[Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for Ted Lasso Episode 8, “We’ll Never Have Paris.”]
Things took a sharp turn at the end of Ted Lasso’s sophomore season when Nate (Nick Mohammed) left AFC Richmond to coach for West Ham United, a rival club led by Rebecca’s (Hannah Waddingham) villainous ex-husband.
It wasn’t a quiet departure either, as Season 2 saw Nate struggle with his anger and self-loathing, taking it out on his colleagues and most notably, Ted (Jason Sudeikis), when he didn’t live up to the impossible pedestal of acting as Nate’s surrogate father figure. Season 3 has been planting the seeds for Nate’s inevitable redemption. But with only four episodes left (potentially of the entire show), Ted Lasso needs to put much more work into ensuring that Nate’s arc can receive proper closure.
In last week’s episode “The Strings That Bind Us,” Nate’s storyline was primarily focused on his pursuit of Jade (Edyta Budnik), the hostess at his favorite restaurant. He was painfully nervous, walking in and out of the store numerous times unable to get the words out. But after being inspired by a scrapbook detailing his parents’ romantic journey, Nate finally managed to ask her out. He even brought his own gift, though it was run over by a car before he could hand it to her.
It’s a sweet arc that works to remind viewers how, underneath his new West Ham gear, Nate still harbors the same lovable qualities he had at the start of the series. But Season 3 has not done enough to fully convince the audience that Nate deserves to be forgiven, as his actions have yet to warrant sympathy from anyone, let alone Jade, who at this point has only seen the weird, stalkerish side of Nate — one that feels entitled to the best seat at the restaurant because of his new gig.
Regardless of its questionable origin, Nate’s developing relationship with Jade is crucial to his potential redemption. This week’s episode “We’ll Never Have Paris” sees Nate struggling with labels, as he and Jade are in the early stages of their romance. He attempts to recreate the Diamond Dogs at his new workplace, calling a first — and last — meeting for the “Love Hounds,” in an effort to receive input about how to proceed with Jade.
This scene occurs immediately after Ted calls his own meeting with the Diamond Dogs, in which Beard (Brendan Hunt), Roy (Brett Goldstein), Higgins (Jeremy Swift), and new member Trent Crimm (James Lance) weigh in on Ted’s spiral over whether or not his ex-wife Michelle (Andrea Anders) will come back from Paris engaged. Richmond’s emotionally supportive environment is juxtaposed against the toxic advice that Nate receives from his co-workers, and it’s clear that Nate is longing to recreate a familiar sense of belonging somewhere.
There’s no camaraderie at West Ham, and Nate’s role as the team’s manager is a very isolating experience. When Ted and Beard reluctantly bring Henry (Gus Turner) to a West Ham match (Henry even sports a jersey in support), Nate is surprised to see his former mentor cheering him on in the crowd. His eyes flash with a brief warmth, as he’s reminded that despite everything, Ted remains the same kind-hearted hero that helped him out of his shell.
Even so, a lot of internal work still needs to be done before Nate can come anywhere near forgiveness. When Rupert (Anthony Head) texts Nate that he won’t let Ted show up at a match again, his initial instinct is to play it off since he found it funny. However, Nate’s fear of weakness, coupled with his desire to please Rupert, wins out in the end, keeping him in an emotionally stagnant state.
Hours after the match has ended, Nate is stuck staring at a photo of Ted in the stands. It’s only after Jade tenderly reminds him to celebrate his victories more that Nate allows himself the space to properly smile. Jade’s presence perhaps functions as a way of guiding Nate back to his former self, given that his betrayal occurred because he isolated himself from support.
Ted Lasso is more than equipped to provide a satisfying redemption arc for Nate. Jamie’s (Phil Dunster) journey from an insufferable prick to a sweet himbo is a clear example of a well-executed transformation. But Season 3 is simultaneously stretching out and speeding through Nate’s narrative potential. While the extended runtimes have provided space for the show to dive deeper into a plethora of interesting backstories and plotlines (Nate’s included), the writers haven’t laid the path for his forgiveness. These past two episodes have illustrated that while there is still goodness in Nate, he has a lot more emotional baggage that needs to be sorted out before anyone — Richmond and viewers alike — can welcome him back.
New episodes of Ted Lasso drop every Wednesday on Apple TV+. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Dianna Shen is a TV Writer at Primetimer based in New York. Her work has been featured in Paste Magazine and Decider, among other outlets.
TOPICS: Ted Lasso, Apple TV+, Anthony Head, Brendan Hunt, Brett Goldstein, Hannah Waddingham, Jason Sudeikis, Juno Temple, Nick Mohammed, Phil Dunster