Ted Lasso 3.03 Jamie

‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 3 in conversation: I weren’t being ironic, I was being hypocritical

In this week’s Ted Lasso, Zava charms Richmond with his crazy goals and cult leader tendencies, but Jamie won’t buy in, keeping his concerns to himself lest they be judged as sheer jealousy. Roy’s observation of this leads to a new development for the pair, while news from home throws Ted for a loop and a visit to a psychic has Rebecca looking for signs. Oh, and Colin’s gay, but we knew that already. Read on for our review of Ted Lasso season 3, episode 3, ‘4-5-1.’

Ted Lasso season 3, episode 3 covers a swathe of time that sees Richmond shoot into the top four on the league table, thanks their newly arrived superstar. Zava is here, and it’s an honour for us to meet him. Richmond’s new Zlatan-coded big dog, played with hysterical finesse by Maximilian Osinski, is not, perhaps, the outwardly prickish presence that some might have expected. Rather, he drifts through Nelson Road like a gentle and benevolent god, blessing the mortals with his breath, his touch, and his presence. He speaks beautiful, poetic bullshit, but it’s clear that there is an immovable object in there – the way he re-arranges the coaches careful formation into one that centers him and only him is a steely challenge. It’s one that Ted doesn’t take up, instead letting the celebrity player entirely dictate how things are going to be done, and everyone seems entirely happy to just go along with that.

We, as viewers, know this is wrong. It’s completely antithetical to the team-first approach that Ted has worked so hard on, both on the pitch and off it. We know that if Richmond is going to win the league, this should not be the way that it happens. So does Jamie Tartt, who watches this all go down with a mix of general scorn, resentment about losing his striker spot, and genuine concern for the dressing room chemistry that he’s come so far to thrive in.

Jamie is our audience lens into the Zava story, he is, as discussed below, “the one guy in a musical who knows they’re all singing.” As Richmond’s former diva, he should know – despite how potentially ironic or hypocritical it might be – just how damaging a personality like this can be, and as the episode continues it becomes clear that Jamie’s inflated sense of self was not even one tenth as bad as our man Zava’s. Jamie’s right, we know it, and so, eventually, does Roy, who takes it upon himself to prod Jamie out of a private sulk about the matter and offer to spend his free time training Jamie one-on-one to become the best player on the team again.

Zava’s presence doesn’t just stifle Jamie’s development as a player, it also totally ruins Colin’s, as he’s shifted from a reliable member of the starting line-up to the bench. This burden clearly weighs upon the chameleon-like Colin as he also navigates a complicated personal life – Ted Lasso uses this episode to finally reveal, in full clarity, the fact that Colin is gay and has been in the closet for the whole time we’ve known him.

A budding relationship with the football-illiterate Michael seems to be both a source of private joy and yet another burden, as Colin endures casual homophobia from teammates and has Michael pose as his heterosexual wingman at a group dinner. Trent Crimm becomes aware of Colin’s circumstance when he witnesses the couple kissing in an alley, but what the former journalist plans to do with the information remains to be seen.

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

Zava’s success leaves Ted free to dwell on the newest complication in his own personal life – the fact that Michelle’s new boyfriend Jake is in fact Doctor Jacob, the couple’s former marriage counselor. Much is left unspoken, but the ethical questions are loud: did this guy sabotage the Lasso marriage on purpose due to his crush on Michelle? Given that Jake was Michelle’s private therapist before Ted joined the sessions, it seems possible, and the fact that this is the guy helping to parent Ted’s son while Ted is in London just adds to the issue. Roy and Keeley are still coping with their break-up, but an adversarial moment between Roy and Shandy seems to put the pair on common ground, and it’s clear that Keeley has trepidations about the application of Shandy’s unique brand of confidence anyway. She’s not saying out loud that she regrets the hire, but the signs are there.

And amidst all this, Rebecca is working through her feelings about the reading given to her by her mother’s psychic. The promise that she will have a family is something that Rebecca deems dangerous and cruel, yet she’s unable to get the other signs mentioned by the psychic out of her mind. This episode makes it obvious that Rebecca is not quite over Sam, and when one of the visions, Rebecca holding a green matchbook, comes to pass at the soft launch of Sam’s restaurant, she’s deeply thrown by it. Misdirect or no, it seems as if the other predictions will also come into play, and within our theorising about what each mention could mean, we hit upon a theory both that paints Jamie as the unlikely “shite in nineing armour” of Tish’s reading, and paves an unexpected path for Rebecca’s parenting journey. Catch up with our Ted Lasso conversations so far and read on for our in-depth discussion of ‘4-5-1.’

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

Natalie: Okay, so episode 3 was obviously going to deal with the impact of Zava coming to Richmond and a lot of that was really as you might expect it to go, but there were a few elements that I wasn’t expecting at all. Firstly, I wasn’t expecting it to travel over so much time — the episode takes us from Matchday 2 in the Premier League season, all the way through to after Matchday 7. It covers six weeks of Premier League matches, and if you want to get in the weeds about it, it would have also covered an international break in the first week of September AND two rounds of the Carabao Cup, which would have been midweek games. Not that I think Ted Lasso will deal with that competition at all, but realistically, that would have all happened in the timeline. So the end of the episode, after Premier League Matchday 7, would put us into the around the first weekend of October. I did wonder how we were going to cover the whole 2021-2022 season when season 1 only covered the last five months of the 2019-2020 season, but this is one way to skip some time.

Megan: It is, yeah. And a good way to make sure Ted Lasso makes the most of its deal with the Premier League — we get to see a lot of different kits and stadiums this episode as we zip through all the matches.

Natalie: I loved that so much, there’s a lot to unpack in that montage.

Megan: Yes! We’ll get there, but it’s very very entertaining viewing. Of course, I’m definitely someone who wants more football in the show, so I was always going to love it.

Natalie: The other unexpected element was the realisation that we’re dealing with the Colin thing this soon. That is not to say that Colin being gay is unexpected. If you did not know this already, you are probably straight. What they’ve done makes sense, now that I’ve seen it — Colin is one of the people most deeply impacted by Zava’s arrival, so tying that into his other personal burdens totally fits. But I just wasn’t expecting to get this story this soon.

Megan: Thank you. Yes. I was not remotely surprised to see Colin’s partner from the night before was male, but again, I am also not straight. I also was a bit surprised they kicked it off so soon — and also that they were so far along with it, if that makes sense? Colin walking down, greeting and kissing this potential partner. While I was sure we’d get this arc, I thought it might start earlier in his journey, maybe meeting someone on Bantr or coming out to someone else on the team. Did you get the sense that this is an established relationship for Colin? Or at least a regular friends with benefits deal?

Natalie: A very new relationship. Or like, a hookup becoming a relationship.

Megan: Yeah I think that’s my vibe too. I think they’ve maybe known each other a little while, possibly been hooking up for a while, but it felt very tentative new relationship in its energy.

Natalie: I’m pretty sure that’s meant to be Michael’s house, not Colin’s — I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. If it’s Colin’s place and Michael is making himself at home, making coffee and being left there when Colin goes to work, that would imply something more serious. But I think this is Michael’s place — clearly he’s well off — and Colin is basically sneaking out.

Megan: If it is Colin’s then Michael is very comfortable, but I agree. My heart broke a little bit with the cautious way he looked around when he left, putting his sunglasses on. I’ve been really wanting a queer footballer coming out storyline, but I think it’s going to hurt me still.

Natalie: Let’s talk about the implications of this. At last, Ted Lasso has queer people. Surprise! I am so shocked. This is my shocked face: 😐

Megan: Oh yeah, you seem very shocked. I too am caught completely off guard.

Natalie: Look, I might be a bit salty about this, and I’m still slightly annoyed that Sharon isn’t a lesbian, but I did always think that for such an incredible, sensitive show, the absence of queer characters was so weird that it was literally unbelievable. I was 100% sure that we had at least one queer person hiding in plain sight — I think Keeley is meant to be openly bi too, but that they were quite subtle about it. I wrote a whole article about this late last year.

Megan: Agreed. To date we’ve only had Keeley’s reference about dipping her toe back in the lady pond with Rebecca comment, and while yes, I firmly believe we’re meant to take from that that Keeley is bi, I would have liked a more explicit confirmation there too.

Natalie: And I’m sorry, but — and I should say that I’m being overly defensive, I know the people who end up reading Subjectify will be on top of this in the same way we are, I know a lot of the fandom assumed this, they’re not the target of my salt here, I’m sure they’re all in agreement and the people I’m accusing will never see this — in the wider discussion of Ted Lasso, I’ve seen people mention pairing Colin up with women, or even directly dismissing the bit of evidence we got as not a thing or “reading too much into it.” I’m just like, must be nice to live like that. Must be nice to not see any little bit of clear signalling as a flashing neon sign.

Megan: I do get that to a certain extent, telling a story about a queer footballer does carry a whole load of weight to it, given the real life situation for queer players in the Premier League. And maybe they didn’t want to get into that too early, with the story they were planning on telling. But as your article points out there are plenty of non-footballer characters that could have been casually established as queer.

Natalie: I am 100% sure the queer footballer coming out story was planned from day one as a season 3 beat.

Megan: Agreed. I just wish we’d had some other queer characters before then. Queer rep is getting better on screens, there’s things now that are commonplace in shows that I couldn’t have imagined even just ten years ago in terms of incidental queer characters. And that is why the lack of representation stands out so much to date in Ted Lasso.

Natalie: People already suspected Colin, but the Grindr comment was basically akin to hard evidence, and anyone who thinks it wasn’t, or like, forgot that bit, or thought it was a throwaway joke… Again, must be nice! This may be a sore spot for me, but I’m just thinking about how much people who aren’t like, desperate for representation, just don’t see.

Megan: You’ll get no argument from me. Being queer means always having to keep an eye out for signs of characters who aren’t straight, even if it’s never outright confirmed. But to me, that comment from Colin was definitely a confirmation.

Natalie: I’ve personally got a pretty strong conviction that queer people are the best viewers when it comes to interpreting a story. Not just in terms of looking for queer subtext, but in terms of looking for meaning. Because we are always on high alert in terms of looking for ourselves, it means the way of approaching the story in general is more automatically attuned to what’s under the surface. Because for the longest time, under the surface was all there was. It’s just the way we see the world — we look harder for things. At least queers of a certain generation. Maybe the Zoomer kids do not think like this.

Megan: Oh, that is such a lovely way of putting it. Yes, I really agree.

Natalie: So whenever I see something coming a mile away that other people I know are shocked by, I’m like yeah, because I’m queer. Because I am going to turn over every fucking stone for meaning, because that is how my brain inputs story. It’s more seeking than a straight person’s. I can’t fully claim credit for this metaphor — I heard a version of it from the great John Cameron Mitchell. But like, he said that, and I felt it. Anyway, this is a generalisation that will probably piss people off, and obviously there are highly skilled journalists of all orientations who make a career out of analysing media. But in terms of the general audience? How a queer person approaches a story is a LOT different to how a straight person does, in terms of looking for meaning. And that doesn’t just apply to looking for queer characters. It applies to everything. It applies to picking up vibes, or tiny expressions, or passing implications about everything. Close-reading is queer culture. Watching everything through a queer lens makes me more attuned to finding meaning – both intended subtext or personal interpretation – in things like an eye flicker, a hand clench, the flavour of a silence. It is natural to me to take these cues as gospel, to imbue them with meaning. Not queer meaning. Just meaning. Like, intent. truth. Something more. Something deeper than what is being said out loud – something that remains true even if it is never said out loud.

Megan: It’s funny, because that rings so true to me and how I view media, TV and films, and obviously unlike you, I’ve not been writing about them for a decade, but yes, that is the level of focus I have when I watch things too.

Natalie: I’m going to actually share a couple of quotes by John Cameron Mitchell — I saw him say something like this at a concert, but I went and looked up what he had said about it elsewhere, after. One was “A little five-year-old queer kid who feels like he has to hide something about himself knows what metaphor is. It’s the beginning of camp and the beginning of human rights politics. All of these things come out of understanding that there’s surface and then there’s true nature. Which many people who grew up getting everything they needed don’t see.” And another was “When you’re young and you’re judged for how you look or you’re hiding something about yourself, you understand metaphor because you understand that things have a surface and then a deeper meaning. And that’s a gift. You can use it and understand that art and justice are linked because it’s a way of looking at the world that is realistic. When everything is handed to you, metaphor and art don’t make as much sense. You’re literal when you’re in charge: things are what they are. The ruling class never has the opportunity to see nuance, depth, and complexity.” This is what I am talking about, and this is why I have pretty much zero time for any of the people saying this Colin thing has come out of nowhere.

Megan: Oh, those are really powerful. What a wonderful man. Yeah look, even if people are surprised by it, if anyone tries to claim it came out of nowhere or was shoehorned in, I will throw down. In a very polite British way, but I’ll throw nonetheless.

Natalie: So, now that I’ve got my rant out of the way — again, LOL at the idea that the Grindr comment was ever a throwaway — what’s going to happen to poor Colin? I wrote about this in my suspected queer Ted Lasso characters article, but this is such a tricky story. We can assume that Doctor Sharon absolutely knows, and that he was working through this all last season. Maybe that’s why he feels comfortable enough to get a boyfriend.

Megan: Yeah, that would track! I don’t get the sense that anyone else knew already in this episode.

Natalie: No. Among the fans who did already think Colin was queer, a lot assumed Isaac would be in the loop. So that made this episode particularly hard to watch.

Megan: I had potentially thought that he might too, so his comment about Richard sounding a bit gay did hurt. I feel confident that Isaac would be very chill if he did know, and feel bad about hurting Colin, but it was still tough to see..

Natalie: Yeah — it was actually very jarring to me, because so far we have not seen any casual homophobia from the footballers.

Megan: Yeah. I don’t really feel like Isaac would have meant anything by it, just a casual stupid comment, which feels probably very true for these characters. But not great for Colin.

Natalie: It was tricky, because we really haven’t seen anyone do that on Ted Lasso, aside from like, George. The vibe of James Tartt being misogynistic, the whole idea of Jamie being soft and a pussy is in the neighbourhood of it, the toxic masculinity. And like, is this the kind of thing Dumb Boys Would Do? Yes, and the team obviously subversively rises to the occasion to say “Yeah, Zava transcends sexuality.” But the writing has never taken a punch like that before, from a Known Good Guy.

Megan: No. We do have a bit of the like, horsing around with Nate in season 1 despite him not being into it, and the way they all insult each other affectionately, like Jamie ribbing Sam for saying Ratatouille is his favourite film, but this felt different.

Natalie: Just for fun, I think Jan is probably pansexual and would definitely fuck Zava. It just fits his vibe. I get why they did this part, showing Colin overcompensating and wondering what his best mate will think, but it felt SO tough for me because this so far has been a world where none of our himbos have been this kind of dumb boy. It’s one of the things that makes Ted Lasso’s approach to masculinity all the sweeter. Like, even in the stupid Twitter videos, we have Jamie being so indignant about Beard — “We’re not having sex! He’s not my type, too scratchy.” As opposed to “I’m not GAY.” They’ve been careful about this stuff. Isaac saying this honestly felt like a slap in the face even though I am 100% sure he will be fine with it in the long run.

