Ted Lasso ‘s Season 3 Episode 4 gives us the Ted-Nate moments we’ve been waiting for, with a match against West Ham and unexpected discoveries.
This review contains minor spoilers for Season 3 Episode 4 of Ted Lasso.
The time has finally come to approach the subject of Nate (Nick Mohammed), and Ted Lasso does it exceptionally well in episode 4 of season 3. AFC Richmond’s match with West Ham is approaching, and this week’s episode uses the inevitable meeting between the “wonder kid” and Ted (Jason Sudeikis) to explore not only the complex dynamics between them, but also their individual states of mind, as well as those of the people around them.
It’s an episode that gives us less Zava (*sighs*) and still leaves questions unanswered from past episodes of season 3, such as the Colin (Billy Harris) situation, Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley’s (Juno Temple) breakup, and the matchbox conundrum. But it’s also a very rewarding chapter of Ted Lasso where a lot happens but just as much can be inferred. Fans of the Apple TV+ series will have much to think about what the future holds for our favourite football players.
The highly anticipated match between Richmond and West Ham is at the centre of it all, worrying both coaches and players. But, while Beard (Brendan Hunt), Leslie (Jeremy Swift) and Roy conjure up strategies to “outthink Nate by thinking like him,” the upcoming game doesn’t seem to worry Ted. Is Sassy (Ellie Taylor) right to consider him “a mess,” or is Ted just seeing a bigger picture that the other players can’t yet grasp?
To me, it’s a little bit of both, which is, in part, what makes episode 4 so interesting storytelling-wise. First of all, like the episode itself eventually reminds us, Ted and Nate (and we, the audience) are the only ones who know why the kitman-turned-coach left at the end of season 2. Nate blamed Ted for taking him for granted, without really acknowledging how crucial his input was for AFC Richmond’s success. This is why Nate ripped the “believe” sign in half: he didn’t believe in Ted anymore, and he could see through him in a way that other players didn’t.
Of course, Nate overreacted, but there’s some truth in what he said to Ted at the end of last season, and Ted knows it. The dynamics at play, here, are not dissimilar to what we’re shown in episode 8 of Shrinking (co-written by Brett Goldstein, who also wrote this week’s episode of Ted Lasso), where a character reminds another that he can’t let the mistakes he made in the past prevent him from getting angry when others wrong him. Here, Ted clearly feels guilty for not having dedicated as much attention to Nate as he should have in the past. This explains not only why he’s not as angry at the wonder kid as everyone would like him to be, but also why he doesn’t really seem all that interested in winning: he’s simply reacting to what Nate does, without really making any decisions of his own.
This also reflects Ted’s situation at home, as last week’s episode revealed that his ex-wife Michelle (Andrea Anders) is seeing someone else who has becomed pretty involved in their child’s life, and Ted chose to keep that bottled up inside, too, when he first found out. But at the end of episode 4 our coach decides to be brave and face at least one of these two situations, so we can expect more change to come in the rest of season 3.
But Nate is also a very interesting character to analyse in episode 4, as his behaviour reveals so much more about his emotional state. The topic of Nate the Great’s betrayal has been much discussed since season 2 ended. Most of the people I spoke with either didn’t understand the coach’s sudden change of attitude towards Ted or thought that he was turned into a villain too quickly. I don’t think he’s a villain at all, and episode 4 confirms it with a particularly meaningful conversation between the wonder kid and Rupert (Anthony Head).
In the scene, Rupert visits Nate in his office to ask him if he’s ready for the upcoming match, and Nate shares his worries about seeing Ted again with his new manager. As expected, Rupert urges him to completely ignore his former coach and focus on winning at all costs, adding that he should now call him “Mr. Mannion” instead of Rupert. What this gives us, right off the bat, is an insightful analyses of toxic masculinity: unlike Ted, Rupert doesn’t think that talking about one’s feelings is a manly thing to do, and when Nate tries to do just that, he loses Rupert’s respect, which came with the privilege of being on a first name basis.
But there’s something else that this scene tells us, if we really focus on Nate — that is, that he never stopped being the same old “Nate the Great”: a well-meaning man who is capable of great things, but who simply doesn’t know who he is yet. The confidence we perceive when he forces himself to be assertive doesn’t come from a healthy place, but was shaped by others. Nate’s identity is still in the making, and this is the result of his upbringing, from unsupportive parenting to various experiences he had, like being bullied by the team before Ted’s arrival.
In a way, Ted’s enthusiasm and empathy also helped make him who he is, as the coach provided Nate with confidence by believing in him, ultimately causing his exaggerated reaction when he stopped being as attentive towards the kitman as he used to be. Now that his new mentor, the ruthless Rupert, presents him with a new, unhealthy example of how to be an assertive leader, Nate is more confused than ever, as he doesn’t know who he should be anymore. The Nate we see in episode 4 is someone who might be finally be on the right path to figure out which kind of man he wants to be, and grow into a person who believes in himself enough to not have to rely on others for a confidence boost.
Speaking of West Ham’s owner, I am somehow starting to almost like him. Rupert has become an almost cartoonish character, and I can’t help but laugh every time he shows up at exactly the right moment, says something snarky, and inevitably fails at whatever he’s trying to achieve. It’s the same kind of humour we’d get from watching Wile E Coyote, who hardly ever achieves his goals but never stops plotting, but we also never fail to find Rupert pathetic and anticipate the moment when Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) will point that out.
In this week’s episode, there are two Rebeccas doing just that, as the West Ham owner’s current girlfriend Bex (Keeley Hazell) also makes an appearance, and I have a feeling that the two women might even team up in the future. But that’s not all: fans of the show have started to notice that Rupert also bears an uncanny resemblance to a Sith Lord, with his dark, long coat and lair-like office. In episode 4, the parallels continue with a scene where elevator doors absolutely remind us of the Death Star, and we absolutely can’t wait to see him in action in the rest of season 3.
But so much more happens in this week’s episode of Ted Lasso, starting with a new character whose name would be a spoiler, but who’s going to make things very interesting for Keeley. Jamie (Phil Dunster) is quickly becoming my new favourite character in the series, which seems to be building up to the moment we’ll find out that he was right all along when he was being ironic (or was he hypocritical?) in last week’s episode, and he’ll become the new Roy. Zava (Maximilian Osinski) doesn’t have many scenes in this episode, but his extreme interpretation of the “you can be whoever you want to be” mantra gives us hilarious turns, and we can’t wait to see more of him.
Episode 4 also marks the return of the Diamond Dogs, and thankfully confirms that Sassy will continue to be exactly the same kind of character she has been up till now: someone with no real identity or motivation, but who’s pulled out of the hat whenever another character needs to realise something about themselves. More importantly, this week’s episode gives us a great scene between Ted and Rebecca! To all the Tedbecca lovers out there: there’s still hope!
There would be much more to talk about, but it’s best if you find out about a specific twist on your own. What I’ll say is that we’re definitely going to see some major changes for both Ted and AFC Richmond next week, and we might even find out what Trent Crimm’s (James Lance) role will be in season 3. Not only that, but I have a feeling we’re about to see completely different sides of both Ted and Nate soon. Bring on next week’s episode!
Ted Lasso‘s Season 3 Episode 4 is now streaming on Apple TV+. Read our list of best rated shows on Apple TV+ according to Imdb!