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The Only Ways Ted Lasso Season 3 Can Redeem Itself - Looper Staff Picks

The third season of "Ted Lasso" is approaching its endpoint, and a lot of fans are ... well, feeling like the show has lost some of its creative spark. When the series originally dropped in August of 2020, it became a runaway hit, thanks in large part to its sweetness and positivity during a time where audiences across the world desperately needed a mood boost. (Remember quarantine?) After amassing incredible cultural goodwill and an enormous fanbase in the wake of Season 1, the second season of "Ted Lasso" was also fairly well-reviewed, leaving fans excited for Season 3.

So ... what happened? Without speaking for the world at large, the Looper staff feels like Season 3 has been pretty lacking; when we set out to cover it each week, we're not filled with the same excitement that we were for the previous two seasons. What complicates this is the ongoing rumor that Season 3 will be the show's last, which could leave audiences feeling like the characters they love didn't get worthy conclusions. So how can "Ted Lasso" course-correct during its potential final season and return to its former glory? We've got some ideas, so bear with us as we map out our fantasies for the remainder of Season 3 of "Ted Lasso."

Nina Starner — Please put everybody in the same room again

Nobody can deny that the cast of "Ted Lasso" is spectacular. Everyone from Brett Goldstein to Juno Temple to Phil Dunster is uniformly excellent, and several of them — Goldstein, Jason Sudeikis, and Hannah Waddingham — have rightfully won awards for their work. Not just that, but the chemistry they all share is excellent, which makes it incredibly frustrating that the characters have been largely split up.

Even in "Amsterdam," when the team heads to the Netherlands for a match, characters ended up isolated from each other. Rebecca (Waddingham) had a fling with a man on his houseboat, Ted (Sudeikis) got high and figured out a new strategy for UFC Richmond, and Beard (Brendan Hunt) had a wild night out that we never even get to see. For God's sake, the team at large ends up splitting up so they can all see and do different things. The real magic of "Ted Lasso" is the bonds between the characters, and Season 3 is stranding them all on their own islands. Keeley (Temple) and Rebecca have one of the show's sweetest relationships, and they've barely spent any time together this season; Ted is usually on his own, sulking about missing his family; Roy and Jamie's growing bond is nice, but it's not a substitute for everyone rallying together to support one another. Please, let's get everyone in the same room by the end of Season 3. This is getting ridiculous.

Pauli Poisuo — All side quests must die

Is "Ted Lasso" Season 3 signaling possible spin-offs? Maybe. Has the writers' room been run over by the proverbial monkeys with typewriters, only instead of Shakespeare they punch up random B-plots? Nothing's impossible! Was that an unnecessarily harsh way to start a rant about the show's current overabundance of side quests? Almost certainly, but hear me out.

"Ted Lasso" has been overreaching for a while. The show started as a tight workplace dramedy about a clueless (but not really) coach and the various soccer club personalities he wins over, with the twist that everyone is thoroughly broken and has to learn to deal with it. And you know what? That's enough. That's a premise for the ages, and could easily yield season after season of great TV. So, why have we been spending so much of Season 3 away from it?

The issue is that the season has started taking the side quests further away from the club, and the end result is often actively detrimental to the show. Keeley, an all-star character whose interactions with Richmond people are consistently among the highlights of any given episode, has been corralled into a different show about cozy offices and billionaire girlfriends. Nate is so detached from the rest of the crew that he literally refuses to talk to them, and is also apparently a lead in a 1990s romantic comedy now. Heck, some characters have managed detachment without actually leaving the club. Just look at Rebecca's weird paranormal detour — that green matchbook might as well have a picture of the Fonz jumping the shark on the cover.

All of this needs to be fixed for the show to reach — or rather, regain — its full potential. Quickly wrap up or abandon every single subplot that ventures too far from Ted or AFC Richmond, and focus on the glorious, heartwarming, dumb things that happen around the club. That's what "Ted Lasso" used to do best, and that's what "Ted Lasso" should do once more.

