetings is just one of those moments that is so natural and hilarious from her. But we finally return to the heart of AFC Richmond, the dressing room, and I gotta say, our first shot of Roy for the season, framed perfectly under the Believe sign while working on formations in the manager’s office… Oooooh, it did things to me. I have such high hopes here.

Megan: In the same way that I feel like Ted’s first and last shots will both be at an airport, I’d like Roy’s first and last to be him working the coaches office, but he’ll have gotten a bit of a promotion between the two moments.

Natalie: That is the goal here — Roy managing this bunch of muppets. Gosh I’ve missed them!

Megan: They are back and they are as beautiful and chaotic as ever. I snorted so much at “No, she was a nun.” Poor Colin. Always getting abused by old ladies.

Natalie: Fuck that was funny. I’m glad we get to cast Graeme Souness as a villain though. Fuck you Graeme Souness!

Megan: The players are just as outraged as Rebecca by the negative press, except for sweet Dani. I’m sorry Dani, Graeme definitely isn’t trying to motivate you.

Natalie: There’s a couple of little character moments here that I really loved. Dani and Richard, the Catholics, both crossing themselves. Jan Maas Jan Maasing about statistics, but with, I think a small hint of stress to it? He’s as blunt as ever, but considering he joined them when they were in the Championship, this is maybe his first time in the Premier League. Maybe he’s nervous! Or just Dutch.

Megan: Oh, that is a thought! It’d be a huge fucking deal for him if it is.

Natalie: Anyway, everyone is in gorgeous outfits. Looking fit and fine. I especially like Jan’s tee and Bumbercatch’s everything. Shame about Jamie’s.

Megan: Jamie’s is…a choice. Right down to his little checkered crocs.

Natalie: I like the shoes!

Megan: Wow.

Natalie: The rest…. oof. But who cares. All I care about is his beautiful, beautiful mouth. The words that come out of it, I mean.

Megan: I believe you.

Natalie: What an opening moment for this one. He’s adorable. But this attitude, we know from how the episode plays out, is absolutely real. Both his belief in himself, and his belief in their power as a group. Jamie is now Number One Richmond Stan, and I’m obsessed.

Megan: I also love that he’s still cocky about his own skills, but the rest of the team just laugh fondly at his boasting.

Natalie: And he’s making fun of himself a bit too, I think. He is playing the role for them, Their Prick.

Megan: And they love him. And so do we.

Natalie: Seeing them laugh like “Oh, Jamie,” especially Sam, is very fulfilling.

Megan: It is such a full circle moment for all of them, but for Sam and Jamie’s relationship especially.

Natalie: I love the idea that Jamie is now the cheerleader, the buck-up-everyone guy of the group, and I think it’s the perfect role for him, exactly where his natural personality should sit within a social circle when he doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder. There’s more to say on that with a bit more depth later, but cutting to Roy and Beard did make me laugh a lot as well, because while I am not going to explain or even catch every reference Ted Lasso makes to its pop culture influences, I did like this one because of the way they riff on it in season 2. In my mind, I’m imagining that Beard explained what Ted was trying to do at the Wembley match, citing the pitch measurements as being exactly the same, but it all fell apart because in football, it ISN’T always the same. And Roy’s just like… “What?” And Beard eventually is like… “Just watch the movie.” I love this glimpse into their unique friendship. I kind of want Beard to stay on with Roy as assistant manager at the end.

Megan: Ted and Beard are obviously so close, with such a history, but Beard has definitely embraced football way more than Ted, and while I may hate it, has developed a very intense relationship with Jane. Staying in London would make sense for him, and he and Roy together would be a great team.

Natalie: Okay. A) How did you feel about watching Roy drawing and demonstrating formations? Because I felt extremely good about it. I was very much like “Yes! Tactics! You’re so hot!” And B) How much did you expect Ted to not understand, because I did not.

Megan: Nat, I shrieked when Ted accurately described the 4-4-2. I literally had to pause and be like wait, what? Ted knows something about football? What is happening?! That’s been my biggest surprise of the season so far. I’m quite hard on Ted, throughout the show, for not learning enough about the game, and I know there is more to being a good manager than just understanding the strategy and tactics, but this was still a real treat. Thank you, Henry, for teaching him via FIFA. It gives me shades of Will Still, the manager of French club Reims, who also has no coaching licences and learnt everything he knows from the game Football Manager.

Natalie: 4-4-2 is very well-known, and it is RIGHT THERE on the board, but I was still stunned, and so were the others.

Megan: Baby steps Nat. He’ll get there. I like that they’re setting Roy up to be the tactical genius this season. He’s the natural choice for it, he’s lived and breathed these tactics for decades, but who knew watching a man arrange magnets on a whiteboard could be so hot.

Natalie: Quick shout-out to the Russians joke and the deadpan response, but I was actually stunned to see that Roy is insecure about this. I like it as a story, but I need him to succeed. He clearly still thinks of himself as a somewhat thick, workhorse-style player and he is great at drilling the guys in training, but maybe last year he didn’t do as much with strategy as Nate did when the coaches worked on tactics week to week. He is actually nervous, defending his idea and saying he knows he isn’t as smart as this stuff as Nate, but he that knows how to be solid. Baby! My baby! What a depressing vulnerability for him to have! He played for twenty years, thirty if you count his professional childhood training. It’s all in there, baby, you just need to learn how to translate it to something teachable. Were you expecting to see this be one of Roy’s struggles this season?

Megan: When it comes to football, Roy has always seemed so confident and sure, as long as his body isn’t letting him down, so it did surprise me hearing him say that. But then, stopping and thinking about it, of course he’s full of doubt and nervous. Internally he worries and overthinks everything, so this is just another thing to add to the list. But actually what I like about Roy here is that he explains why he thinks it’s the right approach. It’s not about something clever or flashy to show how much of a genius he is, it’s a strong, reliable tactic that will work for the team they have and the challenges they’re facing, and Roy just needs to believe in himself as much as I believe in him. Roy’s arc is going to hurt me so much this season, I can already tell.

Natalie: I’m also not sure if I actually believe that Nate has a tactical super-brain, or if it’s just that he had the best ideas ahead of Ted’s zero ideas. But the show is framing it as if his approach to strategy really is something special, so I guess we’ll go with that. But if Roy is going to become a manager, he needs to believe in his own ideas and understand how to teach them. Starting him out on shaky ground in this department did shock me, but he does seem sure about the idea. It’s kind of an old-school formation, but Roy would have played it a lot himself and it is regaining popularity in the modern game. Roy actually mentions running a 4-4-2 diamond with Phoebe’s team last season! We don’t get a match this episode but I do hope we see him succeed with this, and in general just be able to succeed because he puts his trust in his own wealth of experience.

Megan: I don’t buy it with Nate either, personally, but I will accept that the show does. Part of me wishes Ted had said something to reassure Roy’s obvious anxiety here, instead of moving on to his overdogs joke, but at the same time Roy probably wouldn’t have appreciated it.

Natalie: I would just like to point out that Leicester City relied on a 4-4-2 during the 2015-16 season. What happened with Leicester City in the 15-16 season, Megan?

Megan: Well Natalie, that is the season that Leicester shocked the footballing world by beating 5000-1 odds to win the whole fucking thing, despite only having been promoted back up into the Premier League the year before. What a strange coincidence.

Natalie: So weird. But seriously, Leicester relied on extremely thorough organisation, and the individual brilliance of key attacking players like Jamie Vardy, N’Golo Kanté and Riyad Mahrez. I’m not sure if that season for Leicester is meant to have happened in the Ted Lasso universe and Roy is copying Ranieri’s approach, or if the show is erasing that story from their universe and using it as the basis for a never before seen success, but the Richmond story has always been a little bit Leicester. So with two aces, Sam Obisanya and a 4-4-2, this is achievable.

