Written by Brett Goldstein and directed by Destiny Ekaragha, Ted Lasso 3×04, “Big Week,” orbits around uncomfortable yet necessary conversations and illustrates how they can — or could — change everything. This episode also upholds Ted Lasso‘s impact on pop culture and beyond through notable character beats highlighting internal dialogues that often remain unspoken. After all, the cast recently visited the White House to speak with President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden about the importance of mental health.
“Big Week” also includes tongue-in-cheek and touching nods to the football world in which the show continues to embed itself. Football fans will notice sports presenter Rebecca Lowe early in the episode, with whom Brendan Hunt co-hosted a podcast about the 2022 World Cup called After the Whistle. Lowe and Hunt spoke about the devastating passing of the excellent sports journalist Grant Wahl in their December 10th episode.
In it, Hunt said, “There’s a storyline coming up in Ted Lasso Season 3 that we needed the knowledge of an expert for, and so I reached out to Grant with just, like, a couple questions. He responded with a incredibly generously long and detailed email, answering all these questions I had about topics that I won’t spoil for you. And it was so incredibly helpful.” Hunt shared that virtual interaction with Wahl as one he “won’t forget.” Hunt also spoke about his time with Wahl before he left London after the recent England-USWNT match. Hunt gave Wahl the Richmond tour, which Wahl wrote about on his Substack.
It’s a delightful read for anyone who loves Wahl’s writing or Ted Lasso. Wahl wrote, “Meeting up with Brendan, seeing the actual locations of my favorite Ted Lasso scenes and (most of all) connecting with people who have been so deeply affected by the show brought a lightness that I didn’t realize how much I needed. It was a little like the effect the show itself had on me when I started watching during the pandemic.”
Wahl’s transcendent writing provably carries weight for Ted Lasso‘s team. While Beard is reading Wahl’s book The Beckham Experiment: How the World’s Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America during the episode, the end of “Big Week” features a dedication to Wahl. His widow Céline Gounder, MD, ScM, FIDSA, shared a tweet in gratitude last month.
Don’t Look Back — or Play — in Anger
As Ted Lasso often does, “Big Week” approaches the politics of football from a considerate standpoint that centers on the human beings at the heart of the sport. It demonstrates the evergreen ripple effect a toxic force can have on the sport’s infrastructure. The conflict plays out well in this final season because it’s rooted in the team’s fractured relationship with Nate. The interpersonal stakes carry considerable weight after the first two seasons, and the juxtaposition of Ted and Beard and Roy creates an engaging story.
Beard frequently pushes back on Ted’s positivity, and “Big Week” gives Beard more credence with Roy in his corner and Nate in the other. However, the dynamic duo quickly learns that AFC Richmond (and Ted Lasso) desperately needs a balance between the coaching methods. It’s not viable for the team’s longevity — or the characters — to overcorrect and play with hate. That realization and the team learning about the believe sign in the fourth episode of a 12-episode season instills hope in Season 3’s trajectory.
Ted Lasso posits that it’s human to feel anger, but it’s not okay to weaponize that anger because it can be the defining factor in losing the game (Fútbol is life!). It can be far more productive to vocalize those valid emotions in a critical way that fosters growth for either party involved. That transparency can heal and make way for something new and better later. “Big Week” shows that it’s possible through the spotlight (or headlight) glimpses at the evolution of Roy and Jamie’s dynamic into genuine mentorship.
Repeating History with Rupert Mannion
One of the hard truths of “Big Week” is that those moments of honesty don’t always amount to any change. Sometimes, some people are irredeemable and unchangeable. Unsurprisingly, Rupert Mannion is one of those people, and Anthony Head plays Rupert’s insidious second nature so chillingly well. The layers of his manipulation and hatefulness run deep and are as dark as his villainous wardrobe. It’s wince-worthy to watch Rupert pull Nate further into his tangled web of debauchery and deception.
Conversely, it’s cheer-worthy to see Rebecca’s confidence gradually and non-linearly grow around Rupert. Ted is broadly correct when he says, “You’ve already won, ya know. Got that turkey out of your life.” But it’s not that clean-cut, considering their history and Rupert’s abusive role in it. So it’s noteworthy that the camera catches the beats when Rebecca pulls herself together before entering a room with Rupert (or Bex). It’s distinctly recognizable that Rebecca stiffens when Rupert places his hand on her shoulder. Hannah Waddingham‘s emotional range in the most subtle expressions remains impeccable.
Rebecca may always (and understandably) have those trauma responses to what she survived. Those nuances authentically (and painfully) inform parts of Rebecca’s character. They ground that history so that Ted Lasso never needs to depict it. Rupert is a stagnant character perpetuating an endless cycle of toxicity, and though Rebecca isn’t in it as his newest fling or wife, it still affects her. As gross as it is, Rupert thrives off of that. But, even then, Rebecca persists with an effort to break the cycle. As Waddingham perfectly delivers, “I saw you with your assistant. Your daughter deserves better, and so does Bex.”
The Wonder Kid’s Sympathetic Portrait
Goldstein’s script does an excellent job of underlining why Nathan Shelley also deserves better (in a different context) as it continues Ted Lasso‘s sympathetic portrait. “Big Week” makes it a challenge to root for Nate in those bigger scenes, like those on the pitch. Nevertheless, the writing capitalizes on the quieter moments to display the sparks of the character once deemed Nate the Great. Where Rupert never budges from the dark side, Nate’s commitment to that force has never been unwavering, even when he believes it.
