By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 8, 2023 |
By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 8, 2023 |
I’m not here to defend the maligned third season of Ted Lasso, but I will say this: Despite many of Jason Sudeikis’s missteps, the season has had some room to coast thanks to the relationship the audience developed with the characters over the first two seasons. Nate has had some strange turns, but we can still see beneath the grey hair and the spit the insecure and shy “Nate the Great” who fell asleep in the luggage compartment of a bus in the first season. It was out of character for Rebecca to buy into the psychic’s predictions, but Rebecca hasn’t done anything to fundamentally alter the way we think about her. Jamie is actually a better character in season three, and while Keeley has been largely sidelined in what feels like a backdoor spin-off to a different show, she hasn’t done anything in the third season that breaks with the character we know and love.
Ted Lasso, meanwhile, feels like the same guy we knew in the first two seasons. However, in the third season, he’s got one foot out of the door because he misses his kid, he’s preoccupied with his ex-wife’s new relationship, and Lasso may even recognize that he’s provided the team with the unity it needs and maybe it’s time to hand it off to a tactician with more and better knowledge of the game itself. Ted may ultimately become the best version of himself by letting go of his ex-wife and AFC Richmond.
And then there is Roy Kent. Oy. Don’t get me started on the boneheaded decision to break up Roy and Keeley (for very little reason!) at the season’s outset. I hated it, but if I squinted hard enough, I could see its justification. I think we all made an assumption about the why based on the goodwill the character earned over the first two seasons: Because Roy (dumbly) thought it was the best way to support Keeley in her new endeavor. He didn’t want to hold her back. Roy sacrificed his own happiness in favor of what he believed to be Keeley’s long-term happiness.
Yes, he’s wrong, but Roy has made many a mistake over three seasons. However, those mistakes have been born largely out of the best of intentions or due to misunderstandings, but they haven’t been selfish. Once Roy realized in the first season that he liked Keeley more than he hated Jamie, the choices that Roy has made — good, bad, or otherwise — have not altered the way we think about him. Roy may be a flawed character, but he is not a shitty person.
And then came this week’s episode. Recall that Keeley is having a terrible time of it because someone hacked into — we later learn — Jamie’s phone and released a private video Keeley had sent to Jamie when they were dating. Its release caused Keeley some embarrassment, but mostly, she was upset that Jack — her girlfriend — wanted her to release a statement apologizing for a video for which she had no reason to apologize. Later, Jack and Keeley would break up over the dispute.
This is where the Roy Kent we know comes in and offers Keeley a shoulder to cry on and unconditional support. When they meet out in the parking lot, this is what we anticipate. “I heard about what happened, it’s fucking shit,” Roy says to Keeley. “I’m so sorry … You OK?”
This is vintage Roy. This is exactly what we expect.
But then the conversation takes a wicked turn. Roy says something so out of character that the fact that someone wrote it and made Brett Goldstein say it actually hurt my feelings. “Who was it for?” Roy asks Keeley. He wants to know who she sent the video to. This is not about Keeley’s feelings. This is not about Keeley’s well-being. This is about Roy. This is about Roy’s pride, about Roy’s jealousy, about Roy’s feelings. Keeley gives Roy the look he absolutely deserves. Roy apologizes, but it’s too late. Roy’s character has already been assassinated.
I hated it, and it was hard for me to even watch a second time for this piece. I hated it because it turned Roy F**king Kent into every other man, and there was absolutely no reason for it. I think I understand why Jason Sudeikis did it — to elevate Jamie later in the episode when he comes and actually does say the right thing. Jamie apologizes, and there’s no subtext. He does it because he cares about Keeley, and Keeley hugs Jamie because she knows that’s all it is.
Maybe this is all setting up Jamie and Keeley getting back together. If so, this is not the way. Jamie can be a good person without Roy being an asshole. Keeley can choose to reconcile with Jamie because he’s a good person and not because Roy is not. It doesn’t have to be about who “the better man” is. It’s a shitty moment, and a shitty thing to do to Roy’s character because — even if he and Keeley get back together, or even if Roy delivers the perfect apology — the audience will never forget that when Keeley needed Roy’s support the most, he made it about him. And that really sucks.