Megan: Same. I had a vocal reaction. I literally said ”Oh, fuck” out loud when I saw it the first time, and I still wince on subsequent rewatches. I do think he’ll be very supportive of Colin, and hopefully maybe even apologise for this kind of thing. But it was bad. Interestingly, Colin doesn’t seem to react to it, which maybe makes it sadder, like he’s heard that kind of thing before, so it wasn’t a surprise to him. Maybe he knows how good Isaac is at body science and has trained himself not to react. I agree with your Jan assessment by the way. And I think Dani would also fuck Zava.

Natalie: Jamie wouldn’t, but not because he isn’t queer.

Megan: No, he’s just not keen on him.

Natalie: I should probably flag to readers that there’s a difference here between feeling like Jamie or Jan could be queer — and Jamie in particular hits a lot of queer people’s radars — and speaking about it like it’s a given, and knowing that Colin was intended to be, because of the show’s hint. I believe Jamie is bisexual, but I knew Colin was gay.

Megan: Yes, that is an important distinction.

Natalie: In my article about queer characters, I said “There is no question to me about whether or not Colin is gay. He is. The real question is what Ted Lasso is going to do with it,” and I think that’s kind of what we need to talk about here. Over the course of the seven weeks in this episode, we see that Colin and Michael are keeping in touch when Michael was travelling. Colin is also feeling really rejected because he’s been benched in favour of Zava.

Megan: As an aside, I did like Isaac noticing Colin was feeling down about being benched, and supporting him. They really are very close, and I think Isaac will feel awful about his comments, and sad that Colin didn’t tell him sooner, when it all comes out.

Natalie: What you said about Colin training himself to not react — I mean, yeah. Roy says it at the top of the episode. Colin’s a chameleon. He can adapt to any situation. Roy meant it kind of as a compliment, like he can be used in a lot of ways, he can handle being a starter, a reserve, different positions. He can just blend in where needed. But there you go, you know? One thing I love about Ted Lasso is that it really doesn’t ever try to hide things, it kind of spells out deeper meanings in a way that I find very impactful.

Megan: Agreed. It doesn’t leave much room for debate about the points it really wants to land, or the stories it’s telling.

Natalie: But this is all about Colin trying to be a strong and capable man while feeling pretty down, and also starting to really suffer in terms of the closeting. What did you think of Michael, by the way?

Megan: I like him so far! I loved the little detail about him knowing who Zava is, because he’s that big a deal, and I loved his comment about Colin’s driving. He seems decent, and willing to stay in the closet for Colin, despite seeming like someone who is out in his day to day.

Natalie: Colin’s body not being a temple but more like a church in an airport made me a little sad for Holiday Inn painting reasons. “You don’t inspire. You don’t move people.”

Megan: Oh no. Well, now I’m sad too.

Natalie: But yeah, the fact that Michael is willing to pretend to be a friend, and pretend to be straight, in order to be Colin’s plus one at events?

Megan: That hurt, while also being lovely.

Natalie: He must really like him, and it’s also fucking depressing.

Megan: His impression of being Colin’s wingman and how tough a job it is was so funny, but so sad. God. The fact that this is playing out across a backdrop where it really feels like we might see the first out Premier League footballer within the next year or so makes the whole storyline feel so much more loaded to me.

Natalie: I could get behind this love story being the reason Colin chooses to come out, for the other guy’s sake. But maybe it’ll be more like this guy can’t hack it after a while. Which is fair.

Megan: Yeah I wouldn’t judge Michael if he called it quits.

Natalie: I think we need to talk about the context of the real Premier League and how much this issue is clearly very difficult. Do you think Ted Lasso will actually tackle coming out publicly? Or just at the club, out in his personal life but not as a public figure? Because there are definitely gay Premier league players, some of whom are out within their clubs. That is a known fact. Not who, but it is a thing. There’s even allegedly a pair on one team who are dating. But to the wider public… I worry that the Ted Lasso version would be too glossy and feel-good, but also don’t want the show to turn as miserable and hopeless as this would be in real life. Because when it happens, it is going to SUCK.

Megan: I’m not sure. I think there will obviously be something coming with Trent. Probably with Trent himself being queer and making the decision not to put anything in the book about Colin, but also maybe being there for him. Or maybe Colin deciding he does want to come out, and Trent helping him with that.

Natalie: The league is ready, the fans are not. If Colin publicly came out, he would be the first player to do so while playing in the Premier League, and it would immediately elevate him to being probably the most high profile gay male athlete in the entire world, in terms of being openly gay while currently competing in the top level of their sport.

Megan: That is a huge fucking weight to carry.

Natalie: For all Nate’s comments about being a Holiday Inn painting, Colin is still an incredibly successful and high profile footballer. He was a regular starter for Richmond, and they are back playing in the Premier League. Him coming out could definitely inspire and move people, but I’m actually not sure if I’d prefer Ted Lasso attempting to tackle what that story would have the potential to look like in real football, or just leave us with Colin still deciding on his future after a smaller and more private coming out, and finding acceptance in the AFC Richmond dressing room.

Megan: I think I’d potentially prefer a smaller, more private one too, because the reality is that, as you say, while the league is ready, the fans would behave awfully.

Natalie: Ted Lasso isn’t afraid of tough topics but we have never really seen the show portray the true levels of abuse present in football. I would not want the story of a queer footballer coming out to be portrayed as a glossy and unrealistic fantasy fairytale. We have seen a small amount of hooliganism in the show, and some online abuse that is sort of played as a joke. It’s never gotten into the racism and homophobia, the reaction to banned slur-filled chants.

Megan: As it stands right now, players of colour get awful abuse by fans. I can guarantee that if last week’s Chelsea match happened in reality, Sam and Isaac and Moe would all have received racial abuse from the stands at least once in that match. Players of colour can’t hide their appearance to avoid abuse, so I don’t blame queer footballers for not wanting to come out and give fans that new ammunition.

Natalie: While Richmond, the Premier League and the FA would not condone homophobic abuse from fans, it continues to persist, particularly online, every single time any organisation having anything to do with men’s professional football ever mentions anything at all to do with queerness in any way. When they post about Pride, or the Rainbow Laces campaign, say anything in interviews about awareness. The nicest, politest possible version of it is “Stop wasting time with this and focus on football,” and it goes downhill from there. I’ve seen when you have experienced being one of the small handful of people commenting with an appreciative thank you, to the club or player, and your replies have been attacked by other fans. Abuse also comes when they post about Muslim or Jewish holidays, anything like that. On paper, football is trying to move in the right direction but in reality, fans are reluctant to let it. And Ted Lasso hasn’t ever really shown us the truth of how bad it is.

Megan: It is what made me hold out on getting really involved with football for so long. Fan behaviour. And while I would love a player to come out publicly, I dread the fan reaction so much.

Natalie: I kind of imagined that Ted Lasso is pretending that in their world it isn’t that bad, and wanker is the worst it gets. But to do a public coming out story that minimises how bad it is would feel disingenuous.

Megan: Yeah.

Natalie: But then, Sam’s Dubai Air protest would have seen him massively abused at the time, in reality. So I’m kind of confused or a little concerned about where they’re going to land on this.

Megan: They glossed over the fallout from Dubai Air very quickly to move the plot along. I really hope they don’t rush this. But as an initial introduction to the arc, I do like how they’ve handled it.

Natalie: Yeah — and Sudeikis is obviously totally aware of the issue in real life, because he wore that Jadon Marcus Bukayo shirt to the season 2 premiere. It’s not as if the writers don’t know the truth, they’ve just decided to give us a softer world where people get lauded for doing the right thing and don’t get racially abused. Is that approach going to pivot, for a coming out story? Because let me tell you, it would not just be opposition fans who would harass him. It would also be Richmond fans.

Megan: No, they would also give him grief. And that element is actually why I think it’s possible we will get a wider coming out story. In a newer trailer, we see a moment where Isaac is very clearly fighting some Richmond fans in the stands, and my immediate assumption, seeing that, was that the Richmond fans were shouting homophobic abuse at Colin and Isaac was defending him. Which would track, especially if Isaac feels guilty about his own past casual homophobia, and is now overcompensating. So I think a coming out publicly story might be on the cards. I just hope they do it well.

Natalie: That would explain why we get Captain Sam later too, if Isaac has a red card ban.

Megan: And fighting with fans would definitely be worthy of a red card, no matter how much they might deserve it.

Natalie: Ted Lasso won’t do this just for the sake of adhering to the shitty real world, but while we are being realistic about fan abuse… Nate would get called the P word to hell and back if West Ham started to slip. You know he would.

Megan: Ooof. Yes 100%. They won’t go there, but in real life he definitely would. And in fact, he’d likely get it now from opposition fans.

Natalie: I’m not sure how I feel about the show choosing to realistically go into homophobic abuse but ignoring the racial element. I really don’t know.

Megan: It’s worth noting that as of March 17, when Crystal Palace sacked their manager Patrick Vieira, every single Premier League manager is white. Until next season, when Burnley go back up with Vincent Kompany as manager.

Natalie: Or if he takes over Spurs!

Megan: No, I wouldn’t inflict that on him.

Natalie: We are seeing more and more crackdowns from clubs about stuff like chants — the “Chelsea rent boy” chant has finally been deemed hate speech and the Football Men, Megan, they want to say slurs so badly. They have so many arguments about why it is fine actually.

Megan: At the end of the day it’s really not that hard to just not do that specific fucking chant. But god, they are desperate to. They claim it’s not because they’re actually homophobic or racist or — in the recent case of Kalvin Phillips, after some unhelpful comments by Pep — fatphobic, and they’re just doing it as a joke or for banter or that anything to rile someone up is “fair game” ammunition, or that the players should just lighten up. But the fact is there is a long and appalling history of racism from English football fans. That abuse gets aimed at players of colour, at other fans, and actually on the subject of managers, a former Chelsea manager, Avram Grant, whose father was a Polish survivor of the Holocaust — received anti-Semitic chants and death threats from Chelsea’s own fans. As recently as 2004, a journalist here was sacked for being caught on air using the N word to describe a player — he didn’t realise his mic was still on. Fans will throw bananas onto the pitch in front of black players, opposition supporters at Tottenham Hotspur matches will make hissing sounds to represent the gas chambers, due to Tottenham’s historically Jewish roots, and earlier in March, a Chelsea fan was given a three year ban for making racist gestures towards Spurs player Son Heung-Min. I’ve mentioned Chelsea a fair bit, because unfortunately, their fans are notoriously bad. In February 2015 a group of Chelsea fans were caught on film pushing a black passenger off a Métro carriage in Paris before a Champions League match against Paris Saint-Germain. They were heard chanting “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.” And club loyalties aside — when England plays as a national team, if they do badly, it is the black players that get the brunt of abuse. It’s been so bad, historically, that ahead of the Euros in 2021, England manager and all around good guy Gareth Southgate penned an incredible open letter for The Players Tribune calling out the racism his team has faced in the past, and asking fans not to repeat that, whatever the outcome of the tournament for England. Fans did not listen, and when we lost the final to Italy in a penalty shoot-out, the black players who missed their shot all got huge amounts of racist abuse online. Hence the t-shirt of Jason’s you mentioned. Long story short, fans can try and claim that their racist abuse is just a bit of banter and or a joke, but the above barely scratches the surface of the history of racism within football here in England. And when that history has led to so much abuse, it doesn’t matter how funny fans think they’re being, they’re also just racist. So if and when a player does come out, I guarantee fans will throw around the F word and worse to insult them, and make jokes about them becoming players so they can ogle other men in the dressing room, and things even more vile. And they’ll say it’s just banter, that players need to man up and get over it, and I will likely spend all my free time arguing with homophobes on twitter. Hooray for me.

Natalie: Ultimately, Ted Lasso isn’t actually a show about football fans, but the commentary of the wider football community impacts the characters, like Ted, Nate and the players. Public opinion is a factor of Ted Lasso. And it does really make me wonder. Because if Ted Lasso tackled the reality of abusive fan commentary, even without it being a prejudice thing — just how intense the hate can be about, for example a player not having their best match, especially the older ones like Roy was talking about last week. If it tackled the horrible levels that are pretty constantly out there, it would be a very different show. But if they do this coming out story, and it does include abuse, I have no idea what to expect, or what it means retroactively from the show either. Like, does it mean that people in the AFC Richmond universe aren’t racist but they are homophobic? It seems odd when you put it like that. This is why maybe I’d rather Ted Lasso acknowledge that the big picture coming out isn’t tenable, while also staying true to the show’s values, and have him just come out privately.

Megan: Yeah.

Natalie: But I do think it will be public, and I don’t know what to expect. Maybe it’s a forced outing. Not by Trent!

Megan: No, definitely not by Trent, but ooof, that would be really tough to watch.

Natalie: I definitely think Trent is also queer — though this episode did give me a moment of pause there — and that he will support Colin through this after what he saw. But Colin. Mate. In the street? You’re LUCKY it was only Trent that saw.

Megan: I know! Colin! I know you’re a himbo, but please! Have some common sense!

Natalie: The usage of music that bookended the episodes was very depressing and ultimately threatening — the Fastball opening song isn’t really a cheerful mood setter, and then Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” is just a very dark piece. I loved the music in this episode overall, but these two songs for Colin were interesting to me. Both songs really paint a picture that this is a hopeless situation. An absolutely pessimistic vibe here. It also should probably be noted that the second we even opened on Colin in bed alone, with that song, I was like “Oh, we are doing this.” Much like the Jamie hallway thing, I’m very much like “How many people actually didn’t know, until he goes and kisses the guy?” The second it opened on him I was like “Okay. Here we go.” Didn’t necessarily know there was a guy there right now, but definitely thought it was after a one night stand, or we would see him wistfully checking Grindr.

Megan: Yes! I obviously was 100% certain on this one, unlike my faint hallway hesitancy over not daring to believe the Jamie/Roy thing. But I knew for certain about this. I am keen to see how many people are shocked by this reveal and how many were expecting it.

Natalie: I will try not to be too mean about people who are shocked, but to me it represents something a fair bit bigger that just “they didn’t get it already,” and I’m bitter about it, so my thoughts will be ungenerous. Sorry to those people. I don’t often feel particularly challenged as a queer person in my day to day life, luckily, but I also totally pass. And sometimes, the way that the wider world still just doesn’t understand, doesn’t get it, the shock of how heteronormative people truly are sometimes really hits and re-hits hard.

Megan: Even when not actively experiencing homophobia, just existing in a very heteronormative world can be exhausting, so I feel you.

Natalie: I generally don’t mix with straight people as a lifestyle choice, so my world is not really filled with a lot of different perspectives in terms of friends. But sometimes I truly get a reality check of how some people don’t get it. And I’ve already seen people in various spaces being like — in rebuttal to someone asking, say, “why doesn’t Ted Lasso have queer characters?” that not everything is about that or it doesn’t need to be shoved in, or whatever. And it’s like… Okay. I’ve been just dreading how people like that will respond when they realise the show Trojan Horsed them. It will be like the people who didn’t realise Sam/Rebecca was planned since season 1, but probably worse.

Megan: And they were bad enough.

Natalie: Maybe I’m assuming the worst, but I also saw a surprising amount of people getting aggressively angry about the cast “being political” and ruining their enjoyment of the show — as in, for meeting with the Biden administration. Like have they been watching Ted Lasso as Republicans? And been like “Yeah, this is probably for me.”

Megan: Right? Like… Have they actually watched the show?! I mean, Mitt Romney did dress up for Ted as Halloween, so… I guess a few Republicans have been watching.

