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Ted Lasso S3E9 Gives Us The Show's Most Meaningful Episode Title Yet

Contains spoilers for "Ted Lasso" Season 3 Episode 9, "La Locker Room Aux Folles"

"Ted Lasso" likes a meaningful episode title. Season 1 ender "The Hope That Kills You" might be a verbatim quote from a minor character, but also a fairly accurate description of the episode's themes and central challenges. Season 3's "The Strings That Bind Us" refers to the real story behind the episode's red string exercise and the characters' deep connections. "Beard After Hours" is ... about that one time Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) went out after hours. OK, so maybe some of them aren't all that deep.

Season 3 Episode 9, on the other hand, goes all in with the symbolism, to the point that the seemingly nonsensical title could very well be the most meaningful episode name the show has given us so far. The mangled French of  "La Locker Room Aux Folles" is a reference to Jean Poiret's play "La Cage aux Folles," a comedy classic that has birthed multiple film adaptations and a hit musical.  It tells the story of an openly gay couple that has to pass for straight when extremely conservative people come to visit, only for everything to come out in the open in a rather dramatic fashion. 

It can be easy to associate the episode title with Colin Hughes (Billy Harris), who does indeed come out during a locker room discussion after Isaac McAdoo's (Kola Bokinni) red card-worthy meltdown causes confusion within the squad. However, "La Cage aux Folles" is all about finding it difficult to play something that you're not — and that just so happens to be the overarching theme of every major plotline in "La Locker Room Aux Folles," too.

The episode shows how appearances can be deceiving

"La Locker Room Aux Folles " explores the concept of keeping up appearances in a number of ways, and much like "La Cage aux Folles," many of the episode's plots bring a fair few walls crashing down. Nate Shelley (Nick Mohammed) has played the reluctant villain for much of the season, but when Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head) tries to unleash his latest mind games with the manipulative "boys' night out," the Wonder Kid finally gathers the strength to walk away, knowing full well how detrimental this may be to his career. Over at Richmond, Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) has a similar epiphany when Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) calls him out, which motivates him to lower his shields and finally take the kind of responsibility he's been secretly itching for. 

Meanwhile, Isaac takes a similar path, presented as a play with the viewers' expectations. Though his seething rage and apparent hostility toward Colin might initially seem homophobic, he's actually just trying to come to terms with the fact that he can't understand why his teammate and good friend has kept secrets from him. As a rather more meta example, Keeley Jones' (Juno Temple) strange side quest with Jack Danvers (Jodi Balfour) seems to have come to a close, which immediately leads to Keeley returning to her usual role in the series: a welcome and much-needed semi-outsider character at the Richmond premises. Even the grim anecdote Roy tells at the press conference revolves around a former teammate who has kept up appearances.

Note that there are no redemption stories here — not even Nate's plot, as Nick Mohammed himself has been quick to note on Twitter. All we see are people who, for one reason or another, have been playing an unfamiliar and strange role, and are now dropping the act to be more true to themselves, all in different ways and for reasons of their own. After all, as Roy succinctly sums things up in his press conference: "None of us know what is going on in each others' lives."