Ted Lasso Season 3 Is Clearly Hiding Its Endgame In Plain Sight

Here's something we've learned about Nathan Shelley: He simply cannot be someone he isn't, not no way, not no how. Something always stops the first proper villain in "Ted Lasso" short from quite getting to be the idealized version of himself that he seemingly always strives to be — but he hasn't yet realized that that isn't a bad thing, because the person he wants to be isn't exactly the best kind of person. And the person he actually is just so, so innately good.

Nate, played by Nick Mohammed, has been trying to lean full-force into his angry impulses, impulses that he misidentifies as his only strength, and we've watched that take the lead over the course of two seasons. Moving to West Ham to work under Rupert's tutelage was the final attempt, knowing he would be surrounded by the kind of energy that would allow him to fully harness his perceived strengths. But we've also watched him fumble at it, much like he did at Richmond. The only times he really finds strength in anger is when he explodes, and that isn't a good long-term tactic for anyone. It doesn't actually work for him, but he also still finds it difficult to command respect while also being his gentle, quietly witty self.

Circling back to his true self

But the coach seems to be slowly but surely circling back around to his old (and true) self, the one we all know him to be. The kind, genuine, and introspective Nate we know hasn't actually gone anywhere. His short exchange with Ted in the elevator at the West Ham match gave us that hint, but it became completely obvious in episode 5, after Nate was stood up by the gorgeous model he took to his favorite restaurant on a date. After two seasons of awkward tensions, he and the restaurant's hostess finally sit down and get to know one another — and it seems to go swimmingly, because Nate settles back into his real self in the process.

This leads me back to another episode 5 moment, one that was a little shocking to behold at first. During a conversation with Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), Leslie (Jeremy Swift) brings up the idea that they may need to replace Ted at the end of the season. Knowing that Nate hasn't fully succumbed to his anger and resentment — not by a long shot, honestly — it makes me wonder if the Wonder Kid might end up back at Richmond by the end of season 3, taking over for Ted. I don't see it being a negative on either of their parts, but a natural endpoint for Nate within the series as he is shown that kindness and respect can exist in the same place at the same time. At that point, he'll become a true successor to Ted, having learned from him both directly and indirectly throughout the series.

An ending to hang your hat on

No one wants to see Ted leave, not the characters and certainly not the audience. But the fact remains that growth is the key factor in narrative, and Ted leaving would definitely constitute growth. Just the same, Nate taking his place would also be seen as a marker of success, both personal and professional. It's kind and gentle, just like Ted and Nate are at their cores, but it also is the signifier of the hard work accomplished on both of their parts. 

There's no denying that Nate has a bright future within the sport, but it's become increasingly clear that he will only truly thrive within the sport with a group as purely passionate as Richmond, people who understand him on an emotional level. Ted has cultivated that atmosphere within the team since his start, the entry point for many players to their own emotional cores. The passing of the torch would be a satisfying hand-off wherein the student truly becomes the teacher, both on and off the field. In fact, it's a winning moment that I wouldn't mind seeing the series hang its hat on. Just a thought.

"Ted Lasso" is available to stream on Apple TV+.