Ted Lasso, the Apple TV+ show about an American soccer coach killin’ em with kindness in London, finds a new player in the mix and new hurdles at work this week. AFC Richmond is being watched by an old adversary, Roy’s got big feelings for the first time in a while, and everybody’s buzzing about what happens next.
The episode, entitled “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea,” is an above-average outing for the mawkish football comedy. (It’s anyone’s guess if the upward trend will continue.)
Ted Lasso recap: ‘(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea’
Season 3, episode 2: Keeley Jones (played by Juno Temple) is having problems with her PR firm. Her new CFO, Barbara (Katy Wix), is rebuffing Keeley’s every attempt to have fun and create a looser atmosphere in the office. Or anyway she’s the most vocal about rebuffing Keeley’s positivity. The rest of the office just sits in silence.
Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) walks into his own PR situation. When he comes to meet with Richmond owner Rebecca Walton (Hannah Waddingham), her deputy Leslie Higgins (Jeremy Swift) and Keeley, they aren’t alone. Sports journalist Trent Crimm (James Lance) is there with a proposition. He wants to write a book about the season from the inside — spend all his time with the team, really get into the nitty-gritty.
Ted gets the final decision, so Trent has to ask him. And despite Keeley, Rebecca and Leslie all making huge, vociferous negative gestures to tell him to say “no,” the American can’t help but be nice and says “yes” anyway. I confess: I laughed at that harder than anything I’ve ever laughed at on Ted Lasso.
Winners and losers
When Ted’s team members hear that a famous football player named Zava (Maximilian Osinski) quit his team to become a free agent, the idea of Richmond signing him sends them in a tizzy. They’re all beyond excited to get him, especially Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt).
Meanwhile, Keeley and Ted’s assistant coach, Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), are still smarting over their breakup and the rest of the team is taking notice. Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster), Roy’s biggest opponent for all the years they were on Richmond as players together, goes to comfort him. And Roy takes it badly. He shoves Jamie when he comes in for a hug (Roy not being used to male empathy and all that).
The whole team learns about the breakup before long. They players try to talk to Roy, but he turns them all down. Just then, Leslie brings in Trent Crimm and Roy loses it. He tells everyone that if they talk to Trent, he’ll kill them. So, every time Trent walks into a room, there’s practically a record scratch. Roy can’t decide if he hates the idea of Trent working for the team more than he hates everyone’s constant hectoring him with kindness. He finally breaks a little when he appears at Richmond’s next game and the crowd cheers for him.
Hiring is hard
Keeley runs into an old friend named Shandy Fine (Ambreen Razia) who used to room with her. They’re on a commercial shoot, and she steps into a crisis and lifts some of the burden from Keeley’s shoulders. So Keeley offers Shandy a job, which incenses Barbara. Keeley goes to talk to Barbara and inspires her a little with talk of confidence and belief in other people, like how the firm that sent Barbara to help Keeley’s company must believe in her. Of course, 12 hours later, Shandy suggests bringing mimosas to the office, so maybe Barbara was right.
Zava comes to Richmond’s next game against Chelsea. He’s made the overtures from Chelsea public, so Richmond doesn’t think they have a shot at getting him. Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head), Rebecca’s ex-husband and the owner of rival team West Ham, also appears at the game. That seals it. Rebecca just knows that Rupert’s going to get Zava over to West Ham — he’s too charming and persistent.
Rebecca decides that two can play that game, and goes to talk to Zava herself. Naturally, it turns into a humiliating debacle. So she salvages it by following Zava to the bathroom and telling him off. If he was really as good as he thinks he is, she says, he’d join a team that needs him, not rest on his laurels.
Roy Kent opens up
When Trent appears in the locker room during halftime, the team clams up. Ted brings Roy aside and tells him he’s got to fix whatever’s bugging him about Trent. So Roy brings Trent into the locker room and shows him something he carries in his wallet: a bad review Trent wrote when Roy was making his debut.
It wrecked Roy when Trent wrote it, and he’s carried around the shame forever. Finally, he’s able to rip it up and forgive Trent. Roy also finally opens up about his emotions. He felt sad about being back at Chelsea, because the last time he was there, it was as a player. At that point, he realized he wasn’t going to be getting better at football, which led him to him quitting at a relatively young age and becoming Richmond’s coach. He wishes he could have enjoyed his last season, but that’s not really who he is.
“Not yet,” says Ted.
Baby steps for Ted Lasso
This week’s episode of Ted Lasso starts with a soft rock cover of Lizzo’s “Good as Hell,” just in case you forgot what show you were watching. But I was … let’s say pleasantly surprised that, at its best, this week’s episode didn’t consist exclusively of the kind of soppy positivity this show usually delivers. The stuff where everyone’s nice to Roy about his breakup made my scalp itch, but it did pay off nicely with the best bit — Brett Goldstein’s performance showing Roy’s discomfort in his own skin.
The gruffness of Roy Kent is an easy thing to overstate. And the character had a few moments this week that felt too self-conscious for their own good. However, his moment with Trent in the locker room — and then his last outburst of honesty with Ted and Trent — was really winning stuff.
It is not impossible for Ted Lasso to get on my good side. It’s just the staying there that’s proving problematic. For every great moment, the show dishes out nine childish jokes that don’t land, or references or analogies or metaphors that just make me want to scream.
Watch Ted Lasso on Apple TV+
New episodes of Ted Lasso season three arrive every Friday on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.