It’s fascinating that Nate wears exclusively West Ham apparel (unless it’s game day; then he options for a black suit) as a perceived badge of honor, but it plays more as a wall of armor. It’s intense that he does so even in the comfort of his home, signaling that deep-rooted self-doubt. “Big Week” suggests that Ted Lasso is well on its way to unpacking that before the show ends. The guilt that Nate feels with a figurine version of Ted in the opening minutes ripples throughout the episode with a resoundingly positive impact.
The elevator blocking when Ted and Nate come face to face for the first time since the latter left AFC Richmond is hilarious and heartbreaking. It represents Nate’s fine-tuned ability to avoid conflict and make himself smaller. It’s also the perfect, transitory set for the cracks in Nate’s facade to reappear and for Ted to be receptive to them. Nick Mohammed pulls those vulnerable sides of Nate to the surface so well, like at A Taste of Athens when Jade still isn’t giving Nate the attention and validation he craves.
However, few scenes are more achingly effective than Nate wanting to bridge the gap between him and Ted with a handshake, but Ted is out of reach when Nate gathers the courage. Still, the hope in Nate’s eyes just before is the most authentically animated Nate has been all season, instilling optimism that “Big Week” is a turning point for him.
The Lion Den’s Blurred Boundaries
Similarly, this episode marks a turning point for Keeley’s professional dynamic with Shandy as Ted Lasso focuses more on reframing the sport’s effect on Keeley’s PR work. The show introduces Keeley’s boss, Jodi Balfour‘s Jack Danvers, through a callback to Rebecca’s lip liner line in 2×08, “Man City.” One day, it won’t be a delightfully jarring experience to hear menstruation candidly discussed on TV, but that time has yet to come. So it’s a surprise that “Big Week” breaks the ice between Keeley and Jack in that way.
Alternatively, Barbara’s continued dismissive comments towards Keeley and Shandy’s inability to recognize Keeley as the boss are shocking. At one point, Shandy even speaks of herself as the boss, which Keeley supports. But it’s becoming increasingly evident that the KJPR team doesn’t value Keeley — at least not as much as they should.
So, even when Ted Lasso suggests that Keeley’s romantic feelings for Jamie could be resurfacing, “Big Week” doesn’t dive into what that could mean, especially after 3×02, “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea” values platonic relationships over romantic ones.
Instead, the script shifts to underscore the interpersonal relationships in Keeley’s workplace that are starting to make KJPR look like a lion’s den. Keeley’s leadership tactics value kindness — a lot like Ted’s. Still, Shandy’s choice to make decisions without Keeley is a recipe for something less sweet than Ted’s biscuits. Consequently, “Big Week” teaches Keeley that she may have to try something new to make KJPR a success.
Ted Breaks through Toxic Positivity
Likewise, Ted spends most of “Big Week” speaking to the people in his life about whether he’s a mess, only to find solace in being “a work in progmess.” So while Ted and Sassy’s connection remains a bit (maybe, purposefully) confounding, it’s heartwarming that the first Diamond Dogs meeting of the season is to discuss this topic in Ted’s life. Still, the most moving scene involves Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, and the word “Oklahoma.” The latter is a perfectly-timed heartfelt reference to 1×05, “Tan Lines.”
In couple’s therapy, Ted and Michelle used that word to tell the “God’s honest truth.” Now Michelle is dating Dr. Jacob, granting that word a more negative connotation — until Rebecca uses it. The scene’s framing lands as an intentional method to avoid creating a scene that parallels Ted and Rebecca’s in the past two seasons’ penultimate episodes early. Nonetheless, Ted Lasso creates an environment that fosters both characters’ vulnerabilities, affirming their bond that has only grown since Ted arrived in London.
That scene — and Rebecca — inspires Ted to find the truth within himself about himself with a tool that hurts more than it may help during that time, and yet, it’s still useful. It makes Ted listen to his feelings rather than repress them for toxic positivity. “Big Week” sees Ted come up against multiple forms of toxicity; the football pitch becomes a battleground. If that’s not a giant metaphor for mishandling emotions, what is?
Poignantly, after all of that, Ted doesn’t listen to game coverage and doesn’t drink. The coping mechanisms fade away. The underlying goal becomes inevitable. Ted is honest with Michelle for the first time in a long time — maybe ever. The dialogue’s candor emphasizes the scene as a long-awaited breakthrough for Ted, exemplifying his progress in knowing that conveying negative feelings isn’t always unkind. Saying the right thing the wrong way is often better than pretending everything is okay. As Ted Lasso reminds its characters and viewers, it’s okay not to be okay; we’re all works in progmess.
Other Winning Moments:
- How the episode gradually depicts the morning from 4am on
- The rom-com talk with 2011’s Friends with Benefits vs. No Strings Attached instantly makes me want to watch another great friends-to-lovers rom-com, 2015’s Sleeping with Other People.
- Sassy trying to be better with her Uber drivers after her discussion with Ted
- “What a soggy wet piece of shit.” — Keeley Jones
- Roy putting his fingers in his ears to drone out the Diamond Dogs
- “Just KISS — Keep it simple, smarty pants.” — Ted Lasso
- Colin still trying to gather the tone of the locker room
- Jamie being the one to rally the team after Zava leaves the room
- Isaac believing he can chop things in half
- Dani’s oldest friend
- Keeley recognizing the growth in Jamie
- Of course Rupert would name his daughter Diana
What did you think of Ted Lasso 3×04, “Big Week?” Let us know in the comments!
New episodes of Ted Lasso stream on Wednesdays on Apple TV+.