Written by Phoebe Walsh and directed by Matt Lipsey, Ted Lasso 3×07, “The Strings That Bind Us,” is another masterclass in storytelling as it pulls the ever-present invisible thread through three seasons of characters and their stories. That approach rewards a patient viewing experience through attention-detailed narratives that transform crumbs into biscuits. Therefore, this episode reiterates that previously perceived throwaway lines hold an intention in a much larger story — one that Ted Lasso has been telling all along.
So, as “The Strings That Bind Us” brings the Greyhounds together for a new game strategy, Ted Lasso‘s final season proves the magic that made fans fall in love with this underdog team in 2020 not only persists but is still capable of reaching new heights. This episode’s longer run-time never strains the outing’s purpose, and the various plots never come across as bloat. Instead, a renewed focus on different team members’ stories aligns with the ensemble’s impeccable synergy, leading to a win, even if not over Arsenal.
Total Football Is the Invisible String
The Ted Lasso‘s cast chemistry is so great that it makes the unbreakable Roy Kent giggle — multiple times. The entire physical bit of the team learning Total Football with the red rope is hilarious. The pan to Will the Kitman taking his role swap with Coach Beard very seriously is as comical as Beard tossing a water bottle over his shoulder to Trent Crimm. There is so much to love about those team-building sequences and how the cast plays off of one another that they encourage an immediate rewatch, much like when Led Tasso tells the team to touch each other’s toes in Ted Lasso 2×03, “Do the Right-est Thing.”
Beyond seeing the team out on the pitch training again, it’s a delight to see Brendan Hunt step into the spotlight for a presentation on all things Total Football. Learning about the sport alongside the characters is fun! In addition, it’s energizing to hear the team passionately discuss strategy. These scenes have a renewed energy with Ted more actively involved after his hallucination in Ted Lasso 3×06, “Sunflowers.” Selfishly, Beard’s football history lesson is a personal joy because the show’s timeline seemingly confirms that Jamie Tartt and Jack Grealish briefly played for Manchester City simultaneously.
So, for those fans who love the football aspects of Ted Lasso or want to see more of it, “The Strings That Bind Us” does not disappoint. The episode emphasizes the sport’s presence and the desire to see this team win while elevating the character-driven stories that can make that happen. Hinging AFC Richmond’s ability to score a goal on Jamie’s realization that he isn’t the head of the team but the heart of it is outstanding. That moment of clarity makes it all the more rewarding to see the Greyhounds stop going to Jamie and start playing through him. It’s the most cohesive the team has ever looked.
James Lance‘s Trent Crimm is the perfect person to speak to the club’s turn, especially after wondering if Ted’s venture is “a fucking joke” in the pilot. In saying AFC Richmond is on its way to success “by slowly building a club-wide culture of trust and support through thousands of imperceptible moments, all leading to their inevitable conclusion — Total Football,” Trent builds on Beard’s earlier words that “Total Football is all about letting go of your baggage and trusting your intuition.” If the Lasso Way gets the team to this conclusion, Ted’s time with the Greyhounds will end when they finally trust their instincts.
AFC Richmond Belongs to the Community
That impending end to this story makes it all the more impactful when Ted opens the club’s doors to the fans because “it’s their team;” Ted and Beard are “just borrowing it for a little while.” Ted Lasso gradually and subtly fills the stands as AFC Richmond practices the Total Football method, pairing nicely with the episode’s vignettes into Richmond’s local businesses, including the fictionalized The Crown & Anchor. “The Strings That Bind Us” demonstrates how football clubs can often be the ties that bond communities.
Though fictional, AFC Richmond has been a club since 1897. With that rich history, ties become roots. So it’s no shock that the pub’s peaks and valleys depend on the team’s performance. While May’s insights allow Richard to make his first appearance since Ted Lasso 2×11, “Midnight Train to Royston,” her comments are another way for Ted (and the viewers) to understand the ripple effects of a football club’s successes or failures. “The Strings That Bind Us” continues those efforts with a more personal lens in Sam’s story.
Nate the Great Rejects Self-Hate
Before that, though, Ted Lasso makes progress for Nate in another one of its fictional businesses, A Taste of Athens. Just as Ted Lasso 3×07’s title echoes Flo and Keeley’s memorable exchange (“To the ties that bind us.” “To Rebecca.”) from Ted Lasso 1×07, “Make Rebecca Great Again,” its content and soundtrack call back to Ted Lasso 2×05, “Rainbow” with Nate. While Nate making a move with Jade is fine and well, seeing Nate trade his self-hate for self-reflection after seeing his sister is more appealing.
Nate first mentions his niece, who loves crafts and makes those special boxes, in Ted Lasso 1×02, “Biscuits,” so it’s narratively fulfilling that the show finally introduces her and Nate’s sister, Nicole. It’s sweet that Nicole and Nate’s mother encourage Nate to let go of his baggage and trust his intuition. Ideally, this change of heart for Nate will lead to a more concerted effort to repair Nate’s reputation with the Greyhounds. Nate’s brief interactions with Ted in Ted Lasso 3×04, “Big Week,” suggest that a reconciliation is possible, but there’s only so much time left for that to happen in any believable way.
What’s Next for Keeley Jones?
While Ted Lasso‘s final season has time and space to conclude Nate’s story, it’s still unclear where this final outing plans to take Keeley Jones.
Her relationship with Jack has warning signs that raise Rebecca’s eyebrows, and Keeley’s role as a businesswoman isn’t as prevalent as it could be. It’s a great reflection of Rebecca’s growth that she recognizes her experiences with love bombing and voices her worries about how it manifests in Keeley’s relationship. However, Keeley’s concerns are oddly short-lived despite the repeated parallels between Jack and Rupert.
