*Warning: The following review contains spoilers for the Ted Lasso season finale “So Long, Farewell.”*
After 34 episodes, countless lessons learned, and millions of tears spilled across the globe, one of television’s biggest phenomena in recent memory seemingly ends in the Ted Lasso season finale. The series, a breath of fresh air since its inception, concludes its third season in a way only it could: with relentless heart and unbridled optimism.
The episode balances and concludes several long-running storylines while including several cheeky callbacks to episodes past. But most importantly, it never loses sight of what the series has always been about and reinforces the show’s central themes of kindness and forgiveness.
Ted Lasso hasn’t been perfect. There have been a couple of bumps along the road. An occasional misstep or two. But that hardly matters as the series wraps up in spectacular fashion and closes a chapter in the lives of everyone’s favorite underdogs, giving each main character the ending they’ve earned over the course of the series.
Nate the Great returns in the Ted Lasso season finale
For the first time since the end of season two, West Ham’s Wonder Kid Nathan Shelley (Nick Mohammed) is back home at AFC Richmond in the Ted Lasso season finale. But he’s not back as a member of the coaching staff, a position he held throughout the show’s second season. Instead, he’s the assistant kit man (assistant to the kit man, according to Nate) working alongside Richmond’s young kit man Will (Charlie Hiscock).
Nate first appears alongside Will in the Richmond locker room. The team, led by captain Isaac McAdoo (Kola Bokinni), collects team “fines” to help pay for their end-of-season party. In a nice throwback to previous episodes, the collection box is yet another handcrafted masterpiece created by Nate and his niece.
Later, in a scene a year in the making, Nate comes face-to-face with Ted (Jason Sudeikis) during a late night at Nelson Road. Nate breaks down in tears and tries to ask Ted to forgive him for his actions at the end of season two. But in typical Ted fashion, Ted forgives Nate. In fact, he forgave Nate ages ago, because that’s just who Ted is.
Nate’s arc has been among the most controversial throughout season three. Some feel his redemption arc has been unearned, but that argument misses the point of what this show is all about, and what it has always been about. Forgiveness is something you offer someone, but not because of something they do to earn it. It’s something you do for yourself to rid yourself of the poison of stewing in your own anger and bitterness.
That is why Ted forgave Nate for destroying the “Believe” sign and vindictively telling Trent Crimm (James Lance) about Ted’s panic attacks. He forgave Nate even while the young coach bumbled, fumbled, and slowly found his way back to himself. As the Ted Lasso season finale later shows, no one is perfect. We do the best we can, but sometimes our best is messy and confusing. But no matter how messy and imperfect it gets, forgiveness is always on the table.
A Tartt Friendship
One of the best things about the series is Jamie Tartt’s (Phil Dunster) incredible redemption arc and his delightful friendship with Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein). Richmond’s star player, introduced in season one as a selfish, vapid, and misogynistic hotshot, has evolved into a lovable, caring, team player who understands the errors of his past actions.
The Ted Lasso season finale sees Jamie go out for a beer with Roy, who tries to grapple with the fact that he still loves Keeley (Juno Temple) but can’t tell if she’s interested in getting back together with him. In the latest display of Roy’s tremendous growth, he asks to join the Diamond Dogs and solicits their advice. Roy learns that he has been chasing perfection to try to win back Keeley’s heart. This revelation leads to some phenomenal truth bombs from Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) and Higgins (Jeremy Swift).
“Human beings are never gonna be perfect, Roy. The best we can do is to keep asking for help and accepting it when you can. And if you keep on doing that, you’ll always be moving towards better.”—Leslie Higgins in Ted Lasso season 3, episode 12
Roy later invites Jamie out to ask him to step aside so he can have Keeley. Jamie’s not having any of it, as he’s willing to fight for another shot with Keeley.
And fight, they do. But unlike in season one, when Roy and Jamie’s clashes are fueled by genuine hatred of one another, this (offscreen) fight has a much more comedic tone. In the end, the disheveled duo goes straight to Keeley to have her choose which man she wants to be with. But in true Boss Keeley fashion, she selects neither suitor.
Keeley has always understood her self-worth, going back as far as the Richmond player auction in season one in which she breaks up with Jamie over his lack of accountability. This was the perfect ending for her, as she puts her own self-worth over relationships she’s moved on from.
With so much already going on, it’s almost easy to forget that Richmond is gearing up to play the most pivotal game in the club’s history. A win against West Ham could catapult Richmond to the top of the standings and into the Champions League.
That pits Rebecca’s (Hannah Waddingham) Richmond squad up against ex-husband Rupert Mannion’s (Anthony Head). Bex (Keeley Hazell) leaves Rupert after his former assistant Ms. Kakes (Rosie Lou) accuses him of sexual misconduct. But rather than lie low, Rupert still shows up to the game—as vile and oily as ever—hoping to shove a win down Rebecca’s throat. Rebecca is polite to him as usual, but thankfully Sassy (Ellie Taylor) is there to dress him down in spectacular fashion one last time.