Natalie: Oh my God. I had somehow wiped that from my memory. This week’s episode certainly put Ted down as a Trump hater in plain words, so…

Megan: There were actually a fair few little jokes in this episode that were a nod to politics that the Right will not enjoy — Zava saying that time is a construct, like gender, for instance — so this may not be their favourite episode to date for a few reasons.

Natalie: See, that’s what I mean, actually. Zava being like “gender is a construct” is exactly the kind of social commentary I think Ted Lasso makes a fair bit of. It finds jokes that elevate points of view like that, which is why the Isaac comment knocked me out.

Megan: Yeah, agreed.

Natalie: Like how in episode 1, we have Ted totally ready to be supportive of Rebecca’s potentially trans dad. And while I’m 100% sure Ted would never say a bad thing to Colin, it just… the whole show is like that. All of the characters make progressive comments, including Isaac!

Megan: I honestly am sure that Isaac will be very supportive, and very apologetic, and this will be a nice moment to demonstrate why it’s good to be careful with language because you don’t know who will be hurt by it. But it still shocked me to hear it.

Natalie: Yeah, that passing comment — and it wasn’t as if he was like “that’s gay” to mean bad, in the way it has been used before, as in as a synonym for shitty. He’s like “look out, you sound like you’re attracted to men bruv.” He’s being literal, but still like “watch how you sound.” Good on Richard for owning it.

Megan: Yes! And Sam and Jan for backing up the idea that Zava is a charisma unicorn.

Natalie: Sam has interesting taste in men. Also, he and Rebecca have fume highs in common.

Megan: Soulmates. Foreshadowing. Don’t mind me while I have a moment of delusional wishful thinking.

Natalie: I don’t think it’s delusional to think about the Sam/Rebecca story, it’s absolutely touched on again in the episode. It isn’t over.

Megan: No you’re right, this episode did give me some hope there.

Natalie: I’m not sure if I have hope, but I’m clinging to the word “worthy” as if my life depended on it. It’s a little non-linear, but before we get into the meat of the episode, which is obviously the impact of Zava and what that means for Ted, what it means for the executive team, and in particular, what it means for Jamie, this seems like the perfect segue into talking about Rebecca’s little sidequest and how that plays out later in the episode. Because she has, for some unknown reason, actually decided to go and see her mother’s psychic. The first question I have is why? Why did she even do it? Just to humour her mum? Or is it more a sign of how totally at sea she is, on a personal level?

Megan: I think she thinks she’s doing it to humour her mum, and to get her mum to stop asking her to go do it. I’ve been there, I can relate. But I do think that there is a part of her that does maybe think she’d like to hear what Tish thinks. I don’t think she’s completely immune to the concept of things like psychics. She has that conversation with Sam about guardian angels last season, which I consider along the same lines as a psychic. So maybe a little part of her is curious to see what Tish has to say.

Natalie: I also thought about that Bantr chat! She’s been framed before as someone a little taken with those kinds of things. So yeah, I think she’s bought into it a little, against her more rational side.

Megan: In some ways Rebecca is very blunt and matter of fact and no nonsense. And then you get Silly Rebecca and all bets are off. So I think there’s definitely a part of her that does believe, but she doesn’t like to admit it to many people. I bet Keeley would be very on board with visiting a psychic though.

Natalie: Yes — I can imagine the pair of them going on about their astrology charts.

Megan: I, on the other hand, am very much a sceptic about everything, including astrology charts. Except for football jinxes. That’s my only exception.

Natalie: But I do think Rebecca is extremely lost, internally. After everything with Sam, after the Rupert stuff is re-wounding her, she’s not in the best place personally. Her mother is an absolute nightmare — the conversation last week mentioned Deborah basically palming Rebecca off on this woman! Like, “You’re in need of some maternal support.” Maybe this is as close to therapy as Rebecca can get. I do think she’s looking for a bit of help and a bit of perspective, even if she won’t say it.

Megan: I think so. She knows, from her conversation when she ended things with Sam, that she needs to figure out why she’s so afraid, and so messed up. Unfortunately, this season so far, instead of doing that she seems to be returning all her focus on beating Rupert, so while I don’t necessarily know that I would choose Tish over say Sharon, at least at this moment, in this episode she is turning her thoughts back more to herself, rather than to Rupert. Regardless of who she does or doesn’t end up with, that’s more healthy than the Rupert obsession.

Natalie: I’ll admit that I did not expect a plot involving Rebecca seeing a psychic to feel so impactful. It’s a vehicle that lets us in on a fair amount about her feelings and desires, and it isn’t really a throwaway joke moment. It’s played very seriously. And that impact of it will clearly be carried forward. Tish has a very unusual energy — putting aside your real-world scepticism and appreciating that this is fiction (albeit not fantasy) what do you think of her and the way she handled the reading? To me it felt… somewhat believable. I can’t imagine Ted Lasso going to a place where they are outright saying psychics are real, but the Christmas episode did include Real Santa, so… I’m joking there mainly, I think that was meant to be an extra sense of heightening. Regardless, I found Tish to be somewhat unexpected, in terms of vibes.

Megan: Everything she said really did feel believable. I like that she didn’t get defensive about Rebecca’s cynicism, and how that caught Rebecca off guard. She didn’t feel like a ridiculous stereotype, and I think that’s why she shook Rebecca so much. However, because I am very sceptical, and because I know that the way real world psychics work is by playing to people’s emotions and fears and desires, her last line about Rebecca being a mother one day made me dislike her because it just felt very manipulative. I enjoyed watching her though, and if Rebecca does go back to see her again after a few of her predictions come true, I would enjoy that scene.

Natalie: For me, that line depends on whether that lack of children is something she knows from Deborah, or just what came to her. Her “act,” if it is an act, is very gentle and truly like things just “come to her.” Not a lot of mysticism to it. And yeah, I really liked how she took Rebecca’s defences down a notch by being like, “I know this about you from your mum.” Not pretending that it all just came to her. I think psychics can play an interesting and therapeutic role for some people. If they’re not saying something damaging and cruel, as Tish may have been, they can sort of serve as a space for the client to feel soothed, or to pay attention to themselves more. Things as simple as just sharing the idea of kintsugi is an invitation for the client to reflect. (An empty vessel, filled with gold!) If all a psychic is doing is saying some general things that give a person more reason to tune back in on themselves, that’s low level therapy, in a way.

Megan: Yeah honestly, outside of the mother comment, I did think that the scene was an experience that might actually be helpful for Rebecca in that moment. Certainly it got her to reflect on things outside of Rupert a bit more.

Natalie: But Tish is quite specific, and the way the voices come to her, her outbursts — honestly some people may find this funny, but I didn’t. I found it gripping. I did crack up when Tish mentions something special in Rebecca’s hand and she’s like “Is it a bowl?” though.

Megan: The bowl… Rebecca is so fucking funny. She can be so sarcastic in a way I find delightful.

Natalie: The options here are that Tish is actually for real, Tish thinks she is for real, or Tish is a total fraud, and her emotional response to the reading is an act. I have literally no idea where to land there, but a green matchbook is very specific, and here it is. For some reason, I don’t think she’s a knowing fraud. We see her react very emotionally to Rebecca’s reaction even after Rebecca can’t see her. But God, it’s tricky.

Megan: I am not ready to relinquish my natural scepticism, so I am going with well-informed, convincing fraud, and we’ll see if the show can prove me wrong. I think she could potentially feel invested in Rebecca, and like she knows her, thanks to Deborah. I don’t think being a fraud in that sense means you don’t care. But maybe she isn’t a knowing one, and truly believes in her power.

Natalie: Maybe she wanted that comment to give her hope, not upset her. But let’s lay out the specifics of what Tish sees. She sees Rebecca holding a very special object, a green matchbook. She gets a message of the phrase “a shite in nineing armour,” like a spoonerism for Knight in Shining armour, obviously. But in British English, obviously being a shite is a thing all on its own. Nineing — the only person we know with a relationship to nine is, well, Jamie. Is he the shite in nineing armour?

Megan: He very well could be. He is a little shit, affectionately. But I’m not sure what he could have to do with Rebecca — they’ve not really interacted before.

Natalie: And then Tish mentions a big storm, Rebecca upside down and soaking wet, but safe. The nineing armour thing could be about saving the team, but I have a theory about the Jamie and Rebecca connection which… look, I guess we can get into it now. So, I don’t want to ruin things for those who haven’t followed filming spoilers, but the green matchbook comes true in this episode, and the upside-down wet thing does actually come true later in the season. This is an incident that was spotted filming. So it’s safe to say there is credence to the predictions. Even if they are coincidences, Rebecca may start to freak out about them coming true.

Megan: Yes and actually that is the one thing that does make my scepticism crack a little bit where Tish is concerned. Things like storms and upside down and wet, look, that is just about non-specific enough that anything could make her think of it. That maybe Rebecca slips in a rainstorm and falls in a puddle. But the green matchbook is very specific, and unless she’s out there stalking Sam’s employees, I just don’t know how Tish knew that!

Natalie: I am going to put forward a theory now about how some of this all ties together. It is probably going to sound totally mental, but just… wait and see. It’s to do with Rebecca becoming a mother. I think that could turn out to be true somehow. Not biologically, but I think a child will come into her life that she somehow co-parents. I think some camps will assume it may be Henry Lasso, who, to be fair, apparently also wears the 9, he must be his team’s striker. But he’s not where I landed.

Megan: No, I was going to say that was the obvious answer, but I don’t see it.

Natalie: During this episode, we see a shot of Rupert watching Richmond’s Zava success and he’s with Bex and Diane. I have a fairly strong hunch that Rebecca is going to help Bex get out of that relationship, and that we are going to see Rebecca and Bex basically raising that baby. Probably not as a couple, but you know, who can tell? I think Rebecca is going to end up taking Rupert’s baby from him. But also, I think this will come about because — and I can’t believe I am speaking this into the universe — but I think that’s Jamie’s baby, not Rupert’s.

Megan: On the face of it, that feels like a wild theory, but honestly I could see it working, and I could see it being true. The one hesitancy I have is that I never thought Jamie cheated on Keeley with Bex, but we also don’t know how quickly Rupert and Bex started dating exclusively. Yes, she leaves with him the night of the gala, but we don’t know that she and Jamie didn’t hook up at a later date. I… really don’t hate the idea of Jamie, Bex, and somehow Rebecca all co-parenting a child.

Natalie: I know that people around the internet have suggested that Jamie might be the daddy once or twice before, but I never bought into it because I also very firmly never believed that Jamie cheated on Keeley with Bex. It does not make sense to me that he did, and I do not think it was implied in 1.04 at all. I think what he said about his intention was the truth. Jamie was totally open about Bex to Keeley when asked, and he’s got no qualms chatting with her in front of Keeley, when Keeley comes over. I’ve seen people say that Keeley dumped Jamie because he cheated, and I’ve always been like… “You and I are watching very different shows.” To me, it never felt like that. I don’t know if Keeley would have stayed friends with him afterwards, if it was that. It really seemed more just like him doing some stupid things that made her feel embarrassed.

Megan: I’m very much on the same page with you there, but some sort of casual hook up after the gala and before Bex got serious with Rupert does feel feasible.

Natalie: Especially when a cheating scandal is so heavily a part of Rebecca’s story, this feels like just a bizarre thing to handwave for Keeley and Jamie. It would probably upset me quite badly if Ted Lasso did decide to retcon that, and made it so he did cheat. But here’s what actually made me start thinking about it this episode. In the shot of Rupert, Bex and Diane, that baby looks old as fuck. So I did some maths, and they are, in fact, corrects. We see Rupert’s family, him cursing out Richmond during the montage, the week they beat Manchester United. Matchweek wise, that’s going to be late September 2021. Bex and Rupert first met in February 2020, the gala was on February 2, 2020. If Bex got pregnant literally the night she and Rupert met, her due date would be in late October 2020. meaning that if that baby is Rupert’s, it has to be 11 months old or younger. Now, this really could just be me being totally insane, but that baby looks older than that to me? A good couple of months older. Obviously it couldn’t be old enough to raise suspicion, but if that baby is actually a bit more than a year old — it really could be just a case of an older Baby Actor, I could be nuts — but ultimately I think she looks older than she’s meant to be. Which could mean that she was conceived before Rupert, and Bex could have claimed she came premature. Which does unfortunately imply Jamie cheated. But honestly, I saw that old-ass baby and my mind just started spiralling. Jamie the shite in nineing armour that’s going to help Rebecca and Bex come together to raise Diane? His daughter?

Megan: I think that baby ages are hard to pin down, and they can all look really different at a lot of ages, so I do think that we can’t read too much into the baby’s aesthetics. But that aside, I could really see this being true, and see how it could all tie together with Rebecca and Bex, and him being a shite in nineing armour. Now that you’ve put it in my head, I’d really like it to be true anyway.

Natalie: I think… I think I want it to be true. I would be extremely grateful for it to not be cheating on Keeley, and I don’t think Bex and Jamie should be a couple either, but in terms of Jamie’s journey, I think I do want it to be true. It would be better if it was a boy, in terms of cycle-breaking. I am sure his arc with his father is not over. But honestly I have been wondering what they are going to give him in terms of deep story — would it just be closing up the dad arc, or taking it to a new level? I felt thrilled to my bones when I saw Ralph Galvan, who is the person in charge of Apple’s awards stuff, like FYC promo, outright stating to the internet that Apple has a dedicated aim to get Phil on that Emmy ballot. Everyone is clearly still shocked and offended that he didn’t make it last time, which, good, they should be. The fact that the Ted Lasso PR is already stating they want to make sure of it this time says to me that the material he has must be SUPER strong. And I love this episode for Jamie, like, a lot, but this isn’t an Emmy submission episode like last week’s was for Brett. They’ve written him something BIG, I just know it.

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

Megan: Yes, I agree. And while I’m sure the Zava arc we see kicking off for Jamie will be good, I don’t see that necessarily being Emmy worthy levels of material.

Natalie: And while I would have been happy for that to be about his dad, mum, Man City, or other football career stuff, this is bigger.

Megan: There really is a lot of potential behind this as a plot. For Jamie, but also for Rebecca.

Natalie: I do want him to stay extremely focused on his football and not be like “Now I have a child, nothing else matters,” because SO many footballers have kids young.

Megan: Yeah it would be a nice element of football realism there too.

Natalie: It’s weird that no one at Richmond has kids. People like Isaac, or Moe, or O’Brien, or Zoreaux, should honestly all be dads.

Megan: I’m still holding out for a reveal that Isaac has been married and has three daughters this whole time.

Natalie: It would make sense for him, yeah. So Jamie having a baby should not take away from his career ambition. That would be insulting to basically all footballers. But it would be a new level for him of personal development and growth.

Megan: Now you’ve planted the seed of that idea in my brain, I can tell it’s going to keep growing. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Natalie: This is a lot of speculation here for like, a spoonerism and an old-looking baby actor. But something in my gut tells me that I might be onto something. Makes sense why he would visit his mum and need support in doing so too. Jamie and his mother talking about him fearing becoming like his dad? I can barely handle the idea.

Megan: Look, we may end up being completely wrong, and Jamie’s arc this season goes a very different direction. But I think it’s at the very least a plausible theory.

Natalie: I do think he would step up for the baby, so why would Rebecca and Bex be co-mothering, is a question, but maybe it’s just that Bex and the baby live with Rebecca permanently? Or maybe they both give her up for adoption to Rebecca? I don’t know. Probably not that, Bex definitely loves her baby. But maybe Jamie, in a responsible, tragic way, is like, “I don’t think I’ll be good for her,” and signs over his rights? I don’t know, this is too much speculation. Rebecca, Bex, Jamie, Roy and Keeley Polycule Baby.

