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Ted Lasso_Brett Goldstein_Roy Kent_season 3.jpg

'Ted Lasso' Is Getting to Be Quite a Handful

By Kaleena Rivera | TV | March 23, 2023 |

By Kaleena Rivera | TV | March 23, 2023 |

Ted Lasso_Brett Goldstein_Roy Kent_season 3.jpg

(spoilers for episode 2, season 3)

“Who doesn’t love a handful?”

It’s the sort of question that only the desperately optimistic would pose to a room of doubters. Anyone with a clear view of the larger picture would say there’s plenty of handfuls that should be avoided, aside from Ted’s aversion to Skittles. Wet food from the garbage disposal. Tarantulas. Radioactive materials. At the very least, some handfuls should be carefully considered, like trying to woo an expensive rock star football player with no loyalties outside of himself. But Rebecca’s increasing sense of desperation has also ushered in a greater willingness to get her hands a bit dirty, or at the very least, bring on an alarmingly Ted-like ability to generate puns (“Zava dabba doo!”).

No judgment, of course. It’s no easy task being a boss ass bitch, especially when you’re more inclined to be a friendly ass bitch, as is Keeley’s case. Unfortunately for her, she’s beginning to discover that the close-knit camaraderie of AFC Richmond is not an easily replicated dynamic. It might be tempting to judge her slightly stodgy assigned staff for not loving their fuzzy, fuchsia-pink briefcase-sporting boss, but to be fair, we’ve had two whole seasons to fall in love with her bubbly ways; for many, having an overly-friendly, slightly woo-woo British version of Elle Woods as a boss would invoke some reticence.

Along with her greatly expanded number of responsibilities, and a jam-packed schedule that leaves her little room to even cry, she’s also learning to deal with the surprising number of restrictions that comes with running her own business. Being beholden to a bank means sticking to a bottom line, which is exactly what a chief financial officer (not, a corporate fine object, Keeley) is required to oversee. Austere CFO Barbara (Katy Wix) appears to be Keeley’s exact opposite, with what appears to be no other mission on earth but to be a killjoy. But a peek inside of Barbara’s backstory, thanks to an inordinately large snow globe collection, lets us know that these two are probably bound to harvest some long-term connection with one another. It admittedly feels like a retread of Ted and Dr. Fieldstone’s relationship last season, but I’m holding out hope that this development will head in another direction.

Speaking of going off in unexpected directions (an artful transition, I know), the decision to have Jamie go after Roy instead of Keeley made for one hell of a fake out, especially when it’s so clear that Jamie still holds a torch for her. But one good turn deserves another, and after Roy’s compassionate treatment of Jamie after the fight with his father, it makes sense that Jamie would want to return the favor. It doesn’t go the way he thought since his hug is pushed away with the force of a ball bouncing off of Dani Rojas’ face, but his intentions are pure.

Of course, the real gag is that Jamie’s rejected moment of tenderness (“It’s called ‘empathy,’ you dusty old fart”) is among the more measured responses when news of the breakup gets out. The responses range from cries of disbelief, screams, to Ted nearly losing consciousness—and that’s before the hospital gift shop’s worth of consolation cards and stuffed teddy bears start to appear. Roy’s growling dismay over the team’s reaction is outweighed only by their collective astonishment that Roy was the one to initiate the breakup.

Thank goodness for Trent Crimm’s timely entrance, which allows Roy to at least redirect his anger toward someone he doesn’t have to directly work with. But as fun as Roy’s trademark anger is (Jamie: “It’s actually quite funny when he yells at other people, innit?”), the laughs are soon tempered by Trent’s truly earnest attempts to intermingle with the team. It’s towards the episode’s end that we learn the reasoning behind Roy’s greater-than-normal vitriol: Trent wrote an insulting article about Roy many years earlier at the beginning of his Premier League career, one that hurt badly enough that Roy proceeded to carry it in his wallet decades later (note: please don’t do this, it’s not good for one’s mental health). One of the hallmarks of this series is we get to see the power of empathy, often by way of a genuine apology. “I thought I was being edgy,” a regretful Trent tells Roy. “All I really did was look for the worst in people. I’m sorry.” His candor snuffs out the fuse on Roy’s resentment time bomb, because if there’s one thing that Ted Lasso sets out to do, it’s to remind us all that insight into another person’s humanity, even that of your perceived enemy, is the fastest way to emerge from the fog of hurt and anger.

Trent’s arrival might have been the big news of the week were it not for the central conflict surrounding Zava (Maximilian Osinski), a hot shot striker with an indeterminate accent (apparently on purpose, per IndieWire) and a terrible attitude. It’s no wonder that he and Rupert develop a rapport. We get some additional insight into Rupert’s bloodsucking ways, including what sounds like a knack for love bombing when Rebecca finally gives the backstory of how they met. The idea of him getting his way once again spurs her into action, but she lacks the pull for a one-on-one with Zava. Worse yet, she bumps into Rupert, and because he’s incapable of merely winning but must also draw blood in the process, he responds to her question about his shifting team loyalty in the most insidious way possible:

“Guess I’m just like any man. Just get bored with the same old, same old.”

Sadly, homicide is outside of the scope of this series. What works as (a small) consolation prize is seeing Rebecca barge into the men’s room and give Zava a piece of her mind (“You are such a f*cking chickensh*t”). In a quirky turn, this proverbial middle finger does double duty as a bit of reverse psychology, inspiring Zava to bypass Chelsea and West Ham in favor of joining Richmond. There’s celebrations all around with the Richmond crew—except for Jamie, who’s uncharacteristically reserved, a sign of impending jealousy, methinks—but those cheers may be cut short once the players get to taste day-to-day life with this egomaniacal wild card.

As much as I enjoy these super-sized episodes (at 47 minutes, it’s the longest non-finale episode of Ted Lasso by my count), it feels like there’s an awful lot of new elements and plots being juggled for a final season. There are 10 more episodes left, and it’s highly unlikely any of them will clock under 30 minutes from here on out, so time may be on the show’s side. But with Zava, Barbara, and Keeley’s friend and new employee, Shandy (Ambreen Razia), being added to an already full mix, things are starting to feel a bit crowded. Next week should give us a better idea of whether or not we really do love a handful.

Best Quotes:

Ted:: “Ooh, I think you mean Scranton, Pennsylvania, buddy.”
Rebecca: “No, the British Office, Ted.”
Ted; “Oh, that’s right. Y’all did a premake over here.”

Jamie: “I forget how skittish elderly people could be ‘cause of the war.”

Will: “What’s a CD?”

Higgins: “Did you sweet-talk him?”
Rebecca: “What’s the opposite of that?”
Keeley: “Sour-yell.”

Kaleena Rivera is the TV Editor for Pajiba. When she isn’t pondering what’s on Ted’s “Breakup Mix,” she can be found on Twitter here.