- 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.
Now that Ted Lasso has introduced its major plot lines in its first three episodes, it’s refreshing to see a simple, straightforward episode for a change. It doesn’t take too many big, emotional swings, but it still manages to nail several quick jabs that hit just as hard. Big Week is the longest episode of the season, and the longest since the season two finale. (I doubt we’ll be seeing many tight 30-39 minute episodes anymore.) With such an elongated episode, it’s easy to think that the show would be scattered and try to do too much.
Thankfully Big Week is written by Brett Goldstein – his fourth overall so far, and the first since season two’s The Signal. (We don’t have to include Beard After Hours, which he co-wrote and was basically thrown together at the demands of Apple.) Goldstein has a way of focusing on character relationships while exploring some of the ideas within the season that work well together more often than not. And, above all, he can write a damn funny script. The early scene, where Roy and Beard explain the complicated layers that their game strategy has taken, is not only vaudevillian in its silliness but shows just how far Nate and West Ham have burrowed under their skins.
It’s no surprise that Ted wishes no ill will upon Nate, but it’s borderline worrying how nonchalant he is about the game in general. I’m not quite sure why Flo’s comments about Ted being a mess continued to linger with him throughout Big Week, but it’s a trait that Sudeikis manages to play without overselling too much. Of course, as well written and acted as the final scene is between Ted and Michelle, one can’t help but be reminded of the real-life parallels between Sudeikis and his ex Olivia Wilde and how similarly they’ve become – the details of which have been at the back of my mind all season.
It would have been the easiest thing in the world for Ted Lasso to make Nate the season’s villain, and Smells Like Mean Spirit surely hinted as much. But Nick Muhammad plays Nate’s regret over the events of last season quite effectively, while still showing he’s just as obsessed with his own image as ever. He’ll never admit it, but Nate has always been someone in search of validation. He found it with Ted when he was plucked from obscurity, but once he got a taste of it, he realized it wasn’t enough. Now he gets it from adoring restaurant managers and Rupert, but how much do they actually know or care about him as a person? That’s something that only Ted has done so far, but he can’t seem to work up the courage or find the opportunity to say it out loud once they’re in the same room once again.
Therapy has always been at the forefront of the show in one way or another, and Big Week is all about how much we need someone to confide in. There’s a great pair of scenes in the lead-up to the match, first between Rupert and Nate and between Rebecca and Ted, as the bosses comfort their coaches. The two scenes don’t exactly work in parallel to each other, and that’s fine with me. They mostly serve to show the difference in approach from one club to the other, and Goldstein writes it all without hammering it home too hard.
The scenes with Keeley this week still don’t fit in well enough for me, and not just because of the implausibility of some of it. (She’s had her own PR agency for months now and had no idea her own boss was a woman?) The bits with Shandy are playing out about how you’d expect, which is a little disappointing, but it doesn’t take up too much of Big Week’s runtime.
We’ve now hit the one-third mark of the (potentially final?) season, and while there haven’t been any heavy hitters or gut-bustingly funny episodes, they’ve all been fairly solid all around. It may not be firing on all cylinders just yet, but there hasn’t been anything terribly egregious or out-of-place. The team still knows who these characters are and what they’d do in these uncharted waters. I still remember the internet’s pseudo backlash at season two, thinking the show has lost a step and leaned too far into what made it enjoyable. Season three so far has certainly felt a little less cutesy and quippy, while still retaining the sense of joy – and underlining darkness – that made it a phenomenon. And it’s still a blast just to spend more time with these characters from week to week. What more could you ask for?