Ted Lasso may very well be trying to show the distinct differences between Jack and Rupert through a genuine depiction of Jack’s love language, but its execution struggles to resonate because of the limited time this season spends with the couple. They’re absent during “Sunflowers,” making the break-neck progression of their relationship between Ted Lasso 3×05, “Signs,” and “The Strings That Bind Us” all the more apparent.
It is a relief that “The Strings That Bind Us” has the conversation about Jack and Keeley’s workplace dynamic that Season 2 misses about Rebecca and Sam. But, unfortunately, it is painfully evident that Jack’s declaration should have included KJPR’s HR rep, if there is one. Correspondingly, it’s frustrating that Ted Lasso delves into Keeley’s business when it’s about how her romantic relationship impacts KJPR and has yet to see Keeley do much PR work since Ted Lasso 3×03, “4-5-1.” Hopefully, the following five episodes will strike a better work/life balance for Keeley because KJPR could be fascinating.
Sam Obisanya Can Do More Than Just Dribble
Alternatively, after multiple episodes of personal storylines sitting on the bench, “The Strings That Bind Us” tells an excellent and important story, and Toheeb Jimoh delivers another stellar, series-best performance.
The only downside of this story is that it would be even better if it spanned multiple episodes. The plot deals with some hefty subject matter, and the longevity (if Sam learned about Brenda Barot’s racist stance in one episode and confronted her on Twitter in another, etc.) would amplify the tension and extend Sam’s presence more this season. Nevertheless, Jimoh grounds every scene and finds an excellent scene partner in Precious Mustapha as Simi. Their chemistry is fantastic; it contributes to why the silent scene of Sam discovering Ola’s vandalism speak volumes. It’s a shame that Ted Lasso doesn’t show more of their friendship between “4-5-1” and “The Strings That Bind Us.”
Nevertheless, Ted Lasso knows that it has something special with Toheeb Joheb. His delivery of “I’ll tell you what’s wrong. The world is full of evil people who do shitty things, but I can’t deal with that right now because I have to go kick a little ball around, which those same people love me for – that is until I fuck up, or I miss a penalty, or I decide to fight back. And then they’re just going to want to ship me back wherever I fucking came from,” will go down as one of Ted Lasso‘s most memorable moments.
Sam’s words resonate with his character, who has used his platform for change, always and especially since “Do the Right-est Thing.” They also speak to the humanization of footballers beyond how they perform on a pitch, which is an evergreen conversation within the sport, like when Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, and Bukayo Saka faced racism after missing penalty kicks at the Euro 2020 final. So, it’s perfect timing to meet Nonso Anozie‘s Ola Obisanya for the first time when Sam needs him, his hug, and his advice. Hearing Ola tell Sam, “You do it for yourself. For your friend Simi. For all those people who want a taste of home when they’re away,” is beyond impactful and moving — down to Ola tugging on Sam’s earlobe like Sam mentions he does in “Biscuits.”
Like Colin’s story this season, hopefully, someone watches “The Strings That Bind Us” and walks away with more empathy for Sam Obisanya and anyone who may walk in his boots. Footballers are on this planet to do a lot more than just dribble. Hopefully, viewers will vow to be better, kinder, and proactively anti-racist. Like the Greyhounds this week and beyond, people will ideally ask, “What does this situation need?” more often and come to the answer by leading with curiosity, not judgment.
Other Winning Moments:
- Jamie pulling Roy on a bike
- Jamie’s pink socks matching his outfit
- Every new, odd thing we learn about Jane and Beard’s relationship
- Roy checking to see if his breath stinks
- Beard jumping to defend Ted with Baz, Jeremy, and Paul
- The episode’s soundtrack
- Nate’s Siri calling him “wonderkind”
- “Don’t fight back. Fight forward.” — Ola
- Dani and Isaac swapping voices
- “Football stars! They’re just like us.” — Paul
- Will as Beard and later Beard read James Kirkland’s The Bill Walton Mysters: Friend of the Devil
What did you think of Ted Lasso 3×07, “The Ties That Bind Us?” Let us know in the comments below!
New episodes of Ted Lasso stream on Wednesdays on Apple TV+.
Just a thought, there has to be *some* connection to when strings were last referenced in season 2. In the nineth episode when Dr. Sharon was leaving, the team prepared the dance to ‘Bye Bye Bye’ by Backstreet Boys as a parting gift (but she had left before they got to perform it for her). The team couldn’t get it together at the practice (or synchronised) and Ted explained that they were meant to be like marionettes for the dance because the song was off Backstreet Boys’ third album, ‘No Strings Attached’. Which is the opposite of ‘The Strings that Bind Us’. The team now has to work together in unity as a whole rather than as individual, but synchronised, players.
Oh, and that harks back to Ted and Sassy’s convo earlier in this season about the movie ‘No Strings Attached’. Which also ties in with the rom-com element of other episodes… and now I have fallen down a Taylor-Swift-fan-like rabbit hole of trying to find Easter eggs and connections or indeed strings… which it should be noted, she sings about strings too in her songs!
The last two episodes have been wonderful. However, I find the Keely story line so bizarre. First she was with Jamie, then Roy, and having just broken up with Roy, she seemed to be expressing interest in Jamie again, but now she’s in love with Jack. How did she get over Roy that fast? I was really sold that they were a match, too, so I feel, as a viewer, a little off about how soon it was forgotten.
Apologies, episode 11 not 9. And *Nsync of course, not Backstreet Boys!