Ted Lasso 3×11, “Mom City,” spends the penultimate outing deliberating forgiveness and second chances, turning the series’ prioritization of kindness inward. The episode uses the long-awaited match against Man City to examine those concepts on a larger scale while bringing some long-anticipated interpersonal conflicts to the forefront. All the while, Ted Lasso offers thoughtful commentary on boundaries, childhood trauma, and self-worth.
To do so, “Mom City” finally brings the larger ensemble closer than they’ve been for most of the season and calls back to a line Ted said in Ted Lasso 2×06, “The Signal.” Then, Ted said, “I love meeting people’s moms. It’s like reading an instruction manual as to why they’re nuts,” upon an introduction to Rebecca’s mom, Deborah. This episode introduces Ted’s mom Dottie, played by Becky Ann Baker, and Jamie Tartt’s mother Georgie, played by Leann Best, granting more understanding to both characters.
Nevertheless, the episode’s priorities leave much to be desired in most other aspects of the story. At least part of Ted Lasso‘s appeal lies in its investment in the journey of exploring the intricacies of the human condition. Unfortunately, “Mom City” is another example of Season 3 concerning itself with the wins and losses rather than the time in between them, unlike the advice that Pep Guardiola (!!!) gives Ted. So, even though AFC Richmond is on a winning streak and has a song to celebrate it, Ted Lasso struggles to maintain its momentum just before that final whistle.
Nate the Great Plans His Return to AFC Richmond
Unfortunately, “Mom City” follows in the footsteps of Ted Lasso 3×10, “International Break,” and makes significant progress off-camera. The imbalanced approach to Nate’s story is especially baffling because this episode takes a logical step with Nate’s job at A Taste of Athens but stumbles into the reveal that the team unanimously decided to invite Nate back to the club. While a probable impact of Ted’s coaching technique, this decision comes from the same team who drowns in red cards during the West Ham match in Ted Lasso 3×04, “Big Week,” because they feel so intensely betrayed by Nate.
So, kicking “Mom City” off with Colin, Isaac, and Will speaking to Nate for the first time all season — only for it to bypass any deeper conversation about the conflict that got them to the place of not talking — is a bold choice. However, it could have landed better had Ted Lasso shown the players debating the decision, like it does when Jamie rejoins the team in Ted Lasso 2×02, “Lavender.”
That episode, too, is about second chances, and much of Jamie’s arc in Season 2 focuses on him earning that second chance by doing the work to gain back the respect of his peers. Alternatively, Ted Lasso Season 3 misses that by skipping out on the pivotal scenes — Nate quitting West Ham, the team talking about Nate — that would make this arc as successful (or more so) as the previous one. The storylines don’t need to be identical; that wouldn’t serve their very different characters and contexts. It’s only that, as this season nears its close, it’s evident that Jamie’s interconnectedness with the ensemble helps his story about second chances far better than the more isolated approach with Nate.
Regardless of the success of Nate’s return to AFC Richmond, “Mom City” strikes gold in that final scene between Nick Mohammed and Brendan Hunt. Whereas the episode’s opening feels disjointed because of the lack of insight, Beard and Nate’s scene is a roaring success because of those glimpses into Beard’s mindset, like the axe throwing with Jane, that could be deemed throwaway lines. Gaining that raw and real backstory about Beard in Ted Lasso‘s eleventh hour — and in this context — works because it’s earned.
Roy and Keeley Question Endgame Status
Alternatively, while Nate’s story moves forward on uneven ground, “Mom City” finds Roy and Keeley questioning the progress of “International Break.” Despite assumptions that the fan-favorite couple has rekindled their relationship, this episode swiftly instills doubt that they have or ever will. Roy and Keeley still refrain from communicating about anything other than their concern for Jamie. It’s endearing that their care for Jamie ties them together throughout “Mom City,” but it’s frustrating that Roy and Keeley have yet to share a meaningful conversation with only one episode left in the season.
Despite the rocky execution of the supposed growth that gets him to the point, Roy’s apology in “International Break” is a fine (re)starting point for him and Keeley. So, it’s strange that “Mom City” keeps their situation as ambiguous as possible. It’s never a question of if Roy and Keeley still care about each other, but it’s one of where they go from here. Thankfully, their interrupted conversation in Jamie Tartt’s childhood bedroom instills a sliver of hope that they will speak for longer than a few seconds in the show’s season — and possibly series — finale. At this point, that communication is more necessary than any confirmation of Roy and Keeley ending up together.
