Warning: The following contains spoilers about Season 3, Episode 5 of Ted Lasso.
Any other week, the surprise retirement of AFC Richmond’s star player would be a big effing deal. But coming out of a Ted Lasso episode that features a half-dozen other major developments, at least one of which seems to hint at the series’ endgame, Zava’s exit feels relatively small.
For starters, there’s everything going on with Ted. Ever since he saw Henry off at Heathrow in the Season 3 opener, we’ve suspected that Coach Lasso will return to Kansas sooner rather than later, and take a more active role in his son’s life. Four weeks later, the very thought of being separated from his boy, who’s suddenly acting out in school, exacerbates his anxiety tenfold.
Episode 5 also finds AFC Richmond in a serious slump. A month has passed since they faced off against Nate and West Ham United, and the Greyhounds have slipped from third to ninth place. Not good! Their gameplay is so poor that Higgins, a character once defined by his missing backbone, confronts Rebecca and tells her that her club is headed in the wrong direction — and it’s not because of the quality of their players. Their stats have gotten so bad, he says, that she may want to consider replacing Ted as club manager.
At this point, we should you remind you that Ted was more than willing to step aside if Rebecca wanted to make a change in Season 1. If she decides to make a change now, we suspect he’ll leave with his head held high and book the first available flight back to Kansas.
Now, as far as “winning the whole f–king thing” goes, who’s to say what that actually means for Ted at this point in his journey? Is the ultimate goal to see Richmond go out on top, or put his family back together? Both outcomes are still achievable, but only one, we’d wager, requires Ted’s presence.
For now, at least, Rebecca is too wrapped up in her own stuff to give Higgins’ proposal a moment’s thought. It comes after a serendipitous run-in with ex-boyfriend John Wingsnight. He introduces her to his new fiancée, Jessica Darling, who in turn refers to John as her “shite in nining armor.” Freaky, right? Suddenly, Rebecca finds herself at her crossroads: She still doesn’t believe in clairvoyance, but perhaps Mum’s psychic saw something in her that she didn’t see in herself — in this case, her immense desire to start a family. She proceeds to schedule an appointment with her OB-GYN to see if she can get pregnant, knowing full well that it’s unlikely at her age. And judging by her reaction to Dr. Wagner’s call, her test results confirm what she suspected.
Upon receiving the news, Rebecca attempts to get in touch with Keeley. Unfortunately, her BFF is preoccupied. After firing Shandy (good riddance!), Keeley and venture capitalist Jack get cozy and eventually lock lips. It’s a hookup that several TVLine readers predicted following Jodi Balfour’s introduction in Episode 4 — well done!
Meanwhile, across town, Nate sits down to dinner with
Anastasia Jade. Call us crazy, but we like this pairing a lot. If anyone’s going to call the “Wonder Kid” out on his ish, it’s the burnt-out service worker who doesn’t seem the least bit fazed by his meteoric rise from kit man to head coach. Will Jade be the one to bring Nate back down to Earth?
Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, let’s talk Zava. After the players watch a goodbye video he posted to social media, Ted suggests that they never needed him in the first place. “All we need to win are the fellas in this room,” he says. “And all you fellas need to do is believe it,” regardless of whether the “Believe” sign above his office door remains intact. Belief, he says, comes from your heart, your head and your gut — that is, so long as you’re able to rise above all the envy, fear and shame. “I don’t want to mess around with that s–t anymore,” Ted says, dropping a rare cuss word. “You know what I want to mess around with? The belief that I matter, regardless of what I do or don’t achieve. Or the belief that we all deserve to be loved, whether we’ve been hurt or we’ve hurt somebody else. Or what about the belief of hope? That’s what I want to mess with. Believing that things can get better — that I can get better. That we will get better.” It’s an earnest speech that speaks to just about everyone in and out of the locker room — including closeted left winger Colin, who we cut to as soon as Ted mentions shame, and Roy, who receives a close up when Ted alludes to hurting someone you love. But perhaps most interesting is who we see when Ted mentions the belief of hope. We cut to a shot of Rebecca holding the green matchbook that Sam gave her in Episode 3. Could he be her “shite in nining armor,” after all?
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