(spoilers for the 12th episode of season 3)
Since the first season of Ted Lasso became something of a sleeper hit for Apple TV+ (which then went on to explode in popularity), Jason Sudeikis and his fellow writers made it clear that a three-season arc was planned from the outset. The mega-sized 12-episode season—I would argue it’s basically a season and a half’s worth of content—has now come to an end, yet the question still remains: is this, in fact, the series finale of Ted Lasso?
For weeks we’ve speculated that a spin-off series is in the works, likely with KJPR—now KBPR, with Barbara presumably acting as partner—as the focus. But as Keeley sets a proposal for an AFC Richmond Women’s League on Rebecca’s desk, it suddenly becomes much more clear how exactly her professional venture will tie into the larger world of Ted Lasso. It will give the perfect excuse to have various Richmond players like Isaac and Colin make semi-regular appearances (whereas Sam finally getting to play for Nigeria strongly suggests actor Toheeb Jimoh will be fully moving on; again, solely speculation on my part). However, the existence of a spin-off in no way requires that its predecessor remain on air, so why the refusal to declare whether or not the show is truly finished?
On Thursday, a partial answer was offered by Brendan Hunt during a Reddit AMA, who responded with the following:
My pat answer, that is also 100% true: We don’t know. We need a break and will take one presently. Nothing has been ruled out, everything is possible; but that includes the possibility that we’re done. We won’t know until we’ve sat with it for a while, decompressed, etc.
It’s vague, but it at least confirms that even at this late date, decisions are still being made. The Ted Lasso we’ve come to know certainly feels as though it’s told the story it intended to tell, its many storylines wrapped up with varying levels of success.
Since we first met him back in “Sunflowers,” I was confident that the swoon-worthy Dutchman was destined to be Rebecca’s end game (complete with darling child!). I fully admit that the fake out at the top of the episode, a tousle-haired Ted emerging from Rebecca’s hallway in the morning, left my mouth agape. While I can appreciate a joke, my heart does go out to the Tedbecca fans out there, despite how inexplicable I always found that proposed pairing to be. The more egregious fake out occurs during the revival of Psychic Trish’s prediction during lunch between Rebecca and her mother, Deborah (our second Harriet Walter finale sighting this week). “Kind of like the mother we never had,” Crown & Anchor fixture Paul tells Rebecca in one of the more plodding lines of the episode. Surely Rebecca’s maternal status that’s taken up a significant portion of her arc won’t be solved by assigning a group of day drinkers to her emotional care. Happily, the return of the Dutchman eliminated that possibility, and the denizens of Richmond, pub crawlers included, were granted my favorite conclusion: becoming collective co-owners of the football club that gives them so much passion and inspiration.
That Tedbecca fake out was a mildly cruel joke in more ways than once, as it served as the landing pad for yet another jump from a big dramatic moment that occurred offscreen. I thought that not allowing viewers to witness the team work through the collective decision to invite Nate back was the worst narrative choice of the season, but I’ve now changed my mind; denying us the emotional impact of Ted telling Rebecca, as well as the team, that he was returning to America isn’t only the biggest letdown of the season, it’s possibly the biggest one of the series. A moment built up all season—and speculated on at least since the beginning of the season two—occurring off-camera isn’t a daring film choice or a challenge to the audience’s ability to fill in the blanks, it’s a cop out. The writers attempt to make up for this emotional scene deficiency by having an emotional Rebecca attempt to convince Ted to stay and move Michelle and Henry to England (respect to Hannah Waddingham for her work here), but without that vital first step, this escalation did little for me (an opinion I’m sure will not be shared by a number of the series’ fans).
Well, we’ll always have the men of AFC Richmond performing “So Long, Farewell,” I suppose. The show has always been inclined towards the occasional twee moment and although this musical number is nearly cavity-inducing, their roaring exuberance at pulling off a rather complex performance in such a short amount of time is quite earned—Trent Crimm’s excitement is especially endearing, but in truth, it’s not often when he isn’t being rather adorable (his characterization has been one of the better contributions of the season). The team has always been the most substantial Ted Lasso asset and the biggest reason why I wasn’t too bothered by Ted taking a bit of a backseat in exchange for their individual stories. As a group, however, the team dynamic truly excels on the pitch, and the match against West Ham is no exception. It was easy to cheer along with the rest of our spectators, including Dr. Stonefield (who’s been greatly missed), Henry, and Michelle (shut up, Dr. Jacob).
Their win isn’t unexpected, but it’s portrayed with so much elation and joy that it’s easy to get swept away; I, too, wanted to storm the pitch along with the rest of the fans. Colin’s kiss with his sweetheart is one last poignant flourish, and in his last final act as AFC Richmond coach, Ted proceeds to do his now-signature The Running Man. Though Ted’s future is uncertain—things are left oddly ambiguous regarding him and Michelle potentially reuniting—one thing that I can be sure of is that Ted’s story is indeed finished. For whatever problems that linger (the regression of Roy Kent for one), there’s enough good here that a continuation could be welcome, especially if a firm guiding hand could take the lead in the writing room. Ted telling Trent to change the title of his book wasn’t merely an act of humility: it was a moment of real insight, as he was clearly way ahead of us in understanding that the folks of Nelson Road (and the audience, by extension) are ready to move forward without Ted Lasso. All the heart and stories now firmly belong to The Richmond Way.
Rebecca: “You know, I was thinking I should travel abroad.”
Ted: “Eat, Pray, Love style, right?”
Rebecca: “Well, more like Drink, Sleep, Fuck.”
Beard: “Shut your butts and sit your mouths down!”
Ted: “It’s an Oscar! [to Nate] It’s heavy. It’s a little heavy. There you go. Yeah.”
Team: [stares blankly]
Ted: “Or the ESPY!”
Kaleena Rivera is the TV Editor for Pajiba. When she isn’t seriously considering becoming an actual football fan (where to start?), she can be found on Twitter here.