Megan: Hah! I’m sold. Let’s do it.

Natalie: Right now, I don’t have any other theories for Rebecca being a mother unless Sassy gets murdered or something and Rebecca gets Nora.

Megan: I’m much less keen on that theory.

Natalie: It could be biological, maybe Tish’s words inspire her to go out and do IVF, but I do think that if motherhood happens to Rebecca, there will be a big twist to it.

Megan: I don’t think it’ll be a straightforward she’ll get pregnant arc, no.

Natalie: The fact that she always wanted it and still wants it and that this prediction is considered cruel to her is interesting, because Rebecca, you know, it’s fair to say that while she is really awesome, she’s naturally pretty reserved. Is she prepared to warm up, as a mother? She’s great with treating teenage Nora like an adult, and hanging out with her. But the fact that she’s always wanted this does interest me in terms of her stiff upper lip.

Megan: I think she can relax, right? You see it in 3.01, where she comforts Keeley. She’s very warm there. I think it all comes down to what Sassy says in season 1, that this isn’t the real Rebecca. I think if we ever met the pre-Rupert Rebecca, she might be very different. And right now she’s still learning to be her again.

Natalie: That’s very fair. Well, if she wants a kid I want her to get one, but I don’t want Ted to impregnate her. Pretty firm on that.

Megan: I agree, though the phrasing was not my favourite. Thanks for that.

Natalie: I could make it worse, but I won’t.

Megan: Thank you again, more sincerely this time.

Natalie: I don’t particularly think she and Sam should have a baby either, though I would love them to find each other again. My next question is — is the matchbook a trick? Yes, she got a green matchbook, around six weeks after meeting Tish. Is it a red herring? She thinks this is the sign, but there is another more significant thing to come along, like a twist on it? This is the first episode this season we have seen Sam and Rebecca deal with each other, and Sam is a lot calmer about it than Rebecca is. Is he over her? Because she is not over him, at all.

Megan: That is a very good question. At the very least, he is doing a good job of giving her the space to figure herself out. I also think he meant what he said to her, via Ted, at the end of season 2 — that he is staying in London for himself. He’s very focused on the restaurant and on making it a success. It’s possible that he could be over her, but I don’t personally want him to be, for endgame reasons. Either way he is definitely handling it — and life in general — better than she is right now.

Natalie: Do you think there’s anything between him and his chef? Or just Rebecca’s jealousy? It’s interesting that Sassy calls Rebecca a twat for letting Sam go. Clearly she thinks Rebecca was stupid to end it.

Megan: I also think Rebecca was stupid to end it. But non-jokes aside, I’m not sure about the chef. I think we’re definitely supposed to think there’s something between them. Rebecca certainly does. But I’m not sure if that will actually go anywhere, or if they’re just very comfortable around each other after months of working to get everything ready to open.

Natalie: Yes — it certainly could be a new love interest for Sam, but the chef would be dating her boss! In a way that’s actually a more direct hiring and firing power dynamic than Sam and Rebecca!

Megan: Haha I know! I never had an issue with that element of Sam and Rebecca, but I’ll be interested to see if the people who were so strongly against them for that reason have the same issue here.

Natalie: But I’m not sure if we are meant to be thinking this is a real potential, or just a way to show Rebecca being jealous. Because she definitely is. And she just about loses her mind when Sam passes out the matchbooks.

Megan: Definitely. She is already feeling weird about it all, and then the matchbook just sends her spiralling.

Natalie: Whether or not Tish is a fraud, whether or not this particular green matchbook is a misdirect, Rebecca is definitely focusing on Sam again, though he does not seem to notice. But it’s safe to say their story is not over. Even if, as Keeley claims, there are better things ahead than any they’ve left behind.

Megan: No. And I don’t think Keeley’s left things behind in that sense either.

Natalie: Given that I feel sure Keeley will get back with Roy and he’s part of the focus of that sweeping assessment, it’s a comment that may not quite prove true. But it’s interesting that she still looks back at Jamie as “hers,” too. Especially as she does it right as Shandy goes over to him. I cannot express how much I do not want to see a Jamie/Shandy relationship. I can’t make a lot of predictions based on just her going to speak to him. She’d just been talking work stuff with Zava after all, not hitting on him, and we know that Zava is married. But given the mirror of Rebecca being jealous of Sam and the chef, and Keeley looking at Jamie and another girl… If something does happen between Jamie and Shandy, Keeley is not going to take it well. Because of who Shandy is on the whole.

Megan: Agreed on both these points. On Jamie and Shandy, mostly because honestly there are so many other stories that Ted Lasso season 3 needs to land, including potentially Jamie being a father, that selling me on a relationship between him and someone new just feels like throwing too much into the mix. But also because as you say, I don’t think Keeley would be okay with it, and she’s already stressed out and miserable enough as it is.

Natalie: Given how chaotic Jamie’s journey has been and how sweet he is inside, I just do not think having a Thing with a woman who believes that viral controversy is the way to get ahead is a good idea. That is not the woman I want for him. And I don’t think we have time for Shandy to grow into someone who would do well with him.

Megan: No. I still don’t fully know where I stand on Shandy, but I do know I am against that relationship.

Natalie: I really don’t want them paired up as a joke either, like a comedic Beard and Jayne style messy matchup, after the stuff we saw from Shandy this episode. It would not make sense to me if Jamie was with someone like that, based on the PR meeting she has with the boys. I like things about her, but I really really really really don’t want her for Jamie. Fingers crossed that is not a thing.

Megan: Same. I think in the long run I would like Shandy to be good, and for Keeley to be vindicated in her decision to hire Shandy. But I don’t currently feel confident that’s where it’s heading.

Natalie: It’s very clear to me that Keeley has extremely mixed feelings about Shandy’s confidence. She doesn’t like that Shandy just outright asks for a coffee morning to get Rebecca’s advice, for starters. I don’t think that Shandy is disrespecting Keeley consciously, but you can tell that Keeley feels slightly like Shandy’s forwardness is overstepping. She definitely has a more frank way of putting herself out there. Keeley was always a bit mouthy, but also sweet and a little insecure. She has to decide not to be intimidated by Rebecca, for example.

Related: ‘Ted Lasso’ season 3, episode 2 in conversation: There’s a part of me thinking maybe I should have stayed

Megan: Yeah and I don’t think there is any malice coming from Shandy either. She’s just very confident, she wants to do well, and she has no shame.

Natalie: Shandy is just bolder than Keeley is. And it is NOT sitting well.

Megan: She’s not trying to undermine Keeley, but Keeley is feeling undermined anyway I think.

Natalie: And you can tell Keeley is thinking to herself, “That’s unfair, she’s so eager and nice and I should not feel put out by her.” She is still giving Shandy all these opportunities, because she has committed to training and elevating her. But personally she’s got a few regrets.

Megan: I did find the exchange with Roy really interesting. When Shandy is calling him out, Roy asks Keeley who she is. The face Keeley makes when she says “I’ve told you about her” makes me wonder exactly what Keeley has said. Roy’s very knowing realisation in return makes me think perhaps Keeley, while definitely wanting to support Shandy, perhaps has an interesting history with her. I would love to see a conversation between Roy and Keeley about her, and learn what Roy really thinks, or what he knows.

Natalie: Yeah. I think that Keeley has told Roy bad things. It really stood out to me. Sidenote: Roy in that soft jumper here just melted me.

Megan: And the way he’s trying so hard, correcting his language about interviews being stupid, saying he’d do an interview for Keeley. I wanted to cuddle him.

Natalie: It’s a lovely moment for them, and it’s interesting that Shandy being sort of adversarial gives them something to bond over. I honestly think that Keeley was so relieved to see Shandy on the day of the Coffka lamb video that her first feelings were just wholly positive. But within a few days, she was like…. “Oh yeah, there’s a reason I wasn’t still in contact with her.” Now she’s committed, and feels like she can’t get rid of her.

Megan: Because Shandy currently hasn’t done anything wrong! She’s just rubbing Keeley the wrong way.

Natalie: I think she slightly has done something wrong as of this scene. This whole scene is exactly why I don’t want her with Jamie, and it also proves that her approach to the job is very wrong. The fact that she sort of undercuts Keeley’s PR advice for the team interviews with her suggestion of being intentionally controversial? That is such a red flag. Keeley was “sort of famous for being not quite famous,” right, and a lot of people like that are… well, more like Shandy, in terms of attention and engagement.

Megan: You’re right actually, it just got interrupted by Roy in his soft sweater so we don’t see Keeley challenge Shandy’s suggestion. Shandy is definitely of the mindset that all publicity is good publicity. But I don’t think Keeley agrees.

Natalie: I found it funny that Shandy suggests the hair eating thing and then that’s the detail Roy brings up — like he’s heard that she pulled that stunt.

Megan: Yes!

Natalie: And like, sorry to keep reiterating this but I cannot have Jamie with someone who courts controversy! It would be so bad!

Megan: If Jamie has a big relationship drama this season, I am definitely Team Babygate over Team Shandygate.

Natalie: The way Keeley says “I definitely told you about her” 100% feels to me like Keeley was shit-talking her.

Megan: Probably not too badly, this is Keeley, she’s known to be pretty nice! But she definitely had some opinions in the past that were not the most favourable.

Natalie: People who are pretty nice can always let loose in private. So I think Keeley was allowed to be ungenerous to her boyfriend about some old friend she no longer was fond of.

Megan: Agreed, I won’t hold it against her.

Natalie: Anyway, I wonder if we will get a scene where Roy is like… “What are you doing? You hate her.”

Megan: I would like that a lot.

Natalie: I do feel like what we discussed last time, about Shandy being a ringleader steamroller feels very possible?

Megan: Yeah. She really steamrolls through every situation this episode. And again, not in any deliberately malicious or undermining way, she’s just very confident and thinks she knows what she’s doing.

Natalie: We also get repeated examples of people being really like, “What the hell is she doing here?” And Keeley being like she’s a friend of mine, and they’re like “Ohhhh,” as if that explains it, sort of fake nice. Like this idea of “Oh, well, that explains why she has this job that she should not have, and I have to be polite about it.”

Megan: Yes! The only person who seems to take her at face value when it comes to her role is Zava! That doesn’t actually surprise me. They have similar energies, they’re both very confident. Everyone else is a little confused, but willing to give Keeley’s friend the benefit of the doubt.

Natalie: Higgins does it and then with Roy. “We work together.”

Megan: “Why?”

Natalie: It killed me. But the players are all like “Ahhhh that explains it.” They know it’s weird she is there. I actually do think her frankness is cool, like when she says the damage control was a mess but Higgins was adorable, and yeah, how she talks to Zava. Her saying thank you to him calling her off putting. And Jamie is also a very frank person, but I’m still extremely against Shandy in general now, due to that controversy-courting approach. No matter how nice she is at other moments, someone whose brain works like that is not okay by me, morally.

Megan: I think I am rooting for her to actually learn how to be good at the job, to listen to Keeley and to take it down several notches. I would like that to happen, both for her sake and for Keeley’s. But I think she’s going to fuck up at least a few times before that happens.

Natalie: I don’t know. For Keeley’s sake I don’t want this to be a bust. But I don’t think that kind of mindset can just change like a light switch if she has been a drama influencer model for a decade. My impression is that Keeley never thought like this when modelling.

Megan: No, I think she probably always would have tried to keep her personal life a bit more personal. She hated the thought of that photo of her and Ted running back in season 1. But I don’t think Shandy is a bad person, so I guess we’ll see if she can unlearn that mindset.

Natalie: I also have a few issues with her picking a fight with Roy in front of the players. I just don’t think she’s a good fit for this environment at all, and I can’t see how we will develop her to change that much with everyone else Ted Lasso season 3 has to serve.

Megan: No that is true, though I did enjoy all the players being very keen on her daring to ask Roy why he broke up with Keeley. That was very funny. And his delivery on “You’re fun” cracked me up.

Natalie: “Nice to put a face to the… hair.”

Megan: So good.

Natalie: But yeah, the way Keeley is telling him something with her eyes to me SCREAMED “Remember, I’ve bitched about her a lot, please don’t say anything bad now though!”

Megan: Roy did a good job at understanding Keeley’s message.

Natalie: They have a silent conversation there and it’s interesting this is the first scene we have of them talking to each other since the season started. In episode 1 they were really talking at Phoebe.

Megan: Yeah. They’re clearly still pretty in sync, if very awkward around each other.

Natalie: By the end of the episode, it’s clear that Rebecca knows Keeley is a bit put off by Shandy too, though. When she says “I love how not shy she is!” Rebecca knows Keeley is being catty.

Megan: Haha yes! Rebecca understands the huge amounts Keeley is NOT saying at that moment. Essentially I think you’re right about her not being the best fit, but Ted Lasso doesn’t have very many outright bad people in it, so I do think there’ll be some element of growth for her. Whether or not it’ll be enough to save her job I guess we’ll have to see.

Natalie: I feel like if Jamie dated her, Roy would never forgive him. Hopefully that’s enough to keep it from occurring.

Megan: Amen to that.

Natalie: I will say, I don’t know how much Keeley is letting herself feel here. If she is consciously aware of how much she dislikes it or if she’s sort of repressing it. It will be interesting, I guess, to see where it goes.

Megan: Yeah. Interesting, and probably more than a little stressful for all involved.

Natalie: But it’s yet another element of Keeley’s career story that I was not expecting.

Megan: No, it’s all been so much rockier than I ever expected it to be. And the fact that she’s so deeply stressed and full of doubt in her professional life just makes the Roy break up feel so much worse. Poor woman.

Natalie: She doesn’t win today’s stressed about an ex sweepstakes though. That prize goes to Ted. And I mean… Wow.

Megan: Ooof. Everyone is really having a very rough time of it. Except for maybe Sam and Zava right now.

Natalie: It took me a few scenes to understand the whole picture here, that Michelle’s new boyfriend Jake was actually their marriage counsellor. I admit it isn’t where my mind went, even when he said Doctor Jacob, because it’s so unfathomable. I thought maybe it was their family doctor, like a GP? So like, someone known to Ted from Kansas, but in a different way. I didn’t get the weight of it during the initial phone call, at all.

Megan: No, same, I made the exact same assumption — that it was their family doctor — and when you find out who it actually was, it felt like a complete shock. It has, unfortunately, probably put an end to my vague fondness for the idea of Ted and Sharon dating, because while I think it’s particularly unethical for a marriage counsellor to date one half of a couple he used to treat, I think that probably still means Sharon and Ted are off the table. I really didn’t see it coming though, who Jake would turn out to be.

Natalie: I think with him being the marriage counsellor, the ethics are like… Did he like her all along? Did he split them up with bad therapy?

Megan: There are so many levels to it not feeling great. Like, the fact that before he was Michelle’s marriage counsellor, he was her personal therapist? The fact that he then became her marriage counsellor… At what point did his feelings for her begin? And then sure, Ted says it’s been a while between him and Michelle splitting up, but did he just wait for long enough for it to seem okay? I don’t think this negates Michelle being very valid for wanting to end her marriage with Ted, but I do question Jake’s motive.

Natalie: Yeah, when Ted talks about it, in 2.01 after Sharon’s arrival, he says that he feels like he was set up. Michelle had been seeing the guy for a while, and that he was already on her side.

