The Spool / Recap
Ted Lasso is wrapped in ambivalence as Richmond’s season begins
“(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea” sets up Rebecca and Rupert's first football battle as everyone wrestles with mixed emotions.
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“(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea” sets up Rebecca and Rupert’s first football battle as everyone wrestles with mixed emotions.

While for us, the season started last week, for Richmond, it begins with Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 2, “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea.” So welcome back to the dog track. Let’s recap the damn thing.

Last episode’s director MJ Delaney is in the chair again, working off a script from Sasha Garron. It marks a second collaboration for the team after last season’s “Midnight Train to Royston.” Not to spoil anything, but this episode does not match that episode’s emotional resonance. That said, this one does close on a pretty strong moment. But we’ll get there.

The episode kicks off with a scene that sets up two of the episode’s three storylines right off the bat. First, Trent Crimm (James Lance), no longer of The Independent, is back! While not taking the exact route I predicted, the show has figured out a way to bring him even closer to the team. He wants to make like a one-man Hard Knocks and follow the team throughout the season to write a book. Despite Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), Higgins (Jeremy Swift), and Keeley (Juno Temple) silently urging Ted (Jason Sudeikis) to reject Trent’s proposal, the coach unsurprisingly agrees. Not sure why any of those three imagined a universe where Ted wouldn’t say yes.

Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 2 (AppleTV+)
Jeremy Swift, Hannah Waddingham, and Juno Temple put on a brave face. (AppleTV+)

Moments later, the second plotline arrives via an alert on Higgins’ phone. Zava (Maximilian Osinski), a legendary footballer currently playing in Italy, is leaving his team for England. Rebecca is initially disinterested due to the man’s cost and disruptive behavior. However, one mention of West Ham being interested convinces her to join the scrum. Rupert (Anthony Head) may be in her head a different way this season, but he’s still deep in there.

The C-plot shows up in the next scene. Keeley isn’t necessarily struggling at her new agency, but it seems like an ill fit for her. Her co-workers are left utterly baffled by a slightly cheeky joke—“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”—and her CFO Barbara (Katy Wix) continues to hover just this side of being disrespectful to the boss.

Starting there, I confess I’m not sure what the series is trying to say about Keeley and her business in Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 2. She seems to have clients, but it’s unclear how many. Richmond appears to be her biggest, but that could be sensible (a lot of money there) or a suggestion that she’s resting on her laurels. Then there’s the business with her old friend Shandy Fine (Ambreen Razia).

When Keeley hires Shandy after running into her on a commercial shoot, Barbara is immediately snarky about it. Keeley’s direct approach to disciplining her CFO shows her as someone who stands up for her choices and co-workers. Additionally, she’s validating of Barbara even while calling the CFO out. Unfortunately, the capper on that storyline is a text from Shandy suggesting the two blow corporate funds for workday mimosas for the office, suggesting Shandy may not be worth fighting for. It isn’t that Keeley can’t be good at her job AND making a mistake with Shandy. It is just there’s so little of Keeley as boss so far, Shandy IS the current narrative, not just an aspect of it.

It isn’t that Keeley can’t be good at her job AND making a mistake with Shandy. It is just there’s so little of Keeley as boss so far, Shandy IS the current narrative, not just an aspect of it.

Zava will no doubt be a big deal in the future. Here though, he’s more Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 2’s B-plot. Almost immediately, it seems Richmond isn’t in the running. The striker intends to sign with Chelsea immediately after the season opener. Higgins thinks that’s fine, though, because at least that means West Ham won’t get him either. Sadly, Rebecca insists Higgins jinxed them by saying that out loud.

She is an expert on her ex, so her expecting the worst proves right on. Rupert shows up in person at the Chelsea v Richmond game to woo Zava. Rebecca relates to Keeley the story of how her ex managed to win her over by showing up and making her feel special. This fits with one of the series’ key philosophies. To paraphrase Michael J. Fox in The American President, in the absence of genuine kindness, people will embrace anyone who steps up and pretends to offer it. Rupert has a gift for that sort of false attention. It’s how he convinced Rebecca to be with him and how he “seduced” Nate.

However, Rebecca doesn’t just give up this time. After Rupert seemingly compliments and cajoles Zava into making West Ham his new choice, she chases the superstar into the bathroom. She dresses him down for taking the easy choice over the challenge of Richmond. Later, at the Chelsea press conference after the game, Zava doesn’t sign with Chelsea as they’re expecting or announce he’s going to West Ham as Rupert expects. Instead, he declares his intentions to play for Richmond.

Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 2 (AppleTV+)
Brendan Hunt and Jason Sudeikis enjoy the worldwide web. (AppleTV+)

Finally, in Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 2’s A-plot, Ted’s plan to bring Trent into the fold runs immediately afoul of Roy (Brett Goldstein). The moment the assistant coach hears of the plan, he tells all the players that if he sees them talk to the former reporter or even talk in Crimm’s presence, Roy’ll headbutt them to death. Ted says nothing at first, but during halftime of the Chelsea game, when Jamie (Phil Dunster) stops himself mid-team pep talk rather than let Trent hear him, the coach calls Roy onto the carpet. Err, into the shower.

