Ted Lasso's Writers Hinted At Nate's Betrayal Way Back In Season 1

On first watch of "Ted Lasso" season 2, it might seem like Nate (Nick Mohammed) turns into a villain out of nowhere. Watching as he tears up the Believe poster and leaks Ted's panic attacks to the press, it's easy to wonder, "What happened to the old Nate?" The Nate of season 1 seemed so kind and sweet, to the point where we all wanted to punch Jamie Tartt for picking on him. How did things go wrong so fast?

But on rewatch, it's clear that Nate's growing dark side was there from the beginning. Even before we learned about his troubled relationship with his father, Nate's insecurities often resulted in him being needlessly mean to those around him. (For example, he calls Rebecca a shrew when he thinks he's being fired.) It's just that with the charming, light-hearted tone of the show, it was easy to miss the signs until it was too late. 

The most obvious omen was Nate's mean-spirited pep rally to the team in "Make Rebecca Great Again," where he goes around insulting all the players to get them motivated. At the time, it was just funny and surprising to see this confident side of Nate; looking back now, it's all kind of sad. The positive encouragement Nate got for this speech was, unwittingly, probably the worst thing the team ever did to him. 

In a recent interview with USA Today, "Ted Lasso" co-creator Brendan Hunt explained how Dark Nate was always a part of the show's plans. "It was certainly fun bread-crumbing his transformation throughout season 2 especially, but there's breadcrumbs in season 1 as well." 

Is Nate this show's Daenerys?

"In retrospect, it feels a little bit of like a Daenerys Targaryen situation of like, no, no this was coming. I'm sorry you named your kid Nate," Hunt added, referencing all those unfortunate parents who named their daughters after the once-beloved Khaleesi.

It's a questionable comparison, as one of the big complaints about Daenerys' season 8 villain arc is that the show didn't properly set it up. Daenerys was established to have a dark side, sure, but not this dark. Within the span of just a few episodes, she went from someone famous for her compassion toward innocent civilians, to someone who indiscriminately lights civilians on fire. What's worse is that Daenerys doesn't fully fall to the dark side until the penultimate episode, leaving only the finale for the show to wrap up her character's storyline. (Spoiler alert: It was disappointing.)

Nate, meanwhile, got to enjoy a slow-burn arc that gradually deepened his flaws and genuinely earned his eventual betrayal. Nate's Mad Queen moment happens in the season 2 finale, giving him an entire final season to deal with the aftermath. Whereas Daenerys was forced out of her role as a three-dimensional character, Nate's been given the space to be as complex as ever. We don't know if Nate will get a redemptive ending, but the fact that there's still time for one helps make this final season so interesting. Nate may have had his Mad Queen moment, but we know he's not going to get the same hackneyed, underwritten Mad Queen ending.