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Ted Lasso Theory: Season 3 Could See The Fall Of Nate The Not-So-Great

Few arcs in "Ted Lasso" have been quite as galling as that of Nate Shelley (Nick Mohammed). If most characters' transformation after coming in contact with the upbeat American now coaching AFC Richmond is to become infected with his same optimistic belief, Nate's contact with Ted (Jason Sudeikis) has, despite all Ted's efforts to the contrary, turned the club's old kit man turned assistant coach bitter, resentful, and spiteful. The final moments of Season 2 reveal Nate having not just left Richmond, but also taking the head coach position at West Ham United in what seems to be mostly a chance to defeat Ted. That West Ham's new owner, Rupert (Anthony Head), is also the smug and spiteful ex-husband of Richmond owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) just about proves that Nick is a coach out to somehow humiliate Ted.

It might seem to some of us that Nate has definitively gone over to the dark side, too far gone to be affected by the positivity that emanates from Richmond. Still, "Ted Lasso" is, among many other things, a show about redemption, and about how we learn to be our better selves. What's more, we have a memory of Nate before he started to resent Ted's optimism, when he was an underappreciated, almost faceless part of AFC Richmond who nonetheless believed in the club's greatness and needed someone to believe in him. Even as he styles himself as Ted's mortal enemy, is it completely out of the question that Nate will come back to the light? With Season 3 now upon us, fan theories are naturally flying.

'Choices that close some doors'

It's perhaps unsurprising that many of the predictions for "Ted Lasso" Season 3 here at Looper revolved around the fate of Nate. Turns out, some "Ted Lasso" fans simply don't want Nate's fall from the top to be followed by redemption. Or at least, they don't want him welcomed back into the fold of the club that made him. A post by u/WeezyMoney166 at the r/TedLasso subreddit is bluntly titled "I don't want Nate to get back to Richmond." They wrote that they think Nate's time with West Ham will ultimately show him how destructive his actions have been (a distinct possibility given how shamelessly manipulative Rupert has proven himself to be). While Nate's cutthroat drive may get him initial success at his new club, this user predicts it will also prove to be his downfall.

"The theory that most people, myself included, are speculating on, is that Nate will defeat Richmond the first time," the user wrote, "just to lose his entire team afterwards, because, while he's a good coach, he can't relate to players, nor help them just like Ted used to do." They went on to write that because the series revolves so heavily around the idea of forgiveness, Ted would likely forgive Nate. That does not, however, mean that all will go back to how it was, at least for the now-humbled Nate.

"Sometimes there are choices that close some doors," the user wrote. "After we make those choices, we are not allowed to go back, and I think that Nate has closed all possible doors that could lead him back to Richmond."

Forgiveness and forgetting

It seems, at least judging from the responses to their post, that u/WeezyMoney166 has a lot of agreement on the matter of Nate's redemption. What much of it boils down to is that there is forgiveness and there is forgetting. And while it is absolutely in Ted Lasso's nature to forgive Nate the Not-So-Great for some pretty heinous actions, to rehire him at Richmond — which is in fact more Rebecca's call than Ted's — would be essentially to act like Nate's betrayal didn't happen, that the harm Nate caused was somehow invisible to Ted, Rebecca, and the rest of AFC Richmond.

"Thank you for saying this!" wrote u/saddestsummerever. "I feel like way too many shows think forgiveness means things get to go back to the way things were with hardly any consequences." Still others commenting on the original post seem to agree that Nate will indeed mess up big at West Ham, and that he won't be invited back to Richmond, but that will be because he somehow learns to be a better coach, and better version of himself, as a result of his actions at West Ham.

As u/jlo1989 wrote, "I know we all badly want to launch him into the Thames but the show isn't going to do that. He will definitely get crushed by something (and likely deservedly so, hes had some form of karmic retribution coming), but they will throw him some sort of lifeline." Interestingly, what that looks like for u/jlo1989 is for Nate, in learning how to treat his team with respect, also standing up to Rupert. Which, in its own way, would also be pretty satisfying, and in keeping with the spirit of "Ted Lasso."