“Inverting the Pyramid of Success” | Ted Lasso
It takes an incredibly skilled actor to play such a complex character, and it takes an even more skilled actor to show us the progression of the character’s descent organically. It might be known as a fun, challenging role—one that actors will often jump at the opportunity for, but it’s far from an easy one to master. And Ted Lasso’s Nick Mohammed certainly masters it.
His story this season mirrors one of the most iconic villains in pop culture, Darth Vader, showing us the collapse from kit boy Nate the Great to big dog Nate, the head coach of a rival team. And it has been a marvel to watch as a viewer in spite of the deep sadness that so often follows a revered character falling into darkness.
If you’ve yet to read the explanations and notes provided by Nick Mohammed on his Twitter following the end of “Inverting the Pyramid of Success,” I highly recommend reading it by clicking here. The way the story and his arc have been framed is indeed noteworthy.
That said, Mohammed’s performance in the finale is deserving of accolades left and right. (The whole season, really, but the ending is something else.) Starting from the way Nate pretended to know nothing when Beard asked about whether he’d read the article, every eye-roll, the muttering under his breath, and the sardonic “woof” during the Diamond Dogs meeting, all leading up to the confrontation with Ted right before the game and his walk-off.
It’s easy to be so disappointed in Nate because we all cared so much about him, and it’s all a testament to Nick Mohammed’s performance throughout. But during the confrontation with Ted, not knowing exactly what was going to happen was both anxieties inducing as a human and nerve-wracking as a viewer.
Because ultimately, what Mohammed mastered so brilliantly at that moment was the physical showcase of the devil and angel on his shoulders without the blatant cartoon-like display. The academy should use this scene for his Emmy reel. You had absolutely no clue how the moment would go and no way to predict what would happen next because Mohammed was showing such range, it almost felt like maybe he’d take it back. Maybe it’d be okay. Maybe he is deeply lost; he’ll come back to the light. And then you could physically see Nate choose one side over the other, which made for such a fantastic performance— it’s no wonder audience members had such visceral reactions to it.
To fight back the tears because he’s both so utterly broken and full of engulfing rage required impeccable embodiment and character understanding, which Mohammed had a grip on so pristinely it was astounding. That moment when you can see a character fight between light and dark because the actor is showing it while his words are blowing toward a specific angle is a true masterclass in acting.
We were all rooting for Nate back in season one, but really, we should be rooting for Nick Mohammed, whose performances this season have been so subtly nuanced and so meticulously thought out it’s been a real treat to watch him navigate through the character’s journey.
Whatever is in store for Nate, we can at least be sure of the fact that Nick Mohammed is only just beginning to astonish us with exemplary performances.