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Season 3, Episode 10: 'International Break'
Remember when you were young and - at least if you were like me - you often misjudged how much space you had in a line to write what you intended, resulting in smaller and smaller, tightly squeezed letters as you neared the edge of the pages? I feel like that's where we are in "Ted Lasso," with only two episodes left in the show's theoretically final season.
This week's episode answered the show's two main remaining questions - about Nate's fate at West Ham and the futures of Roy and Keeley - but so abruptly you could almost imagine you'd missed a scene or two along the way. This level of brevity may have been necessary in part because the episode spent most of its hour-long run on two new and completely unnecessary story lines, two redemption arcs for tertiary characters, a fair amount of misery, and a truly bizarre conception of how wealthy business owners make decisions. Even as we approach the edge of the page, in other words, we add more words. The remaining ones will almost certainly have to be very finely scribbled.
First of all, the story lines that didn't move significantly forward: after focusing on Ted's relationship with his son, Henry, and his ex-wife, Michelle,two episodes ago, we have the second consecutive episode that has no interest in that subplot. Likewise, there's no news of Rebecca's likely upcoming family development — at least, unless the plastic soldier is talking more than I hope. But more on that later. Let's start with the least important developments and move on.
International break and motion by Edwin Akuf
Both of this week's new subplots felt less like continuations of the season arc than like gags we needed to clear before we got to the real story.
International breaks, as the name suggests, are weekends when national football leagues skip their matches in order for their best players to take part in FIFA-sponsored nation-on-nation competition. There were probably a few in the three seasons of AFC Richmond play we watched, although I can't recall them being mentioned before this episode.
But now, at least for one episode, it's a big deal. Who will be chosen to represent their home countries? Jamie for England, Van Damme (ex-Zoreaux) for Canada, Dani for Mexico, Bumbercatch for Switzerland and Colin for Wales. But no Sam for Nigeria? Not even after the comments at the beginning of the episode singling him out as key to the team's current 10-game winning streak?
There seem to be two purposes for this subplot. The first is to posit the idea that the joyful, loving Dani Rojas becomes a cruel competitor the moment he finds himself on the opposing team. This entails some of the broad humor that has never been the show's forte. (RememberLed Tasso? (This is basically the same trick, with Dani replaced by Ted.) And that's another idea that comes out of nowhere: I can't remember Dani rejoicing in his efforts to injure the goalkeepers of, say, West Ham, Manchester United or any of his other opponents in the Premier League.
Another purpose of the international subplot is to help set up the Edwin Akufo subplot: the reason Sam isn't chosen to play is because Akufo, the unsavory billionaire introduced back inSeason 2 Episode 11, he bribed the Nigerian government with $20 million not to select him. But that is not all! He also plans to open another Nigerian cuisine restaurant 20 meters from Sam's! And in order for Sam to deny customers with personal calls and reservations, he does not intend to continue using various stupid accents! I am confident when I say that this is not how billionaires spend their time - not even thin-skinned ones.
I would like to stop there, but unfortunately there is more. Akufo also plans to create a "super league" of exceptional teams that will compete only against each other and thus be able to charge more tickets than regular matches. The details are unimportant, except for the fact that it would theoretically make the team owners significantly more money, while the average fan would deduct the price from the attendance. Call me cynical, but I'm convinced that this would have already happened if it was so easy for rich team owners to get richer.
It's a complicated setup to allow Rebecca, at the team owners meeting, to stand up for the regular fans. Which is a set up to remind Rupert why he loved her and make him try to kiss her. Which is a set-up for her to overcome her long-standing obsession with beating Rupert on the field. Have I wasted your time with this long explanation? Apologies, but that's pretty much how I felt when this subplot ended.
Depending on who you ask, Nate was either fired from managing Rupert's West Ham team or quit his job. Either way, you'll notice the past tense. We don't reallyseeNate quits or gets fired, which I imagine would have been a very interesting scene if they had bothered to shoot it. Instead, we go from beginning (Nate belatedly realizing that Rupert was the bad guy at the club last week) to ending (Nate out of a job) without any real conflict drama. It won't be the only time that "Ted Lasso" skips this episode from start to finish without having to deal with a messy "how did that happen?" part.
Instead, we get Nate grieving in his own bed, then grieving in his parents' childhood bed and then playing the violin (has that been mentioned yet?) so his father can hear him and having a scene where he shows he's not quite such a poor father as he seemed. We don't even have any nice scenes with Jade this week, as she's gone to Poland to help her family screw in light bulbs, a joke that unfortunately could be the highlight of this dreary story. I'd like to say more, but I'm not sure what else I can say.
