“Ted Lasso” Season 3 Review: Jason Sudeikis Asks a Tough Question

Mustachioed optimist Jason Sudeikis returns for a brooding third season that shines a spotlight on the deeper purpose behind our outward pursuits.

Ted Lasso is a mess. From the first frame of Season 3 to the fourth episode (the last one released for review), upbeat football coach Jason Sudeikis is adrift, down, and calling for help. His wife and son remained 4,000 miles away. Her panic attacks haven’t magically gone away, though she’s receiving treatment from Dr. Fieldstone (Sarah Niles). But the agonizing concern for the perpetually undisturbed optimist is something greater than anything else. This is a familiar and individual question; a question that is broader than a simple answer can provide, yet one whose resolution often requires decisive action.

Ted wants to know why he’s here. When Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), his snarky voice, asks if Ted means “here” as in London or “here” as in “here on this earth,” Ted narrows it down a bit: Why am I in London? Why am I coaching AFC Richmond? Why do I choose to be in a foreign country, far from my family, if I don’t have to? As we learned in past seasons, Ted took the job because he and his wife Michelle (Andrea Anders) needed space to figure out if their marriage was salvageable, and they’ve since decided not to. Spending time with an all-consuming job is one way to process heartbreak and start over, but Ted is still a dad. She wants to be there for Henry, and how can she be there for her son when he’s here in London?

While everyone loves Ted and wants him to be happy, no one wants to hear him question what he’s doing—and that’s doubly true for Ted Lasso. Just as the loving colleagues, friends and players around Ted don’t want to think about him returning to Kansas, fans of the Apple TV+ hit would prefer their favorite show to stay for more than three seasons. Much was said in the nearly two-year hiatus between seasons 2 and 3 about the future of the series, but no official decision has been announced. Unlike the upcoming premieres of “Succession” and “Barry” — two award-winning shows that addressed lingering buzz about endings by confirming their upcoming finales — “Ted Lasso” debuts its final season with no guarantees.

If that’s a goodbye, it helps explain Ted’s early misgivings…and some annoying choices to open Season 3. The first four episodes are 44-50 minutes long, a length that slows down the brisk pace of the comedy while moving in some character turns. Some scenes can be cut to save time, others just need a little trimming, but even when dealing with the super-sized entries—the final four episodes of season two are 42-49 minutes each—Season 3 isn’t. as past editions dialed into each of his personal arcs. There’s a lack of context for certain relationships that could have used some extra polish (although they seem to be setting up for a big reveal), and some characters seem like different people overnight.

Without getting into spoilers, Season 3 picks up within a few months of the Season 2 finale. Ted’s soul-searching is prompted by his son’s visit to London (or rather, the end of the visit). Keeley (Juno Temple) works 24 hours a day at her new PR firm, KJPR (which sounds like a radio station), while Roy (Brett Goldstein) tries to step up his coaching game after Nate (Nick Mohammed) left as West’s coach. Ham United. Courtesy of Rupert (Anthony Head) buying new rivals AFC Richmond remains the focal point as Roy, Coach Beard and especially Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) refuse to let go of their anger.

Neither can the audience. Nate’s betrayal rubbed some viewers the wrong way—whether it was deemed too obvious, too sudden, or just too mean—and much of its motivation rested on the big fling with Ted: that the chipper coach made Nate feel special, only to have him flip. and neglects him. Hurt people hurt people, as they say, and Nate’s disproportionate outrage has been slightly amplified by social media and personal insecurities. While Ted tried to make amends, Nate rejected them, and in Season 3, their one-sided rivalry deepens in predictable and unequal ways. Instead of letting Nate settle into his most petty point of view, he’s a man of two parts: one day he graciously buys the staff lunch, the next he coldly thinks his players are stupid.

Ted Lasso Season 3 Juno Temple Hannah Waddingham

Juno Temple and Hannah Waddingham in Ted Lasso

Courtesy of Colin Hutton / Apple TV+

Other characters don’t have the same clarity, but that doesn’t mean “Ted Lasso” is a mess. It’s easy for audiences (and critics) to confuse messy situations with storytelling mistakes — the most notable recent example being “Babylon,” which built from near-constant chaos without losing its focus to kick off Season 3. don’t dampen your spirits. Roy’s frosty exterior endures (and is still good for regular laughs) as his vulnerable interior swells, and Season 3 wisely pairs him with Jamie (Phil Tartt), whose narcissistic tendencies soften as he continues to mature. (He’s the only performer in the routinely announced cast who’s still somehow underrated.) Keeley is a little understated, her status a little opaque, but Temple’s embodiment of those qualities just draws you in. Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh) remains at his best, Rebecca turns to a redundant arc, but Waddingham pulls it back with a bang, and the tension generated by the team’s performance continues to surprise in smaller moments and makes for many satisfying matches.

And Ted, in his glorious messiness, holds it all together. Few characters can reference “Twin Peaks” and the Hallmark movies without straining credulity — who would watch both? and who would look at both enough to name them all in a moment? – yet Ted has always walked an almost impossible tightrope. Good-natured to the point of being angelic and hilarious to the point of exhaustion, Sudeikis’ evolving performance keeps our titular lead grounded (and endearing). In Season 1, he made us believe that such a person could exist (on TV, if not beyond). In Season 2, he let us peek behind the curtain to better appreciate Ted’s day-to-day reality.

Throughout Season 3, Sudeikis firmly sticks to the first, pairing Ted’s atypically unkempt appearance with brooding color. Raw nerve, as tender as can be. While Ted’s existential struggles don’t stop him from spreading joy—his curious, beaming smile is so ubiquitous that you’d think his mustache would fall off if the corners of his mouth weren’t supporting it—he wrestles with big questions underneath: how do you feel about what It happened to Nate, how to deal with his family situation (which is certainly this year conversation intolerable) and how you feel about your responsibilities in general.

That said, I don’t expect Ted to snap, break, or crumble. I expect him to handle it honestly and convincingly – and I expect the show to do the same. Believing in Ted is comfortable, as is watching “Ted”. And even if you are afraid of the question asked, it does not mean that the answer will disappoint you.

grade: B

“Ted Lasso” Season 3 premieres with one episode on Wednesday, March 15. New episodes are released weekly.

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