‘Ted Lasso’ Season 3 Episode 1 “Smells Like Mean Spirit” Review
Just when the world needed it most, Ted Lasso premiered on Apple TV+ in 2020 and became an almost overnight success. Two seasons later, the series has earned the distinction of becoming the most nominated first-season comedy series in Emmy Award history. More than that, the program’s place in pop culture history is forever solidified, with almost everyone on the planet familiar with the happy-go-lucky, mustachioed fella from Kansas. Following a longer-than-normal hiatus since season two, Ted Lasso is back with its highly anticipated season three premiere, and fans are hoping for the host of cliffhangers from the season two finale to be addressed. However, patience is key when enjoying a series, especially one with the ensemble of Ted Lasso, where nearly every principal character has a narrative thread that can be traced back to the debut season.
Let’s kick it off with the eponymous Ted Lasso himself. The episode begins in uncharted territory. Off the pitch, away from the game, and within the personal depths of Lasso’s life. While presented as a comedy, Ted Lasso features the stories of more than one grief-stricken character dealing with the growing pains of life. Ted, for example, finds himself in a foreign land, a decision made in no small part thanks to his tumultuous divorce from his wife, Michelle. The exes share a young son, Henry. Season three, episode one of the series shows a heartfelt goodbye between father and son as Henry has clearly been spending some much-needed one-on-one time with his dad.
The tender moments shared in the airport are laced with comedy but also serve as a reminder of what Ted has separated himself from. He loves being a dad and will, while the players he coaches serve as proxies for his fatherly whims, nothing means more to him than his son, and he struggles to let go and back to what is now his new normal. The choice to open the new season with Ted’s ongoing struggle as a father unable to nurture from afar is interesting and sets the stage for what is sure to be another heartbreaking set of episodes starring Jason Sudeikis.
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On the flip side, episode one only takes about 20 minutes to remind fans of the heartbreaking events of the season two finale. Nate, the plucky and desperate-to-be-helpful kitman-turned-assistant coach from the first two seasons, is now on the dark side. In a twist straight out of the prequel era of Star Wars, the former “Nate the Great” is now the twisted and hateful protege of the most hated man in the Ted Lasso canon, Rupert.
However, it appears the latter continues to be the master manipulator as he urges Nate to lean into his hatred for his former team. The dynamic between Rupert and Nate is definitely more Palaptine/Vader than one of mutual respect similar to the one Ted attempted to establish with Nate. It appears the design is for viewers to hold on to a shroud of empathy for Nate despite his temper tantrum (among other crappy things) at the tail-end of the last season.
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Finally, the episode ends with a confirmation of the news we’ve all been dreading since it was teased at the end of season two: Roy and Keeley (Juno Temple) have split up. The news is revealed in the most devastating way possible as the beloved couple breaks the news to Roy’s small niece Phoebe. Surprisingly, she takes the news fairly well. However, the question remains: why split them up, to begin with? The series has enough plotlines and threads to follow to fill out more than the allotted 12 episodes, so the nature of this breakup feels a bit forced and honestly does not add much to the episode other than more drama to be felt. It will be interesting to see if and how they find their way back to each other before the season wraps up.
Overall, the season three premiere of Ted Lasso comes out swinging with a lot of huge developments and also provides fans with the comfort that the gang behind the scenes has not lost a step. The writing feels as fresh and witty as it’s ever felt, and the writing is on the wall for season three to feel as conclusive as it can. The cast shine, the jokes land, and the drama is beginning to boil. We’re in for one hell of a ride! – Christian Hubbard
Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 1 is now streaming on Apple TV+.
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