Ted Lasso: Season 3, “Signs” – TV Review


  • 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

Grade: B+

Warning: Reviews of Ted Lasso season 3 will contain spoilers.

Everyone in Ted Lasso has reached an inflection point this week. Not just in the arc of the season but in their lives overall. It’s not a perfect episode, but it does what makes the show great, and it does so without dialing up the niceness that it was initially defined by. In fact, one could argue that niceness is what landed this week’s primary characters in their messes to begin with.

So many plot threads come to a point this week that you’d be forgiven for thinking that Signs was a mid-season finale. One of the show’s biggest strengths has been its ability to know which storylines should be stretched over multiple episodes and which should be dispensed with quickly. The first casualty is Zava. Ted Lasso’s writers could have easily made the abundant reliance on their new star player a season-long arc, but I find Richmond’s uncertainty more compelling without him. Now that they have nobody to rely on but themselves, how do they find that inner strength to win?

Ted Lasso; AppleTV+

Ted’s speech to close out the episode certainly looks like it’s gotten the team back on board, and it’s well written by Jamie Lee and performed by Sudeikis. (And I have to give credit to Phil Dunster’s similarly excellent speech from earlier in the episode.) But it’s important to put the speech in the context of the episode: it comes right after Ted’s conversation with Henry, the first time he’s spoken to him since he learned he bullied a kid. I’ve mused in this space before about whether Ted is a bad coach or not, but him essentially letting his kid off the hook for what is basically a cry for help is really not a great parenting move either. It’s a stunning juxtaposition, exposing where Ted’s priorities lie. He may have his panic attack in check (which, again, Sudeikis nails) but he’s focusing on the wrong issue.

Though perhaps it’s long overdue that Ted focus on the team because the seeds have been planted about his possible ousting. Rebecca’s not quite there yet, only because she’s been so focused on her recent visit to the psychic. After every sign began inexplicably rearing its head, she’s gotten her hopes up for motherhood once again. Waddingham has been steady as always this season so far, but her reaction as she’s given the bad news from the fertility doctor was spectacular acting.

Ted Lasso; AppleTV+

If there’s a theme to Signs, it’s in how we always need someone to show up for us when we need help. Presumably, Ted’s son had nobody to show up for him, so he lashed out at another kid at school. Rebecca tries several times to reach out to Keeley, her best friend, but every time she tries, she’s indisposed. My initial reaction to the Keeley/Jack portion of Signs was pleasant but perhaps underdeveloped. Her breakup with Roy has really been given the back seat this season, so it’s a bit of a surprise to see her so vulnerable to someone she only just met in the last episode. Though Juno Temple and Jodi Balfour have great chemistry together, so I can’t complain too much. And speaking of the show churning through plot, thank goodness Keeley had the good sense to dump Shandy before things got really out of hand. It shows that, regardless of whether she’s now slept with her boss, she has the good business sense to get rid of a bad egg.

Nate’s side of things felt even more out of place at first, but it fits within my earlier theory that we’re better people when we have someone to fall back on. Nate had Ted, and everybody else at Richmond, to fall back on, but perhaps didn’t realize it until it was too late. His courting of a famous model, bizarre as it was, fits nicely within his theme of the season as a man punching above his weight class. What we thought would be a one-sided portrayal of Nate has turned into a fairly empathetic portrait of what happens when we isolate everyone that’s there to support us. Whether it’s pity or jealousy or genuine affection that fuels Jade (Edyta Budnik) to sit with Nate after he’s left alone will be another reason to stay invested in West Ham.

Ted Lasso; AppleTV+

What’s most impressive about Signs is that it doesn’t necessarily stick to the theme of mental health or positive ideology throughout its runtime. (Another 50 minute episode, which isn’t necessarily a problem for me just yet, but has admittedly become taxing. Though perhaps it’s partially because I watched this episode immediately after the Connor’s Wedding episode of Succession.) The episode balanced its humor – I don’t want to look too much into Roy’s hilariously dark revenge story, but good lord! – with its drama effectively and didn’t feel like a misstep. Signs probably won’t be remembered in the pantheon of great Ted Lasso episodes when all is said and done, but it’s no less worthwhile.

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