Before the game, Ted plays the team a video montage of their best moments together. It’s a beautiful, heartwarming moment that has the team—and Roy—in tears even as they begin the match.
Dr. Sharon (Sarah Niles) cheers on the team from what looks like Amsterdam, while Michelle Lasso (Andrea Anders) watches with Ted’s son Henry (Gus Turner) and her boyfriend Dr. Jake (Mike O’Gorman).
It’s a thrilling match from the beginning, with West Ham scoring two early goals even as Van Damme/Zoreaux/Zorro (Moe Jeudy-Lamour) makes some spectacular saves. With the team down 2-0 at halftime, Ted tells the team how much he has loved being their coach and drops one last lesson on the team.
Throughout the Ted Lasso season finale, we see that the “Believe” sign is no longer above Ted’s office door. It turns out, each team member took a piece of it. In a moment that made me weep until I was waterlogged, each player retrieves their piece and works with the others to tape the sign back together.
Renewed, the team returns to the field with spectacular teamwork that leads to Jamie scoring the team’s first goal and McAdoo scoring a penalty kick so powerful, he blows a hole in the net. Rupert storms down to the pitch, demanding that his coach George Cartrick (Bill Fellows) find a way to take Jamie out of commission. When he refuses, Rupert shoves George to the ground, and the crowd turns on Rupert, chanting “Wanker” at him as he leaves the pitch in disgrace.
When Richmond earns a free kick, Ted uses Nate to convey the play to the team, which leads to Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh) scoring the game-winning goal. Fans spill out onto the field, and the team celebrates, including Colin Hughes (Billy Harris), who finally gets to kiss his boyfriend in front of the entire world. In a hilarious nod to a nearly decade-old Ted Lasso short, Ted does the running man on the field, surrounded by his team.
“It’s not about me. It never was.”
Throughout the Ted Lasso season finale, Rebecca debates selling the club after Ted’s departure. She doesn’t want to be there without Ted and even pleads with him to bring Melissa and Henry to London so he can stay with Richmond. She receives an offer to sell 49% of the club but also contemplates selling it completely, which could fetch roughly two billion pounds.
No longer obsessed with beating Rupert, she’s far more relaxed during the game than we’ve seen her. After the game ends, she sells 49% of the club to the fans, including The Crown & Anchor pub owner Mae (Annette Badland) and Richmond diehards Baz (Adam Colborne), Paul (Kevin ‘KG’ Garry), and Jeremy (Bronson Webb).
Rebecca follows Ted to the airport to give him a proper goodbye, noting that Ted is going home to his family but that she’s staying with hers. They exchange teary thank yous and a hug, and Ted boards his flight. Beard confesses that he wants to stay, and fakes acute appendicitis to get off the flight.
Meanwhile, Rebecca leaves the terminal and helps up a little girl who trips and falls. Her father steps into frame, and it’s revealed to be Rebecca’s mystery man from Amsterdam (Matteo van der Grijn).
A montage of the future shows Rebecca together with her Dutch beau, Beard marrying his girlfriend Jane, and Sam making the Nigerian national team he’s idolized throughout the series. Keeley and Barbara (Katy Wix) rebuild KJPR, Roy is named Richmond’s new manager, and Nate’s relationship with Jade (Edyta Budnik) continues to go strong.
Jamie reconnects with his now-sober father (Kieran O’Brien) and Keeley proposes a Richmond women’s team. Trent signs copies of his retitled book (“It’s not about me. It never was,” Ted writes to Trent) for readers. In a sign of even more growth, Roy schedules a therapy session with Dr. Sharon, who AFC Richmond has re-hired as the Head of Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being. Nate, Beard, and Roy hang the newly repaired “Believe” sign over the coaching office’s door.
In the final scene of the Ted Lasso season finale, Ted reunites with his son Henry, whose soccer team he’s now coaching. After Henry feels down about making an error on the pitch, Ted asks him what he’s taught him. Henry’s response? “Be a goldfish.”
The Richmond Way
Ted Lasso wasn’t perfect. But it didn’t need to be. Much like the lessons the show teaches, how you make people feel is far more important than fruitlessly attempting to achieve perfection. As Coach Beard said himself, perfect is boring. But, even through its imperfections, Ted Lasso helped the world feel. It helped people heal.
It had something important to say about the way we as human beings treat each other. It taught us how wonderful the world could be if we remember that everyone is going through something and that the capacity for forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.
And, most of all, it brought people joy. It brought people together. We saw ourselves in these characters and learned about ourselves through them. We grew as they grew. And hopefully, we’re all slightly better for it.
So, no. Ted Lasso wasn’t perfect. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
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'Ted Lasso' Season 3 Finale "So Long, Farewell" Review'Ted Lasso' Season 3 Finale "So Long, Farewell" Review
- Powerful, heartwarming writing
- Gives each character the ending they've earned
- Reinforces the main themes of the past three seasons
- If tears were money, I'd be a millionaire after this episode
- Some wonky CGI in Beard's Stonehenge wedding. But seriously, who cares?
- Jason Sudeikis, I need you to reimburse me for all the Kleenex I've gone through while watching your show