Cameron Roy Hall — Nathan Shelley can't return to AFC Richmond

As a character, Nathan Shelley (Nick Mohammed) is incredible. He's a well-developed, three-dimensional human being who reminds the viewer that undeserved suffering does not intrinsically equate to moral superiority. And that's a whole lot of words to say that Nate's an absolute tool.

"Ted Lasso" Season 2 gave audiences a peek at how entitled this dude could be when given some support, but Season 3 released the river of Nate's self-righteousness. Off the bat, the little turncoat went on record brutally defaming everyone he ever worked with. And now Nate seems to be dealing with some doubts about his choices.

Whatever happens, Nate cannot return to AFC Richmond. Nate may realize how badly he goofed, and Ted may even forgive him, but he can't come back because that's not how good storytelling works. Unlike other characters in the series who underwent emotional growth, Nate began with Ted's friendship and protection. He had it long before most did, actually — Nate went from a disrespected (which he didn't deserve) Kitman to the beloved (which he did deserve) Wonder Kid because Ted believed in him. But the moment he had an ounce of authority to his name he bit the only hand that offered him aid.

The most satisfying version of this would see Nate apologize to Ted. Ted being Ted, he would immediately accept the apology, and then he would deny Nate the opportunity to rejoin AFC Richmond, at which point Nate would be forced to prove his growth by accepting that decision or prove his stagnation by resorting to petulant anger once again. Either way, this would allow Ted some growth, too, since he's always moving his own boundaries for others.

Pauli Poisuo — The show must figure out what to do with Jamie

Jamie Tartt is attentive. Jamie Tartt is kind. Jamie Tartt has voluntarily transitioned into a selfless playmaker role, allowing the rest of the team to shine and score goals. Phil Dunster's arrogant striker has come a long way from his selfish chav origins, and it's hard to name a more surprising and welcome "Ted Lasso" character arc than his slow ascent to humility. Jamie's still as clueless as ever in many ways — "Password" with a double "S" to confuse hackers, anyone? Yet, he now readily owns up to his failings, absorbs advice from veterans like Roy Kent, and has found empathy and wisdom well beyond his years. There's just one problem: He's already done it all, and the season's not over yet.

Jamie is a complete package at this point. Professionally, he's one step short of superstardom, and personally, he's finally at peace with himself. Now, "Ted Lasso" has to figure out what to do with this newly zen, but still charmingly cocky figure. There must be an endgame for Jamie, but seeing how incredibly satisfying his development arc has been so far, it seems like the show has a bigger chance to fumble things than to elevate him even further.

What on Earth can Jamie do at this point? Score important goals? Seen that already. Get back together with Keeley? Big can of worms, considering how much Keeley's storylines have been unnecessarily defined by romance. Her character deserves better than a last-minute will-they-won't-they. Really, the only way the show can bring Jamie's story to a satisfactory end is if the show finds something new to say about his issues with his dad. Is that enough to support Jamie's story for the last episodes of Season 3, though? Probably not. As such, the show would better have a big old rabbit up its sleeve, because it would be a shame if Jamie's story starts treading water so close to the finish line.

Kieran Fisher — Keeley and Roy should move on as friends

The majority of the characters on "Ted Lasso" deserve to be loved. Most fans probably want to see everyone who isn't named Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head) go on to live happily ever after with their soulmates. At the same time, the series doesn't shy away from the upsetting realities of life either, and that includes relationships coming to an end.

Roy and Keeley were a lovely couple during their short time together. She was the sparkly yin to his grumpy yang and it was great seeing her bring out his warm side. However, their relationship wasn't built to last, as they were essentially too busy to focus on each other. Since then, Keeley has embarked on a jet-setting romance with her boss Jack (Jodi Balfour), which admittedly seems to be reaching its own tragic end if their argument in the latest episode is anything to go by. Still, if her relationship with Jack does end, Keeley still shouldn't get back together with Roy. They broke up because they didn't have the time to commit to each other, and their workload has only increased since then. Sometimes external factors get in the way of love being able to blossom, and that's a more interesting angle to explore than a mushy reconciliation.

Breakups suck, but life goes on. "Ted Lasso" has given us plenty of feel-good moments, but Roy and Keeley getting back together would be boring and predictable. That said, they can rebuild their friendship, which would be still a happy ending for the ex-lovers' story in its own way.

