Ted Lasso wrangles with a fresh face — and even bigger ego — this week. There’s a new player stealing the spotlight from everyone else on the pitch in the Apple TV+ hit comedy about the little football club that could. And star striker Jamie Tartt isn’t happy about the new guy’s arrival at all.
Plus, Ted endures his own crisis when he calls home at the wrong moment and finds another man’s voice on the phone. And Rebecca gets an eerie prediction. The episode, entitled “4 5 1,” is a fairly standard edition of the show about how positive thinking can change everything (except maybe my attitude toward Ted Lasso).
Ted Lasso recap: ‘4 5 1’
Season 3, episode 3: New player Zava (played by Maximilian Osinski) is now donning the cleats for AFC Richmond. Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) and his coaches just need to figure out how to squeeze the superstar into the club’s starting lineup. They know that Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) is already in bad humor about Zava’s arrival in Richmond, so they decided to move back Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernández) on the pitch to let Zava take a forward position.
Zava shows up very late to the introductory press event Richmond organized, but it turns out he was just sitting in the office of club owner Rebecca Walton (Hannah Waddingham). He makes a very strange show of introducing himself individually to Rebecca, Ted, Leslie Higgins (Jeremy Swift), Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) and her friend Shandy Fine (Ambreen Razia), who’s shadowing Keeley for the day.
Then he goes down and gives an equally beguiling pep talk to the rest of the Richmond club. Jamie’s not amused, but coach Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) thinks it’s funny that Jamie’s so mad.
“There is no you, there is no me, there is only we, and us, and wee-nus.” says Zava finally before leaving the stunned team in the locker room. Trent Crimm (James Lance). the journalist following the team, is bemused. “He’s tall,” Trent says.
Searching for answers
At her mother’s urging, Rebecca goes to a psychic named Tish (Emma Davies). Rebecca’s a skeptic, which she makes very clear, but she promised her mom she’d go. So she puts up with the oddness of the woman. Tish predicts Rebecca will have a green matchbook in her hand, be upside-down in a thunderstorm, and that she will have a family — she will become a mother. This sends Rebecca into a fury because she’s always wanted a family. She leaves angry, but before long she gets handed a green matchbook.
Jamie goes to Ted, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) and Roy to complain about Zava. He thinks the new guy could potentially ruin the team with his selfishness. Beard reminds the self-absorbed Jamie that coming from him, that’s a bit rich. But he’s not wrong that Zava’s already brought a very weird energy to the locker room. Ted hears Jamie out, but says they see how Zava performs before they can take action.
Ted tries to call his son Henry (Gus Turner), but his wife, Michelle (Andrea Anders), doesn’t pick up the phone. Instead, her boyfriend Jacob (Mike O’Gorman) — who happens to be Ted’s old marriage counselor — does. Michelle makes a point to say they need to talk about this at some point, but the damage is done. Ted knows she’s moved on.
Later, Ted almost suffers a panic attack on the field during Zava’s first game. But Zava scores from midfield, and it snaps Ted out of it for a minute.
Success, failure and an eye to the future
As the season unfolds and Zava brings Richmond higher and higher in the rankings, the team gets more into his bizarro pregame rituals. At the same time, Ted gets more and more jealous, and Roy starts to see Jamie’s point about Zava. Ted tells his therapist, Sarah Fieldstone (Sarah Niles), about the situation, but it doesn’t help. Neither does a visit with the flirtatious Flo (Ellie Taylor), who returns to try and start something physical with Ted.
Roy confronts Jamie about his bad attitude, but Jamie doesn’t budge. He doesn’t want to just keep up with Zava. He wants to play better than Zava. So Roy makes him a deal. He’ll teach Jamie in private if he wants, but Jamie has to mean it. Otherwise, he’s going to sit on the sidelines the rest of the season frowning while everyone else celebrates.
Trent also finds out something potentially damaging to the team: Richmond left wing Colin Hughes (Billy Harris) is gay, and he’s been keeping it a secret to protect his image.
On bit players and out-of-date jokes
There’s not a lot of change here, which makes this a comedown from last week’s better-than-average episode of Ted Lasso. I like that they’re letting Jamie be human, although the excitement of the rest of the team is sort of demeaning. (Roy Kent is tempering his excitement, but allows himself to be psyched that Richmond is winning, which is at least honest. Again, Roy always gets the best stuff from the Ted Lasso writers).
These guys, who are like cartoon characters at the best of times (Jamie included), all act like mynah bird losers around Zava. I guess that’s probably how this might go in real life, but it’s not particularly interesting to watch on TV. And it doesn’t help any of the characters stand out.
That’s a shame. Ted Lasso boasts a very interesting cast, but we only really spend time with Ted, Roy, Keeley, Rebecca, Jamie, Beard and Leslie. The rest of the Richmond crew tends to blur together, especially this week. So a little extra time with Jamie wasn’t unexpected, but at least he had some interesting work to do.
I’m a little shocked at the gay panic plotline, but it is true that football, especially in England, tends to bring out the worst in its fans. So I guess I have no choice but to believe this might actually have happened. It feels 30 years old as a plot device, but in many ways, football culture is stuck in the past. Oh, and one last thing … all the jokes about Coach Beard and his girlfriend (Phoebe Walsh? Maybe?) didn’t land. Those are also 30 years old.
Watch Ted Lasso on Apple TV+
New episodes of Ted Lasso season three arrive every Wednesday 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.