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'Ted Lasso' Episode 3 Recap: Led Tasso, Boss Ass Bitch, and Sam the Man

By Kaleena Rivera | TV | August 7, 2021 |

By Kaleena Rivera | TV | August 7, 2021 |


tedlasso-hannahwaddingham-kikimay-appletv.jpg

(spoilers ahead for episode three of Ted Lasso)

Let’s just cut to the chase: SASSY RETURNS! Granted, it’s only for a brief amount of time, alas, as she is due to speak at a conference (thankfully, she’s there long enough to confirm what we’ve long suspected: Ted is a wonderful lover). This does give us the opportunity to get to know her very charming teenage daughter, Nora (Kiki May). It also gives Rebecca the chance to reconnect with her goddaughter, whom she hasn’t seen in six years. For most adults, this length of time may contain a few life changes, but for kids, it’s long enough for them to be entirely different people. Despite her sharp instincts, Rebecca doesn’t understand this at first, as she attempts to connect with the girl she once knew, as opposed to the teenager who stands before her.

Ted has to deal with his own blast from the past, by way of Jamie Tartt. While Ted may have foreseen that it wouldn’t be an easy adjustment, Jamie’s ostracization from the team seems to catch Jamie entirely by surprise. Anyone who’s dealt with a bully will probably tell you that the bully in question often has little idea how loathed they are. I will give Jamie some credit for confronting the issue in the most direct way possible by standing in front of the entire team to take a measure of responsibility for his bad behavior. They don’t owe him any forgiveness, of course, but seeing Jamie take his lickings (both on and off the pitch) with a measure of grace—I was mildly shocked when he agreed to be on the reserve squad with zero argument—makes me hopeful that he may truly be taking a turn for the better. If that’s the case, Ted’s decision to bring him back may turn out to be for the best.

On the flip side, our lovely Sam is flying high (no pun intended) on his ad campaign deal with Dubai Air, AFC Richmond’s biggest sponsors. As we learned in the previous episode, Sam’s family back in Nigeria is immensely proud of him, especially his father. This is why when Sam’s father responds to his Dubai Air campaign with anger and disgust—citing how the parent company, Cerithium Oil, is causing environmental havoc on the Niger Delta—it comes as a complete shock to him. Toheeb Jimoh plays the moment perfectly; his small intake of breath feels as though he’s experienced an actual physical blow. Not only does this present Sam with a terrible predicament, but it also marks the first time that Ted Lasso has addressed global politics in any significant way. It was due to happen, as it would strain credulity to never touch on these issues with a team whose members hail from around the globe. That said, watching Sam struggle with the guilt and hurt is heartbreaking, nonetheless.

Meanwhile, Lord of Scruffy Town Roy Kent is out and about with his niece Phoebe when he bumps into Rebecca and Nora outside of a doll shop. While Nora sweetly chats up Phoebe (a moment that’s slightly marred by an unnecessary joke about being “canceled”), Roy and Rebecca walk and talk, leading Roy to yet again flex his surprisingly astute observational abilities by informing her that kids crave little more than to feel included in the lives of the adults that they love. This is just the inspiration that Rebecca needs to figure out what tack she should take with Nora, but when she invites her to spend the day with her at work, Nora’s delight still catches her off guard:

Nora: That would be amazing.
Rebecca, surprised: Would it?
Nora: Yeah, I’ve always wanted to see what it’s like to run a football club.
Rebecca: Really? Since when?
Nora: Ever since you started doing it.

I have watched this episode three times now, and this exchange makes my heart bigger and bigger every time I hear it. It speaks volumes about the power of role models. The stunned, but happy, look on Rebecca’s face as she shuts the door behind her shows that she is only now starting to understand the positive impact she can have as a woman in a male-dominated profession.

Ted is less fortunate with his charge. Jamie is all too eager to get in his teammates’ good graces, despite the fact that we all know it’s going to take more than some PS5s to earn their affection. Concerned about the possibility of losing momentum, Ted decides there’s only one thing he can do, which is to wield the most high-powered weapon in his arsenal. He has to unleash the beast, to unleash…

LED TASSO!!!!! [heavy guitar riff with shooting flames]

Yes, Led Tasso, the Hyde to Ted’s Jekyll, set loose upon these unsuspecting athletes. A rampaging, power-tripping jerk of epic proportions. Gone is the motivating but gentle coach we all know and love. Standing in his place is a tyrant, abusing everyone in his path. Of course, this isn’t a case of Ted desperately needing a Snickers; he’s purposefully trying to unite the team by giving them a common enemy, and who better than the person charged with leading them? His plan works to a small extent when Jamie winds up being the lone person willing to tell him that he’s being out of line. Jamie still has quite a ways to go (though Sam still wants nothing to do with him), but it looks like Ted’s antics have helped bring the team together just a bit. The one person who doubts that, of course, is the Doc, who’s been quietly observing every practice session in the background. As much as Ted wants her as hands-off as possible, few share that opinion, including Keeley, who whisks Jaime off into the Doc’s office the moment he seeks her counsel, informing him that “she’s a brilliant therapist and, unlike me, she actually gets paid to listen to you complain.”

