[Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for Ted Lasso Episode 5, “Signs.”]
As Season 3 of Ted Lasso continues to unfold, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the show is gearing up to an end. In Episode 5, “Signs” are all pointing to Ted’s (Jason Sudeikis) inevitable departure from AFC Richmond. As the team struggles with losses and personal challenges, Ted’s distraction and ineffectiveness as a coach is becoming more apparent than ever.
The fifth episode picks up weeks after Richmond’s devastating loss to West Ham United. Even with superstar Zava (Maximilian Osinski) on the team, they’ve been suffering from a brutal winless streak that has everyone in downward spirits. It’s become more and more obvious that something needs to change. Higgins (Jeremy Swift) hesitantly brings up the idea of replacing Ted to Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), citing that the club is going in the wrong direction because Ted may not be fit to be a manager anymore.
Rebecca quickly dismisses it, instead preoccupied with the fact that two predictions from her meeting with her mother’s psychic have come true. Nevertheless, Rebecca’s increasing frustration with the team’s performance (“ARE WE EVER GONNA WIN ANOTHER F*CKING MATCH?!”), coupled with her fierce competition with her ex-husband Rupert (Anthony Head), indicates that if pushed to her brink, she may also consider a new manager capable of leading Richmond to victory.
This all goes back to Ted’s shortcomings as a football coach. In previous seasons, Ted’s optimism and motivational speeches functioned as a beacon of hope for the team. It also helped that Beard (Brendan Hunt), Roy (Brett Goldstein), and Nate (Nick Mohammed) were actually competent in their roles as assistant coaches, while Ted functioned as a spouter of inspirational quotes. However, losing Nate’s technical strategy to West Ham has made it evident that belief alone isn’t enough to win games, and it may actually hurt the players more in terms of actual football success.
It doesn’t help that Ted has been more distracted than usual, particularly with his distance from his family back in America. Season 3 has been illustrating how badly Ted has been affected by his ex-wife Michelle’s (Andrea Anders) new relationship with their former marriage counselor, Dr. Jacob (Mike O’Gorman). The distance between Ted and his son Henry (Gus Turner) is exacerbated by Jacob’s increased presence in the latter’s life. When Michelle informs Ted that Henry has been acting as a bully, Ted’s guilt over not being physically present for his son weighs heavily on him. During a phone call, Michelle tells Ted that Jacob took Henry to the park to get his mind off the bullying issue, news that makes Ted visibly uncomfortable. Jacob’s proximity to his son, combined with the time difference between London and Kansas, all take a major toll on Ted’s mental health, and affect his ability to focus on his job.
When Ted finally gets a chance to speak with his son, Henry brings up his remorse over not following Ted’s advice when it comes to handling anger, letting it get the better of him. It’s clear that Henry takes Ted’s lessons to heart and that he regrets his actions (Henry mentions performing a “rap apology” to his class). But even as the episode neatly wraps up this bullying B-plot, it brings to light Ted’s desire to become closer to his son. Maybe, had Ted not been so far away, this entire incident could have been avoided. Ted’s panic attacks feature a flashback to Henry waving goodbye in the season’s first episode, suggesting that the solution to Ted’s anxiety is perhaps leaving the pitch behind.
At the end of the episode, AFC Richmond’s spirits are at an all-time low, having suffered from another loss to Man City and the permanent departure of Zava. Ted, inspired by his own personal struggles, delivers a classic heartfelt speech about the importance of inner belief. “Believing that things can get better — that I can get better, that we will get better. You believe in yourself, you believe in one another, that’s fundamental to being alive. If you can do that — if each of you can truly do that — can’t nobody rip that apart.” As with most of Ted’s inspired monologues, his words clearly resonate with characters on a deeper level. And while it’s definitely a moving speech — one of Ted’s best — it again misses what is so fundamental to Richmond’s success and perhaps the largest part of his job description: actual coaching. And after three seasons, you can only hear so much about hope before it starts to lose its meaning.
“Signs” highlights Ted’s personal distractions from his role as a coach, serving as another example of the show moving storylines away from the pitch (this article doesn’t even touch upon Keeley’s new romance with her boss, Nate’s date with Anastasia/Jade, or Rebecca’s desire for children). As Season 3 continues to expand, Ted Lasso may be foreshadowing that Ted’s journey at Richmond will conclude with him leaving the club. We’ll have to wait to see how these signs play out.
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+, Brendan Hunt, Brett Goldstein, Hannah Waddingham, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Swift , Juno Temple, Nick Mohammed