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[This story contains spoilers for “International Break,” the 10th episode of Ted Lasso season three.]
Ted Lasso’s title character is mostly off screen in this episode, which scattered several AFC Richmond players as they suited up for their national teams and left those at home with less to do at Nelson Road than a normal week during the club season. The show has pulled focus away from Ted and the club successfully in the past, but “International Break” felt somewhat disjointed.
Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) getting a new measure of closure with Rupert played well, and the seemingly inevitable reunion between Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley (Juno Temple) had its moments too. Nate’s (Nick Mohammed) story, on the other hand, still feels like it’s missing beats, while Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) is forced to take another setback.
Taking each of the plot threads individually:
Rebecca reluctantly accepts an invitation from Rupert (Anthony Head) to join other team owners at a meeting where Edwin Akufo (a returning Sam Richardson) pitches forming a super league of top clubs, which would badly squeeze the sport’s middle class — to which Richmond absolutely belongs, one season removed from having been relegated — and fans in the name of bigger profits for the Manchester Citys and West Hams of this world.
Rebecca suspects she’s there so the people around Edwin won’t exclusively be old white men, and it seems she’s right. As Edwin makes his case and some of the other owners seem receptive, she sees them as little boys hoarding their playthings (similar to how she saw her younger self in the mirror as she was steeling herself for seeing Rupert). She then delivers a speech that sums up most of the sentiment that took apart the real-life European super league proposal two years ago (though most of it came from supporters and others outside the 12 clubs initially involved in the plan).
Noting that football (and sports more generally) can make people feel highs and lows they wouldn’t otherwise experience, she says, “I don’t want to be part of something that could possibly destroy this beautiful game. I would hate for all those little kids and grownups out there to ever lose access to that beautiful, passionate part of themselves.”
Her speech apparently works, because the next scene shows Akufo stalking out of the conference room and the club owners with the food Edwin supplied all over their faces and clothes. She and Rupert share a laugh and a moment of friendliness — until he leans in to try to kiss her. His bad misreading of the moment gives Rebecca still more clarity about her feelings toward him. As she tells Ted (Jason Sudieikis, in one of just a few scenes he appears in) at the end of the episode, “I’ve realized I no longer care if I beat Rupert. I still want to win, but for all of us — for Richmond.”
Keeley and Roy
Keeley walks into work to find that Jack’s venture capital firm has pulled funding for KJPR and it’s shutting down in two days. The news understandably sends Keeley spiraling, as she’s now lost both her newest love interest and her business. A text from Jack claims she couldn’t do anything about the company’s board pulling the funding, but it’s no consolation (and not even necessarily true). She ends up at Mae’s pub and receives some barstool wisdom from the owner, after which she buys Barbara (Katy Wix) a snow globe to remember this stop and heads back home, where Roy is trying to slip a note under her door.
Roy has been on a journey of his own, beginning with his niece Phoebe (the delightful Elodie Blomfield) and her mom, Roy’s sister (Sofia Barclay), throwing him an “uncle’s day” party. (Some Lasso-heads correctly tabbed Barclay’s character, an ER doctor, as Roy’s sister when she first appeared in last season’s “Man City” episode, even though it wasn’t explicitly noted.) Phoebe also invites Jamie (Phil Dunster), believing that he’s Roy’s best friend — and given the evidence at hand (he talks about Jamie a lot, they spend time together every day), she has a solid case.
Jamie gives Roy the latter’s kit from when he first represented England in the World Cup, and Roy is genuinely touched, in spite of himself. Phoebe, meanwhile, gives Roy a tie-dyed T-shirt that he wears to Nelson Road, sparking raised eyebrows and giggles among the Richmond staff. He tosses it on the ground, thinks again, picks it back up and wears it to drop Phoebe off at school, running into Ms. Bowen (Ruth Bradley), the teacher he spent a flirty (but platonic) few hours with last season. She mentions that he looks less “stuck” than when she last saw him and jokes that as a teacher of young kids, she doesn’t mind cleaning up a mess. The words “stuck” and “mess” cause something to click in Roy’s head, and he spends the team’s watch party for Jamie’s England debut composing the note he delivers to Keeley’s house.
When they meet up, she can’t read his atrocious handwriting, so he reads it to her: “I want you to know something: You never did anything wrong. It was all me. I was stuck in my own shit, and I didn’t want to cause you any harm with it, so I pulled away. But you are, and always will be, Keeley Fucking Jones. And If I ever did anything at all that made you feel like that wasn’t true, I’m so sorry. I love you. Sincerely yours, Roy Kent xoxo”
When Rebecca comes over later, she offers to fund Keeley’s business (whatever Jack’s firm was giving her apparently wasn’t all that much), and as she tells Keeley about Rupert and Keeley exclaims “You’d have to be at the bottom of your emotional barrel to do something that dumb” like rekindling things with Rupert, Roy walks into frame, putting on Keeley’s robe. It doesn’t seem like the show wants to make an explicit parallel between Keeley’s words and what Rebecca is seeing, but it also doesn’t not seem that way. Roy genuinely seems ready to accept some things in his life, and that’s a good place for him and Keeley to restart, but Keeley is also coming off a couple of huge changes to her own world, so the neatly tied rom-com bow might need to wait a bit.
The Wonder Kid is out as manager of West Ham, and no one seems to know why. He tells Jade (Edyta Budnik), before she heads to Poland to visit family, that he quit; Trent (James Lance) says he’s heard rumors of inappropriate workplace behavior; and Rupert tells Rebecca that Nate just wasn’t ready for the big time. But it’s a big leap from “not comfortable with cheating on my girlfriend on a guy’s night with the team owner” to quitting/being fired from a job where he had West Ham in second place in the Premier League.
With press camped outside his flat, Nate sneaks off to his parents’ house to recover and picks up the violin he apparently used to play (quite well). He’s startled by his dad, Lloyd (Peter Landi), standing in his doorway, and they have a brief argument about how Lloyd used to run Nate down for “squandering [his] potential.”
“I didn’t know how to parent a genius. … You’re brilliant, son,” Lloyd says, confessing that he pushed him on everything because he thought it was both what he had to do and what Nate wanted that, but at bottom he just wants Nate to be happy. Which is nice to hear, but it can’t be more than a first step to repairing years of a fraught father-son relationship. The time off and heart-to-heart with his dad also apparently leads Nate to apologize to Will (Charlie Hiscock) for the way he treated the kit man at Richmond. Again, nice, but Will’s hardly the only one at Richmond who deserves an apology from Nate.
Despite a stellar run of play recently (or so we’re told in voiceover), Sam isn’t selected to the Nigerian national team. And when he arrives at Ola’s, he finds the place empty. Both things are attributable to Akufo, who apparently has decided to carry out an extremely petty grudge against Sam after the player spurned Akufo’s offer to join his club in season two. The tantrum Akufo threw then was played for comedy, but he apparently meant it and is out to wreck Sam’s life. Sam has had loads of bad luck thrown at him this season, but at least Jamie wore number 24 for his England match in honor of his teammate and he got to have an awkward interaction with Rebecca.
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