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zava-lasso .jpg

Zava Suffers from Diminishing Returns in a Hit-and-Miss 'Ted Lasso'

By Kaleena Rivera | TV | March 30, 2023 |

By Kaleena Rivera | TV | March 30, 2023 |

zava-lasso .jpg

(spoilers for episode three, season three)

For the last two weeks, this season has gone full steam ahead on an influx of subplots and new characters. It’s a full house, so much so that it’s on the verge of becoming overwhelming. Now that the various players have been established, it’s time to get a sense for what direction this is taking us.

Though today’s officially the day to welcome Zava into Richmond’s midst, I found the Diamond Dogs’ discussion of favorite Julie Andrews’ roles to be of much greater interest (Trent’s choice of Queen Clarisse Renaldi is pure class). But the excitement is soon drained by an exhausting two-hour wait on the pitch with no sign of their new star. Interestingly, when they finally locate Zava, sitting insolently at Rebecca’s desk, there’s no pushback against his rudeness by anyone except Rebecca. It’s a bit disappointing how quickly Keeley folded (“No, don’t worry about it. No such thing as bad press, right?”), but it does serve to illustrate the combined power of celebrity and perceived genius.

The singular focus on Zava dominates much of the episode, as the team is swept away with a sense of hero worship and an unprecedented winning streak presented in a montage of seemingly endless goals he scores (“Prisencolinensinainciusol” is an absolutely perfect choice to play over his winning streak considering that the song famously consists of purely nonsense words, much like Zava himself). AFC Richmond quickly succumbs to an imbalanced dynamic, with the team centering itself around Zava both on and off the field. Strangely, it isn’t Ted who expresses any concern about it, which feels odd considering Ted’s characteristically egalitarian methods, but Jamie. The source of his reservations mainly stems from his jealousy and, beneath that, a fear that he’s being supplanted. However, there’s part of him that’s honed enough perception to know things are genuinely off-kilter, which tracks seeing as how he’s done a considerable amount of personal growth. Jamie correcting Beard’s vocabulary. Who could have ever imagined?

Someone with psychic abilities, perhaps. But whether that’s actually an accurate description for Tish (Emma Davies), the odd medium that Rebecca’s mother insisted on her visiting, remains to be seen. “Silly” best describes most of the appointment, as Tish makes a show of struggling with interpreting the spirits before landing on the garbled phrase, “Shite in nine-ing armor,” and referencing a green matchbook. As Rebecca notes, it all seems fairly harmless until Tish makes a prediction that Rebecca will become a mother. If you recall, Rebecca put away thoughts of having a family during her marriage to Rupert because he didn’t want any children. It was only when Satan’s minion got Bex pregnant that he tells her, “People change. I do want a child. I just suppose I didn’t want one with—before.” Rebecca has made peace (or something like it) with not having a family, so the idea of a psychic—especially one who’s admitted to having an extensive amount of inside knowledge into Rebecca’s personal life thanks to her mother’s loose lips—waving a long-dormant wish in front of Rebecca’s face causes her to furiously storm out. A green matchbook does make an appearance later on, when the Richmond crew celebrate the opening night of Sam’s new restaurant, teasing us that Rebecca’s fate will directly involve Sam (who very much seems to be moving on from her, judging by the way he smiles at the very pretty chef), which is quite a choice considering how controversial their pairing was. Personally, I didn’t outright hate their romance, but I struggle to imagine a world in which Rebecca and Sam are end game.

Interpersonal relationships come up in a big way when Ted attempts to call Henry back in Kansas. We knew that Michelle was dating again, but in a shocking twist (I literally yelled, “What in the First Wives Club is this?!”), it turns out that the man she’s been seeing, Jake (Jason Hillhouse), was their former therapist. It’s a good thing Ted met Dr. Fieldstone when he did because she would have never gotten him into that chair otherwise. Michelle at least has the decency to appear contrite over the way Ted found out, but it’s still enough to send him into an emotional tailspin (understandably so) that’s stopped short thanks only to a well-timed goal. I don’t think there’s a need to villainize Michelle since they still need to co-parent, but I do think less of her for dating a man who’s proudly honed a Donald Trump impression.

But the biggest reveal is reserved for Colin. Among the more soft-spoken Richmond players, he hasn’t gone to great effort to hide his struggles with self-esteem, something that Nate took brutal advantage of last season. However, this week we learn that Colin has been hiding a very large secret, which is the fact that he’s gay. There are few choices that make more depressing sense than a professional athlete who masks their sexuality, and it adds an additional heartstring-tugging layer to Colin’s, “I am a strong and capable man,” motto. Colin’s boyfriend, Michael (Sam Liu), is clearly also well-versed in hiding his sexuality, as evidenced by his flawless portrayal as Colin’s “wing man.” The scene does serve as a brilliantly efficient insight into the status of their burgeoning relationship—you don’t ask a mere hookup to suffer an evening of playing straight in front of your uber-hetero coworkers—but there’s also an inherent sadness to it since the effortless improvisation attests to a lifetime of self-preservation.

Colin inviting Michael out also sets up the episode’s last gasp, which is the moment that Trent sees them passionately making out in a nearby alley (very careless, gentlemen). Of course, this is designed to leave us fearful that Trent will decide to profit from the discovery. Ted Lasso is enough of a feel-good show that few believe that’s a possibility, although I suspect upcoming episodes will do something less nefarious, like have Trent gently encourage Colin to come out to his teammates. It would make for a hell of a book chapter. There’s a considerable amount of online speculation that Trent may be gay himself, which certainly isn’t outside of the realm of possibility, though it does seem to be an idea propped up mainly due to that fabulously coiffed head of hair. With that said, I think it could be an interesting choice if Trent took the selfish route and outed Colin, but there’s been too much time invested into integrating him into Richmond for it to be likely.

Overall this episode felt a bit hit-and-miss. The time spent on Zava is already suffering from diminishing returns, along with Shandy, who’s more of a burden than an asset to Keeley’s company (something I would be more okay with if tolerating it wasn’t Keeley’s central purpose at the moment). Also, I had a very serious case of raised hackles when Sam stated that avocados aren’t a feature in West African cooking only for Zava to respond, “Not yet.” There’s very much a colonizer vibe happening here, which I assume the writers are quite aware of considering past references to the harms of colonization. However, it’s going to be great fun watching Roy be the Mickey to Jamie’s Rocky (or “pre-Madonna”; who’s been giving Jamie all this book learnin’ anyway?) over the next few weeks, and I’m excited to see Colin get a meaty storyline; as the most emotionally vulnerable player, it’s surprising it’s taken this long for it to happen. While I trust something will come of the Zava/Shandy storylines, I wish we’d spent the bulk of this final season focusing on other players who are already here like Isaac (who I hold in even higher esteem after checking on Colin) or Thierry. Right now, I’m as unsure as ever over where this is all heading. All I can do is hope to enjoy the destination.

Best Quotes:

Ted: “Jamie’s a lot like my mom’s Precious Moments figurines collection.”
Trent: “I have no idea what that means.”
Roy: “He’s a fragile little bitch.”

Roy: “F*ck yes, Princess Diaries.”

Sam: “Some men have a charisma that transcends orientation. Paul Newman. Idris Elba. Norm Macdonald.”

Zava: “Time is a construct like gender or many of the alphabets.”

Kaleena Rivera is the TV Editor for Pajiba. When she isn’t rejecting the possibility of Tedbecca (sorry to the shippers out there), she can be found on Twitter here.