Megan: If Richmond do end up winning, they’ll do it a year faster than Leicester did, but there is strong precedence.

Natalie: While Roy is feeling insecure and out of place in a job he is on paper succeeding at, we also see Keeley in a similar position. When Rebecca visits her for lunch at KJPR, I was somewhat stunned to find out that she isn’t exactly thriving. In eighteen months, I had never considered, until very recently, the idea that Keeley might have big issues with this new company. The only thing I expected was maybe too busy, workaholic issues. But when I did that team-up article and thought about what Ted and Keeley might connect over, I was l like… “Oh shit. What if she’s struggling to be taken seriously, because of her past or something? That even though someone found her worth investing in, others really don’t see her as… worthwhile?” Still, it was difficult to watch. It feels like she’s being treated like a silly little girl just there as a mascot. Almost like she’s being used as the face of a brand for some specific clout, but no one intended her to do something real. Though she does appear to be working hard! Maybe the investors believe in her but it’s just the staff they’ve selected don’t.

Related: The ‘Ted Lasso’ character team-ups we’d like to see getting good minutes during season 3

Megan: Being too busy is obviously one element — she double books Rebecca into her crying time! — but she is so obviously struggling to gel with the rest of her team and it is deeply uncomfortable. I wonder if the investors like the idea of Keeley, and like the idea of championing her, but in practice they don’t have enough confidence to, well, let Keeley be Keeley. And the staff they’ve brought in to try and manage that lack of confidence really don’t get her.

Natalie: I think it’s realistic to expect that someone who does not know how to run a company would be required to have staff that do know. But the disparity in tone between them and her was extreme. And the fact is they act like Rebecca is also a naughty little girl. It’s bizarre to watch.

Megan: They’re outwardly judgey of Keeley, and it’s awful.

Natalie: Luckily her office comes with some privacy so she can get her scheduled sobbing out. Which immediately told me that she and Roy had split. But it’s not just that making her cry, it’s everything.

Megan: As an aside on her office specifically, I do like the fact that in there, at least it’s styled for Keeley. The rest of her team may be happy in their drab, grey existence, but that office is still very much Keeley Jones. The second she starts sobbing, yeah, it’s so obvious that she and Roy have broken up, and Rebecca is so prepared for it and immediately comforts her. This moment between them is so tender and lovely.

Natalie: Her and Rebecca are so adorable together, either laughing or crying. Rebecca is so much looser in a lot of ways now, and her “growth” about Rupert is a bit… I mean she’s clearly manic, but slightly healthier? Sure.

Megan: I think it’s the softest we see Rebecca, outside of possibly when she talks Ted down from his Everton panic attack in season 1, and it is so much. I wonder if the break-up has made things at all awkward between Roy and Rebecca at the club. I don’t know how much they interact day to day — Ted is obviously the main bridge between the coaching office and Rebecca — but I wonder if there’s ever any dagger glaring from Rebecca when she passes Roy in the hallway. Or if she’s there for Keeley, but otherwise steering clear.

Natalie: God, I don’t know. I love Roy and Rebecca’s vibe, so I hope not. But listen. Barbara the CFO. This is pretty rough, right? When we first see Keeley she’s yelling at Joe Rogan, about not getting access to Rebecca for his podcast. Great shade, but the key is that Rebecca is Keeley’s client. KJPR still does Richmond and Rebecca’s PR. The CFO shaming Keeley like that in front of a rich client? Wow.

Megan: It is really poor form, and for a woman who seems to have been brought in to keep Keeley professional, that’s not actually very professional of you Barbara!

Natalie: It is pretty vile, Barbara. There’s actually more said here in what’s not said. Keeley starts saying “She’s my CFO but sometimes she makes me feel like…” but it’s derailed, because Rebecca goes on to explain the meaning of CFO, and then leaves. I’m unsure how I feel about Keeley being someone who does not Google things and relies on hippy-dippy vibes but it seems like not the way forward when working out how to be a boss. Success in a career is often about your ability to learn processes and figure out things on the sly! The point is, Keeley doesn’t get to express how she feels about being scolded. We can guess, but it is clearly a brewing issue.

Megan: To date, Keeley has been very good and making it up as she goes along and figuring it out, but I wonder if now she’s got her own company, she feels like she should know everything, and she’s a failure because she doesn’t. Poor Keeley, I want everything for her. Between her struggles here and Roy’s self doubts, fifteen minutes into season 3 and I’m already so stressed about how they’re all doing. And wondering how the last six weeks have gone to lead them here.

Natalie: I REALLY don’t want her to have been given this job as a gimmick.

Megan: I really hope the investors genuinely did — and do — believe in her! It’s just the team they’ve put into place hasn’t quite worked, and maybe Keeley’s success will in part be learning how to manage people.

Natalie: Well, right now she is being “managed.”

Megan: Because that’s the new thing for her right? She’s done the PR work for a year, but was flying solo. She’s never had a team before. Managing people isn’t something you can just know how to do overnight.

Natalie: There is also obviously a massive class issue at play, but yeah, some of it is about her just not feeling like she can call the shots. I’m sure this will develop later, but it’s just shakier ground than I expected her company to be on. Her and Roy I expected though. But they make us wait for it. There’s not a lot of interpretations of “the talk” that could reasonably be applied in this circumstance.

Megan: No, the only other thing that could reasonably be applied might be if Keeley was pregnant and Phoebe was about to have to compete for Roy’s attention with another child. But that was never a serious contender to me.

Natalie: Yeah, and Rebecca would be more excited to mention it.

Megan: Yes!

Natalie: It just sucks that much more that they’re both going home alone and suffering through these insecurities without someone to pick them up. They have friends, but Roy isn’t great at letting himself be supported by other men. Keeley is clearly going home and crying herself to sleep, over how small she feels sometimes, and about being alone, probably, even if she sometimes wanted more independence in the relationship than Roy did.

Megan: God. Now I want to go home and cry myself to sleep.

Natalie: They’re suffering!

Megan: But do they have to make me suffer with them?!

Natalie: Yes, and we’ll come back to it at the end for more suffering.

Megan: Joy.

Natalie: The team is also suffering because even Paddington Bear does not believe in them.

Megan: Shout out to Phil Dunster for getting even one take of delivering “We’ve got no marmalade sandwiches” without breaking, because God.

Natalie: It’s the repetition for me. Say marmalade sandwiches again, baby.

Megan: Also shout out to Will balancing on one leg with a water bottle balancing on the raised one in the background, because I’ve only just noticed it and I’m cackling.

Natalie: He’s the best. He is so fun to watch.

Megan: He might not have that many lines, but he’s always just in the background. Doing Something.

Natalie: Also, Dani. Look, I don’t always love it when a show that has great tonal realism in terms of human behaviour in some moments plays with sitcom levels of farce elsewhere. But Dani being crushed that Paddington’s twitter isn’t really run by the real Paddington, and all that implies…That level of himbo. It is pretty funny. These guys are all a bit thick in ways that are so endearing.

Megan: They’re football smart. They don’t need real life smarts.

Natalie: Nah, they’ve got money instead.

Megan: And agents to steer them through most of the important decisions. They’ll be fine.

Natalie: The point is, the guys are losing focus due to the punditry claiming they’ll come last, so Ted decides to teach them a very bizarre lesson.

Megan: Ted loves a metaphor, but this one was really out there. Or under there, rather.

Natalie: At this point in the episode, when it became clear what was happening, I was like “What the actual fuck? The fucking sewer?”

Megan: You and the construction workers and the whole of Football Twitter.

