The Ted Lasso Power Rankings are a weekly analysis of who and/or what had the strongest performance in each episode. Most of the list will feature individual characters, although the committee does reserve the right to honor anything from animals to inanimate objects to laws of nature to general concepts. There are very few rules here.
Season 3, Episode 1 — “Smells Like Mean Spirit”
HONORABLE MENTION: Dr. Sharon (good for her with her handsome new man just waiting for her in bed); sewers, generally (gross but useful); wise children (potential spinoff idea: we fast-forward 25 years and Henry and Phoebe are married and running a counseling service); Dani Rojas (my sweet boy); Paddington Bear (imagine how devastating it must be on a personal level to get Zero Marmalade Sandwiches from Paddington Bear); Mr. Maher (tough break about that train); chatty airline employees who confess to holding up flights to Sydney because of video games (I do not think I would like someone to tell me that right before taking my child to an airplane that he is going to fly in across an ocean); Higgins (“Yo”); Rupert (he would be friends with the Sacklers); Ms. Kakes (more on her later)
10. (tie) Nate
It’s difficult to rank Nate appropriately right now because, in any reasonable examination of the facts, he would be off the board. He is doing real, real bad. He’s being a jerk to people who work under him, he’s doomscrolling Twitter alone in his office, he’s trying to impress his new mentor Rupert by being a prick a lot, and he’s still doing that thing where he kind of spits a lot when he thinks about Ted or anything else that makes him feel insecure. I do not enjoy the spitting. Just bad, bad stuff all around.
But we only know that because we see his quiet moments, the little faces he makes that show us how he’s really doing. To the outside world, he’s kind of crushing it. He’s the new coach of a dominant team, he’s a cool story about rising up from humble beginnings, he’s cruising into work with Rakim playing, all of it. And he has a sick new car now, which he seems to enjoy. Although I refuse to believe that Nate wouldn’t have already purchased a flashy car with his first paycheck. The man has zero self-esteem. There’s no way he’s pulling into his new job in a lil clunker. He has too much overcompensating to do. He probably should have shown up in a Harrier jet and landed it right on the field.
But now I’m just nitpicking.
10. (tie) Kenneth the Bus Driver
ON ONE HAND: Having a burnout bus driver with a mysterious and drug-fueled personal life is pretty much a direct ripoff of Otto from The Simpsons.
ON THE OTHER HAND: I love him very much and would watch an entire episode about him before we wrap this show up for good in a few months.
I worry about Roy, in a couple of different ways. I worry about him in the context of the show. He and Keeley broke up for dubious reasons identified by his niece. He’s now the coach in charge of strategy and has designed a plan to play things very safe, which is boring and doomed and he’s going to have to dump for some cool trick plays at some point, in part because the squad is undermanned and undergunned and will need an infusion of creativity to defeat more skilled opponents, and in part because the show needs that to remain fun and interesting. No one wants to watch a movie where a basketball team wins a championship by playing a sensible 2-3 zone and throwing bounce passes. They want the coach to put the dog in the game. There’s nothing in the rulebook that says you can’t.
I also worry about the character, in general. A little. Brett Goldstein remains one of our best cussers and I’m happy to let him cook, but I do hope he gets a teeeeeeny bit more to do this season if they’re gonna make him a part of the brain trust. I do need him to keep cussing, though. That’s important. To me.
- Running her own business
- Sobbing a little sometimes behind the creepy harassment windows
- Single again, kind of, despite two different characters professing their love for her in the season two finale and a third planting a smooch on her out of nowhere
Lot going on here. We will continue to monitor this situation.
The bad news here is that Rebecca is melting down about Rupert to an unhealthy degree now that Richmond is back in the Premier League and picked by pretty much everyone to get walloped. It’s not ideal. Nor is the thing when she has gobs of eye makeup stained on her white blouse. That’s not as big of a deal, I guess. She can always start wearing a bib or a smock when she goes to visit Keeley. Soooo let’s focus on the other thing.