Up in the boss’s office, not only is Nora having a great time shadowing Rebecca, she’s actually thriving in the environment, showing she has quite the head for business. While she may have a head for business, she has eyes only for one Sam Obisanya, who walks into Rebecca’s office just as Leslie and Keeley are teaching Nora some of the internal workings of the club (also providing us with the very important detail that the club is in a serious financial crunch, which will almost surely be used to somehow wreck us later). Unfortunately for AFC Richmond, Sam has arrived with less than good news: Sam no longer wants to be the face of Dubai Air’s ad campaign. Once the initial shock wears off, Rebecca agrees and promises to handle it. Leslie, though sympathetic, reminds Rebecca that Dubai Air is THE team sponsor. Rebecca assures them it will be alright since Cerithium Oil’s CEO, Richard, is an old acquaintance due to his friendship with Rupert (ugh).

It is not alright. The request to have Sam pull out of the campaign is granted without a fuss, but just when Rebecca and Nora (and we) start to give a big sigh of relief, the other shoe drops: Richard wants Sam out of AFC Richmond. After Nora gives an amazing lecture on doing the right thing and helps dictate a hilarious email (I honestly hope May becomes a regular guest because she is a DELIGHT), Rebecca makes her stand and steadfastly refuses to let Sam go.

Making a stand is, indeed, the big theme of the episode. As the crowds fill the stands and the players prepare in their locker rooms, Sam has little else on his mind besides his parents and Nigeria. So when he grabs a roll of black athletic tape and rips off a piece to cover the prominently displayed Dubai Air logo on the front of his uniform, it’s a big moment, but not an entirely surprising one given his brave decision to pull out of the ad campaign. His fellow Nigerian teammates follow suit, while Sam assures the other players that he does not expect them to do the same. He understands the risks involved with this kind of activism, which almost always results in swift reprisals, especially for Black athletes (as the U.S. can attest). What catches Sam by surprise, however, is Jamie Tartt, who tells him, “throw me the tape.” Though we’re flying dangerously close to white savior waters here, for Jamie, it’s less about pandering and more a genuine attempt to show up for the players on his team. His session with the Doc may have something to do with this display of comradery, but that doesn’t make his action any less authentic. When the men of AFC Richmond finally walk out onto the pitch and reveal their kits, we see they’re presenting a united front, having all now covered the “Dubai Air” printed across their chests.

The shock is so big you could nearly fit a record scratch in it. It’s a huge surprise for everyone, from the football fans watching in their homes and at the pub, the sports announcers, Rebecca, Leslie, Keeley, Nora, and, most importantly, Cerithium Oil CEO Richard. Rebecca’s phone rings and of course it’s Richard on the line. She takes the sensible approach and promptly rejects the call, while Nora gazes up adoringly at her, declaring, “Boss ass bitch.”

You know who else is a boss ass bitch? Sam Obisanya. Not only has he made a public stand against Dubai Air/Cerithium Oil, he brings the entire press room to heel when he sits at the table normally reserved for Ted:

“I’m not here to talk about football. I’m here to ask the Nigerian government to put an end to decades of environmental destruction caused by Cerithium Oil. Destruction that the powers that be have turned a blind eye towards for far too long. Do you have any questions about that?”

Damn.

As this episode (the strongest of the season thus far) goes to show, you win some, you lose some. Sam’s protest and public demands may be the stuff of legends, but this game also marks the first time AFC Richmond has lost this season. Not a great way to finally end an eight draw streak, despite the warmth and cheer the team brings to the locker room. For Ted, our eternal optimist, “doing the right thing is never the wrong thing.” But this is the real world we’re talking about here, and as inspiring as this is, we have plenty of episodes left to see what fallout awaits. Let’s not end on a down note, though. There’s plenty to celebrate in the interim. Jamie’s personal development. Sam getting a well-deserved spotlight. Rebecca reconnecting with her whip-smart goddaughter. Ted himself seems to be fading into the background a little bit, which actually works fine for me. He’s a wonderful character, but he also works just as well by being the sweet and peppy glue that keeps everyone together. It’ll be exciting to see what happens next week, as still-shots show that it’s ‘looking a lot like a Christmaaas’-episode, which will almost surely gift us with enough good cheer to help us all get through whatever might be coming down the pike over the next handful of weeks.

Best Quotes:

Trent: Trent Crimm, of The Independent.
Ted: Hi, Trent. Make like Dunst and Union and bring it on, baby.

Rebecca: The Americans really do the historical doll concept better, don’t they? Must be their innate sense of triumph, however misguided.

Led Tasso: Touch your toes! Those are your feet fingers!

Coach Beard: Maybe they don’t have Chuck E. Cheese here.
Ted: Oh, yeah. [turns to the Doc] Y’all might call it something different here, like, uh, Charles Edgar Cheeserton III or something, right?

Roy: Jamie Tartt is a muppet. And I hope he dies of the incurable condition of being a little bitch.

Kaleena Rivera is the TV Editor for Pajiba. When she isn’t whispering to herself how Rebecca’s black slacks are the episode’s MVP because body-ody-ody-ody, she can be found on Twitter here.

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