Ted Lasso 3×04 “Big Week” Spoilers Ahead
Ted Lasso Season 3, Episode 4, “Big Week,” makes our week a little grim. But if we consider the song playing at the very end (“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Peter, Paul, and Mary), perhaps we can carry on with some hope. The episode takes a few of the glaring questions we had in “4-5-1” and answers them, but not without bringing up some more in its place. It’s a bold reminder that despite Zava’s unstoppable presence, AFC Richmond’s arc is still an underdog story. Their ultimate win isn’t going to come from Zava or unrestrained fury, but all of them working together to once and for all prove that the glory is earned.
Written by Brett Goldstein and directed by Destiny Ekaragha, it delicately nestles in the crooks of the episode the thematic importance of earning something honorably. It addresses what the idea looks like with Nate at West Ham and all the players at Richmond. The episode also emphasizes the vitality of honest communication, boiling everything back down to the detail that vulnerability is a strength—never a weakness.
Nathan Shelley’s Big Week
Ted Lasso 3×04 “Big Week” is, in many ways, Nathan Shelley’s spectacle. After two episodes without him, it’s nice to see Nick Mohammed return at a juncture that allows his superb acting chops to come to the surface. Nate continues to be a conundrum, but Mohammed continues to nail every performance down to the most microscopic expressions. When we first see him, he knocks a figurine of Ted onto the floor, smiles, then quickly feels guilty about it. He picks it up and gently says, “there you go.” Mohammed is at best in this scene because how he touches on the devil and the angel on his shoulder is no small feat.
Moreover, in referencing Beard’s analogy about carbon monoxide, the same can be said about anger—it’s a poison. And it’s been simmering inside Nathan Shelley for ages now. Yet, the beautiful thing about Ted Lasso is that this isn’t a show about good and evil but human complexities, begging us to ask, what emotion is more complex than rage? Is it merited at times? Of course. Can it be dangerous if the person seething doesn’t contain it? Without a doubt. As the intricacies of rage come to the surface, we’re one step closer to the answers we’re looking for. If we carry on with the Star Wars parallels because they’re no longer subtle, Rupert Mannion is entirely in his Emperor Palpatine era—he’s no longer fighting the anger; he fully embraces it.
In Rupert’s eyes, Nate should embrace it too, but the bit of humanity left in him is fighting back hard. In the same way that Anakin initially fights against the darkness and tries to rationalize his friendship with Obi-Wan, Nate undoubtedly feels tremendous guilt for what he did upon leaving AFC Richmond. Whether Nate will fully turn to the Dark Side like Anakin’s transition to Darth Vader is a question for the future, but right now, it’s almost impossible not to imagine redemption. Now, everything boils down to what it means to earn something honorably, and as much as Nate earned his position at West Ham—he didn’t do it justly. Yet, everything he had at Richmond was the polar opposite. Still, there’s a monumental fight left in him because much of this still comes down to pleasing his father and, inadvertently, the male figures in his life.
As Chris Powell says when referring to Zoreaux (who now goes by Van Damme), we have to dive into his childhood for that answer. And like all characters on this show, Nathan Shelley needs a therapist—not a psychic, not a mentor, not an evil Emperor—a professional therapist. He needs to unpack his childhood and understand that the root of his rage torches down to his desperation for genuine recognition. Nathan Shelley, like most people, simply wants to be loved, appreciated, and seen. And if his father solely sees him in the image of himself, he will surely seek approval elsewhere, falling apart at the first few signs of it potentially dwindling because he needs to learn to love himself first.
In many ways, it’s the same thing we see with Roy Kent. He doesn’t love himself quite like he deserves to because he’s looking from the perspectives of fans, past mistakes, and colleagues when much of the healing comes from one’s own point of view. Like Roy, Nate needs to step back and look inward. He has to question Nathan Shelley’s love for Nathan Shelley before all others because that will be the catalyst that saves him from completely destroying himself. Ted Lasso 3×04 “Big Week” gives us clear signs of Nate’s struggle by exhibiting that the anger simmering within is hurting him before it’s hurting all others. And again, the problem with anger isn’t feeling it but it’s acting on it.
