[This story contains spoilers from “So Long, Farewell,” the third season — and possible series — finale of Ted Lasso.]
All season long, the people who make Ted Lasso were somewhat hesitant about whether the end of their planned three-season arc would spell the end of the series. Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, and others have repeatedly said that this season would mark the end of what they set out to do, but have never fully stated that the show would finally end.
There were no such games in the final installment of Season 3, So Long, Farewell. The episode felt like a series finale in every way, with flashbacks to the past and flashbacks to the future of several key characters (featured or not; more on that in a few paragraphs). The fact that Ted Lasso is Apple TV+’s biggest series to date by far, could mean the streamer and Warner Bros. TV that’s producing the show could find a way to create a sequel or spin-off featuring some (or most) of the characters from AFC to make Richmond. A few of those flash-forward scenes could easily set the stage for a sequel — but Ted Lasso (Sudeikis) has left Richmond behind.
(Also note: The show’s production designer Paul Cripps posted several Instagram photos Tuesday of Ted Lasso Sets are dismantled, and Hannah Waddingham referred to “Our last day as Richmond Greyhounds” on Twitter with a photo of her and several of her co-stars, including Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt, at a Writers Guild picket line in Los Angeles.)
Written by executive producers Hunt, Joe Kelly and Sudeikis – who created the character for an NBC Sports ad campaign a decade ago – “So Long, Farewell” doesn’t toy (big) with the idea of Ted bringing his character into action implements heavily implied but unspoken promise from the previous episode to return to Kansas. The opening scene is a twist, however, when one morning Ted greets Rebecca (Waddingham) in her kitchen like it’s a morning after – then Beard (Hunt, in a thong) and Jane (Phoebe Walsh) show up and Ted says thanks for letting them all stay with her after a gas leak in their neighborhood.
All the while, Ted remains steadfast in his decision to leave Richmond and return to his son Henry (Gus Turner) and ex-wife Michelle (Andrea Anders) and be a part of their lives again. Rebecca tries to dissuade him by making both personal and financial appeals: she notes that if she sells 49 percent of the team, she’ll make a lot of money, and in turn, can make Ted one of the highest-paid coaches in the world League.
And yes, Rebecca is considering selling the team: Ted’s imminent departure has her thinking about big moves of her own. Higgins (Jeremy Swift) notes that the club’s value has never been higher as Richmond have secured a place in the Champions League thanks to their top four Premier League results and that they are making a huge profit and could still keep control of the club Sell almost half of it. “How much would I get if I sold the entire club?” she asks. “About two billion pounds,” he replies, making her spit out her tea.
After the team has performed a replay of The sound of music’With “So Long, Farewell” at Ted and Beard’s final practice session, everyone seems primed to win the final game of the season. Until Beard plays them a compilation video of their time together, with everyone crying and unable to start the game. Richmond lost 2-0 at half-time to West Ham, Nate’s (Nick Mohammed) former team now managed by former Richmond manager George Cartrick (Bill Fellows).
Here’s a final half-time speech from Ted: “I want you all to know what an absolute honor it has been to be your coach. Working with you guys for the past three years has truly been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I enjoyed getting to know each and every one of you, learning about the men you were and getting a front row seat to see what men you are becoming. And thank you for your patience – when I got here I didn’t know anything about football. Now I know at least one thing about football. I’m so damn proud to be part of this team. I love you. I will miss you all.”
Players then pull out a piece of the torn “Believe” sign and put it back together, blowing themselves (and no doubt a crowd of bystanders, too) to bits. “I know people like to say there’s no place like home, and it’s true,” Ted tells them. “But there aren’t many places like AFC Richmond either.”
Richmond naturally put in a strong performance in the second half, hitting the post with several shots before Jamie (Phil Dunster) finally netted one. A net-snapping slam from a penalty by Isaac (Kola Bokinni) levels the game… and being a sports show, there’s of course last-minute drama with a throwback to one of Nate’s early plays in a set piece that yields to Richmond scored the winning goal in the dying seconds – through Sam’s (Toheeb Jimoh) foot.
