Recap: Ted Lasso – 3×11 – “Mom City”

Teleplay by Joe Kelly Directed by Declan Lowney

Last week’s quote of the week was “I’m sorry”, so it’s only logical that this week’s is “I forgive you”. Last week was also about fathers, and now it’s mothers, so we meet both Ted’s and Jamie’s Moms, finally – and well, it’s like reading the instruction manual as to why the two of them are nuts (affectionately).

One of the ongoing narrative arcs about forgiveness is obviously Nate. Even though I know a lot of people struggle with how his storyline has been handled, I think we have gotten enough puzzle pieces to actually justify a redemption – because, crucially, it has not actually happened yet. He is being given a second chance, but what he makes of it, that’s still open. “I offer you a job. The life part’s up to you”, Beard says to him, after all. It’s a bit sad that the team discussing his return happens off screen, but the fact it’s Will, Colin and Isaac coming to see him is still crucial, because Nate was abusive towards especially Will and Colin before he left. Hurt people hurt people. I would still like to see a bigger apology on screen, but Nate has understood it was all his fault – and he has drafted his 60 pages of apology letter to Ted, too. They might just be saving it for the very last episode.

Speaking of Beard, that whole scene made me sob and then I didn’t stop for those last 20 minutes– I’m glad we’re finally getting that backstory, too, as it’s been hinted at before but never fully spelled out. The shooting script for “Beard After Hours” (written by Brett Goldstein and Joe Kelly, the latter also penned this week’s episode) had a scene that clarified some of Beard’s dark past, but they apparently decided to make this reveal more impactful instead of a casual one. The other through lines from the last time Richmond played Man City are naturally mainly about Jamie, and half of this week’s episode is Phil Dunster’s Emmy tape – by God do I hope he finally gets at least that nomination (he’ll likely be up against some other Ted Lasso castmates; definitely Brett Goldstein and then also none other than Harrison Ford for Shrinking, which is also Brett Goldstein’s fault).

Jamie struggles, because all of his motivation to play has been based on proving wrong his abusive father. And he’s overwhelmed, showing signs of burnout (can’t eat, can’t sleep, just tired). Of course, by now, it’s Roy who takes it on him to fix him, and he goes to Keeley for help. Which ends up with all three of them in Jamie’s childhood home. Honestly, while I’m not sure if we’ll get definitive confirmation that they’ll be in a throuple, I am fine if this is as close as we will get – not only Roy’s poster (in all its hairy glory) but also Keeley’s in his bedroom? Roy finding Jamie’s Mom hot after Jamie pointed out Roy’s sister is fit last week? The three of them celebrating together with champagne, as Roy actually smiles? And if anyone was wondering why Roy and Keeley’s reconciliation last week didn’t happen on screen, well it’s because it isn’t one. We’ll see where that will go, but Keeley still seems reluctant to actually rekindle them as a romantic relationship.

Jamie’s mother being so supportive and loving (and remarried to a dorky, lovable guy), is wonderful to see. Despite it, Jamie continues to struggle with his Dad’s shadow looming over him, but as it turns out, he isn’t at the match, because he’s in rehab (which only the audience knows). The last time they had seen each other was at that pivotal moment in Wembley, which apparently did knock some sense into him. And Jamie, understandably, doesn’t want to forgive him – until Ted tells him that it’s something he does for himself, not his father. So Jamie sends him a text. We don’t see if there’s an answer, and I don’t expect us to. Not everything needs to be wrapped up in a neat little bow – the second chance has been given. (Much like he’s been given one, too, when the Man City fans finally clapped for him after he scored that goal, playing injured.) And this isn’t about Jamie’s father, it’s about Jamie. He can move on now, even if he doesn’t know where to that is yet.

The conversation he has with Ted also spurs on Ted to have an honest conversation with his Mom about her surprise visit. And crucially, about their past, and the fact that she never spoke about his father’s suicide. If “thank you” and “fuck you” aren’t the things most of us want to say to our parents, and understanding that they are impossibly hard to untangle… they really hit the nail on the head here. And Ted’s confession that he had struggled with being truly close to Henry because of his own baggage of course can only mean one thing about that truth bomb he drops on Rebecca: he’s going home.

WTF of the week: Bex and Ms Kakes showing up outside of Rebecca’s home. I am very here for what can only mean a #metoo reckoning for Rupert.

Quote of the week: “You know when some guys can’t make their willies go hard?” –“You mean impotent?” – “Yeah. It’s like I got that, but … it’s like I got it in my soul.” Jamie Tartt describing burnout/depression, everyone. No notes.

Close second: Rebecca’s anecdote about Freddie Mercury’s true talent having been “flipping straights”. Bisexual icons ftw.

Trivia of the week: I haven’t talked about Wizard of Oz since the first episode this season, but of course, it’s always been there, from the pilot, when Ted remarks “we’re not in Kansas anymore” to Beard. Aside from the recurring pinball machine at the Crown & Anchor, this week we also got Beard quoting Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (I literally just wondered if that song would make an appearance), to the end of You’ve Got Mail  (that was also referenced earlier this season) with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” playing over it. And then Brandi Carlile’s version of “Home” from The Wiz over the credits, which she apparently recorded for the show.

The first ever academic paper I wrote (which was still in school in advanced English, it’s a thing we do in Germany called Facharbeit) was on Wizard of Oz references in other pop culture. Truly between all of this, Freddie, Ephron… sometimes I think they made this for me. Thank you, and fuck you. I am not ready to say goodbye.

P.S. The Writer’s Strike is still ongoing. Please donate to the Entertainment Community Fund, or stand in solidarity with the WGA via #wgastrong, #dothewritething, #fans4WGA, or my attempt at making fetch happen, #Scholars4WGA.