And the detail that essentially differentiates Nate from Roy is that one is bottling the wrath up while the other is spilling it forward, making them incredibly fascinating depictions of two sides of the same coin. Nonetheless, as much as Nate wanted to hurt Ted with his outright determination to destroy the BELIEVE sign, the guilt hurts him more than the destruction affects Ted. Because Ted knows that he’s acting out of plunging despair, whereas Nate has yet to grasp how to handle the rage. It’s why Nate allows someone like Rupert to make him feel small, even when he tells him he earned this job. It’s why Nate still doesn’t walk into restaurants believing he can get whichever table he wants because no matter who sees him, he still doesn’t see himself in the light he should. And in the coming few weeks, it will be riveting to witness how Nate will see-saw between his rage and his guilt, ultimately leading to a winner based on which emotion he chooses to feed most carefully.
Doing What’s Right, Embracing the Mess
Ted Lasso is a mess, but so is nearly every person on the show, and it’s fascinating to watch Sassy be the one to call him out on this after he asks her out, debating if they should make their trysts more serious. But unlike Michelle, Ted isn’t ready for another relationship at the moment because he’s still in the middle of trying to understand his demons. When the team learns that someone ripped the sign, Trent Crimm pulls camera footage and shows the coaches. But Ted’s known all along, hasn’t he? And when we all wondered how the sign was back up in the season premiere, Ted Lasso 3×04 “Big Week” answers it by showing that it’s merely taped together.
Now, while Roy and Beard are rightfully fuming over the revelation, Ted’s calmer—he won’t use the information to motivate the team or as a dangling mechanism against Nate in any way. But he does confront the Diamond Dogs (sans Roy, still) about whether he’s a mess, prompting Beard to give him the carbon monoxide analogy to emphasize that Ted needs to let out what’s inside him. And the captivating detail about Ted here is that if Michelle and Henry weren’t his number one priorities—would he be angrier at Nate? Would he put aside some of his frustrations in that area? It’s hard to tell, but what’s simple to decode is that Ted Lasso’s greatest struggle remains being far from his family and the lingering fears of what that can look like with another man much closer to them. And thus, he does what’s necessary by finally telling Michelle that it upsets him they didn’t talk about Dr. Jacob before he learned about their relationship.
Sassy’s words don’t get to Ted as much as his inability to be transparent about his feelings because it’s scary to trust that the recipient of said honesty would take it as intended. And thereby, Ted does the hard thing by trying anyway, honoring both Henry and Rebecca by putting one step forward when it’s challenging for him to do so. Whether this will allow him a bit of reprieve from his demons is a question for another episode, but at the very least, Ted could potentially focus on the game a little more closely. Because what’s so heartbreaking at this point is that no one realizes why he’s so diverted from winning, and it has nothing to do with any of them—it’s his heart on the line, his jagged pieces begging to be put back together in the same way he does with the BELIEVE sign. If Ted is going to heal, he needs to stitch himself back together in such a way that a tiny push won’t break him in half again. He needs the people who are often on his side to show up in ways that prove he has an army of real soldiers beside him, like the toys he gives out.
But, all in due time—right now, he’s doing what’s best for himself and Henry by trying. He’s trying with Nate, he’s trying with the Diamond Dogs, and he’s trying with the team. It’s all he can do not to fall apart, but ultimately, it’s what they can all do collectively to carry each other without rage but through understanding. At the same time, these are the very scenes that bring out some of Jason Sudeikis’ most brilliant performances by showcasing how much depth he can tackle subtly.
AFC Richmond vs. West Ham
The detail that eases my soul personally in Ted Lasso’s 3×04 “Big Week” is, surprisingly, the loss our boys endure. Now, hear me out, and here’s proof that we should never doubt this show, even when we aren’t quite sure what’s happening. I was slightly nervous that with Zava’s presence, the team would win their way to the top, losing all semblance of their underdog story, but this loss tells us that the opposite is coming. It’s not about Zava, but about AFC Richmond—every single one of them, putting their best foot forward and understanding that their belief in belief, as Isaac notes, can carry them through.
