season 3 speculation mk 2: electric boogaloo
(I’ve thought way too much about this)
So with Nate and Emperor Mannion joining forces at West Ham, there are two choices for the final match of s3: West Ham, or Manchester City.
West Ham is currently the obvious choice - one last showdown with Rupert - however it feels like we’ve been building up towards a final reckoning with Man City over the course of the show. Richmond have lost to them twice - both in highly emotional moments - and having a win here would be a great completion of that arc. So I think Man City will be in the finale, hopefully where the boys win the whole fuckin’ thing.
(Plus I really want Jamie to beat his father’s team as an emotional high of the season finale. I know, I know: it’s healthier for Jamie to be defining himself wholly separately from his father. Doesn’t mean I don’t still want to see it though.)
However this would leave an inevitably big emotional showdown between Rebecca&Ted&Richmond and Rupert&Nate&West Ham to come earlier in the season.
I think this could work, however. Mainly because I think setting Rupert up to be a Big Bad that needs to be defeated in the finale is giving him too much credit and too much power. Although there are definitely dickish characters who create conflict, we’ve never had a set up of Villain Who Needs To Be Defeated For Our Heroes To Triumph, and to change that now would change the feel of the show a bit too much. (Ted Lasso’s true villains have always been more tenuous concepts that can’t be defeated in the space of a football match anyway - loneliness, isolation, depression, miscommunication.)
While I think Nate could do with some time apart from Richmond (and ultimately his future may lie beyond the club) I also think that if Nick Mohammed is going to remain a member of the main cast, they’ll end up drawing him back to Richmond in some fashion as Roy did in season 2. The whole storyline is centred around Richmond - it’s difficult to have one character off and doing their own thing for large stretches of time (it would be pretty unsustainable to have significant goings-on at West Ham in every episode). So I think they’re going to find some way of drawing him back, at least by the mid-season point.
Also, while I think Nate’s incredibly fucked psyche might need the best part of a season to heal, I also don’t think an entire season should be required for him to redeem himself, considering the relatively easy pass Rebecca and Jamie both got. (I know there’s serious debate about whether a redemption arc should/will come, but my speculation = my rules.) I think it’ll take longer to come about, but not enough for it still to be an issue by the finale.
Therefore: my very idle speculation is that it’ll take a few episodes for Nate to properly vill it up, then to hit rock bottom, realise he needs to change, and then a few more episodes for him to be redeemed - taking up to the mid-season point.
There’s also way too much unfinished business for Nate at Richmond for the character to stay a villain at West Ham. Ergo, rest of the season could then be spent on whatever the hell will happen between him and Ted going forward, some sort of follow-up/reckoning/reconciliation between him and Richmond players such as Isaac/Colin/Jamie - and, quite frankly, a truckload of therapy from Doctor Sharon.
(I saw a speculative post somewhere on here predicting that Nate could and should be a mole for Trent to write a devastating expose on Rupert, and honestly I would watch the hell out of that.)
Which leads us back to the predicted West Ham match.
I can imagine a mid-season episode where Nate is already increasingly aware of the fact that he’s fucked up and is doing an as-yet unknown something to redeem himself, and - much like Ted during the Man City game - this distraction having an impact on his coaching. I can also imagine a final straw being when Richmond enjoys a gloriously humiliating win over West Ham (with all due apologies to West Ham fans) and Rupert taking it out on Nate in a moment where he stops being entertainingly nasty and is just plain nasty instead.
It’s then dealers’ choice on how the fallout with this lands. I would love to see a scene where the Richmond boys stand up for Nate because fuck off that’s our coach dickhead and where Nate finally gets it through his thick skull that the boys do actually love him and aren’t just post-bullying patronising him - but that’s only because Nate and the Richmond lads are a collective relationship that I absolutely spiral for, and I totally accept that the writers of Ted Lasso may not be as borderline obsessive as I am...
However, I would love to see a consequence of this being a Rebecca and Nate moment confiding about Rupert’s abusive ways. Because I maintain that little look from Rebecca at the funeral was a set-up for something - and regardless of everything that went down in season 2, I don’t think Rebecca would stand back and let anyone be hurt by Rupert again, regardless of how mad she may or may not end up being at Nate in season 3 for jumping ship for her ex’s team.
(I’m still wondering if Rebecca will ever find out about Nate’s betrayal, and I actually can’t see that happening unless Nate offers that information himself. I think she’ll be able to work out that something went down between Nate and Ted, but much as Ted has kept Rebecca’s own actions in s1 secret, I think that if ever Rebecca were to ask Ted would just shrug and remind her that, well boss, some things are better kept between the folks that it went down between, you know...?)