It’s a smart scene that mirrors Keeley’s confrontation of Barbara earlier. It also reminds us Ted’s only coaching skill isn’t his positivity. Sudekis gives it anger without being nasty when he tells Roy to knock it off. In response, Roy listens without pushback, pulling Trent aside for a talk. As it turns out, when Roy was 17 and played his first game with Chelsea, Trent was also just starting. Trent wrote nastily about Roy’s debut, and the player carried that around—literally, he keeps the clipping in his wallet—ever since. Trent is immediately apologetic and confesses he was just being “edgy” to try and make his mark. Roy accepts the apology, brings Trent back into the locker room, and tells everyone they can talk around the writer now. Harmony restored.

There are also developments worth noting that didn’t fit into any of Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 2’s specific plotlines. First, Richmond drew a tie in their first match of the season, and against Chelsea, no less. Not bad for the team everyone was predicting for dead last.

It…reminds us Ted’s only coaching skill isn’t his positivity. Sudeikis gives it anger without being nasty.

Second, in the episode’s best scene, Roy talks about that choice to stop playing for Chelsea years earlier. Obviously, he’s also talking about his relationship with Keeley, but Goldstein makes it work. Roy’s a man who can’t stand the idea of failure to the point that even if he sees it down the road, he can’t appreciate how good it is now. So, the moment he lost a step at Chelsea, he had to go. The moment he felt himself losing Keeley, he had to end it.

Finally, we get more of the evolving Jamie. When he realizes, thanks to Isaac’s (Kola Bokinni) “body science,” that Roy and Keeley broke up, he goes to Roy first to comfort him. Of course, it’s a disaster, but still, he tries. Then during halftime of the game, he demonstrates strategic thinking for perhaps the first time, noticing how Chelsea is playing a prevent defense. Moreover, his solution doesn’t directly involve getting him the ball. It’s a big change but feels very in character. Dunster sells it without putting an exclamation point on the whole thing.

Overall, ambivalence is the dominant emotion for the second episode in a row. Keeley and Roy are ambivalent about their breakup. Ted’s still quietly ambivalent about his job. Roy’s ambivalent about his return to Chelsea. The team is ambivalent about Ted Crimm. Keeley is ambivalent about several aspects of her business. Uncertainty is blanketing Richmond.

Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 2 (AppleTV+)
Maximilian Osinski hopes you love his coat. (AppleTV+)

Post-Game Analysis

  • William (Charlie Hiscock) trying to connect with Jamie and Roy is wonderful. Speaking of, William gets treated better than Nate before Ted, but they don’t exactly treat him well, do they?
  • Some terrific physical acting this time out. The bit with Ted throwing his keys to Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) killed me, and Jeremy Swift dropping his head down ever further during the first “you jinxed it” scene was acting gold. On the non-comedic side, the looks and eyebrow movements between Lance and Goldstein at the end of the episode were impressive.
  • I wish they edited the game a bit more clearly. As assembled, it makes it seem like Chelsea scored immediately. In reality, they don’t until 46 minutes in. It makes for a tone shift to the hopeless that doesn’t fit the action.
  • Another way Roy’s return to Chelsea is bittersweet that doesn’t get discussed: when the fans stop mid “he’s here, he’s there” chant to shout for Zava. There’s always someone younger, faster, and better coming for you.
  • I support Rebecca’s mother’s rejection of the idea that a camping retreat means she has to actually, you know, camp.
Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 2 (AppleTV+)
You weren’t talking badly about Brett Goldstein, were you?(AppleTV+)

Let’s Go To The Tape

  • “What about their kids?!”
  • “So am I to assume you are going to pursue a notoriously mercurial player you can’t really afford simply because the team your ex-husband owns wants him?” “Yes.” “Love that.”
  • “I forgot how skittish elderly people could be because of the war.”
  • “Why would Zava write a book about Trent Crimm?!”- I love Zoreaux’s indignation about it
  • “Wooo!…I mean fuck off, Ted Crimm!”
  • “I saw you. In Vanity Fair. Fully clothed. And I cried.”
  • “I’m not sleeping out there. Far too many stars.”
  • “Would you please go and find out as much as you can from your vast network of lip-reading massage therapists?”
  • “Hey, look, I don’t know what your beef is with Trent, but I’m gonna need you to order off the vegan menu right now and squash it.”
  • “They suck, but they’re great.”- Lasso on Hallmark Christmas movies
  • “I’ve scored with every part of my body, Arlo. That’s a ridiculous question.”
  • “It’s actually quite funny when he yells at other people, isn’t it?”