Natalie: And this is coming from me, someone who knows, like Ted and Henry, that the London sewer system is a tourable work of art! Don’t take them down there! Not in their boots! Studs on a ladder? No thanks!

Megan: It’s going to take so much lavender detergent for Will to get that smell out!

Natalie: I do want to give a little aside here about the construction workers though. I didn’t think about what might happen when those guys took photos, but I did immediately appreciate that the recognition wasn’t for anyone other than Roy. It was a good way of continuing to show viewers who maybe don’t quite get the culture just how big a player Roy was. That even if you did not currently follow football, and would not recognise any of the others, Roy is extremely fucking famous. Like, the way I would have recognized David Beckham twenty years ago, before I’d lived in the UK or had anything to do with football. Football celebrities are huge in the UK anyway, but Roy is recognisable to a degree that has escaped the sports pages. He is a HUGE name. All this to say: there is no fucking way in hell that those yoga mums don’t know who he is. They are just being polite.

Megan: Yeah the other players, like Colin, Dani, Zoreaux, a big football fan would recognise. But not just a random member of the public. Roy is the only one on that level. Jamie is probably the second closest, just because of his stint on Lust Conquers All, but even there, the gulf between him and Roy is huge.

Natalie: You can factor in the national team element too. A lot of people will watch England play but not club football. None of our English players at Richmond have yet played for England (fingers crossed Jamie this season) but those international-level guys are much more recognisable to people also. Roy played for England, he won a lot of club trophies if his Chelsea had the same history as real life Chelsea, he clearly positioned as a HUGE name and I just like it when Ted Lasso reminds us of his history and status, in contrast to the rest of the team and Ted. Anyway, what’s Roy Kent doing going down the sewer with a bunch of young lads and a mustachioed American? Learning about flow, apparently.

Megan: Like Colin, I wasn’t entirely sure why you’d take your kid on a tour of the sewers, but I did then love the full circle moment of Ted’s earlier comment to Henry about not watching the screen next to him on the flight home. Suddenly it all makes sense. The players themselves are not quite buying into the premise though.

Natalie: No, because Ted loves to take his sweet, stinky time getting to a point. I appreciate the fact that Jamie is the only one smart and/or precious enough to cover his face, the way he withers at Roy, face still inside his shirt, when Roy basically yells in his ear, and also his chronic teacher’s pet attitude. As much as I think it may have been more authentic for Jamie to say “shit” — he’s still a savage little prick even though he’s a good boy too, and the childish word was odd to me — I have no doubt #poopeh will be getting a lot of mileage. This line reading from Phil Dunster here, and especially the later repetition, is ridiculously funny.

Megan: It did feel a little out of character, but at the same time was really fucking cute, so I can’t be mad at it.

Natalie: He is a sweet kid at heart, so he can be baby today.

Megan: Ivor really loves his job. He is passionate about sewage, and I love that for him.

Natalie: There is, among all this, some sort of metaphor about the Great Stink of 1858 and how the London sewer system blockage meant that people got overwhelmed by poopeh fug in day-to-day life. Ted apparently crafted this lesson in a few minutes while sending Will to rally the bus driver, but it kind of makes sense. The guys are getting blocked up mentally by the impact of other people’s shit. Sure, Ted. I see your point! Not sure you needed to be IN THE SEWER to make it. But they won’t forget it soon.

Megan: No, because of how that smell is going to linger in their nostrils and refuse to let them forget it.

Natalie: I would fucking kill him. But it’s a nice message, promoting further togetherness, to connect more deeply to one another in order to keep the… shit flowing.

Megan: Sometimes Ted is very eloquent. Sometimes he says things like “Y’all need to make an internal sewer system within yourselves, and then connect to each other’s tunnels” and I just…

Natalie: Yeah. I was like… yeah. Mate.

Megan: Does it make sense? Yes. Does it help? Also yes. Might I prefer literally any other phrasing? Yes, a thousand times yes.

Natalie: The idea of drawing on one another’s strengths, basically becoming a large amorphous human centipede of support, is lovely. I do think they do that anyway, but even more so now.

Megan: Natalie. Were the words “human centipede of support” really necessary? That might be worse than everything Ted said.

Natalie: They were, yes. Now this was a tiny moment, but given that they’re talking mostly about feeling insecure, I really appreciated Ted citing Jamie’s confidence as a positive. Of course I love that Jamie is happy to share, but I knew that anyway — his ego is real, but it no longer excludes people. He has the ability to pull others inside his confidence, and that matters. But I really, really love that his ego is no longer seen as a negative by Ted. That feels huuuuge.

Megan: It’s the fine line between confidence and arrogance, and Jamie has firmly crossed into healthy, positive, example-setting confidence. It’s a passing moment in this scene, but it shines through several times in this episode.

Natalie: Last season was all about Jamie really settling into being one of the guys, and his big moment in the finale came from not centering himself. The victory where he did get to centre himself, on Roy’s orders, in “The Signal,” was a moment that stressed Ted out. I’m not sure that was so much about hating Jamie’s ego as hating the idea of drawing a foul, or maybe even seeing Jamie get intentionally hurt. There’s a whole story there for Ted, because Jamie “being the prick” sets off his panic attack, but I won’t delve further there just now. I’m just making the point that in the past, Jamie has had to humble himself in order to make amends, and he accepted his place in the dressing room so wholly that Roy had to shake both Jamie and Ted out of it, and literally order Jamie to stop being a team player. But Jamie’s confidence is now respected, and his ego is trusted as something not harmful. Which means that now, he’s narratively allowed to be ambitious.

Megan: Ted does struggle to move past his first impression of Jamie and his behaviour in season 1, and that carries over into season 2. His “I’m glad he’s on our team” in “The Signal” was so telling to me because yes, I don’t think Ted likes the idea of Jamie drawing a foul, but I also don’t think he’s comfortable with the idea of intentionally being a prick ever being a good thing. So yes, this is growth for Jamie, but it’s also growth for Ted in accepting that in professional sports, you need that drive and that ego and even that aggression. Jamie’s confidence is a positive, and that deserves to be recognised.

Natalie: As does Richard’s ability to recommend affordable wines. We haven’t had too much of a close look at Richard’s personality yet, aside from the fact that he’s sexy and dates supermodels. You’d maybe expect him to be a snob, I like that he’s not.

Megan: He also apparently grew up on a goat farm. It’s hard to be a snob around goats. They’re little demons.

Natalie: Great point, actually. Anyway, it’s cute. And the point is, they’ve got to stay connected and not let the poopeh they don’t need block them up.

Megan: Natalie. I know this is Ted’s fault, not yours…

Natalie: It is, yes.

Megan: But please.

Natalie: Take it up with the writers. Anyway, I’m not going to use these spaces to break down why I think every single joke in this show is funny. It’s not my first preference when talking about why I care about the show, I am here for the characters. But the comedy is inherent to Ted Lasso and after the whole Kenneth-cult-toad-venom bit, Beard’s “No sudden movements near the bus driver!” just really got me.

Megan: And as someone who has taken part in campaigns to get politicians and water companies to stop dumping sewage into the ocean, Ivor’s reference to that element of the UK’s sewer system really got me. It is horrible Ted, and they need to clean up their act.

Natalie: Correct. This lesson is going to be put into practice very quickly, because there’s a whole load of new poopeh for them when they resurface. While all of this has been going on, Nate has been running his mouth during a very nasty press conference, and when they get back to the dressing room, the players discover what’s been said.

Megan: Roy calls Nate “that little prick”. It’s the first time we’ve heard him say anything negative about Nate. Obviously they all know Nate has gone to West Ham, but do you think Roy, at this moment, also knows that Nate leaked Ted’s panic attack?