Richmond may not become Premier League champions – Manchester City also win their last game and stay a point clear – but it is the most successful season in the club’s history. Headlines show Rebecca is actually selling 49 per cent of the club – to fans. She explains to Ted at the airport that she has decided to stay close to her family in Richmond, just as Ted has decided to go back to his family. The two say a warm goodbye as he boards his flight home with Beard.
Or not, as Beard admits he’s in love with Jane and can’t bear to leave her, but he’s also scared of letting his longtime friend down. Ted gives his blessing. “I love you, Ted,” says Beard. “I love you too, Willis,” Ted replies.
After Beard fakes an appendix rupture to get off the plane, Ted takes off and the flashback begins: Leaving the airport, Rebecca meets the handsome Dutchman (Matteo van der Grijn) from the Amsterdam episode and his little daughter (credits). reveal that his name is Matthijs). Ted leaves Trent (James Lance) a note that he likes his book about the team but should change the title The Lasso Way: “It’s not about me. It never was.” Rebecca names Roy (Brett Goldstein) the new manager, with Beard and Nate as his assistants, and they hang up the Believe sign again. Keeley (Juno Temple) and Barbara (Katy Wix) thrive at the renamed KBPR Sam finally gets his place on the Nigeria national team Jamie reconciles with his father Nate, Jade (Edyta Budnik) and his family enjoy a night out at A Taste of Athens Trent’s book, now titled The Richmond Way, sells well. Keeley proposes a Richmond women’s team to Rebecca. The club meets for a barbecue at Higgins’ home. Beard and Jane get married at Stonehenge, in the presence of the crew and couple from Beard After Hours…
And then Ted wakes up at the end of his flight and wonders if the montage was real or part of a dream (the weirder parts of the wedding certainly play a role). However, if some or all of these scenes are real, the continuation of the lasso-verse could easily be narrowed down to manager Roy or the formation of the women’s team – should Apple, Warner Bros. and all parties involved come to an agreement (later). all labor lawsuits in the industry will eventually be settled).
Ted Lasso has spread in places this season, particularly as far as Keeley and Nate are concerned. However, the finale hit enough of the right notes to leave the viewer with the warm feelings it conveys throughout. The episode ends with Ted coaching Henry’s youth team and reminding him to “be a goldfish” after missing an open shot on target. Good people who try to get better sometimes win (or take a brave second place).
bits and pieces
* Speaking of “Spread Thin,” the never-fully-developed love triangle between Keeley, Roy, and Jamie comes to an end after the two boys (voiceover) get into a fist fight over her. Then they come to her and ask her to choose one of them. She rightly throws a spanner in the works for both of them – “We’re bloody idiots,” Roy remarks afterwards. Keeley’s rejoining the club after her falling out with Jack is welcome, and it’s probably good that Roy and Jamie can continue their deepening friendship without competing with her.
* As hinted at in episode 11, Rupert (Anthony Head) was accused of an “inappropriate relationship” with his former assistant, prompting Bex to file for divorce. His downfall is complete when he enters the field to berate Hartrick, then shoves him throughout the game and exits with shouts of “Wanker!” from the crowd and Sassy (Ellie Taylor).
*Frustrated at not being able to avoid Keeley, Roy asks to join the Diamond Dogs. He then wonders why he seems unable to change. “If we keep asking for help and then accepting it when we need it,” says Higgins, “then we can be on the road to improvement.” . Sharon (Sarah Niles), who is now a full-time employee in Richmond.
* There have been previous hints, notably in We’ll Never Have Paris, that Dr. Jacob (Mike O’Gorman) was kind of a tool and that Michelle was starting to see that. His total disregard for Ted’s last game in Richmond (and football in general) delivered the final verdict (albeit a bit awkwardly): this is him.