Still, while it’s endearing to see how much this team loves each other, to feel so much fury on behalf of the sign collectively is lovely to watch. A bit frightening, however, but still engrossing because, hopefully, in practice, this will motivate them to start playing together in a way that allows each of them to bring their A-game, not just Zava. It’s also going to be interesting to see how Zava behaves after this because his winning streak ending surely isn’t going to sit well for him. (But he got Jamie’s agreement for once. You win some; you lose some.)
And speaking of Jamie, while the 4 AM wake-up call was initially too early, he’s now ready ahead of Roy’s knock because this game also shows him what he needs to do to be a team player. Keeley notes that he’s changed, and this is the episode where viewers see it subtly through the motivation Phil Dunster carries in his expressions. Jamie is ready to make tangible changes, and he’s showing all the vital signs of doing so. Whatever we get with Zava and Jamie will likely be particularly intriguing to see and understand both characters better.
Women Should Always Look Out for Each Other
Women should always look out for each other, and that’s something Ted Lasso has often done beautifully with characters like Rebecca and Keeley. However, in Ted Lasso’s 3×04 “Big Week,” there’s a bit of a questionable aura in the air. We meet Jodi Balfour’s Jack Danvers, Keeley’s boss, and I’m a little torn on how she addresses Keeley asking for a tampon earlier in the hour. She also notes that Keeley should pay it forward, not knowing that it’s essentially what she does almost daily as a woman who constantly takes care of other women. Still, I could be reading a bit too into it, and I hope we’ll see more of who she truly is.
Still, the episode also shows us a bit more about Shandy and what happens when she makes decisions without consulting Keeley. And like the ray of sunshine that she is, Keeley handles the situation honorably, saying she should remove the tagline and following it up with a “please.” But whether working with Shandy will be suitable for her or not, Keeley’s decision to hire her is directly in line with what Rebecca tells her about hiring your best friend. Keeley Jones continues to try breaking through the walls people put up, but it doesn’t seem as though they’re reciprocating. Barbara, who generally never smiles and doesn’t give Keeley any grace, is obsessed with pleasing women like Rebecca and Jack, which is heartbreaking because it ultimately shows that she lacks belief in Keeley.
And it’s so disheartening because it’s similar to what we saw with Ted earlier in Season 1, as people so often dismissed him because of his kindness. People look at someone as bubbly and warm as Keeley and believe she doesn’t know what she’s doing because she isn’t commanding or assertive, but instead, what they aren’t seeing is that Keeley succeeds because she respects agency. She wants to get to know people closely to do what’s best for them. She understands that what might work for one person doesn’t work for others, and simultaneously, it’s apparent that she is still hurting from the breakup but isn’t saying any of it aloud.
In an episode that focuses on the significance of transparency, clouds are floating around Keeley’s sunshine that she’s continuing to hide because she doesn’t know how to address them. Early periods because of stress aren’t fun, and it’s a clear indication that someone needs to look closely at her and help her unload the crosses she’s carrying. It’s unclear if that person will be Rebecca or Roy or someone else, but when it happens, I hope it’ll allow Keeley to work through the rain blocking her rainbow. The people who are often taking care of others occasionally need others to hold their hands too, and here’s to hoping that happens sooner than later.
Now, in Ted Lasso 3×04 “Big Week,” Rebecca Welton is also unintentionally paying it forward by calling out Rupert after catching him with his assistant. “Your daughter deserves better, and so does Bex. Stop f–king around,” she tells Rupert, followed by sincerely smiling at Bex, showing viewers just how beautifully her character has grown in the last few years. Rupert Mannion made Rebecca Welton feel small, but she’s big enough to understand that none of that is Bex’s fault. She isn’t the reason Rupert cheated or why he mucked everything up, but she’s just another culprit in his debauchery. But there’s a child now, and Rebecca Welton knows damn well how much knowing her father is unfaithful can terrorize a little girl.