Natalie: Yeah, I do. I think Roy is looped in fully on the bad blood element now. He saw what was going on a fair bit last year and I think Beard told him whatever he knows. Possibly not the exact details of his speech to Ted, but I reckon Beard told Roy all he knows personally about Nate’s behaviour too. I had been wondering so much about what the players would have been told about Nate, whether they’d be angry at him and know there was bad blood, or happy for him for getting a new job as a manager, thinking it was fairly innocent. Not so. With the trash talking, they now see Nate as an adversary and are very upset about it. I think that before this moment the players did not have hard feelings for Nate. They wouldn’t have known any details, just that he got a better offer. But Roy knows.

Megan: Yeah because the world of football is fluid — players are transferred, assistant coaches move to get better positions, managers get sacked every other week. The players understand that, Roy understands that. They wouldn’t mind him leaving, but they would mind his trash talk, and Roy would definitely hate the leaking to the press.

Natalie: And the bullying. I’m sure Beard told him about Colin. In fact I bet Beard has vented to Roy, to a degree of like, “Fucking Ted won’t speak honestly about his feelings, but holy shit that dude sucks.”

Megan: I wonder if Roy feels the bullying extra personally, given he went out of his way to stop Nate being bullied in season 1.

Natalie: That is plausible. Roy in particular has the potential to be like “that ungrateful little prick” about everything Nate did. For the players, I feel so sad for them to see this because it’s so harsh and they liked Nate a lot. Last season, he helped them and presumably “believed” in them, and to hear him trash them like that, and it’s like, a not cool level of criticism. It’s so hurtful to them. But when Ted hears them kicking off, Beard stops him from stepping in to assure them, because Beard can hear that Jamie is starting to talk instead, to rally them and to remember the lesson Ted just gave them in the sewer. It goes without saying that I love that this was Jamie. Not Isaac, the captain. Or Sam, the golden boy. Everyone else is caught up in the comments from Nate, but Jamie is the one who onboarded the lesson properly and immediately applied it.

Megan: Dani calling him clever is very good for me, personally, because I will fly the “Jamie’s quite smart, actually,” flag until my arm falls off, but given how much we discussed Roy and Jamie’s changing relationship in our season 2 chat, I very much appreciated Roy’s satisfied gesture towards Ted after Jamie’s speech too.

Natalie: He’s such a Certified Good Boy, and Ted Lasso is telling us that right at the top of the season — that not only is Jamie eminently coachable, taking advice and implementing it to be better both off the pitch and on, but also that he’s an extremely good person, that he’s going to wield a fair bit of positive influence over the group, and that he believes in Ted harder than anyone. Because Jamie is absolutely trying to mimic Ted, because he gives Dani a rhyming response. Fucking teacher’s pet. But it looks good on him.

Megan: Everything does. Except his first outfit of the season.

Natalie: Jamie’s already Roy’s favourite, but that’s not enough for him, he needs to win over Ted and Beard too! The coaches all seem happy that the lesson stuck and that the lads are able to manage each other’s feelings and self-regulate the shit. But for the audience, the fact that it’s Jamie who steps up tells us a lot about what his arc will look like. In season 1, Jamie is warned about his power. Roy talks about how he’s the best player on the team, so the guys look up to him. He’s a default leader, so he should use that position better. Last season, he was lovely but he did not attempt to be that leader. I think he does fit in well as not quite the centre of attention, never the boss of the group and I actually think he prefers that, not being a ringleader or instigator. But he can be the glue. He can be a leader on the team when it comes to this kind of thing, among other strong leaders. He fills a certain niche for what they need. Him being their best player, and helping them to believe that way, and lift them up.

Related: Phil Dunster of ‘Ted Lasso’ delivered one of 2021’s greatest TV performances, and Emmy voters need to remember that

Megan: I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Jamie’s plot this season. Last season it was obviously one of the heavier ones emotionally, dealing with his dad, and while I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of James, I didn’t think it would be as fraught as before, and I was a bit worried he’d be reduced to more of a side character than I would personally like. Seeing him step into this leadership role and driving home the lessons Ted’s trying to teach hadn’t been something I’d considered, but I love the potential behind it. And it does make sense. We discussed in our season 2 reflection just how good Jamie is at expressing himself emotionally, at saying what he thinks and at challenging people in that way. So I look forward to seeing more of this from him, especially if they do end up in a down-to-the-wire title race.

Natalie: I did also worry that season 2 was the crest or peak of his arc, and that Phil Dunster would not get another shot at the Emmy he SHOULD have won last year. (Sorry Brett.) To have him not even nominated for his season 2 arc among all the other performances is still insane to me. Offensive, even. He doesn’t have a massive role in the season 3 premiere, but I kind of feel more confident that the Ted Lasso team wants him to reach new heights. This is extremely exciting to me because I think he’s the best actor on the show.

Megan: The premiere definitely does a bit more to set up the bigger plot conflicts than some of the characters’ individual storylines, but everyone in the cast seemed shocked when Phil didn’t get nominated, so we’ll see the kind of work he gets to do this year.

Natalie: I do wonder if they added even more material for him after that snub, because they did seem genuinely fairly shocked and don’t want him to be underrated. I’m not going to pretend not to be biassed, he is my favourite and his story interests me the most out of any character. But he will have competition for any awards in Nick Mohammed, who I’m slightly surprised didn’t win the Emmy for season 2. Maybe because they’re nominated for comedy and his performance was utterly miserable — though Phil’s was sad and dramatic too. Anyway, this season is not going to be holding back when it comes to Nate. Before Richmond finds out about his horrible press conference, we follow him through the day he’s having at West Ham while all this is going on — this episode is really only set over the course of one day — and it’s not exactly a fun time.

Megan: Our first shot of Nate is him in his familiar green Mini, driving towards West Ham’s stadium. This felt very much to me like a visual reminder of the first Nate we meet, and perhaps supposed to be a hint that the old, nice Nate is still in there — though you and I discussed a lot in our season 2 finale reflection how we feel about that idea anyway — but that is dashed fairly swiftly when he parks up next to some much fancier cars, enters the stadium, and immediately blanks a friendly staff member who tries to say hello to him. Fun.

Natalie: The absolute best case, most sympathetic, benefit-of-the-doubt take I have on that escalator moment is that he’s disassociating. That he is here doing this job but he’s almost living outside of his own reality. He knows it’s shit and he is just putting up walls to try and pretend it isn’t really him. This idea evaporates pretty fast though, when he goes to his office, reads Tweets, and tells another friendly staff member to “get out” very rudely. Not a great first impression for him this season.

Megan: Yeah that first interaction he could just be so completely in his own head and focused on getting through it, but actively telling someone to get out? Much harder to forgive. Not a great first impression, and one that swiftly gets even worse.

Natalie: The car is definitely meant to send us a message, but… Honestly by the end of the episode it feels like the message is that we’re wiping away every remaining scrap of the theoretical good old Nate. We’ll get there, but if the car is a metaphor, the story it is telling is removing the last soft centre of the man. And honestly, even that “get out” could be due to extreme stress, sometimes people go cold and robotic when focused, but honestly he seems pretty happy reading his little memes so it just feels like a power trip.

Megan: He did call him Wonder Kid. We know from later that it still bothers Nate.

Natalie: It does, and it’s an example of how something that everyone means with kindness is still something he finds belittling because all he sees is the error he made inside his own head and he sees it as mocking every time, I think. His perspective on being called that is just a loop of self-criticism that he sees manifested as others mocking him. Instead of just taking the fucking win.

Megan: He is his own worst enemy, in the sense that he is his only enemy, but he puts everyone else in that category. Jürgen Klopp makes mistakes in press conferences all the time and he laughs them off. Be more Klopp Nate, be more Klopp.

