- 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.
I’m of two minds when it comes to International Break: one that finds moments that work on emotional and character levels, and one that finds those same moments ultimately hollow. Ted Lasso certainly knows its characters inside and out, but this season’s major failing has been in how it utilizes those characters, and that’s on full display in this week’s supersized episode.
Take Rebecca’s subplot this week for example. One of season three’s greatest strengths is in how the show’s writers have found new roads for her, free from the shackles of romantic entanglements. Once Rebecca learns that Edwin Akufo (Sam Richardson) is putting together a super league of football clubs, she joins Rupert and a few other wealthy old white men to hear Edwin’s pitch. Little does Rebecca know that Edwin has gone full mustache-twirling Evil Billionaire and puts together an objectively terrible idea for what he’s proposing. There was never a chance that Rebecca would join the super league, even when she first learns of the idea from Higgins, so why put her in the position in the first place?
The pitch meeting leads to a well written speech from Rebecca about what makes football so special (though the schmaltz was immediately cranked up when it was underscored by Nate’s violin playing), and I loved the moments when Rebecca imagines herself and her contemporaries as children, but I can’t help but wish the writers could have found a more worthwhile space for her. Rebecca’s arc this season has all been about stepping outside her comfort zone, which worked so well for her in Amsterdam, but I still can’t find a reason for why she’d put herself in that room.
Speaking of stronger elements from the season, Roy’s arc in International Break was a season highlight. The show has sneakily built towards making Roy, a man who’s been stuck in his ways for most of his life, into a new person. If I ever go back and rewatch season three, the Roy-Jamie aspects will likely be what I will look back on fondly the most. Phoebe has always worked as a way to soften Roy, and we haven’t gotten nearly enough of her this year, but their brief scene together worked like gangbusters. If there’s one thing Roy loves more than upholding his reputation, it’s Phoebe, so even if the Richmond folks give him the side-eye for wearing a tie dye shirt, he’s willing to suck it up. Is it a bit of a leap to tie his life frustration to his breakup with Keeley? Maybe, but the two of them were great last season, so maybe it’ll work out in the end.
Keeley’s material – and Nate’s, but we’ll get to that in a second – continues to feel completely disconnected from the show proper, and it’s no different this week again. She learns that Jack’s VC company has pulled her PR agency’s funding and will be out of a job in less than a week, thus completing the mustache-twirling Evil Billionaire trifecta within the show, along with Rupert and Edwin. I just don’t know what the show’s goal has been with Keeley all season, whether it was hiring Shandy or dating Jack or some of the other minor developments. Is it an anti-Rebecca arc, where trying new things and striking out on her own only leads to her own ruin? The bulk of the episode sees her on a mini journey of self-discovery, but it’s all undercut by the end of International Break, when Rebecca offers to bail her out.
Nate’s journey of self-discovery has been better realized than Keeley’s, but this week’s episode mostly gives him nothing to do. In a surprising move, Nate abruptly quits his post at West Ham off-camera, but still sulks around as if he made the wrong decision. It all leads to a sweet moment with his father, who admits that for all the tough love he put Nate through all his life, he really just wanted his son to be happy. Now that Nate has received the validation he’s desperately sought from his father, how long will it be until he gets the same from Ted?
Most striking about this week’s episode is in how absent Ted is from the majority of the proceedings. Not that he really needs to be front and center though; obviously the show has a well-rounded cast that can take over without him. In fact, I think the material around the Richmond teammates this week is almost uniformly great. Between Jamie and the team’s support of him making England’s team, and the comic relief between Danny and Zoreaux (Moe Jeudy-Lamour), and even the small moment between Beard and Crimm, it all showed the camaraderie that Ted has worked to build all along.
I’ve thought a lot about season two lately, and perhaps it’s unfair to compare a complete season against a season with two episodes left, but season two had such a clearly defined set of arcs. Season three undoubtedly has suffered by lacking any major personal or career stakes for Ted. He’s had to deal with Michelle moving on and his increasingly distant relationship with Henry, but neither of those have felt like they’re building towards something substantial. It hasn’t helped that the show has felt so messy at times, and that Ted has been relegated to such a supporting player this year, that any progress made with him has been lessened. Ted Lasso has largely done well with its season endings, so can the show finish strong, or will it be too little too late?