Pauli Poisuo — West Ham be damned, AFC Richmond must finally beat Man City

AFC Richmond is a tighter squad than they've ever been, so it makes sense that they need to achieve their biggest win together. This is especially true because one way or another, this is their final season together. Richmond has managed to keep its squad admirably unchanged for three seasons, but now that Ted's Total Football has made every player shine, top clubs are going to fight for their services, and there's no way Richmond can hold on to them all. Really, though, it doesn't matter whether they stay together or disband; remain in the Premier League or get relegated once again. In terms of the grander "Ted Lasso" story, Richmond only needs a win over one very particular team.

What? No, not West Ham United. Sure, Richmond will probably steamroll them, too, but Rupert's vanity project can forever blow bubbles all it likes in the grand scheme of things. The only stakes remaining in that plotline are how long it takes for Nate to break good and for Rupert to get quietly wrecked by Ted and/or Rebecca for the umpteenth time. No, the real challenge is Manchester City.

Season 2's "Man City" is one of the show's punchiest episodes in many ways, and sports-wise, the brutal defeat Richmond suffers to the sky-blue juggernauts must still be stinging. Coach Beard's introduction of Ted's Total Football already included references to both City and its legendary real-life coach, Pep Guardiola, so clearly the show hasn't forgotten Richmond's real white whale.

As such, the only satisfactory ending for the team is a victorious Man City rematch that hopefully features a cameo appearance from Guardiola himself. After all, he's already been name-dropped, and since Ted's coaching style is partially based on Guardiola's main Premier League rival Jurgen Klopp, a victory over the Man City manager would be a clever way to finally validate Ted as a Premier League-level manager.

Jaron Pak — The team has to face one last crisis

"Ted Lasso" is a series that has changed its trajectory and tone multiple times. Whatever twists and turns the story takes, though, it remains a show based on uncompromising positivity, no matter what challenges or struggles a person, couple, family, or football team might face.

Seasons 1 and 2 confronted many of the characters' pitfalls both on and (more often) off of the pitch. Time and again, these protagonists have successfully adjusted their behavior and grown — so much so that with just a couple of episodes left, there isn't much left as far as stakes are concerned. Everyone has resolved their issues, or is at least capable of doing so, with nauseatingly predictable success.

I say all this to set the stage for one way the season could redeem itself with so little time left on the clock: to refocus on the football side of things ... and then let everything collapse. Let's see a showdown between West Ham and AFC Richmond for the top spot in the Premier League. Then let them tie and have Man City leapfrog both into first place.

That would drive home every lesson and takeaway of the show all at once. It would give Nate and Ted a chance to make up with one another through mutual defeat. Rebecca could finally triumph over Rupert by letting go of the need to beat him. Everyone else could show off their incredible emotional depth by taking the loss in stride and being bigger than the moment.

If Ted Lasso wants to end on a high note, they need to create one more crisis — one so big that nothing can fix it. And then let their emotionally resilient characters end on a spiritual high note in spite of their collective corporeal failure.

Nina Starner — Everyone rips off their skin to reveal that they're lizard people

This season of "Ted Lasso" has been all over the place, between its tone and the way its characters are acting, so let's just steer into the skid and get really stupid. It's the Season 3 finale, which could be the series finale. I'm sitting there, watching, thinking about what an underwhelming season of television this has been for a show that was really amazing at the start. Then, my musings are interrupted when every single character on "Ted Lasso" unzips their skin suits to reveal that they're actually lizard people, and they've been lizard people for the entire season.

This would clear up so many things! It would explain why, after a compromising video of Keeley hits the internet, Roy asks her who it was for, which is completely out of character! It would explain that weird locker room chat about photos and consent from the same episode! It would go a long way to help viewers make sense of a season where it's felt like something is just missing! Make them all lizard people. Say they got body-snatched between Season 2 and Season 3. I don't know, man. I'm not enjoying Season 3 at all. Watching "Ted Lasso" is starting to feel like some sort of chore. In the words of Frank Reynolds, get "real weird with it," please.