Megan: At the time, I assumed that was just him feeling like it was two against one, but maybe Jake was gunning for a break-up because of his own feelings. That’s the worst case scenario, and might be really unfair to him, but it definitely feels unethical and potentially gross.

Natalie: I’m pretty sure you’re actually not meant to do couples counselling with one half’s personal therapist for this exact reason, you’re meant to see someone brand new. “Like I was going in there not to be listened to, but rather just to hear about all the things I’d been doing wrong.” This is not great, honestly.

Megan: Yeah, it’s really really not. And it’s also like… From Michelle’s point of view, you can see how hard she was trying to push through and make things work with Ted, she was clearly pretty vulnerable in those sessions with Jake.

Natalie: The amount of focus that’s been given to Michelle here, I honestly, genuinely do wonder if what’s going to happen is that Michelle was played by this creep, and after some real therapy she and Ted get back together?

Megan: I could honestly see that. It would be really fucking dark honestly, for Ted Lasso, but I suppose no more dark than what we learn about Rupert’s manipulations of Rebecca. Or James’ actions towards Jamie.

Natalie: We have seen some really nasty villains on Ted Lasso. It is possible Jake is one of them, or it is possible that this is just something Ted just has to come to terms with. I absolutely could easily believe that the guy wanted her, set her against Ted, and waited until it was “appropriate.” That idea does strip her of a fair bit of autonomy, but… It feels bad.

Megan: It is the most creepy idea, but it is believable. I do think Ted is honestly being WAY more calm about it than I would be. It does seem to cause him to have a small panic attack at the start of the Wolves game, but he’s also talking about it to people. He’s not bottling it up, he’s not pretending that he isn’t upset by it. That is progress right there.

Natalie: Yeah, the fact he just straight up tells Sassy is interesting.

Megan: Maybe he wanted her take, as someone who is in that world too. And unlike Sharon, who probably does have to remain relatively neutral, Sassy can speak her mind. And she, like us, is not a fan of the ethics.

Natalie: It is just so strange. The way it’s framed is so careful when he discovers it. He finds out because he’s forgotten Michelle’s number so he has to call the home phone. So we are told like, “Oh, he’s moving on.” Not good or bad, just a thing. We are given this clear marker of his progress in the divorce, only for him to discover this guy is dating Michelle and looking after his son.

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Megan: And again, as I said in the first episode of the season, obviously Michelle is fine to date other people, they are divorced, but I do think once you start to introduce that person to a child you have with your ex, I do think it’s courtesy to give your ex a heads up, maybe tell them a bit about your new partner like, oh yeah, he’s our former marriage counsellor.

Natalie: I have to say this was probably not a great choice of Michelle’s either. There’s no way her feelings for him weren’t influenced even subconsciously by the way she felt supported and validated by him, in leaving Ted.

Megan: No, I agree.

Natalie: But no matter who she’s dating, not clearing it with Ted before he cares for Henry is unfair.

Megan: In general I like Michelle, she seems like a decent person who is trying really hard, and I think elements of Ted’s personality must have been hard to live with. But at this moment, she’s not made the best choices.

Natalie: Interestingly, I don’t think the narrative is villainsing her.

Megan: No I agree, and I hope people don’t take that angle.

Natalie: I feel like it’s trying to reconnect her and Ted, maybe not romantically, but deeply. I felt more like that than as if she’s being framed as you know, evil. The fact we got her point of view here, her face, all that.

Megan: Yeah it’s trying to remind them that they will always be connected because of Henry, and they have to make it work well for his, and their, sake.

Natalie: I do worry that if Jake is truly gross, it’ll be a bit like “Oh Michelle! How stupid! How could you fall for it!” I wish we got more of the Sharon therapy session — I’m glad Ted is talking about it, but I would have wanted to hear her take on the ethics. But the worst case scenario of Doctor Jake is really fucking sinister and also makes Michelle look like a stupid, duped victim of a predator. I don’t know if that’s Ted Lasso at its core, but I cannot help but think it.

Megan: I think it’ll probably end up playing out in a slightly less awful way, but even in that case it’s really not a good look for Doctor Jake.

Natalie: I don’t like that anyone can do that good a Donald Trump impression even if it’s intended to comedically mock him.

Megan: No, that was eerily good. I wonder how many more Republican watchers will realise, in this moment, that Ted Lasso’s politics are not quite the same as theirs though.

Natalie: Ted has shared this news with his own therapist, obviously with Beard and now Sassy. Again, this covers around six or seven weeks of him being aware of the news. He is honestly doing so much better than I would be. like you said. This is just so fucking insane to deal with.

Megan: It again speaks to the fact that, for me at least, while he may be feeling unsure and adrift when it comes to his place in the world, he is now doing a much better job at coping with his feelings and his anxieties. Whatever decision he makes at the end of the season, he’s in a much healthier place to make it. And this is no different. He’s clearly upset about it, but he’s letting himself be upset, he’s not spiralling out into forced positivity.

Natalie: Well, and he’s still very distracted. Although this news isn’t discovered until after Zava arrives, it does actually go some way towards explaining why Ted does not really move forward with making Zava “one of the team,” like he suggested in the Julie Andrews meeting. He kind of just lets Zava happen. They’re winning, so… why not? Actually, and this is a real case of Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Point, George Cartrick says something this episode that is dead on the money.

Megan: Oh no.

Natalie: During the montage, the Sky hosts are talking about Zava and like, “Is Ted Lasso the coach of the year?” George scoffs and says “Come off it. Writing the name Zava on the team sheet isn’t a sign of good coaching.” And like… sorry, but he’s right. Sadly.

Megan: Yes, unfortunately in this one (1) moment, George has a point.

Natalie: I guess it’s time to circle back to the beginning and actually examine the impact of Zava’s arrival from the point of view of the team and coaches. Because obviously Richmond is doing super well on paper, but it’s kind of a sign that nothing is as it should be for any of the group.

Megan: Yeah, right off the bat we have Ted, Roy and Beard discussing how to make Zava work in their 4-4-2 lineup. I really enjoyed the maths joke, Ted was so close to getting it right and Roy’s approving nod followed by disapproving head shake was great. We’ve already discussed the fact that Colin gets benched, and then the coaches are on to, in their eyes, the bigger issue of who to move back to midfield out of Jamie and Dani, and who to keep up front. It doesn’t take them too long to settle on an answer there though.

Natalie: The Precious Moments Figurine.

Megan: I died.

Natalie: I think it’s interesting that the angle here is “Let’s not have him kick off,” but not really on an egocentric diva basis. It’s more about them knowing how sensitive he is? Even though they’re kind of horrible about it. It’s like, “This will hurt him more than it will hurt Dani and we really don’t want to deal with that fallout.” And sure, part of that is ego, but it’s kind of nice of them, even while being mean.

Megan: I think they do say it with a certain level of eye-rolling affection. Like, “Oh Jamie, he’s sensitive, both of them could do the move easily enough, but Dani will mind it less.” I also love that Roy is surprisingly good at translating Ted’s Ted-ness.

Natalie: I do not think Jamie would like to hear Roy calling him a fragile little bitch, but in the long run he may appreciate the fact that this was, in some way, for his benefit.

Megan: No, probably not. I think it would touch on his dad hang-ups about not being soft, but I don’t think any of them meant it with genuine meanness, so I don’t mind hearing it. And Jamie is a precious moment, to me.

Natalie: They’re being protective of his feelings, let’s take the win.

Megan: Way more protective of his feelings than they are poor Colin’s!

Natalie: Look, this kind of thing is so tough. I’ve read a lot of stuff from managers and players about, you know, the drama of selection, and how important man-management is with the mood of the players not selected. Richmond seems to have a very fixed starting eleven, whereas some clubs rotate starters pretty much weekly. High rotation means less people are feeling like they are always second best, and everyone has a chance to impress the manager, or maybe their special skill means they are more suited to face a certain team. But Richmond’s fixed set of starters means that this is a pretty dramatic change, and this is definitely a circumstance where certain managers are quite careful about making those adjustments, in a morale sense.

Megan: I imagine Richmond just has far less deep a bench than the likes of City and Chelsea and others. So while they do have regular starters and regular subs, the subs probably all know that they just aren’t quite as good, whereas when someone like De Bruyne is on the bench at City, you know that’s because Pep needs to let some of the other very good players have a run around.

Natalie: Roy saying Colin can adapt to any situation seems to imply they think he’s genuinely good for whatever they need him to be, but it’s probably something that deserves a one on one conversation, or a rotation of other starters, honestly. Like, playing a striker in midfield won’t always work, especially as they never replaced Roy with a new CDM — unless that’s meant to be Sam, given he came from defence to midfield? It could be that they take turns of who gets sat, sometimes Dani, Jamie, or Richard. Anyway, poor Colin, being undermined when he is in a particularly Precious Moments Figurine stage of his life too.

Megan: They are all Precious Moments Figurines. Except for Zava. He is not remotely fragile. But yeah, the later way Colin finds out he’s subbed is not particularly tactful — it might have been nice to pull him aside first!

Natalie: I don’t think he’s totally out of the loop there actually, he may have already been made aware, but honestly in football, the players just have to take what the manager doles out, so maybe. Anyway, the Zava worship begins right here in the office with everyone talking about being nervous to meet him. They’ve all fully bought in — Roy is more “whatever” about it, but he’s still pretty blunt about the fact that Zava is a crazy genius.

Megan: Yeah he’s not at the rest of the team level of starstruck at this point, but he recognises talent.

Natalie: And the fact that he was just a different kind of player. Roy was a workhorse and probably a great leader when he was properly captaining. He wasn’t a flair player. He may have even been a playmaker but he wasn’t this kind of solo savant.

Megan: No he was just very good, very solid, and always showed up. Zava is an entirely different kind of player. And also, as we see later, not always great at showing up, though I’m getting ahead of myself there.

Natalie: This episode isn’t quite as funny as last week’s, but I do really think that Beard’s “Come on Mother Superior, let’s have a little perspective” is a top tier line. I was not expecting this Diamond Dogs 2.0 group scene to devolve into Julie Andrews kink, but you never know what you’re going to get with this show.

Megan: All of them humming appreciatively at the thought of Julie Andrews telling them off if they’ve been bad, even suspected homosexual Trent Crimm. I guess, like Zava, Julie Andrews is a gender unicorn.

Natalie: You better be right, because Trent appreciating the idea of being scolded by her did worry me in that regard. Though his affection for The Princess Diaries did swing it back the other way.

Megan: Yes, truly zigzagging all over the Kinsey scale in this scene.

Natalie: I am really restraining myself here in terms of going off on a diatribe about how terrible that movie adaptation is though, ESPECIALLY because of the Julie Andrews character.

Megan: Look. That’s a whole other article.

Natalie: One day, someone will make a TV adaptation presenting those books the way they should have been done, set in New York City and portraying Clarisse — Grandmere — as a domineering, miserable, crazy bully (with a heart of gold very deep down.)

Megan: Write the screenplay. I believe in you.

Natalie: The only thing that keeps me going is the fact that within the universe of the books, the author actually wrote in a part where the movies exist in their canon, as like, a bad biopic. And Mia’s friends specifically reference the fact that they fucked up the grandmother, like “What’s with making your dad dead and your grandma all kindly and sympathetic to your plight?”

Megan: Hah! Yes, I do love that. And honestly the movies are terrible adaptations, but I do love so many of the cast members as individuals that my heart wants to like it, but it’s so wrong. Chris Pine’s role in the sequel? What was that?

Natalie: If Roy Kent loves The Princess Diaries so much, Brett can EP the proper adaptation for me.

Megan: I do appreciate the way the rest of the Diamond Dogs all love Trent’s pitch though. He has slotted in very nicely. And I love that for him.

Natalie: He really has, it feels like such a good group. But all the Julie Andrews chat came up initially because Ted was specifically talking about coaching a superstar but making sure he fitted into the team. So here, at least, we get the impression that while Ted recognises that Zava is a game changing player, he does plan to, you know, act normal and just make him part of the team, right? You’d think that would mean no catering to divas.

Megan: You would think, and yet.

Natalie: We have been down this road before, with Jamie being a mini-diva. You know what Jamie never did? Literally any of what we see here. He was somewhat selfish on the actual pitch, but he never acted like a diva in the dressing room in that way. He may not have made a lot of friends and he was a bit cliquey, but he did not command four lockers to himself.

Megan: No! And other than that one time where he said he was too ill for training, he always showed up on time and did the work!

Natalie: Question —I posed this in my trailer breakdown, but we don’t actually learn whether Zava’s locker set up is a request he made on paper, as part of his contract in advance, or if it was something the team just gifted him with. Which do you suspect?

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Megan: Honestly, I think it was the team. We see in this episode that while Zava is a lot, he’s not actually shown as bad, I don’t think. Not yet anyway. He’s just off on a whole other planet. And the team has such a hero worship for him that I can just imagine like, Dani and Richard and Jan getting it all set up perfectly for him. I could very well be wrong, but my interpretation was that the team did it.

Natalie: I think he demanded it, but it’s the kind of demand he would never make to someone’s face. Like he is very, very pleasant on the surface, but I think underneath that there’s a lot more going on that is horrible. So it would be like, something negotiated with his agent and then the club. He would never, himself, act like he was the one demanding it. It’s more that this is how the universe is meant to arrange itself for him.

Megan: Yeah that works as a theory too. I suppose that’s the question that I imagine we’ll find out as the season progresses — how much of his very weird, zen behaviour is genuine, and how much of it’s a front. And if it is a front, when and how will he let it down.

Natalie: I absolutely think he’s going to snap. He’s too Zlatan-coded to not be super duper volatile inside. But if the players did do this for him, it would be a reason why Ted allows it, I guess — like “Well it was their choice.”

Megan: Yeah like, “He’s not upsetting anyone, and they do all seem to respect him so sure, why not.”

Natalie: I still absolutely do not think Ted should have allowed it, and the fact that Zava is being elevated like this in the dressing room goes against everything the club culture stands for. Why the fuck are they allowing this?

Megan: Because Rebecca, bless her, has gone a bit mad in her desperation to beat Rupert, and everyone is starstruck by Zava and shell shocked by his decision to play for Richmond and none of them want to put that at risk.

Natalie: We can safely say that Jamie was not in on the plan to have his locker moved, though.

Megan: No. He was not. The sound I made at his entrance, let me tell you.

Natalie: The glasses really took it to another level. Giving him a prop to peer over.

Megan: Yes! It was phenomenal. Hair and makeup and wardrobe are really having so much fun with Jamie this season and I am so here for it. Plus his disgusted, confused, “what the fuck?” Oh Jamie.

Natalie: “Whudufookisdis?” One of my favourite line reads from Phil so far.

Megan: And that’s saying something, because three episodes in and he has had so many good deliveries.

Natalie: This is a really big episode for Jamie. Not Man City big or Babygate big, but it’s massive in its own way because this is really, like… Well, we knew it last week, but it’s presented here so dramatically, the fact that Jamie is our audience lens into the Zava story. He is the only person here “in the right,” he is the high ground character. The audience knows that the Zava thing is insane. We know that Ted shouldn’t be going along with that locker corner or changing the lineup to a 4-5-1. Jamie is who we are with, on all this, the only person who deeply feels that this is all very wrong. And when I realised that this was his arc, that he was the righteous audience avatar, the person we are on side with? I got so fucking stoked.

