Review: Ted Lasso Season 3 Premiere: “Smells Like Mean Spirit”

By Colleen Glatfelter aka Geek.Dad.Wife.

**WARNING: This post contains spoilers for the season 4 premiere of Ted Lasso.*

Ted Lasso returned to Apple TV+ today for its 3rd and rumored final season, and the moral of the story was, “Let Ted be Ted.”

Ted Lasso has always been a show about figuring out who you are, self-growth, and becoming your best self. The biggest appeal of the show is that over the course of the first two seasons, all of the characters, with one very notable exception, have ultimately leaned into their best selves. No, they’re not perfect by any means, but at the end of the day, every episode pushes our beloved AFC Richmond crew to be better.

Despite a tumultuous ending to season 2, you still knew that Ted and co would be okay. To recap where we left off:

  • Nate the Great, the “Wonder Kid” “Wunderkind” leaked the news about Ted’s panic attacks and then quit as the team’s assistant coach to become manager of Rupert Mannion‘s newly purchased West Ham United.
  • Roy Kent and Keeley Jones were on shaky grounds after she decided to start her own PR firm and declined to join Roy on a months-long vacation.
  • Team owner Rebecca Welton, already shaken by her ex-husband Rupert having a baby with his new wife, Bex, was even more intent on revenge after he bought West Ham United.
  • Trent CrimmThe Independent, was now “Trent Crimm, Independent” after being fired for revealing to Ted that Nate was the one who leaked the news of his panic attacks.
  • Sam Obisanya had a relationship with Rebecca, told a rich dude where to shove it, and opened a Nigerian restaurant.
  • Rebecca and Ted both dealt with their daddy issues, with Rebecca coming to terms with her father’s death and constant cheating on her mother while he was alive and Ted solidifying his bond with Dr. Sharon Fieldstone by confessing the trauma he’s dealt with after his father committed suicide.
  • Ted gave Dr. Sharon the old Irish Goodbye at a bar before she left to go back home. She gave him the advice, “The truth will set you free, but at first it will pissed you off.”

So that brings us to the beginning of Season 3. Ted’s at Heathrow Airport with his son Henry, who just spent six weeks with him in London. Ted feels badly about sending Henry across the ocean by himself, which he confesses to Dr. Sharon over the phone. Dr. Sharon is living her best life with a new man. Get it, Dr. Sharon.

But Dr. Sharon seems to be the only one who’s currently (seemingly) living their best life. Every football pundit has ranked AFC Richmond to finish in last place, 20-out-of-20, in the upcoming season. The rankings have really stressed Rebecca out because all she can think about is how smug Rupert must be feeling about it. The team is also distracted, constantly checking social media and news reports of the bad things that are being said about them.

Speaking of bad things, Nate’s got quite the management style: being rude to coworkers and putting players behind a “dumb-dumb line” after they screw up. Rupert is clearly stressing him out as well, but he conveniently ignores how terrible his boss is after he buys him a new luxury sports car.

Meanwhile, Keeley’s new PR firm, KJPR seems to be really taking off, but the minute she and Rebecca are in private, she breaks down in tears over how busy and stressed out she is. Keeley, I feel ya girl. You’re still a boss ass b*tch, though! You got this! Rebecca shares how her anxieties over the team’s last place ranking, desire to beat Rupert, and concern that Ted isn’t taking any of it seriously. Keeley’s advice is, “Let Ted be Ted.”

So that brings us to the heart of the episode, the thing that makes Ted Lasso so unique from every other show before it: Ted and his ability to always take the high road, even when he’s on the low road himself.

The constant bad press is affecting the players’ performances in practice, so Ted and Coach Beard decide to take them on a little field trip to the sewers (insert contractual Geek. Dad. Life. mention of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles here). I can’t believe I’m admitting to this publicly, but I’ve actually been in my fair share of sewers (geocaching, baby!) and this is a NICE sewer. It doesn’t smell nice, though, which leads to a discussion about what’s floating through the sewage (spoiler: it’s poop). Ted tells them they’re surrounded by “a whole bunch of poopy” down in the sewers and up in the world, and the negativity is keeping their brains all blocked up. They need to “make an internal sewer system within yourselves and then connect to each other’s tunnels to help each other keep that flow.” It’s a metaphor only Ted Lasso could come up with.

Continuing with the poop theme, Nate gives his first press conference as West Ham’s manager. He’s nervous at first but does that spit thing he did in Season 2 to psych himself up and ends up berating a reporter and firing shots at Ted when asked about reports that Ted took his team underground, saying, “They probably have to train in a sewer because their coach is so sh–y.”

Ted does a presser later that day and is asked about Nate’s comments. Rebecca wants begs Ted to fight back, but that’s not his style. Instead, he praises Nate’s coaching abilities and starts making fun of himself, joking about being a “dumb American.” The press core eats it up and by letting Ted be Ted, Rebecca, Ted, and AFC Richmond win this round in the press.

I don’t even want to mention the final scene in the episode, but I suppose I must: Keeley and Roy tell his niece Phoebe that they’ve broken up because they’re too busy with their new careers. Phoebe takes it incredibly well for an elementary school kid, and Roy admits to his niece as he’s driving her home that he’s not sure they’ve done the right thing.

I loved “Smells Like Mean Spirit.” It set a tone that indicates this season will be lighter than season 2 and full of redemption. I’m excited to see where Trent Crimm and Sam Obisanya’s storylines go since we didn’t get anything from them this episode. If this really is the last season, I can see AFC Richmond pulling off a surprise upset and beating West Ham in the end, giving Ted, Rebecca, Henry (who heavily foreshadowed an AFCR win in his two scenes), and everyone else the win they desperately deserve and Ted moving back to Kansas a hero while Coach Beard takes over for Ted. I can also see Jamie Tart getting injured (like Roy in Season 1) and completing his growth arc as a new assistant coach, forever gleefully antagonizing our favorite F-bomb thrower. I also predict a Keeley/Roy reunion a la Ross and Rachel and the wonderful Leslie Higgins finally getting to retire.

What are your thoughts on the season 3 premiere of Ted Lasso? Let us know in the comments!