[This story contains spoilers for “Big Week,” episode four of Ted Lasso season three.]
The title’s “Big Week” in this Ted Lasso episode is AFC Richmond’s first encounter with West Ham, now managed by former Greyhounds assistant Nate (Nick Mohammed). It’s a grudge that stirs additional resentment, even as Nate continues to put out some very complicated feelings for his former boss, Ted (Jason Sudeikis).
Nate’s chop at the end of season two shocked many Ted Lasso viewers, to the point that even Mohammed was a little surprised by the reaction. “People were angry. They take it very personally,” he said The Hollywood Reporter. “I can only think it’s because season one Nate was that arc [he was the] underdog hired by Ted, does good and gets promoted. It’s something we can all hang on to because we love those stories. They’re kind of sports movie tropes. Because we’re rooting for Nate, it felt like an even bigger gut and fall from grace when he betrays Ted.
The first third of this season hasn’t changed much for Nate, from his insults at the press conference to his still-painful attempts to impress the hostess at his favorite neighborhood restaurant. But it’s clear from this episode, and his very conflicting reactions to seeing Ted again, that there are things he’d probably like to unload but either don’t want or don’t have the resources to process (probably a bit of both) .
One thing is not in dispute though: Nate’s tactical mind: after his club go 1-0 up against Richmond late in the first half, he immediately changes tactics; Ted and Richmond are caught off guard and West Ham grab another goal just before half-time.
And then things get really ugly: Earlier in the episode, Isaac (Kola Bokinni) jumps up to touch the “Believe” sign in Richmond’s locker room and finds it’s ripped and taped back together. Digging through old security footage, Trent Crimm (James Lance) discovers that Nate is the culprit (something the audience knew, but other characters didn’t until now). Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Beard (Brendan Hunt) want to show the video to the team before the game, but Ted refuses.
For good reason, it turns out: when Ted steps out of the locker room at halftime to talk to Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), the assistant coaches play the video. In a hacker sports story, this would so thrill Richmond that they played an impeccable second half and pulled off an improbable win. Instead, the club come out looking for blood, playing a nasty, red card-filled half that ends with West Ham winning 4-1, and Zava (Max Osinski) angry at Jamie (Phil Dunster) for the latter one shot on target. (Zava, we’re told in the play-by-play voiceover, gets the lone Richmond goal to avoid a shutout.)
Ted, in either a remarkable show of restraint or the seed for his next panic attack, chooses not to bite off Roy and Beard’s heads afterwards. Nate is ushered into Rupert’s (Anthony Head) private world and is introduced to a model as a post-victory perk (eww), while the owner claws at his assistant (double eww). And yet: Nate still thought two or three times about talking to Ted, only to be turned away or backed off. His actions suggest there’s hope Nate won’t fall too far under Rupert’s bondage, but Mohammed said his character has a complicated path ahead of him.
“There’s been a lot of talk about whether Nate gets a redemption arc, and it’s not really for me to comment on that. Like many things in it Ted Lassothat way it is never clear,” Mohammed said THR. “There is a truth in it where it is neither one nor the other. It’s not yes, he gets completely redeemed or no, he never does. It’s more complicated than that, partly because Nate is a complicated character. Yes, he has unfinished business with Ted, and he’s getting to a place of catharsis with that, I think, but whatever that means, whether he’s completely forgiven or whatever, we’ll have to wait and see.
Opportunities and goals:
*Rebecca has been extremely tense about Rupert and West Ham all season so far, to the point of saying to Ted at half time “I believe in you” and almost making it sound like a threat. But when she sees Rupert grab hold of his assistant after the game, it’s almost like she’s doing a full reset. She seems to warm up to Rupert’s current wife, Bex (Keeley Hazell), and when she sees her ex repeating the pattern he did with her, Rebecca seems to realize he’s not worth all the space he’s taking up in her head. Telling him that she saw what he did and that his wife and child deserve better may be the biggest win of the episode for anyone.
* Ted also takes a moment to vent, even though there’s nothing more he can say to his ex, Michelle (Andrea Anders), than “This whole thing with Dr. Jacob” – their former couples therapist, now her boyfriend – ” really works me off.” Still, that’s a pretty big jump for him, considering he seemed to struggle with the idea of Sassy (Ellie Taylor) telling him he was “a mess” (which he seemed to realize, at least in part, last season, but nevertheless).
* Keeley (Juno Temple) has an awkward first meeting with the venture capitalist who finances her firm — or rather, an awkward second meeting: Jack, it turns out, isn’t a man as she thought, but a woman (played by Jodi Balfour) of who she borrowed a tampon in the ladies room a few minutes before. Not much comes out of their first encounters, except for Keeley to apologize for Richmond’s play in the loss and Shandy (Ambreen Razia) to take aside after she has a big overreach with Bantr, but it probably lays the groundwork for much more.