Megan: I’ve seen some speculation that Jamie’s going to act out because he’s jealous or pissed off about losing his status on the team and revert back to like, season 1 Jamie, but I really don’t see the show going that way at all. I think he knows, because of the work he’s put into his personal growth, that this is wrong for the team. So yeah, to me it’s so clearly not about Jamie reverting, it’s about the next step in Jamie’s personal development and moving to being the right kind of leader in the team, not someone they follow just because he’s good at kicking a ball around. I am so excited to see that play out.

Natalie: No. It’s not going to take that direction at all, because this episode shows him basically speaking his mind about it, taking the shut-down politely, then suffering in silence for seven weeks until Roy decides to help him. The idea that Jamie will kick off and have a fit about it is well, frankly, a pretty bad read on the character and who he is now, who he was really all of season 2. I can imagine things might come to a head here, and there could be a showdown where he stands up to Zava about how things should be done at Richmond. But him acting out by re-diva-ing himself? No way.

Megan: Yeah, if people are still worried about that at the end of this episode then I don’t know what more Ted Lasso can do to show how much Jamie has changed!

Natalie: There’s a lot more to say about that as we go on, but I am just so happy for him, and for me, that he is being positioned as the person, the only person, who knows what’s right here. Well, Roy also knows it, I think. He’s very up and down about it, but he sides with Jamie in the end.

Megan: Yeah agreed. I think he does get a bit carried away by Zava’s… everything… for a little while there, but by the end he can see what’s what.

Natalie: Watching this episode, I very much feel like Jamie is the one guy in a musical who knows they’re all singing.

Megan: Oh my god! That is… Yes. That is the perfect analogy. Poor Jamie, he’s really not having the best time.

Natalie: I’m having a GREAT time, because I am so happy that he is being narratively framed as the best boy in the world, and the only one who knew all along that the problem was a problem.

Megan: To be fair, given he was incredibly late to his own welcome ceremony, I think others should have cottoned on earlier that Zava was perhaps a tad problematic.

Natalie: Well, yeah.

Megan: So that’s on them.

Natalie: Roy sitting there says “That’s what you get.” He theoretically knows that this kind of nutter is a problem, and Rebecca is furious as well. They both enjoy winning a lot though.

Megan: They are willing to push it aside. I do love that Rebecca is really committing to sour yelling as her tactic for handling Zava. I think it’s good for him, I doubt he gets much of it from anywhere else.

Natalie: I was actually really disappointed in Keeley and her angle that it is a good and accepted thing that they should all adapt to accommodate genius. Like, fuck Daniel Day-Lewis’s method bullshit. A truly great actor doesn’t need to do that because they know how to ACT.

Megan: Yeah, and honestly I think that’s a big part of Keeley’s issue this season so far, she is being too accommodating. Whether that’s with Barbara, with her clients, with Shandy, even with letting Roy sabotage their relationship because of his own issues. I think her confidence has taken such a knock, and it means she’s being way too much of a pushover.

Natalie: I do think Keeley is, for all she wants to be the Independent Woman, someone who is, yeah, being too happy to go along with things. And I think she has been in the past, too, and it’s more boiled up as anxiety and bitterness.

Megan: And now she’s in charge she can’t do that.

Natalie: She needs to put that The Independent Woman Insert on Sunday where her mouth is. It’s becoming a problem that she isn’t actually as empowered as she thought she was when she got this job offer.

Megan: And now she’s scrabbling to try and keep up and make it work.

Natalie: Anyway, I fundamentally disagree with her enthusiastic claim that people should adapt to Zava. Ted is also very willing to accept that superstars play by their own rules, and I get that some of this is like, “This is what we have to tolerate if we get to have his talent,” but the amount of buying in is genuinely worrying to me. Especially, as mentioned 5 million times, because of how we saw Ted work on the team dynamics with Jamie. Here it feels like, I guess, that Jamie was just meant to be a “normal” footballer acting too big for his boots, but that Zava has so much success and stardom that it’s fine for him? Roy was a veteran player who won a bunch of trophies including the Champions League, and he didn’t get or demand special treatment. I think it’s actually fairly safe to say that — although there may be some club politics that goes on behind closed doors — this level of special treatment, acting like one player has a VIP area of the dressing room, it’s antithetical to British football and if this happened in any club in the country it would not be seen as okay. What they are showing with Zava is a level of special treatment that is just not real. No manager would be okay with this.

Megan: Yeah, I think it’s a bit of a combination of a few things that means Zava is comfortable acting this way and the club are willing to let him. Firstly, he is such a huge star that he was always going to have demands, and Richmond were always going to accept a bunch of them. But despite that, in a bigger club like City or United or Chelsea or Liverpool those clubs have such prestige and have won so much without Zava that they can still stand up to him to a certain extent. I think United let Ronaldo get away with far too much for far too long before they finally got rid of him last year, but even there in the dressing room and on the pitch he didn’t get this kind of treatment. The difference is that Richmond are a small club. There is no way they would normally be able to get Zava playing at the level he’s shown to still be able to play at. They know they don’t have that same club status, so they will bend over backwards to accommodate. And maybe if Ted was a bit less checked out, he would have pushed back harder. But he doesn’t.

Natalie: Ronaldo may well be getting this treatment in Saudi Arabia. But not in Manchester.

Megan: Oh he’s 100% getting it there. Fuck that guy.

Natalie: This is all made more complicated by despite whatever demands Zava made on paper, he is kind of likeable in person. Well, that’s a stretch. He’s unhinged. But he’s not making people feel like shit. He is weirdly soulful, and he says things that make people feel special.

Megan: He is unhinged, but in a way that makes people feel blessed to be noticed by him.

Natalie: Of course, it’s all based around the fact that he fully believes he is a god anointing the mortals, yeah.

Megan: The great Zava, deigning to gift them with a few seconds of his attention.

Natalie: I mean his first conversation with Ted is full-on bullshit — an empty vessel, filled with gold? I am your rock, mould me? This is more than just a nonsensical bit of dribble. It’s basically a mission statement. You cannot mould a rock. He’s not going to be shaped by Ted’s coaching. But he makes Keeley feel special — without actually apologising, he didn’t actually say sorry or express regret, he just states the fact that he’s made her day harder. He makes Leslie feel special, and I did kind of like that.

Megan: Leslie deserves to feel special, because he is. He is very good at knowing what to say and do to charm each person. From an audience perspective, it is both deeply frustrating that they’re all falling for it, but also watching him is so entertaining. Max Osinski is having a whale of a time.

Natalie: And most importantly, whether it’s sincere or an act, Zava knows how to look like a team player even when he isn’t, because of the way he comes down and says that the kit man is the most important person in the dressing room. This is obviously meant to be letting Ted and the team know that he is a good guy. His godly status can’t be helped, but he’s still a good guy. I think he is actually pretty nice, even though he’s crazy, but I think that can flip in a second if he does not get his way.

Megan: Yeah, when everything is going his way, he’s nice and good at making people feel good and really fucking funny, but I am sure the explosion, when it comes, will not be pretty. The way they all turn and stare at Rebecca with gleeful faces after Zava leaves and she’s just staring back like, “What is wrong with you morons?” Incredible.

Natalie: The fact that she does not like him at all and is not buying in is interesting, but she is friends with huge celebrities like Elton John, so she wouldn’t have much time for people being starstruck.

Megan: Jamie and Rebecca need to form an alliance of people that see through him instantly.

Natalie: God I want that scene. Hannah and Phil are so good together in real life and they never get to work together.

Megan: Them getting drunk in a bar, being all. “And another thing!” and just listing out his many many flaws. I need that scene. Jamie is deeply unimpressed with his first Zava encounter.

Natalie: Roy smirking at him when Zava thinks he is the kit man is fun. I mean this is such a funny performance, how he comes in and nods at Roy, like the mutual recognition, and just makes his way through the group.

Megan: Again he reads them all so well. He knows instantly that for Roy, a mutual nod is what is required. Moe’s little boop, where he gently touches Zava’s chest, as he walks past.

Natalie: To test that he’s real… they’re all insane.

Megan: The himbos this season, man. They’re really killing me.

Natalie: I’m actually shocked that Jan buys in!

Megan: SAME! He’s let me down big time! Come on Jan, you’re supposed to be the practical blunt one!

Natalie: Speaking of Moe, did you notice that when Zava says he’ll begin by addressing the most important person in this room, he points to Roy and mouths “Is that you?” Yes. Yes it is, Moe. But Will is also good.

Megan: William is very important. So is Jamie, despite not actually being the kit man.

Natalie: Zava thinking Will is like, eleven, killed me. I know people think he’s young, but come on!

Megan: I appreciate the confirmation in this scene that Will and Jamie are in fact the same age, despite Will’s Dickensian waif aesthetic.

Natalie: He’s just a different kind of boy.

Megan: Ted constantly having to move to be visible behind Zava is also very good. God, every time there is a dressing room scene this season, I just know it’s going to be automatically ridiculous and brilliant.

Natalie: Yeah, again, Zava blocking Ted is also kind of… significant as a metaphor. Honestly, more than anything, it feels like Zava is some kind of cult leader. Like a religious figure, the way he makes them all breathe his air, and later the way he makes them all touch him for luck.

Megan: When he eventually retires from playing football, he has a long and successful career as a cult leader ahead of him for sure.

Natalie: He can exchange notes with the bus driver.

Megan: Jamie is so disappointed in Roy for joining in with the breathing. He really thought Roy was better than that. Me too, Jamie. Me too.

Natalie: The way they are tracking each other in this scene makes me crazy. They are constantly looking at how the other reacts, and I totally get why, but it still makes me crazy. But Roy squinting through one eye open to check… LOL. Jamie would stop breathing out of spite right now if he could.

Megan: Even if he passed out in the middle of the dressing room, he would consider it worth it to make his point. Sidenote: I just attempted to breathe out for the same length of time as Zava, and I did manage it so I guess I’m his brother now too. Sorry Jamie, don’t judge me, I just like to win.

Natalie: You’re so weird. If the stranger on the street doesn’t know you’re in a race, IT’S NOT A RACE!

Megan: YES IT IS and I always win. Point is, my lungs are large and great. Just like Zava.

Natalie: And now Jamie hates you too.

Megan: He likes to win too, though. He might understand.

Natalie: It doesn’t surprise me that Beard buys in, he seems susceptible to cults. Dani of course is having the time of his life. It’s established that, while everyone admires him, Dani is a crazy fanboy and this guy influenced him a lot. It worries me that he really may hurt Dani later.

Megan: I think Beard would knowingly join a cult, just because he is really interested to see how it all plays out. I worry about Dani too, he clearly loves Zava so much and I don’t want him to be hurt. But I think he will be.

Natalie: Jamie and Dani are obviously so close, but we’ve never got a scene of them having a legit deep conversation. I wonder if this will be the reason for one. Either a fight, or Jamie comforting Dani and talking about his own hero worship of Roy.

Megan: Possibly a combination of both, a fight to start with, and then when the inevitable Zava explosion happens, Jamie has to comfort him.

Natalie: Obviously, Zava saying “there’s no me, only the we,” is directly opposed indeed when he rearranges the formation into a, well, a 9-1. I really liked Ted trying to get Roy to talk to him and Roy elbowing him back and being like “You’re the fucking coach!” Both a funny moment of squabbling and another thing that shows that Ted needs to actually engage with what he’s doing more.

Megan: Yes! And look, again, in some ways Ted is actually engaging in the football knowledge element of, you know, running a football team way more this season. But he’s definitely checking out of some of his responsibilities too. Obviously Zava’s change to the formation is not a surprise, given the name of this episode, but it does mean the coaches long and careful consideration over who would be able to handle dropping back to midfield better goes completely to waste. I get the impression Trent will also not be swayed by Zava’s everything. Maybe by his height, but not his personality.

Natalie: I think that the formation arrangement and his sort of dead-eyed “I am very excited to be here” is a real throwdown. It’s a challenge. Like. “I am being super nice on the surface, but this is how it’s going to be. How are you going to deal with it?”

Megan: Agreed. Because that would have been the moment for the coaches to step in, for Ted to put his foot down about being one of the team, and to try and set that expectation. But he didn’t, partly due to Zava’s swift exit, and after this moment well, Zava’s formation arrangement is working, at least in terms of points, it would seem mad to switch it up.

Natalie: Seeing it crushes Jamie though, on so many levels.

Megan: Not least because he really tries to voice his opinions, respectfully, ahead of the first match with Zava.

Natalie: God, this is the best Jamie scene of the show to date and it isn’t even his best scene in the episode. I fell out of my chair.

Megan: Every single new Jamie scene this season I think “Oh wow, this is the best Jamie scene yet” and then every new scene outdoes it, but it will be no secret to you how much I loved this moment.

Natalie: It’s incredible. You can tell how much it cost him to ask, for starters.

Megan: Yes. Like, he knows how it’s going to sound, coming from him. But he does it anyway, because he also knows, like us the audience, that he is right!

Natalie: Absolutely, I’m sure there’s the worry that he’s jealous and that it’s about attention being taken from him. Even though he doesn’t really receive that sort of attention nowadays anyway. He’s been deeply “one of the lads” for nearly a year now.

Megan: He still knows that’s what they’ll think, and is instantly proved right by Beard asking him if he thinks it’s a bit ironic, coming from him. But Jamie pushes on and brings it back to what’s best for the team.

Natalie: I think the way Beard asks that is honestly out of line, tonally.

Megan: Yeah he’s really quite smug about it.

Natalie: And it made me feel so, so happy about the subversive smackdown that buttons this scene. Because it’s just so scathing and rude. Beard could have made the same point very differently. Jamie has earned more grace than that.

Megan: Yes! Like the way he told Jamie to look up philistines in season 2 was way less condescending, and Jamie is being very respectful here.

Natalie: But it’s clear that he’s fully sincere in his concerns and his desperation. When he says “we don’t need this guy,” his quivering voice breaks my heart. Like, okay, yes. I think there is an element of being stung about his personal ambition. He’s losing his position in the formation, he’s annoyed about what’s being taken from himself, yes, but it is SO clear that he’s more worried about the chemistry of the team that was so hard to wrestle into something positive, partially because of him. He needs the version of Richmond he’s come to love, and he is trying to protect it.

Megan: He is very ambitious, and driven, and he wants to be the best, but I don’t think it’s about putting himself above the others anymore, I think it’s just that he is so dedicated to football and wants to be brilliant. And Richmond, right now at least, is where he wants to play football.

Natalie: He has come out the other side as the biggest believer in what they have together and it’s just… Jamie! Baby!

Megan: I appreciate that when he points to the board and says Zava is already fucking it all up, you see Roy react. I think it’s the first moment of Roy starting to agree with Jamie, even if he does then get a bit carried away by the initial win streak. Not least because it’s Roy’s formation that Zava overruled, an area that Roy is already sensitive about.

Natalie: Yeah, Roy listening here is very interesting. He’s obviously a bit Eyebrow at Jamie accusing someone else of being a self obsessed glory hunter, but I think he read the change in Jamie’s tone.

Megan: Yeah, and he knows, deep down, that Jamie is right.

Natalie: And of course it counts for a lot that Jamie is so polite and deferential about the whole thing. He is very much like “Sorry, but I have to say this.” It isn’t him being a brat or making a scene. There’s no whine to it. No matter how he feels about his own position, nothing about this sounds like he’s prioritising what’s being taken away from him. It’s more that he doesn’t want this guy to spoil things for them the way he did.

Megan: He’s very self-aware in this, and so earnest.

Natalie: Which is why Beard annoys me so much, the assumption that this is Jamie’s personal drama when he has gone so far to prove himself. He’s clearly most worried about the team dynamic, and Ted does seem to believe him there at least.