This is going to be a problem. Rupert is an ass whose office looks like somewhere a bad guy on The Mandalorian would summon underlings and prisoners, but he’s also a charming bomb of charisma and smirks. People are naturally drawn to people like that. I’m sure the press and the public love him. I’m sure it eats her up a bunch, given their history. It’s going to bump up against Ted and the way he deals with things a lot, I suspect, at least in the early going, like we saw this week with the sewer business. It’ll be fine, eventually, probably, because things in this show usually end up fine, but it could get a little dicey in spots on the way.
6. Barbara the CFO
Really just an incredible week for cold, unsmiling staffers, between Barbara’s hatred of flowers and Ms. Kakes — Rupert’s assistant who delivered the car keys to Nate and terrified me a little — just standing there staring at people. I hope the two of them become friends and go on vacation together. Show me both of them at a luxurious tropical resort just frowning into their pina coladas and challenging charges to their room at the front desk. Send them to a White Lotus. They’ll hate it a lot. Which I will enjoy. Also a lot.
Three big things here, which I will address in reverse order of importance.
THREE: I like that Ted knows the sewer guy by name and I need to know how many other municipal employees around town he’s buddies with.
TWO: Ted has some stuff going on right now. It’s not like that’s a secret. It’s a secret to the other people on the show, I suppose, who mostly only see the smile and mustache and goofy demeanor, but we saw his face in the airport at the beginning. We saw him checking his phone constantly while Henry’s plane was in the air and questioning why he’s still doing any of this. He’s walking past his house on the sidewalk and having a little mini-crisis and his doctor is off coaching rugby and sleeping with handsome new boytoys. This is the struggle now. He’s got to figure out what he’s doing and how to make it work, both personally and professionally. It’s good to remember that at the core of this generally silly premise — American football coach goes to England to coach soccer — is a dude who is kind of having an existential crisis.
ONE: His press conference at the end, where he ticked off all his faults and weaknesses in a jokey back-and-forth, was basically just a very polite and Midwestern version of the freestyle Eminem does at the end of 8 Mile, which I point out both because it’s how my mangled brain works and because it’s very funny to picture Eminem at home in Michigan watching Ted Lasso on his iPhone in bed. Think about it now. My gift to you.
4. Coach Disco
This show has a long and storied history of giving characters silly nouns as last names, starting at the top with Ted Lasso and continuing through with Coach Beard and Jamie Tartt, even if the spelling of that last one plays a little fast and loose with the bit.
It brings me great pleasure to add Coach Disco to the list. I must know everything about him at once. Or maybe nothing. This is another one of those “maybe don’t ruin a beautiful thing with more information” situations. It says a lot about me as a professional television critic that this is the biggest takeaway I had from this episode. We all have a lot to consider. Coach Disco included.
Crying is not fun as it’s happening. You feel silly and stupid for being emotional. You start questioning why the human body even does it. Why, when we feel sad or overwhelmed by any other emotion, does our entire face contort itself into a scrunched-up little ball and start leaking water and snot out of most of its holes? It’s especially embarrassing when there’s someone else there who is not crying. You start, like, apologizing and feeling sillier and crying more and it’s just a weird and annoying cycle.
But Rebecca does have a point here. It feels good once you get all of it out. It’s cathartic and a little freeing. I don’t want to sit here and wish a crying fit on any of you if you don’t have an honest one coming, but if you do, buddy, let it fly. Put on a Pixar movie or something and grab a box of tissues. It’s fine. You deserve it every now and then.
Jamie didn’t have a lot to do this week beyond wearing colorful puffy vests with fanny packs draped over them, which is still more than you can say for most characters on most television shows. But he should not be ranked this high. There was much more important business going on out there. I do not care. I am putting him at number two for three equally important reasons:
- I like that he was the one who took Ted’s lesson about the sewer system to heart, which shows real strides for him as a leader of the team
- I like that the word “poopy” in his accent comes out “poo-peh”
- I am a child and find it very funny to put the poo-based entry at number two
1. Coach Beard
Coach Beard is back at number one. He was always going to be number one. That’s just how things work here. But he did actually earn it this week when he did the silent little hand gesture in the screencap up there, the one where everyone saw Nate’s comments and got mad and Ted was going to say something but Beard saw Jamie getting ready to step up. That’s great assistant coaching. We could all use a Coach Beard in our lives to be a voice of reason and support.
He’s a good man. I missed him very much.