My prediction last episode that Keeley's breakup with girlfriend/financier Jack would be swept aside without consequences proved incorrect. In fact, Jack has suddenly pulled all funding for Keeley's company, KJPR, and Keeley must be out of the office within 48 hours.
For those keeping track, this is the third apparent casein this episodein which an incredibly rich person made a business decision based solely on personal grudge: Akufo spends a fortune to get Sam away from the Nigerian team (and opens a rival restaurant!); Rupert fires (or at least quickly accepts his resignation) Nate, his apparently extremely talented and successful manager; and now Jack interrupts KJPR. It's an unusual take on how wealthy people typically make business decisions.
But at least the show is trying to show those rich peoplealsomake questionable business decisions based on pure generosity. After an owners' meeting where Rebecca decides against profits based on fan appreciation — and persuades the other owners to do the same! - decides to save Keeley's company by financing it himself.
A few quick thoughts: First, if Keeley is really the PR expert we keep hearing she is - without seeing any evidence of it - couldn't she, you know, find funding from someone who isn't her friend to take pity on her? Or has she finally caught up with the fact that she takes frequent vacations, hires completely unqualified friends, and never seems to do any work? And secondly, did Keeley learnanythingabout mixing work and intimacy from her experience with Jack? If there's a fourth season, I half expect Rebecca to pull her funding the next time Keeley doesn't return her texts.
But at least we get to see Barbara redeemed after Keeley buys her a snow globe.
Keeley i Roy
Well, that was easy. Roy runs into Phoebe's teacher - yeah, Phoebe, honestly and always - and she says he seemed "stuck" the last time they spoke, which apparently sets him straight. Really? This bit of a scene, rather than, say, the powerful and to-the-point lecture Rebecca gave last week?
But apparently that five letter word is all it takes to make Roy want to get back together with Keeley, and his next letter is all it takes to make Keeley want to get back together with Roy. No talking or negotiating, no fixing what went wrong last time.
I'm actually being unfair. There may have been such interactions. "Ted Lasso" just made the extremely unconscionable decision not to show them. We go from the two of them standing awkwardly in the doorway to a half-dressed Roy getting comfortable with Keeley again.
It's exactly the same jump from start to finish that we saw with Nate and Rupert, without any of the tricky middle part where people actually talk to each other. For that matter, it's the same nonchalance with which we went from the early signs of trouble between Roy and Keeley at the end of last season to the two already parting ways this season. If the show didn't bother to show us an actual breakup, why should it show us an actual reconciliation? As someone who rooted for Keeley and Roy as hard as anyone, I was surprised at how little emotional weight their reunion carried.
I know I'm pretty disappointed with this episode and I know a lot of readers will like it more than I did - as was the case withlast time I was considerably disappointed. Which is fine! The world does not move to the beat of just one drum. But let me be clear, especially for new readers: my disappointment is not because I don't like the series or any of that nonsense. That's because I like it enough to hold it to a high standard.
Hopefully better things will come in the last two episodes, no matter how small the manuscript was supposed to be.
Odd and ends
I've always been in the camp that assumes Rebecca and her Dutchman will get together by the end of the season. (Why else would he show us a little girl's room on a boat?) Now I'm afraid that, given the rush-to-the-finish quality of this episode, their next meeting will also be a surprise - him showing up in London or her up on a boat with " happy ending" just not written on the screen. I was hoping to see them spend some time together again. But we'll always have Amsterdam.
Unless, of course, those predicting a Rebecca-Ted romance are wrong, which I sincerely hope they are not. But Rebecca playing with the green matchbox and the green soldier together worried me quite a bit.
Don't even get me started on the weird and awkward hallway meeting between Rebecca and Sam.
Wait, Rupert already broke up with Miss Kakes before Rebecca had a chance to expose his affair? Boo! And did I hear correctly that her replacement is Mrs. Kruh? I guess that makes Rupert the reverse of Marie Antoinette.
It is a bizarre idea that Akufo, rich as he is, could throw food at various other very rich people without facing their wrath, lawsuits and possible assault charges.
I love Higgins' wonderfully dark take on Willy Wonka.
Jamie's evolution into the best guy ever continues. He is the first to sympathize with Sam when he is not selected for Nigeria and then wears Sam's number on the field. And his Uncle's Day gift to new best friend Roy — thank you, Phoebe! - is perfect.
Speaking of which: Roy was fine wearing Phoebe's shirt and tie to work. But it would have been funnier if he had worn the shirt Jamie gave him, even if it meant a meeting with H.R.
Sixty quid for a snow globe? That's $75! Keeley may be the worst customer ever.
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