Ted Lasso S3 Finale Deftly Avoids A Classic Karate Kid Villain Tactic

Contains spoilers for "Ted Lasso" Season 3 finale, "So Long, Farewell"

As difficult as it may have seemed for "Ted Lasso" Season 3 to bring most of its plot lines to a satisfying — or, at the very least, logical — end, the final episode manages to tug the strings that bind the good people at AFC Richmond just enough to pull off this impossible task. Every major character gets to end the series on a reasonably happy note, and multiple recurring ones return to shine for one last time. Even the iconic "Believe" sign makes a comeback, as it turns out that the Richmond players have been keeping pieces of it as personal talismans. 

Amidst all this, it's hard to believe that the finale finds the time to deal with the closest thing it's ever had to a villain, especially since Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) already more or less closed the book on the subject in "International Break." Even so, "So Long, Farewell" gives Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head) one last chance to slither about, and shoots his devious machinations down in a particularly dramatic fashion. For much of the series, Rupert has hidden whatever humanity he has left behind truly cartoonish villainy, but when he attempts to pull one last stunt in the Richmond-West Ham game, he finds out the hard way that the real world doesn't want any of his antics. 

When the frustrated Rupert strolls at new West Ham coach George Cartrick (Bill Fellows), he gives the order to take unstoppable Richmond star Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) out of the game by injuring him. This tried and tested baddie ploy is known from films like "The Karate Kid," where Kreese (Martin Kove) famously instructs Johnny (William Zabka) to sweep Daniel LaRusso's (Ralph Macchio) leg ... but the Season 3 finale goes on to artfully dismantle this classic villain tactic. 

Rupert's final stunt has no place in professional sports and is treated as such

It's extremely easy to see a "Cobra Kai"-style dynamic between Rupert and Cartrick, especially since the former has already used similar evil mentor tactics on Nate (Nick Mohammed), and seems to generally thrive on borderline supervillainy, billowing black coat and all. However, while Cartrick's appearances in the show so far have depicted him as an unpleasant and bitter man with a host of personal issues, he's still a highly qualified, professional top-level soccer coach. As such, reality ensues when Rupert tries to force Cartrick into deliberately hurting Jamie, and the coach promptly (and profanely) refuses to play dirty. This immediately leads to a physical altercation, and the crowd turns on Rupert, who has to exit the premises and the show in a brutal walk of shame while the crowd hurls insults at him.

"Ted Lasso" isn't always the world's most realistic show, but Rupert's "sweep the leg" moment ending in utter failure is a fairly believable outcome. There's no way a self-respecting Premier League coach would order his players to injure people, especially mere moments after the team's Darth Vader of an owner storms at him and clearly gives him orders. Coaching jobs come and go, but even a far more immoral coach than Cartrick turns out to be would probably understand that those optics could easily destroy a man's credibility for good.