Thus, this small decision to call out Rupert is colossal in illuminating Rebecca’s growth because as much as she wants to beat him more than anything, she doesn’t want to destroy his life the way he did hers. She doesn’t want another little girl to grow up not knowing her worth in the same way she didn’t realize hers when she chose to be with him. She wants to win this year because she needs it more than anyone to move forward, knowing he didn’t defeat her in every way. Yet, even in her sadness after the loss, she’s still choosing to look out for someone else, a callback to how beautifully her mess blends with Ted’s because so much of what she does is by virtue of the light he consistently brings into her life. And therefore, when she uses Oklahoma to ask if he’s truly okay, it’s Rebecca’s way of reinforcing that she hears him. She sees him. She’s grateful for him even when she’s losing so much of her patience and heart, and mind to the idea of winning this game. Still, amid her pain, she’s choosing to protect someone else, and it’s where the show continues to excel at drawing stunning parallels.
Ted Lasso 3×04 “Big Week” is a meticulous encapsulation of all the emotions that need to draw closer to the shore. It’s a diligent exploration of what happens when anger and heartache marinate too long in a person, turning into poison to hinder the healing they need. AFC Richmond and everyone around them are still in the dark forest, heavily clad in armor, hoping they’ll make it out without yet realizing that they need to remove the walls and confront what’s inside before doing so. How they’re each battling with these desolations alone, even when they’re confessing to someone, remains a glistening expose of humanity. The more we move forward in excavating, the more rewarding it will be to see how we win.
Ted Talks and Further Thoughts
- “How am I gonna see it’s dark out?” OMG, Jamie. Never change.
- Cutting from Nate putting Ted’s figurine back on the board to the phot of them on Ted’s vanity wounded me.
- Of course, Ted’s Uber score would be 5 stars. Of course.
- Sam’s not doing Bantr anymore!??? Interesting…
- Higgins is actual footage of me watching Roy and Beard losing their mind trying to plan the game tactics.
- Ted: “You fellas need to calm down and kiss.” / Beard: “he’s right.”
- CALLING ROY LIKE THEY’D CALL A DOG HAD ME HOWLING. Also, Diamond Dogs barking getting more intense is just glorious.
- Beard and Jane are in Codependence Anonymous and I have 101 questions about this.
- If Trent Crimm accidentally outs Colin, can it be because he genuinely thinks his friends know when he says things like “my guy?” I just refuse to believe he could do anything terrible intentionally, so it’s gotta be an accident, right? (That’s also if this is a storyline and I’m worrying for nothing. Anyway, once again, with feeling—PROTECT COLIN AND HIS RELATIONSHIP AT ALL COSTS.)
- Zava’s right about people choosing who they want to be and what they’d like to be called, but still feels a bit like he’s someone who can’t seem to respect cultural backgrounds like names and cuisine ingredients.
- Isaac freaking out about the sign and trying to punch Jamie to test his strength was both hilarious and heartbreaking.
- Shake his hand. Say hello. Beat him. Okay, Palpatine, calm down. Also, having Nate call him Mr. Mannion again? Who is this guy?
- Ted: “You already won you know,” Ted tells Rebecca about getting Rupert out of her life, and I’ll have so much more to say about this soon I hope.
- Rebecca reminding Keeley that she is mysterious and powerful and dynamic is everything to me.
- Nate hiding in the elevator hurt a bit.
- Rebecca’s little dance and giggle and excitement in trying to motivate Ted is both hilarious and heartbreaking but Hannah Waddingham remains unbeatable.
- Listen, I’d quit my job right then and there if AFC Richmond looked at me the way they all looked at Nate coming out of the locker room. Also, orange away gear like the Rebels? I’m never getting over it.
- How many kids does Zava have? Do I even want to know?
- Roy: “It’d be great if you yelled at us a bit.” Beard: “Please!” Oh, I yelled. It’s all good.
- Rupert introduces Nate to a woman named Anastasia—she’s famous. Padmé Amidala? Is that you?
Now streaming on Apple TV Plus: What are your thoughts on Ted Lasso 3×04 “Big Week?” Let us know in the comments below.