Natalie: Given Ted is based a lot on Klopp, I mean, you’re saying the quiet part out loud there.

Megan: That was completely unintentional, I was just thinking of the time Klopp thought a reporter said “brain fuck” instead of “brain fog,” and complained that he wasn’t allowed to say fuck in press conferences. Much hilarity ensued.

Natalie: Well, things tend to unfold as they should. Klopp is a fan of Ted Lasso, though, and he was one of the biggest inspirations for the character. The story about him taking his team out to do karaoke as a celebration after a win inspired Sudeikis, and that story about him not allowing the Liverpool players to be “sad and alone” after losing the 2016 Europa League, instead making them all celebrate and dance and cheer in the hotel bar together, you know, the incident that fried the brain of a little baby Jordan Henderson, who wouldn’t have been a lot older than Jamie at the time, so much he didn’t know what to do with himself — that’s pure Ted. Or rather, I think they steal from Klopp a lot, for Ted. I also think out of all the current managers and players, Klopp is our likeliest season 3 cameo.

Megan: While I would love Pep, Klopp is a very acceptable second choice for me.

Natalie: Pep’s only coming if they get Julia Roberts too. Anyway, the point is, be more Klopp slash Lasso, Nate. I’m trying to imagine how Klopp would react if he saw another manager put someone on the dum-dum line.

Megan: I’m trying to imagine if we still have any managers that are that awful and that belittling about their players out there. This whole scene fills me with so much rage. There are still some more old-school managers out there, who think, you know, wearing a snood in training is what will make a player lose a match, but I just cannot imagine any of the current crop of Premier League managers being this awful to a player in training.

Natalie: I also can’t imagine any of the current captains standing for it. Players don’t have that much power, but they would say something about this.

Megan: No. Hendo would put on his fucking “captain of captains” helmet and kick off.

Natalie: It’s worse than I expected, in terms of the public belittling. I had a feeling it would be like this, but it is really horrific to see and it’s honestly things like this that make me think what the hell will it take to make someone who abuses power like this forgivable? Not only does Nate need to redeem himself to us and Ted, he needs to redeem himself to the West Ham squad.

Megan: I obviously don’t feel anything for the currently nameless West Ham players, but I do have strong feelings for a fair few real life footballers. And the idea of them being treated like this really bothers me. So yeah, the list of people who need to be able to forgive him is only growing.

Natalie: Acting like this in training, which I guess he’s been doing all summer, not just this one day… Like, how can he reasonably have a job somewhere decent? This is only permissible here because of Rupert. Yeah, I just have a general sense of empathy for the nameless players, who we don’t know, but can replace mentally with either real West Ham players, or Richmond players if he had been let loose with them.

Megan: You have to assume that, Colin and Will aside, he wasn’t like this at Richmond regularly on the training pitch. I don’t think the other coaches would have let him get away with it.

Natalie: No, I’m more just theoretically imagining him treating characters we know like this. It feels like he’s very self assured in his actions. Very satisfied. It’s really odd to see the pivot to “Oh gosh, I’m inferior and nervous,” with Rupert’s assistant Miss Kakes, in the same breath. Just that switch from superior to inferior. And then there’s Disco, who is at least funny.

Megan: I think he would be up for a party actually, in the right circumstances. That one player, who replaces the guy who gets out on the dumb dumb line doesn’t look super impressed with Nate.Maybe we’ll see some of them speaking out before the end of the season.

Natalie: So, that guy is Sam Cox, who trains the kids at Tottenham Hotspur’s Academy. He recently posted a featured character poster of himself, and I think he will be our main West Ham character eventually!

Megan: Interesting! Well, I obviously love the Spurs connection, but either way I am keen to see that unfold.

Natalie: He’s their 10, Armando. Keep an eye out.

Megan: I will. Rupert’s office cracks me up the second Nate walks into it because it looks like Isengard. That might just be me, but it’s what I’m getting from the aesthetic choices Rupert has made. If he’s Saruman, does that make Nate Grima Wormtongue? Am I perhaps taking the Lord of the Rings comparison too far?

Natalie: Yes? No? I don’t know, it is very supervillain. Emperor Palpatine’s throne room for me, and Nate’s Darth Vader. But I feel like Rupert’s accent has gone off the wall. Like a stronger East End twist, added more cockney.

Megan: Maybe he’s trying to fit into his new location. Sound like he’s one of the locals. He gets away with calling Nate “Wonder Kid” of course.

Natalie: The whole thing is just bizarre. Do you believe that Rupert believes in Nate and actually thinks he’s good at this job? Or do you think he hired Nate purely to hobble Richmond? Like, doesn’t care that much about West Ham, just wants Richmond to lose the reasonable tactics and be left with just Ted. I’ve never got the impression Rupert thinks much of Roy.

Megan: I honestly do not know. I don’t think Rupert would want his new club to be a laughing stock, he wouldn’t want to be attached to failure, so I do think he must at least a little bit rate Nate’s talents. But I also don’t think Rupert thinks much of anyone other than himself, so I can’t see him thinking Nate’s particularly great. I can imagine that Roy had never been charmed or intimidated by Rupert, back when Rupert was the owner. He’d be like Ted and see through Rupert’s bullshit, and I doubt Rupert would like that.

Natalie: I’ve definitely thought a lot about Roy hating Rupert, especially in terms of Roy’s familiarity with Rebecca at the start of Ted Lasso season 1. Rupert probably knows he can’t buy or manipulate Roy anyway, but I think he also probably doesn’t rate Roy’s ability as a coach, still thinks of him as a not-too-bright player. But seeing Nate act the way he does, the kind of eager to please forelock tugging he did with Ted at the start… It’s not slimy, it’s not consciously sucking up, it’s just automatically inferior. It’s the same instinct he had with Ted’s authority, just to someone else, and someone with totally oppositional ethics. He even does that same automatic “No,” when answering a question that’s actually a “Yes,” the same as he does to Ted in season 1, or even when practising the restaurant booking in season 2, going along with Keeley intentionally getting his name wrong — “Yes, I should have said Shelby.” That eagerness to not rock the boat and lose approval.

Megan: It is the element of Nate I find the most sympathetic, being that desperate for approval and so awkward and nervous about it. It’s just all the rest that I struggle with.

Natalie: It is a feature that makes you cleave to him in the situation, rather than the other person, but like, seeing that he’s not affected one way or another by Rupert’s ethics, that he just wants approval from the person currently praising him, no matter who it is, it’s a tough sell to call it a sympathetic quality. It’s not quite sucking up, but it’s like, “I will crave this from whoever will give it to me.” No standards, no backbone about it. You can see he’s addicted to it, when he makes that crack about Richmond coming 21st and it makes Rupert laugh. It just feeds him and feeds him. You could argue that he believes that, and it’s his natural bitchy side coming out, or you could say that he’s trying to think up something that Rupert wants to hear, but either way he feels very good about the reaction, contrasted with his embarrassment about the car. You can tell that he feels judged by Miss Kakes and that her looking down on him makes him very insecure. Little things like that. Rupert is absolutely nourishing it and just telling Nate everything that he dreams of, that Richmond didn’t know what they had, all that kind of stuff.

Megan: The speed with which he says that 21st joke…. It comes very quickly. It was a very funny line, but in “Man City” he admits he thinks of things to say way in advance and saving them up in order to sound clever in the moment. He would have known Richmond’s ranking would come up. I feel like he spent the whole car journey over thinking up that one liner just in case.

Natalie: Ooooooh. Yeah, very possible.

Megan: Rupert is so clearly manipulating Nate in this moment, and we can all see it, but Nate can’t because it validates everything he thinks about what he deserves.

