Can Ted Lasso still be called Ted Lasso if Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) himself exits the Ted Lasso Universe? (Try to read that sentence five times fast—it’s a lot of Ted Lassos.)
Star and Season 2 showrunner Sudeikis has been fairly clear about his desire to wrap up the hit Apple TV+ comedy as the third season comes to a close. He hasn’t just been talking about leaving—Sudeikis has said in interviews that Season 3 is “the end of this story that we wanted to tell.” Apple TV+ has yet to confirm if this is the final season or not. But there’s always room for spinoffs.
As the series faces impending uncertainty with only two episodes left, it feels an awful lot like Ted is preparing to quit his job and hop on a plane back to America. Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham)—who sees him so infrequently that it’s kind of hard to remember she’s his boss—has even thought about firing Ted. In this week’s episode, “International Break,” the show whittles down Ted’s character to less than any of his actual players. He is no longer the lead of his own show.
But that’s probably the point, as I argued after last week’s episode, in which Ted was similarly pushed to the sidelines. With that intent becoming increasingly clear, the question becomes: Who in the world can replace Ted Lasso, when the show hinges almost entirely on his goofy, clueless persona? Since Ted is being forced (or Sudeikis is writing himself) out of the picture, we’ve been able to get a peek at what the show might look like in the wake of his departure.
As for the football side of his job, it would make the most sense for one of Ted’s assistant coaches to take over and lead the team. Though Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) might be the most tenured, the eccentric jokester has been neck-and-neck with Ted in the competition for the least amount of screen time this season. But there’s one more assistant who may step into a leadership role—that’s Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), of course.
Roy makes the most sense as Ted’s successor after these last two episodes, which both see him step up from grumbly to confident, for the sake of the Richmond AFC team. The last episode was a bit of a shocker: Roy took place in a press conference, which, five episodes ago, would’ve been his worst nightmare. And in this episode, Roy’s efforts to make Jamie (Phil Dunster) a better team player pay off, as the immature footballer finally strikes gold, while competing in an inconsequential match with his home country.
Everything else is coming up Roy Kent, as his friendship with Jamie and rekindled romance (!!!) with Keeley (Juno Temple) make him the new hero of the story. Plus, Goldstein has been one of the actors advocating for more seasons after this third installment. But there’s someone else who could be standing in his way: Nate the Great (Nick Mohammed), who has become villainous in this past season but seems to be in the middle of a redemption arc.
Almost the entire third season has seen Nate team up with Rupert (Anthony Head) and Richmond’s rival team, West Ham. But Nate quits his job as coach in this most recent episode. There’s been little in the way of reconciliation with Ted and his old team, but the show seems to be pushing Nate back in the Richmond direction. Whether that means he’ll become head coach or demoted back to assistant coach, who knows? I’d be willing to place a bet on the latter—Nate needs a blow to his ego after a year at West Ham—but I could also see a full redemption arc for his character.
But both Nate and Roy lack a certain Ted Lasso charm. Neither would give a world class speech minutes before a football game, cinching the win for the Richmond AFC players. But there is someone who’s had an uptick of inspirational speeches in these past couple of episodes. That honor goes to Rebecca, who has grilled Roy into becoming a stronger leader, slammed Sam’s (Toheeb Jimoh) enemy Edwin Akufo (Sam Richardson) to protect his integrity, and been the backbone of emotional support for the team in the back-half of this season.
Ted Lasso has gotten into a nasty habit of unraveling itself every few episodes. At the beginning of the season, Roy and Keeley broke up. Now, they’re back together. Newbie Zava (Maximilian Osinski) joined the team to shake things up—only to depart just two episodes later; we haven’t seen him since. Rebecca had a love interest around five episodes ago, but he vanished into the foggy canals of Amsterdam. Now, Rebecca fancies Rupert again. It feels like we’re back at Season 1, Episode 1—but perhaps with less excitement.
Seeing as Ted Lasso has gone back and undone almost every plot line it’s established this season, it wouldn’t shock me if Sudeikis returns after something like a three-episode hiatus in Season 4. It would be refreshing to see folks like Roy and Rebecca become the co-leads of the show. But Ted Lasso has fallen into such cyclical storylines (for example: using “a new star player joins the team, which is a huge blow to Jamie’s ego” three times now) that it’s hard to believe it can reinvent itself in the way fans would enjoy. Nevertheless, losing Sudeikis might be inevitable, so perhaps some evolution is necessary.