Ted Lasso Season 3 Is Expanding Its World, But Is That Hurting The Core Characters?

This article contains spoilers for "Ted Lasso" season 3.

Say what you will about season 2 of "Ted Lasso," but it was nice to have the whole cast and crew together in one place. For the most part, the characters were all a part of AFC Richmond; even if they didn't get along all the time, they still had to be in the same general area together. Ted (Jason Sudeikis) was forced to regularly interact with new team therapist Sharon (Sarah Niles), which led to him slowly but surely overcoming his prejudice against therapists and learning to open up to her. Jamie (Phil Dunster) was forced into the same locker room as the team he'd gotten regulated in the previous season's finale, leading to him learning to let go of his ego and become a real team player. 

Season 2 also had Nate (Nick Mohammed) constantly interacting with the rest of the cast, which made his villain arc feel a lot more nuanced than you'd probably expect. So far, season 3 Nate acts like he hates Richmond and everything it stands for, a very broad attitude he couldn't have maintained back when he was forced to interact with the individual members of the team each day. 

Now Nate's working for Rupert's team, and the scenes between him and the Richmond players are likely to be few and far between. Overall this is a smart, fresh direction for the series, but it is part of a concerning trend. A lot of the characters in this show are split farther apart (both physically and emotionally) than they've ever been before, and it's not 100 percent clear yet if that's the right choice. 

The danger of Zava

The biggest development in the latest episode is the acquisition of football legend Zava (Maximilian Osinski) by Richmond. It's a plot development that will almost certainly help the team reach West Ham's level, but also a somewhat worrying sign for the season ahead. It's the final season, building up to the final showdown where this team we've grown attached to might win it all, but their victory's going to rely on some guy we've never met or heard of before this episode? Why add a new big player in act three of a story, instead of focusing on the core characters we've already come to know and love?

Of course, it's hard to complain too much about the show's expansions to the world in these first few episodes; there are 11 episodes to go, after all, and it could easily turn out that Zava's a red herring. Nate and Ted (and hopefully Nate and the other Richmond characters) will also almost certainly get to interact as the season goes on. It's just easy to worry that the show might not be making the most of the time we have left with these characters. 

Such a concern is most prevalent, however, with Keeley (Juno Temple). Not only is her and Roy's relationship apparently over — a questionable choice, some here at /Film might argue — but she's now working in a separate office, also completely unconnected to what's going on at Richmond. Whereas season 2 had her constantly crossing paths with all the other characters, season 3 has siloed her off to her own completely separate storyline.

Setting up a spinoff?

It's with this latest episode that we see where Keeley's storyline is going: she's taking her boring, lifeless office and trying to infuse it with positivity and kindness, just as Ted pulled off with Richmond back in season 1. The episode's storyline ends with her making a sweet personal connection with Barbara (Katy Wix) over her snow-globe connection, a moment that finally cracks through the character's persona as a soulless corporate drone. Just like how Roy ended up being one of Ted's strongest supporters, it's easy to see Barbara turning into Keeley's new office best friend within just a couple of episodes. 

It's all very nice, but it's hard to blame some fans for wondering what's the point of all this. After all, it's a storyline that's extremely disconnected from everything else going on in the show. Sure, there's a good chance this will all loop back around to Richmond in some way or another, but so far it feels like a strange diversion. It feels vaguely, worryingly reminiscent of that episode in the final season of "The Office" that focuses on Dwight's farm. 

"The Farm" was designed as a back-door spinoff centered on Dwight after "The Office" ended; it fell flat because, well, Dwight is only truly special when he's got the rest of the Dunder Mifflin characters to bounce off of. It also made for a strange episode on its own, due to how tonally bizarre the farm stuff felt when mixed into an episode with a regular office storyline.

Get Keeley back into the fold, please

Like with the farm storyline in "The Office," the Keeley subplot almost feels like a set-up for a Keeley-centric spinoff show, one where she keeps working at this new office and the "Ted Lasso" characters get to make some occasional fun guest appearances. While we wouldn't be opposed to some sort of Keeley spinoff show down the line, this show definitely shouldn't disrupt this season's pacing in an attempt to establish it. We're rooting for Keeley, but more importantly, we're rooting for Richmond.

Luckily, there are plenty of reasons to believe that the "Ted Lasso" writers are smarter than this. Even in these two episodes so far, we still get to see Keely interact with the other Richmond characters, even if it's just for brief moments. We have faith that she and Roy are going to reunite sometime soon, just as we're sure that Keeley's storyline will have some extra layer of importance to the grand scheme of things that simply hasn't been made clear yet. Splitting up so many of its characters in its final season could easily lead to a disaster, but with 11 more episodes to go, there's still plenty of time left for the show to pull it all off.