Natalie: But he also has massive imposter syndrome. If he truly, truly thought he deserved it, he would act as confident to Rupert as he does on the pitch. But that isn’t in his nature. He’ll never truly believe in himself at this rate. It’s these huge fluctuations. It does not yet make me feel sorry for him though. But that line he has, when he’s covering for denying owning the car — “Is anything really ours?” did objectively make me laugh. At this point, how I feel about him is that I would LOVE Ted Lasso to be able to sell me on his redemption. I want them to be able to do it. But I don’t see how they can. I am probably underestimating them, but… there you go.

Megan: They are on the whole a talented bunch. But they did almost too good a job in on selling his downfall. He’s got so far to climb!

Natalie: After this meeting, it’s on to Nate’s press conference, which happens while the Richmond boys are in the sewers. Structurally, it’s cut to juxtaposition the conversation when the guys are learning about letting the poopeh flow, so yes, we see what they did there. Higgins and Rebecca are watching it live though, both decorated with Keeley’s mascara. I love the idea that Higgins has also comforted her. Adorable. And the umlaut joke was great. But the entire press conference is fairly horrific. Were you surprised to see Nate face the press with such a timid attitude? Or did it fit, for you? I thought he’d be bolder with them, but I think he struggles with it in front of Rupert, until he’s egged on. But also, he lies to them through the medium of Rodgers and Hammerstein!

Megan: Assuming he’s not done many press conferences yet as the new manager I can understand why there is an initial lack of confidence here. Doing press at West Ham has to be very different to when he’s done it at Richmond — here he’s the person on whom the ultimate responsibility for performance rests. I suppose in this moment, given his obsession with hierarchy, there’s a moment of where do the press fall, compared to him, and compared to Rupert. He has to decide he’s above them in order to have that confidence. But Ted would definitely have landed that Rodgers and Hammerstein reference. And if Trent Crimm was still a member of the press, I feel like he would have gotten it.

Natalie: I wonder if he thinks it’s true, if he does think he likes the players and does think they like him, and he doesn’t hear how he sounds sometimes? Anyway, it’s a dud and he actually begins to have his own panic attack — instant caramel’s gonna get ya — and then, you know, it became clear he was going to pull himself together by spitting. I was not expecting the panic attack element though. Framed just like Ted’s, with bad memories and a discordant sonic white noise situation. That’s one way to make him have empathy for Ted, I guess. Not sure how I feel about it yet.

Megan: Agreed, I’m conflicted about this. He obviously has a whole lot going on in his head, but the panic attack element isn’t something that I’d imagined Nate would suffer from. I wonder if that is what leads him to reach back out to Ted, to ask him for help that doesn’t involve spitting, to get past them. I know this is a Covid-free universe, but for hygiene reasons alone he needs a better coping mechanism.

Natalie: LOL.

Megan: Maybe that reporter asked his question in a particularly shitty and smarmy way, but you know what Nate, I actually don’t think it is a stupid question! The kitman to manager trajectory is very much not a normal one, so I think it’s okay for journalists to be like, “Hey… So… This is a lot, right?”

Natalie: The writer he cuts down is James McNicholas! Brett Goldstein’s worst-enemy-friend.

Megan: No way! I’ve only ever heard him on ye olde podcast, so I didn’t know what he looked like. I had no idea he was in it. That’s excellent.

Natalie:Yeah, I don’t think he’s playing himself though, because in real life he’s an Arsenal blogger.

Megan: Boooooo.

Natalie: Hence the worst-enemy-friend thing. I was surprised to see him, but why not? And no, it wasn’t a stupid question.

Megan: Well either way, justice for that reporter’s theoretically very reasonable question. It does help Nate find his confidence, via the medium of putting others down, and the conference gets going in earnest.

Natalie: He does ask it rudely, I will say, but I think it’s meant to mirror Ted’s first presser, you know, Trent being like “Is this a fucking joke?” And that the way Nate snaps back is a crazy level of escalation that, as you say, helps him to feel like he is holding the power.

Megan: Everyone laughs, but they aren’t laughing at him, so he feels back in control. Higgins’ little “miaow” interjection was very good at breaking the tension. Love that man.

Natalie: But then Nate gets a chance to drop that zinger that pleased Rupert earlier, and the way Rupert nods to encourage him to go for it is sickening,

Megan: That potentially pre-planned joke is really getting a lot of mileage. His comment about Ted, on the other hand, is just plain mean. Though I suppose to be fair to him… I’m not really sure what actual context you could draw from that. I now know what Ted was doing and it’s still pretty batshit.

Natalie: I don’t know if I’d call it a fair response to make that comment though! Just, you know, say “I have no idea what that’s about, let’s just focus on West Ham.” Nah, not for Nate.

Megan: Yeah definitely. Just a wry laugh and a “Well, that’s a bit odd, but let’s move on.”

Natalie: He gets to make up a new zinger on the fly, and I mean, this level of mud-slinging about Ted is just… I mean obviously for us as viewers it’s shitty, but I find it hard to believe that Nate thinks that the media would frame this well? It is usually really frowned upon and controversial to trash talk this much. There are big headlines and not good ones, if a manager says something this rude about someone else or another team. The media coverage at the very end of the episode, after Ted’s comeback, kind of shows us that, but even if Ted hadn’t responded the way he did, I feel like this would have not ended up working in Nate’s favour.

Megan: As far as they know, Ted gave him this big break. Took him, as Not!James pointed out, from a kit man to a manager. And they all know Ted is generally a very good guy. So even outside of the usual lack of appreciation for trash talk, there’s an added element of Nate seeming really very ungrateful here.

Natalie: I do think that Nate would have got negative write-ups all on his own as this spread, but at the moment, people are laughing in the room. Rebecca is very angry about it, and angrier still that Ted has given more ridicule to the team with the sewer thing. I don’t think we’ve ever seen her be angry at him like this, ever.

Megan: Two full stops in her text to Ted. She’s furious.

Natalie: It’s a great blend of genuinely professional scolding and personal imploring for Rebecca. Like, very much, boss to employee, “yes ma’am I see the problem,” but also her reaching out like, “Rupert is laughing at me, Ted.” She knows that Ted knows how fragile she is there.

Megan: Yeah, he’s going to be moved by that. And honestly what she’s asking is fair. It’s not like she’s asking Ted to not be himself. She just wants an indication that he is fired up, that he’s committed to the goal.

Natalie: She wants him to snap back and I do think she wants him to do something he wouldn’t do, which is to cut Nate down or address it directly. And he won’t, but he will find his own way to gain the upper hand for her.

Megan: Yeah.

Natalie: She both orders and begs him to do it, the boss and the friend, and I did wonder how he would handle it. What he does is very effective but also kind of upsetting to me to watch. What did you think of his press conference? I do love how much his press pool loves him. The people assigned to the Richmond beat are allies now.

Megan: I love how much at ease he is these days in those conferences. Maybe not always internally, but after that first awful one, they tend to go much better. His comment “He’ll find the tiniest weakness in a team and just attack it” has layers of meaning to me. Firstly, as an assessment of Nate, it’s very double edged. Yes, it’s a compliment to his skills, but also it’s kind of pointing out how much of a dick Nate can be. But also it’s not dissimilar to one of Ted’s skills. Ted is very good at figuring out what makes a person tick, what’s going to get through to them, how to get them to do what he wants or needs. He did it with Roy in season 1, and he started doing it with Jamie too, though I’d argue Dani and Keeley were what truly got through to Jamie. Ted obviously uses his powers here for good, but it struck me as an interesting choice of words. In terms of his approach more generally… Look, It worked, it meant he stayed true to himself, and he won the internet back over to Richmond. He made it clear just how much of a prick Nate had been without actually saying it. But at some point Nate needs to actually hear what he’s doing is inexcusable. And I think it should — and has to — come from Ted. It’s Ted’s turn to be the little girl from A Wrinkle In Time.

