“(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea”
- Creators: Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly
- Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Brett Goldstein, Nick Mohammed, Juno Temple, Brendan Hunt, Jeremy Swift, Phil Dunster, Sarah Niles
Warning: Reviews of Ted Lasso season 3 will contain spoilers.
At its heart, Ted Lasso is a show about being thrown into an untenable situation and making the most of it. And when the show is at its best, it’s about looking within and finding something worth changing. Of course, Ted has shown himself capable of doing so from the beginning, and the show’s continued goal is in showing how infectious Ted’s ethos can and cannot be. But the darker side of Ted Lasso, which often results in its best episodes, is in how we can often be haunted by our greatest failures.
I never want to harp on how unrealistic a TV comedy can be, but there are certain aspects here and there within this episode that could likely be avoided; aspects that in some ways hold Ted Lasso back from being truly great. For instance, I think it’s fairly obvious that just about everyone in a position of power is bad at their jobs, which rears its head throughout (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea. Consider Rebecca, who not only slept with one of her own players last season – a plot point that surprisingly hasn’t even been mentioned yet this year – but bizarrely gives Ted the final say on whether Trent Crimm (James Lance) can write a book about the team. Of course, it would be bizarre for the show to dangle that plot thread and pull it away at the last second – and I’ll never complain about getting more Trent – but it takes away agency from Rebecca and diminishes her importance within the club and the show.
This extends to the episode’s main subplot, when Rebecca gets word that Zava, a renowned footballer with a history of destructive on-and-off field behavior, is suddenly available to acquire. Since her new motivation this year seems to be beating Rupert whenever possible, she sets about signing Zava before he can. She does so without consulting Ted, though perhaps it reflects just as poorly on Ted that he’s on board based simply on a YouTube clip rather than, say, his football knowledge or personality. Though I can already see some good dramatic potential for the season to come from Ted going up against a toxic locker room presence like Zava.
Away from Richmond, we see Keeley’s new PR job is going just about as well as you’d expect from someone who simply followed their intuition to make a big life decision. Her co-workers seem less than enthused about spending time with her; it’s a real wake-up call to go from the perpetually upbeat Richmond to the real world. And it definitely doesn’t help when Keeley hires Shandy (Ambreen Razia), a former model friend, to come aboard despite her lack of education and experience. Now that Keeley and Roy have broken up, I don’t know how Ted Lasso will continue to justify her appearance beyond being Rebecca’s best friend. Though perhaps the show is trying to draw a parallel between Ted and Keeley: can the Ted Lasso method actually work in the real world? Or is it an anomaly that can only exist within the locker room?
Speaking of Roy, he gets perhaps the best material of the episode. Not only is his repeated retorts to everyone sympathizing with him over his recent break-up hilarious every time, but he gets some nice dramatic moments with Trent Crimm. Kudos to episode writer Sasha Garron because Chelsea doesn’t drag out their beef across multiple episodes, so it’ll be curious to see how their dynamic changes across the season. I had to search through my memory banks because I couldn’t remember the show hinting at any previous drama between the two, but Garron manages to make the revelation of Trent’s scathing review of Roy’s debut performance feel like something natural. I absolutely believe that Roy would continue to be haunted by those words even after all those years. And it fits within she show’s theme of running away from that which haunts us.
Regardless of how much of the nuts and bolts the show gets right versus wrong, it at least gets the emotional stuff right more often than not. (Though I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the scoreboard at the Chelsea match stating a goal was scored in the 46th minute at halftime, when it should have been the 45+1 minute. Carry on.) Yes, I understand that Rebecca would impulsively pursue a player out of spite, but the show has proven it’s capable of writing Rebecca as smarter and more calculating than what’s on display in Chelsea. Now that we’ve gotten a fair idea of what the season’s ongoing plot lines will likely be, I’m mostly intrigued to see where the show takes us, even if there are some technical bumps along the way.