There’s some assurance in knowing that Roy and Keeley will likely always be in each other’s lives because of their connection (that spans back to unmovable posters on his wall) to Jamie, which would be a hilarious detail to tell Roy Kent in Season 1.
Jamie Tartt Is Amazing and Everyone Knows It
Since Ted Lasso 1×06, “Two Aces,” meeting Jamie’s mom has always felt necessary. With “Mom City” taking plenty of cues from Ted Lasso 2×08, “Man City,” this episode is the ideal time to meet the woman who only cares about Jamie’s happiness and redefines Amsterdam in his heart and mind. Best does not disappoint from the moment Georgie barrels down the stairs and into her son’s arms. Despite only meeting her now, Jamie and Georgie’s connection is undeniable — as is Georgie’s status as Jamie’s #1 fan.
It’s hard to pinpoint the best moment between Phil Dunster and Best because every second is outstanding. It’s the emotional work Jamie Tartt deserves, digging into his childhood trauma and how it impacts his self-worth. It’s a memorable picture to see Jamie’s self-worth shift when his mother gives him the tender pep talk he desperately needs. Still, it’s refreshing that Jamie doesn’t immediately shake his self-doubts by the match. It’s more authentic and heartbreaking that Jamie still searches for his father in the stands until Ted encourages Jamie to say “Fuck you” and “Thank you” to his father.
It’s then that Jamie can play for himself (on a bad ankle!), score a goal against Man City, and walk off the pitch with resounding applause and respect.
That affirmation from the crowd is one thing, but Dunster plays that beat so well that Jamie’s renewed self-respect is equally as palpable. As Keeley tells him, Jamie Tartt is on the precipice of everything he’s ever wanted to accomplish. Now, after coming home and seeing his mom and redefining his self-worth, Jamie can accept it for himself without any qualifications or repercussions from his father. After three seasons of an intricately and impressively defined arc, Jamie Tartt is more himself than ever.
Ted and Rebecca Trade Places for Final Bombshell
Likewise, Ted has his own breakthroughs during “Mom City” with the arrival of Baker’s Dottie Lasso. Her banter with Rebecca (!!!), the team, and Beard (!!!) is a delight to watch — until Ted Lasso pulls back to see how Ted visibly cringes at most things his mother does. There are many believable and subtle ties between Ted Lasso‘s past and Dottie’s present, but Dottie saying she likes tea hits the hardest. After several superficial similarities, that inherent difference between Ted and Dottie is almost stunning.
Because Ted breaks through the toxic positivity with Michelle in “Big Week,” it’s relevant to see him stick to that lesson with his mother — even if the team doesn’t with Nate.
That rather explosive and revelatory scene summarizes the episode’s themes and Ted Lasso‘s thesis. The latter becomes especially clear when Dottie says, “All we can do is keep playing.” Regardless, this scene is like a valve release for Ted, leading seamlessly into the episode’s cliffhanger.
“Mom City” leaves the yearly tradition of Rebecca dropping a bombshell on Ted until its final seconds. Yet, the episode subverts expectations by flipping everything down to the scene’s framing and Ted and Rebecca’s blocking. Those changes are fitting for a bombshell that could turn AFC Richmond and Ted’s life upside down all over again. If “Mom City” sets Ted up to tell Rebecca that he will return home to Kansas — to Henry, Ted Lasso will find itself embracing a cyclical pattern of life that coincides with a football season, perfectly encapsulating the saying that’s now synonymous with this show — Fútbol is life.
Other Winning Moments:
- Dottie and the peanut butter
- Beard fixing Ted’s oven for him
- Trent knowing that shouting is Roy’s love language
- Jamie falling into Roy’s arms and hysterically crying in the boot room but Will missing it
- “But I can’t sleep, and I can’t eat. And I wash me hair, but I don’t use any conditioner anymore cause, like, what’s the fucking point?” – Jamie
- The Wizard of Oz making a comeback
- Nora texting Rebecca to urge her to stop using her jet
- Mae quotes Philip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse.”
- AFC Richmond watching You’ve Got Mail together
- Keeley hiding from Jamie but Roy walking in plain sight
- Simon making Paul Hollywood recipes
- Jamie’s dad going to rehab after Wembley
- Roy and Keeley putting the champagne in Jamie’s ice bucket
- Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” becoming AFC Richmond’s song
What did you think of Ted Lasso 3×11, “Mom City?” Let us know in the comments below!
New episodes of Ted Lasso stream on Wednesdays on Apple TV+.