Natalie: I am not sure if I agree. I think Nate’s stuff is going to have to come from Nate himself. I feel like this story cannot be about Ted being the one to get through to Nate and save him, I think that’s antithetical to the situation in some ways. I don’t think Ted getting through to Nate is the key here at all, I actually think Nate has to be the person Ted can’t save even if he does redeem himself through his own choices. It won’t mean anything to me if Nate just changes because of Ted’s big speech, to be honest. But I do think Ted deserves to say how he feels to him.

Megan: Okay, that’s fair. Maybe it’s more… I suppose I kind of want Ted to be able to say it. I don’t necessarily think he needs to get through to Nate, but I think Ted should, for his own sake, be able to say that what Nate did to him was awful.

Natalie: That’s the one, for me. But in this moment, Ted offering Nate his full support and only wishing him well definitely serves to give Ted the high ground. And even saying Nate’s jokes were hilarious. But watching Ted take that to a place of ripping himself to shreds, mocking his own mental health… It was tough. It worked well, it really gave him the upper hand even more. But I feel like he was on a bit of a roll and it wasn’t as light as it seemed, maybe. Making jokes about how dumb he is in the American sense, sure. When he starts on like, “I’m not a great coach,” and “I’m crazy…” That concerns me, regarding his inner demons.

Megan: Not least because in season 2, he tells Sharon he is a great coach. And he is! He may not know anywhere enough about football, but in terms of getting the best out of people, he’s very good at his job. I think he should go home at the end of this season to be with his son but his abilities as a coach have nothing to do with that, and I don’t like the idea of him having doubts there.

Natalie: Ted does seem cheerful enough here, like he knows what he’s doing, but I do worry. I am stating my worry about his self image, loudly, now. Rebecca looks slightly concerned about where all this is going but she does see how it’s working and how Ted found his own way to fight back. Let Bartlet be Bartlet, etc. It obviously angers Nate, because the response at the end is that the media and the public are saying that Ted is a class act and Nate is a wanker.

Megan: Rebecca’s swing and a miss under her breath is very good though. She got the baseball reference, even if nobody else did.

Natalie: So an overall win for West London’s Finest, but what on earth did you make of those texts from Nate’s mum?

Megan: Firstly, I’m laughing at the very poor quality picture of the moon and Nate’s, “Looks great, Mum” because that is about the quality of every single picture my dad ever sends me. Very on brand for British parents of a certain age. Secondly… Look. She seems nice, they seem to have a very loving relationship and she obviously knows Nate’s dad is hard on him, but she seems to treat it as a bit of a joke. Like, oh, classic dad, being grumpy! We’ll just ignore him. It’s likely that Nate’s relationship with his dad, and how much that has fed into his behaviour, will be explored this season. I stand by my assessment I had at the end of season 2 that his mum at least clearly seems really engaged in his life, and supportive, but honestly, now it’s like, maybe a bit too supportive? There’s nothing from her to suggest she disagreed with the harsh way he behaved in that press conference. She seems proud to have seen him on TV and her pride and kindness imply that he can do no wrong for her, when he obviously acted really badly.

Natalie: Yeah, I’m getting the feeling that she indulges and babies him, which absolutely could add to his issues surrounding attention and validation, and I think I also stand by my assessment in our season 2 reflection that his dad is not even that bad, Nate just internalises every little thing in an out-of-whack way. But I am ready to be corrected there.

Megan: From everything I’ve seen so far, I agree with you. But I am sure we’ll be seeing more of him and Nate’s relationship, so I will remain open minded.

Natalie: Listen, when Miss Kakes comes in with the package, for a split second I thought it was going to be a gift from Ted. Biscuits, or a toy soldier. Kind of like how he sends Beard to Jamie in the season 1 finale. Just for a second, before she spoke, I thought it was that. I’m kind of glad it wasn’t, because I think I prefer Ted’s approach at the press conference being more of a clever tactic than something he truly feels. I think he found a way to tell the truth, but I’m glad he isn’t feeling excessively generous!

Megan: Oh I hadn’t considered that! But yeah, I agree, I’m glad that wasn’t the case.

Natalie: Just a stupid car as a status symbol because he Did Good for Rupert. I guess getting that support and reward, even in the face of Ted’s comeback, is what Rupert knows Nate needs to stay compliant.

Megan: Look, if my boss wanted to buy me a stupid, flashy, but probably very fast car I’d be okay with that! But either way it serves to boost Nate back up again. Goodbye green Mini, hello shiny new model.

Natalie: Goodbye remaining shreds of Nate’s soul?

Megan: It certainly seems that way for now.

Natalie: And goodbye Roy and Keeley.

Megan: Wow, just really going straight for the jugular there. Not even a “Hello Phoebe” to ease us into it.

Natalie: Nah. We knew it was coming, so why sugarcoat it.

Megan: For the sake of my delicate sensibilities, obviously. But fine.

Natalie: I appreciate the angle they’re taking here. I’ve been in this position in terms of continuing a relationship with a parent’s ex-partner and I’ve even spoken to them about it later as an adult, and I’ve had friends who have had a similar experience as an ex-partner of someone with kids. Phoebe is not Roy’s daughter, but this matters.

Megan: He is one of her primary carers, and very involved in her life, and she and Keeley have clearly spent a lot of time together.

Natalie: And it’s two-sided — they are doing this for Phoebe’s sake, but it’s also that Keeley isn’t just losing Roy, she is also losing a kid she loves.

Megan: I sort of see Keeley as someone who possibly never would have chosen to have a kid herself, but has really come to love Phoebe.

Natalie: This situation feels very considered by both the characters and the writers and I appreciate them doing it, but I find it very interesting that we are only getting the details of the break-up through the lens of what you would tell a kid. We don’t know the truth yet, the real story, the real emotions. I think that their answers about why are true, on paper, but we are seeing such a filter over it. What happened? What was the final straw? Who broke up with who? It seems like it could go either way. Roy saying “we broke up,” Keeley saying “it’s a break,” could make a case for it being Keeley saying “let’s have a break” and Roy catastrophising it. Or it could be that Roy was the more firm one, and Keeley is the one who wanted to keep trying. The fact that Keeley has been sobbing on everyone doesn’t necessarily tell me she’s the dumpee. If you end things with someone you love for good reasons you still grieve it. But she’s also trying to support his insecurities and he isn’t having it.

Megan: For me, regardless of who was the one to pitch it, even if Keeley had genuinely just wanted a break to get some space as a result of unshown things happening, Roy catastrophising and making it worse in his head feels very real. Honestly I think Roy broke up with her. Even if things were really bad, I think Keeley is someone who would push through and try and make the best of it or pretend things are fine, and in this scene she really does look to Roy to explain everything. Now part of that might just be because Phoebe is Roy’s niece and Keeley wants him to lead the conversation and have a say over the narrative, but honestly, with her “that’s a good question” comment, I get the sense that she really doesn’t quite understand still.

Natalie: Yeah, watching it back now, Keeley is really studying him. If she has been dumped, that makes a lot of her other insecurities even worse. I’ve always thought she was hiding a LOT of insecurity and this season it is just full on. The way Keeley looks at him here when Roy explains the business feels a bit like the fight was very heated or miserable and this is her first time hearing his rational angle, or maybe just hearing the difference between this calm approach and how they actually argued or sadly decided.

Megan: She just seems so sad and so defeated about it. And it hurts watching her still try and reassure him about the tactics and the strategy. He really is so in his head about that.

Natalie: The way he shuts her up with a glare. Like he does not want to hear her support. That was pretty intense.