Megan: Yeah and I do think, in this instance, it’s fair enough for Ted to say they have to give it a game or two to see what’s what. Like, while we know Jamie is right, it’s fair enough to try him out since he’s there and all.

Natalie: I think it must really, really, really bother Jamie to see everyone so complicit with this guy’s individual glory and diva-ness and know that he was — to his knowledge — kicked out by Ted for being a tenth as egocentric.

Megan: Yeah that’s got to be rough. And I don’t think Jamie would go back to the way he was! Not least because that wasn’t really him either, that was the version of himself he created to get his dad off his back, but it still must feel shit to see them accept Zava acting this way given what happened to him.

Natalie: Yes, Jamie was nasty to people and Zava wasn’t, but honestly, this is not just hypocritical of Jamie to state, it’s hypocritical of the coaches to be okay with. And he doesn’t call them out for it the way Beard calls him out!

Megan: Nope. He accepts their response, doesn’t push, just thanks them for hearing him out.

Natalie: The whole scene just filled me with so much feeling for him, but honestly I need to send Bill Wrubel, the writer, a fruit basket for the ending. Wrubel also wrote “Two Aces” and he must really love Jamie because wow does his material elevate him.

Megan: The sound I made at his parting comment to Beard. So fucking good.

Natalie: I seriously was scrambling to keep it together. Because honestly, when Beard asks him if he thinks he’s being ironic, and Jamie’s like “I don’t know,” even then it’s still playing on the idea that Jamie is dumb and doesn’t know words. So the way they flipped the script and gave him that mic drop moment of basically cutting Beard back down, I was just so… so… SO happy. Because Jamie is not fucking stupid, he’s actually very verbose, but it’s clear that he picks up phrases by ear and gives them a go, hence his malapropisms. The fact that apparently the joke now — and it happens more than once in the episode! — is Jamie correcting others, the subversion of him being the butt of the joke? This is like, the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Especially because I did worry about them dumbing him down, because of “poopeh.”

Megan: Honestly, same. That was very funny, and the reaction from viewers has been great — people loved it! But you know I have SUCH a bee in my bonnet about people thinking Jamie is thick because of the instances when he gets a word wrong. And while I’m not trying to claim he’s super smart, he also does make a lot of references to books, and he’s very eloquent when it comes to speaking his mind! So him schooling Beard on the definition of irony versus hypocrisy, and Beard’s shamefaced reaction? Just beautiful. I had to do an instant rewind to watch it again. Beard’s pain at being corrected by Jamie? The icing on the cake. He was so mortified.

Natalie: It was just so unexpected, but it made me so happy and he was so quietly confident in doing it.

Megan: Yeah, unlike Beard he wasn’t smug! Just very matter of fact.

Natalie: Very much “Don’t condescend to me again, please.” Beard was belittling of Jamie’s self-awareness and growth when he asked that, and I think Jamie really doesn’t like people assuming the worst of him. This was maybe his way of getting one back in. Good for him. Only boy in the world. Crown him king of the universe.

Megan: I’d much prefer him over the one being crowned in May. So that works for me.

Natalie: Ted thanks him for speaking up and invites him to keep doing it, which is interesting. He obviously does not take Ted up on that any time in the next seven weeks. What do you think it would take for him to actually go back to Ted about an issue?

Megan: I think it would have to be about some kind of off-pitch dynamic. Obviously, as we see in this episode, Zava is helping them win matches, so that isn’t the issue. It would have to be about something like Dani acting out unhealthily due to his obsession, or if Zava mistreated someone on the staff, or just generally messed up team dynamics in the dressing room and around the club. Anything related to their actual performance and I think Jamie knows he’d just sound jealous. Maybe if Colin gets really down about being benched a lot, Jamie might speak up on that level — about the formation affecting other’s morale really negatively.

Natalie: I don’t think we need to over-explain how absurd it is that Ted and Beard have reverted to a team shape that involves nine outfield players getting service to one striker in a way that is totally one-player-dominated. Like, we’ve all seen the show. This is the same approach that Ted rejected when he got to Richmond, when Jamie was the one up front. I want to say something about that, actually, which is the difference between playing with Jamie like that and with Zava. Zava, as we saw, demanded this. He insisted on it. I hope that non football fans understand that Jamie did not and would not have been able to make those demands. Jamie was in that position because of George Cartrick employing that tactic due to having this new, Man City trained kid on his hands. Jamie came to Richmond as a very minor City player. He was still wearing his academy number, 51, at City. He had not progressed into being a regular starter for them. He would not have ever been playing with City as a one-up-front striker. Even on the Arlo White cheat sheet, when he did start against Richmond in the season 1 finale, Pep had him in a front line of three in a 4-3-3, Pep’s favourite formation. Jamie leading the Richmond team as striker in season 1 was not the same style of play as this at all. He was off the rails with not much discipline, because the old manager was just exploiting his raw talent and hoping for the best. Like, oh, I get a Guardiola-trained kid? Off you go. He basically burdened Jamie with that one-up-front role. And Richmond weren’t even winning that much with Jamie in that position. When Ted arrives, Roy says they’ve lost three of the last four.

Megan: Yeah, George might have criticised Ted as not being a good manager for just writing Zava on the team sheet, but he basically tried to do the same with Jamie and Jamie wasn’t a legend like Zava!

Natalie: Bingo, el ringo.

Megan: So no, Jamie would not have come from Pep Guardiola’s reserve team and demanded to be the striker in a one-up-front formation. He just wouldn’t. Though he did embrace it when it happened.

Natalie: Thinking about the realism of this burden for Jamie goes a long way to explaining why he was so edgy about losing, and so frustrated all the time. And yeah, I’m sure George held him up against the other players, like lauded him over them.

Megan: Yeah, it was a lot of pressure for him to try and prove himself. To his dad, but also to Pep.

Natalie: So yeah, I need to just reiterate that Jamie was full on being exploited by Cartrick there, he would not have demanded it, and him being put in that position is not actually what he would have been trained for. This is significant for something I want to say later. And yeah, of course it would have started to make him feel big and important, that he was the one everyone was meant to service, and that he was the one scoring all the goals. But, again, they didn’t win that much. He wasn’t succeeding that much with it. Jamie being shoved into a one-up-front because he was a bundle of raw, chaotic talent delivered to a shit manager willing to exploit him is so, so, so different to Zava making these demands and everyone just going along with it. Jamie, as a 23 year old with no significant achievements yet, would not have been able to demand anything at all. So how did you feel about the coaches happily reverting to this kind of star player tactic?

Megan: Honestly, it felt inevitable. Because the fact is, once a club like Richmond signed a player like Zava you knew he was going to be highlighted as the star, so I wasn’t surprised by it. But I don’t love it. Partly because of how unfair it is for Jamie given his past, and we’re not used to seeing that level of hypocrisy from Ted especially. We can see in this episode that it works at first. They win game after game, they’re catapulted into the top four, they are having an unbelievable start to the season. But what also feels inevitable to me is that it will of course go wrong and blow up in their faces. How and what that looks like remains to be seen, but it will, and I imagine it will end with Zava walking out. And when that happens, the team will have to adjust, and fall back to their 4-4-2 position, but they’ll be fractured and in Dani’s case maybe heartbroken. On the plus side, that means plenty of potential for Jamie to step up and, without saying I told you so, get them back on track. But until that point I mostly feel stressed.

Natalie: I know that obviously they all want to win, but to the viewer, seeing them win purely because of Zava is not what we want to see. It’s very much that central question of like, what are you willing to do to win? What are you willing to sacrifice? For Rebecca and Ted, in particular. They want to win the league, but will THEY have that same realisation that the audience are having, that this isn’t how it should happen? Or will they be okay with Zava-coasting until he turns on them, and they’re forced to make up the difference?

Megan: The thing is, Rebecca already knows that Zava is awful. She is not remotely charmed by him at any point, unlike Ted. So I think she already knows that this might not necessarily be the right way to go about winning, but she is fine with it for as long as it lasts. For Ted, well I do think maybe if he didn’t have all the Michelle and Doctor Jake stuff going on in the background he might have stepped in sooner, but he does, so we’ll never know. But Rebecca, she’s happy to coast for as long as she can.

Natalie: Yes. I think Zava basically taking control and winning without Ted’s efforts allows Ted the freedom to, you know, focus on other things.

Megan: He doesn’t need to worry about the team’s performance, because they’re doing fine. He can just freak out about his possibly unethical former marriage counsellor dating his former wife.

Natalie: We’ve already talked about a few of the things that happen during this truly enjoyable montage to show time passing, like Sam prepping the restaurant, Colin texting Michael, Ted talking to Sharon, and Rupert getting angry at the TV while Jamie’s daughter crawls around.

Megan: LOL. We’re just fully embracing that theory now. Love it.

Natalie: But the true focus of this montage is really on Zava’s massive success and how Jamie responds to it. Before the first match against the Wanderers, Jamie kind of just like, stares all the coaches down as they leave, like… “Really?” This is after Zava, instead of doing the huddle, allows them all to touch HIM and withdraw some of his power.

Megan: They are blessed.

Natalie: And Roy and Beard are frankly rude behind Jamie’s back about it, as if he’s making a big fuss, when all he did was give a pointed look. They think he’s being a real spoilsport for not joining in.

Megan: If even Roy can embrace the spirit of Zava’s ridiculousness, he feels like Jamie should too.

Natalie: But the weirdest thing about how this all kicks off is that when the match is about to start, Zava calls Jamie over and says “Get open. I will find you.” As in, despite all this formation stuff, set yourself up and I will pass to you. That does not happen during this match. Or during the montage. Maybe it’ll happen down the line when Jamie really needs it? When he’s somehow proven himself to Zava? But it was bizarre. Was he trying to assure Jamie that they’re on the same side and then just not follow through? Is he waiting for Jamie to be more receptive of him?

Megan: Right? It threw me off completely because it just made NO sense!

Natalie: Because the fact that he steals a goal from Jamie, intercepting it as a tap-in, would dictate the opposite. It’s so strange and I cannot work out if he means it but is waiting for Jamie to like, join his tier of greatness, or if he’s just a nasty fraud. It could be a mind game, it could be that he really rates Jamie. It totally messed with my head.

Megan: And it’s clearly messing with Jamie’s too.

Natalie: But the thing is, he takes it.

Megan: Look, at this point I have no idea how he meant it. He is still such an enigma that I do not know what he wanted Jamie, or us, to take from that.

Natalie: It’s clear that Jamie is just suffering in silence. He is not kicking off about Zava or playing in midfield, he is doing what he’s been told to do, he’s celebrating the wins, he’s just doing his job and he is NOT making a scene about any of it. He clearly hates it and the way he Abe Simpson spins around and walks out on the group meditation is incredible, but he isn’t behaving badly in any way that anyone could call him out on. He’s being sooooo good about it. But someone is obviously noticing how good he is being, and how much it is killing him.

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

Megan: I did cackle at the scene of him walking in and immediately leaving again. He is so weirded out by it, but as you say, he stays silent and does his job. But yes, by the end of the montage he’s not completely alone in his concerns, because Roy has noticed both how good Jamie is being, but also that Jamie was probably right. Zava stealing Jamie’s goal? I feel like Roy would NOT be okay with that kind of behaviour. I think it’s the kind of thing Roy would find unacceptable, and from anyone other than Zava, probably call them out for it afterwards.

Natalie: Yeah, he definitely thinks it isn’t decent. And seeing Jamie just swallow it, he obviously thinks it isn’t fair.

Megan: But Jamie’s not going to speak up or complain, he’s going to carry on just doing his job.

Natalie: So how would you feel if your team was 2-2, two minutes into extra time against Manchester United at Old Trafford, with the power of their twelfth man?

Megan: Extremely fucking stressed, and frankly whoever scored that winning goal might just be worthy of being serenaded with a rousing chorus of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Though I don’t know if that would be a particularly on brand chant from your average football fan.

Natalie: I do really love that usage here, but Jesus would not put a tattoo of his own victorious pose on his own back, I think.

Megan: No. No, I think you’re right on that one.

Natalie: Nor would Jamie Tartt. The poor darling. He’s truly and genuinely happy to celebrate all the wins, you see him cheering for the team, but any time you see him really focus on the Zava specifics, he’s so brooding. And the tattoo makes him disgusted.

Megan: As he should be! It is ridiculous.

Natalie: Very much like “What the fuck is wrong with this guy?”

Megan: Although I’m hypocritical here because the Spurs player Richarlison has a tattoo of his own face on his back and… I still love him. But I recognise that it is STUPID.

Natalie: That is embarrassing. Jamie would have never done that, and again, he’s only 25. Zava is probably 35, and he’s just totally bought into being this diva. Jamie grew out of it, not that it was ever this bad. This guy sucks so bad. It made me actually cringe to see Dani follow Zava in and literally replicate his movements, shadowing his celebration, not to mention copying his hairstyle.

Megan: Agreed, I went from enjoying Jamie falling over in excitement at the prospect of an open bar at Sam’s restaurant as though he can’t afford all the alcohol he wants, to wincing at Zava and Dani. I really hate that!

Natalie: I am extremely worried about Dani, bless his friendship bracelet making soul. I don’t think they’ve ever given him a truly deep and meaningful scene, even when he killed the dog. But this season there could be time to treat him like less of a caricature and truly open him up, about all this.

Megan: I would really like that. He’s such a good character, and Cristo is fantastic, I’d really enjoy seeing him have that depth. And of course he is named in the opening credits now, which would hopefully imply he has more of a storyline. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Natalie: The main Zava-related focus is still on Jamie and I mean, when they go to dinner at Sam’s, never in my wildest dreams did I think to expect something like this. It’s overwhelming. Like I said, this writer must really love him, and him and Roy as a pair. Because holy shit, this was almost too much to cope with. Brett Goldstein very recently said in an interview that Roy and Jamie is the other real love story of Ted Lasso, along with Roy and Keeley. Phil Dunster has said it before, but nice to see it reiterated for the new season. And I mean, this is just beyond anything we have had from them so far. It’s so complex, because Roy 100% goes over there to comfort Jamie. He’s been thinking about this for a while and I think the extra training offer was something he already had in mind. But they still just don’t know how to be gentle with each other. So of course it looks like he’s there to taunt Jamie, or at least Jamie takes it that way. He is not, at all. They’re both just stupid.

Megan: They both desperately want to be friends, they just don’t quite know how to do it. Yet.

Natalie: I think it’s hard for Roy to just be openly kind to Jamie, but you can tell that was his intention in the way he says “It happens,” about Jamie being outpaced. He is very sympathetic.

Megan: Yes. And when Jamie asks if he thought he was the best, he doesn’t deny it! Sure he’s a bit grudging with his yes in tone, but he says yes immediately.

Natalie: Of course all of Jamie’s focus is on getting that affirmation from Roy. As if he didn’t know that from last season!

Megan: Roy wants to comfort Jamie in the same way Jamie wanted to comfort him the previous episode, but the pair of them are still figuring out what that looks like. And Jamie getting that affirmation from the player he looked up to so much as a kid is going to feel huge.

Natalie: This would have been my favourite scene even if it wasn’t derailed by JAMIE’S EARRINGS. And the pre-Madonna debacle.

Megan: You know, I’m proud of us. We manage to go quite far into this scene without acknowledging the earrings. Which… I saw them, and I just had to pause so I could process them. They are SO GOOD.

Natalie: I am obsessed. Obsessed.