Megan: Yeah, agreed. It might just be that he doesn’t want to rehash the argument in front of Phoebe though, which is fair enough, Like they’ve agreed they’re going to be a calm united front here.

Natalie: Then of course Phoebe twists the knife by being like “Well, it makes sense, you weren’t even together that long and I don’t think relationships can survive and last forever anyway.” They’re like, “Damn.” Hearing that the child abandoned by her father thinks it makes sense that they’re doomed has to be like… “Hey!”

Megan: I doubt Roy enjoys being compared to her dad even in the broadest of senses.

Natalie: The way he shifts in his chair when she mentions her dad is, yeah. Her acceptance of them being set to fail is painful for them. Very painful.

Megan: Poor Phoebe, she’s very rational about it, and better that than upset, but given Roy seemed to think it was inevitable at the end of season 2, it must hurt that even his young niece feels the same, and is just validating all his fears and concerns.

Natalie: But in the car she makes it clear that what she was saying was somewhat of an act! This kid!

Megan: Her and Henry win this episode. I like that she has moderated her swearing enough that “stupid” is a bad word for her now. But I agree with Phoebe. I think he’s being stupid too.

Natalie: The music that soundtracks all this is Sade, the primary artist on Roy’s “Sorry for not understanding Keeley” playlist. Though this song, “In Another Time,” isn’t on it.

Megan: Oh no.

Natalie: But it’s their thing. Make of that what you will.

Megan: Way to make it just the little bit more painful.

Natalie: I really find it fascinating that the show is withholding the truth of the emotional issues and that they give us this restrained kid-friendly version. If it carries on like this, I can see a big explosion coming down the line, a confrontation about it one way or another. I really loved how Roy answered “I don’t know,” when Phoebe asked if he was doing the right thing.

Megan: I do still wonder what those in the know feel about all this from the sidelines. Rebecca and Higgins are clearly seeing the effect it has on Keeley, do you think Roy gives his sister a heads up he was telling Phoebe? I bet she thinks he’s being stupid too. Though she might have said fucking stupid.

Natalie: Yeah, I think they must have cleared it with his sister and I find it weird that she is still such an invisible character.

Megan: I’d like to meet her this season. Add her to the list.

Natalie: Rationally, if this was happening to my kid I would probably want to be in the room for it. Here they acted as if Roy was her dad and Keeley her stepmother.

Megan: But just in general, when Keeley herself doesn’t seem to understand why, I wonder what the fuck everyone in their circle thinks about it.

Natalie: It also seems recent. Like Keeley says “we’re going on a break,” as in, it’s only just started. It didn’t happen right away at the end of last season. Maybe Roy did go to Marbella alone for those six weeks, and they were nominally together, texting, the basics. But he ended it when he got home. Or maybe they’ve been together over the summer, but barely seeing each other.

Megan: Yeah, and he knew it would only get worse when pre-season picked back up.

Natalie: Heavy sigh.

Megan: I can feel just how much this arc is going to hurt me over the next twelve weeks.

Natalie: Anyway, the Sade song, and Phoebe’s question of whether it’s the right thing, carry us into the final moments of the episode where Ted is once again questioning whether HE is doing the right thing by still being here in London. Beard does not have any answers. He just lets Ted muse and sends him home, but I bet he’s storing up some thoughts. Henry has a more direct answer for Ted though. God, I love him fucking with Ted about The Exorcist.

Megan: This really is a very good episode for precocious children.

Natalie: This chat is very interesting on a lot of levels for Ted.

Megan: It very much feels like Henry leaving is what sparked Ted’s current internal crisis, so it’s only right that Henry so clearly gives him the answer — that he has to try.

Natalie: For all that Ted seems to swear by John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success — he has that signed copy and all — what Ted lacks and has always lacked is the top point of it, Competitive Greatness. The whole “winning and losing ain’t everything” attitude has to go. It’s a flaw he has, disguised as a nice quality. Ted asks, “You understand why I’m here, right” — when we’ve just seen that Ted does not understand why. Like he wants his kid to tell him the answer, or to hear his kid’s perspective. He wants to know why Henry thinks it’s okay that he’s there, I think. Henry’s answer is clear — he thinks it’s okay Ted is there because Ted is trying to achieve this goal. And he calls Ted out on the wishy-washy approach. That’s pretty incredibly pointed.

Megan: It really was. Less pointed was the Nate comment, but both still very on the nose. And honestly, Henry seems pretty invested in Ted achieving the goal! I think Henry would be thrilled if Richmond won the whole fucking thing.

Natalie: It seems like everyone from every angle is determined to see Ted at least TRY to be competitive and try to win and strive harder.

Megan: Nobody will mind if they don’t win the whole thing, but they just want him to put the effort in.

Natalie: On the flip side, Henry doesn’t get why Nate and Ted can’t be friends even though Nate changed jobs, which I think makes Ted think about his behaviour today and how he feels about Nate in general. We’re going to see Henry try to support Nate later in the season, and I am interested to see how authentically Ted commits to that.

Megan: Yes! How does Ted feel right now? Does he feel betrayed, or does he still have genuine fondness for Nate still? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

Natalie: I do love that Henry gives Ted that message about his reason to stay. It feels like permission to commit, but also a clear cut end goal to then stop and go home. I think they’re being very, very transparent with Ted’s trajectory here, though there could be a big twist to it, or some unexpected element.

Megan: Yeah I hope it’s enough that Ted will properly give everything to a win, make that his top priority, and then go back home to Kansas. I actually hope there isn’t some really big twist. That feels like the right story to tell to me. But I’ll trust them to make any twist convincing.

Natalie: I agree, but the episode itself does end on a slight twist in that Henry casually mentions something that makes Ted realise that Michelle has a new boyfriend. And alarm bells ring, literally, as it kicks in to “Ring The Alarm” by Beyonce over Ted’s face as we close out. For you, is this about being in love with Michelle, or another guy being close to his kid when he can’t?

Megan: Both. I do think he’s still in love with Michelle, but I also think based on the texts in the season 2 finale, he already suspects she’s seeing someone else. I do think, though, that when parents split up there is generally an agreed-upon courtesy that you tell your ex before introducing a new partner to your child. If Henry’s just landed, it seems like Michelle will have picked him up from the airport and immediately introduced him to Jake. So I think both come into play here.

Natalie: It’s certainly enough to split Ted’s focus and send him back to worrying about America just when he’d sort of decided to commit to the bit in London.

Megan: Look, with enough people all pushing Ted towards giving everything this season, I really hope the Jake news doesn’t knock him off course too much.

Natalie: I feel sure that it will! A fun new problem that I am sure will not be fun at all. Now, season 3, episode 2 is called “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea,” which is the name of an Elvis Costello song, but also… !!!!!!!!!!!

Megan: I know! After this, I don’t think I’m prepared for what, with that title, is sure to be a fairly Roy-centric episode. This episode has set us up nicely for the likely points of conflict this season though, and I hope that going to Chelsea means a return to some actual football scenes.

Natalie: Well, I feel like I know exactly what’s going to happen to Roy if they’re playing Chelsea away, because I wrote about it in my trailer breakdown. I just didn’t know we would be getting it so soon! I can promise that if it is what I think it is, I will be completely inconsolable. I will just cry and cry.

Megan: I look forward to next week’s chat where it’s just you smashing keys and whimpering. It’ll be a riveting read.

Natalie: In all seriousness, I am extremely ready to properly hear about this man’s football career, given the angle so far about his coaching fears and the prediction that he’s being set up to take over as manager. I like Roy as a romantic hero, but as “Rainbow” proved to us thematically, his real soulmate is Lady Football. I am so ready for this love story.

The ‘Ted Lasso’ season 3 premiere is streaming on Apple TV+ now. New episodes air Tuesdays at 9pm ET.