Megan: I’m also proud of him, for rocking that earring that is frankly quite camp and looks utterly gorgeous. Jamie always been someone who has taken care over his appearance, fussed with his hair, talked about getting waxed and his eyebrows threaded. Right from that first floral tracksuit, I’ve always thought that his style and commitment to personal grooming is a rebellion against James and the kind of man he wants Jamie to be, but this season’s styling goes beyond the previous two and it feels like Jamie really doesn’t care about his dad’s response to his choices anymore, that any hold or influence James had on him is well and truly gone.

Natalie: Yeah, all of that, and I definitely don’t think James would approve of that style of earring on a man. It’s giving George Michael. I mentioned Jamie pinging queer radars, and outside of joking around with other gay friends, I would never, ever, claim in earnest something like “Oh, man wears EARRINGS? Must be queer!” but there is something in “Man veers so hard to the left of his shitty father’s expectations and the burdens of toxic masculinity that his entire relationship with manhood becomes pretty classically queer coded.” But I was just also dying over the fact this is the second Jamie Corrects people in the episode. And Roy has been calling him a pre-Madonna for YEARS now. Jamie is so offended by Roy’s definition that he totally derails the conversation to yell at him about Stevie Nicks.

Megan: That was very relatable to me, personally. I love to yell about Stevie Nicks.

Natalie: Dangly earring flying about in his rage. The only boy in the ENTIRE world.

Megan: He is perfect. Do we think Roy went over there intending to offer Jamie some special coaching?

Natalie: Yes. When Roy gets an idea mid-moment, it is visible on his face. Here, he pauses before he offers, but the idea has not just occurred to him. If he hadn’t already thought about this, it would be a more “Oh, shit.’ He can’t hide that stuff.

Megan: You’re right about that. He does not have a poker face. Neither does Jamie actually. They should never go to Vegas together.

Natalie: He would be a lot more reactionary, like “Oh, fuck! I’m gonna have to coach you.” He planned this, 100%. I think he was waiting for Jamie to break, ultimately. Maybe even for Jamie to come to him.

Megan: But Jamie didn’t, he just quietly stewed, but carried on doing his job. And eventually Roy is the one to break.

Natalie: Here’s how I see it from Roy’s perspective. He sees Jamie being miserable, and he does not like it. This is not what he wants, Jamie being like this. He wants to make it better but he doesn’t know how to do it softly. He goes over there, and this conversation occurs. He’s telling Jamie that he should be happy, that yeah, sometimes you go from being the best to no longer being the best, it happens, but that all Jamie has to do right now is keep up. Jamie admits that he doesn’t want to keep up, he wants to be better, and Roy is like, “Finally.” Because here’s what I think. Roy can see how Jamie feels about Zava fucking up the team, and he knows Jamie is right. He also clearly wants better for Jamie PERSONALLY, for Jamie’s career. Jamie is already somewhat his protégé, and I think Roy is watching this go down and thinking “Tartt is being wasted here.” Roy would know that Jamie’s development mostly ended when he left City, he stopped getting that high level elite training and was left to try and carry George’s mess on his back. And then in season 2, Jamie was all about dropping back and becoming this team player, one that Roy deems average. Jamie still has untapped potential and he isn’t yet at his peak, and yeah, his training and development has been somewhat interrupted, or has become static. He isn’t being trained by the best of the best anymore, he hasn’t been given the resources to improve as much as he could. And I think Roy sees that Jamie, if pushed harder, could easily be as powerful a player as Zava, but also be a healthy source of leadership for the group. Someone truly loyal, who is a team player off the pitch even when he might be that one-up-front star on it. His commitment to the group is second to none. And Roy is like “We could have that star power, that skill level in someone we love,and not that nutter.” Because Jamie’s progress really has been cut off, what with walking out on City. He was helping Richmond to get by in the Championship League, but now they’re back in the Prem, he needs to level up. Jamie has a great foundation and raw talent but he has been stalled, and he’s never truly led the team in the top division of the game. Roy buckling down and investing in Jamie is going to be absolutely fantastic for everyone. Especially me. Most importantly me. Also Jamie. But mainly me.

Megan: Hey. Me too. It’s important to me also.

Natalie: Okay. It’ll be for you too. And for me. But just for us.

Megan: Nobody else. But yes, that’s so very true. And so it all combines together for Roy, part of it’s wanting what’s best for Jamie and part of it is what’s best for the team. There’s also a bit about how much Roy clearly does get a lot out of being a coach, and he can see, as you’ve said, how much Jamie’s potential is wasted, and how interrupted it was. I think he’d love to be able to play a hand in getting him back on course.

Natalie: Anyway, I think a side effect of all this is going to be an England call-up. And that’s an achievement that Roy and Jamie can celebrate together.

Megan: I am keeping every digit crossed for that.

Natalie: Jamie is his player, more than any of the others. Jamie is obviously the most responsive to Roy and Roy gets him so much better than anyone else does.

Megan: They’ve not always been the best at communicating that importance to each other, but hopefully this is a sign of that being about to change.

Natalie: Roy wants Jamie to succeed and he wants to be the one to make it happen, but I cannot wait for the moment down the line when they hopefully have that conversation, of Jamie being like, “Why are you doing this for me? Why are you getting up at 4am for me, and helping me?” It’s HUGE, because like there is no world in which Roy has to do this. And I do absolutely think he planned it.

Megan: No, he is doing it because he wants to, because he feels driven to, and that’s such a big step for their relationship and has to feel huge to Jamie too. Even if he might have wanted to be allowed to eat that Nigerian dessert that aesthetically looks like a profiterole first.

Natalie: Roy’s the one that brings up the idea that Jamie could still be the best if he wasn’t such a pre-Madonna. He’s suggesting it!

Megan: Yup!

Natalie: Roy has been sitting there being like…. “I don’t like that we are winning because of Zava. I want us to win because of Jamie.” In part, that’s also like, Roy’s sense of achievement? He moulds Jamie, who is not a rock by any means, and he gets to share in feeling like it’s his victory.

Megan: Yeah. He might not be able to play anymore, but if he can help Jamie be a better player then maybe that’s the next best thing.

Natalie: Ultimately, his response to Jamie sulking in silence is to go and offer up his time and energy, offer one on one help, to get Jamie back to what Roy thinks is his rightful position as the best player on the team. I can’t believe Jamie doesn’t ask why there and then. His face when Roy offers — I guess he just wants it so much that he thinks better not to question it.

Megan: He doesn’t want to give Roy a reason to change his mind.

Natalie: But this is also blatant favouritism. I need to know what Ted and Beard will think.

Megan: Will they talk about it at the club? Or will it all happen in clandestine early morning meetings? Who can say.

Natalie: We already knew Jamie was Roy’s favourite, as a player, but this is insane levels of special treatment.

Megan: Right?! At least when the Zava situation does explode, Jamie will hopefully be ready and trained up enough to step up and fill that very tall void.

Natalie: I just can’t wait to find out how people respond to this, if they ever do find out? Like Keeley, or the team? Will Roy walk into the office one day and just be like “We are changing the lineup, my boy comes first now”?

Megan: Yeah, I do hope they show some of the other player’s reactions to it, that it isn’t something that only we see as viewers. Keeley especially will I think feel some kind of way about it.

Natalie: Roy is going to be so embarrassed if people work out how much he cares about Jamie.

Megan: Poor Roy. He’s done this to himself, he has nobody else to blame.

Natalie: I think once again, as I said last time, I’m feeling very “Why am I gasping? I already knew that” meme. Because this relationship is deeply baked into the DNA of Ted Lasso, but I’m still like… “Oh my God, this is actually happening?” Honestly, I think I’ve got war wounds from Phil Dunster not getting the Emmy nom. I am still really like, “Wow, the rest of the world does not see this character and this relationship as fundamental in the way that I do.”

Megan: It scarred you. Things you thought were a given weren’t seen that way by other people, and now you don’t know what to think.

Natalie: I lost sight of the show’s goals over the last 18 months, because honestly, and you know about this more than I do really, but the focus on Roy and Jamie, and Jamie in particular, in proportion to the other things that the Ted Lasso fandom engages with, is not, like, large, it seems? Not in comparison.

Megan: No, there are a group of people that are very focused on them, but it’s really not what has generated the most fandom activity and discussion during the break.

Natalie: Yeah, whereas I’m over here like “How can you all not see that this is the most important thing in the show?” It’s funny, because I don’t think anyone — casual viewers, general audience, deep fandom — I don’t think anyone discounted that “Man City” episode. I’m pretty sure everyone knows that’s one of, if not the most powerful scenes of Ted Lasso, but beyond that, it’s just not the obsession for a lot of people. And for me… I think it’s a combination of things. One, I think Phil Dunster is the best actor on the show. I think he is doing the most complex work of anyone in the Ted Lasso cast and I have written an extensive article as to why. Jamie has been the most captivating character to me since day 1. Two, I tend to view Roy, not Ted, as the main male lead character of Ted Lasso. I said before, Ted is the Gandalf, Roy is the Frodo. Ted is a fairy godmother character in the Roy Kent story, the story which, from many angles, this show frequently becomes. Three, I actually care about football and the impact it has on these characters. And I’ll admit that’s a symbiotic relationship — my interest in these characters’ emotional inner life has made me look more closely at the circumstances they’d have faced in the real football world, which in turn has fed my feelings about the character’s relationship to football, and so on. And I’ve always been a huge “sports movie” fan, and these characters being connected via the sport is more interesting to me than most other relationships in Ted Lasso. The hero-worship to teammate to coach element, all of that. I do think a lot of people are enjoying it, particularly this season, but I don’t think they’ve spent every single day since season 2 thinking about it. And I’m just a little overwhelmed by the idea of these dreams getting fulfilled — for me, and for Jamie.

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

I can’t wait to see the kind of conversations they might end up having, because Jamie is so frank with his feelings and Roy is so unable to be, but I do wonder if we will get some more comments about the past, because I absolutely think that Jamie came to Richmond hoping to befriend Roy — possibly in a fairly prickish way, but still — and that Roy was in such a bad place, and so bitter, that he knocked Jamie back. It is very clear in the gala episode that Jamie craves that from Roy, and he was probably so angry that his idol was such a miserable dickhead. I’m incredibly moved by the way footballers talk about players from other generations that they learned from, and now that Roy is mentoring Jamie properly — that it was Roy’s choice to do it, his offer, for no reason other than, well, we don’t know exactly why yet! But it’s safe to say that it’s because he cares about Jamie and thinks Jamie is a more worthy star player. Even though Ted Lasso likely always intended it, I truly feel like I’ve been given the biggest gift and such a sense of satisfaction and relief.

Megan: I’ve been thinking a lot about their arcs as the show has picked back up. I would love to know what their first encounter was like when Jamie got to Richmond in season 1. Because while I’m sure Jamie was in his prick mode right from the start, thanks to his dad and possibly feeling resentment at being sent on loan, I also feel strongly that he would have wanted to get on with Roy, to get his approval, and I’m fascinated to know how that first meeting played out. Because there’s that quote from Roy about how he’s always being the best player on any team he’s played on. I feel like before Jamie got to Richmond, even with Roy’s age and injuries, he would still have been the best player there, and then Jamie’s arrival changed that. So a combination of Jamie being defensively arrogant and Roy being miserable and probably jealous was never going to end well. But despite that, they still seem drawn to each other and have moments of genuine understanding early on. So in season 1, you have them being very antagonistic with each other, and then in season 2 you see that start to thaw and them learning to work with each other, Jamie eager for approval and Roy understanding more of why Jamie is the way he is. But now it feels like they’re fully embracing and acknowledging that connection and I can’t believe how hard and how fast the show is going with it. This is episode 3! Down the line, I would like to see Roy actually accept that comfort that Jamie was offering. Jamie is so good at expressing himself and I would love for him to help Roy get better at that, while Roy helps him get better at football. Given I’m so sure Keeley and Roy will end up back together, I would love to see Jamie play a role in making Roy realise how stupid he has been, but I’d also like to see Roy and Jamie actually become close enough that they can talk to each other about what they mean to each other. You know that if Ted Lasso does end with Roy being Richmond’s manager Jamie will be his biggest cheerleader on that front!

Natalie: They’ll be disgusting, in the best way.

Megan: Roy the manager, and Jamie the insufferable teacher’s pet.

Natalie: What I’m really looking forward to is the moment that Roy stops assuming the worst of Jamie, like when he writes over the outdated programming he has in his head. Because I think, especially after this episode, he does actually know how good Jamie is, and how sweet and kind he can be, and how respectful he is. He does know that, subconciously, but it isn’t always his first response.

Megan: He still has that initial knee jerk reaction to Jamie that he’s going to do something awful, but after seeing him suffer in silence for so many weeks, you have to hope Roy has figured it out.

Natalie: When that starts to shift, when he actually treats Jamie in good faith, or even maybe stands up for him to Ted or the rest of the team, you will hear my screaming all the way from here.

Megan: I will cry in the best way. And possibly bite a finger off. We’ll see.

Natalie: You do need those, but valid. I’m surprised you didn’t lose a couple over Stevie Nicks.

Megan: Look. Of all the musicians to reference, I love her so much.

Natalie: I could not believe that happened. I’d like to think he got that from his mum. Maybe Apple will drop a playlist of Jamie’s female vocalist heroes.

Megan: Oh my god! Yes! Apple please! All his music references feel like they could come from his mum, yeah.

Natalie: The rage he felt towards Roy in that moment, the way he pinched his fingers for emphasis, he was so offended.

Megan: As he should be. Fucking Stevie Nicks!

Natalie: Please, Jamie, explain to me your passions. He’s going to make Roy a mixtape. Well, a playlist. It’s possible that cassettes are beyond him.

Megan: Perhaps he will also try and diversify Roy’s style too. Though I’m not sure Roy could rock a dangly cross earring.

Natalie: Anyway, we’d better leave that there before we just start shouting EARRING again.

Megan: It is good though. Worthy of shouting.

Natalie: Next week’s episode is called “Big Week,” and according to the Twitter graphic (which admittedly, did have an error, it left off the Brentford match that was Week 7) the next game is West Ham away. We haven’t had much Nate at all, only a shot of him annoyed at Richmond’s success, but we are diving back in I see. Any expectations?

Megan: I’m sure that it will go very smoothly, and nothing much will happen of note. In all seriousness, I imagine after such a good run, Richmond will struggle against West Ham, Ted will continue to kill Nate with kindness and Rebecca will continue to be charmingly deranged. But my top priority is finding out how Roy and Jamie’s first coaching session goes.

Natalie: Brett Goldstein wrote this episode, so I am expecting it to go hard on the Nate redemption, because he has been so vocal about personally being horrified by the response to him after season 2. He’s actively spoken about course correcting, so I think there will be a lot of Nate sympathy here. And that may feel jarring after two episodes with no Nate — no small moments of nuance or growth since we left off in the season 3 premiere.

Megan: I think you’re probably right. I hope it goes some way towards helping me forgive him, but given how awful he was in episode one, there’s a lot to undo.

Natalie: We know from the trailer that Richmond away at West Ham involves a fight on the pitch. So that’s fun. I’m sure Zlatan, I mean Zava, will be normal for that.

Megan: How many people will he headbutt? And will one of them be Nate?

Natalie: He’d have to crouch. And then in regards to Roy and Jamie — given what Brett wrote for them in The Signal, I can only imagine how ridiculous it’s going to be.

Megan: I cannot wait.

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