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Ted Lasso season 3, episode 7 – Sam Obisanya takes on the government

Ted Lasso season 3, episode 7 tackles stories ripped from the UK Headlines as Sam Obisanya takes on the government while Richmond struggles with Total Football.

Sam from Ted Lasso smiles nervously

Our Verdict

Ted Lasso goes from strength to strength as it tackles an issue ripped from the headlines

After a sluggish sixth episode, Ted Lasso finds its spark again as it tackles contemporary politics and Total Football takes hold at Richmond. Ted Lasso season 3 episode 7, The Strings That Bind Us, doesn’t open at the Dogtrack, though. Instead, the comedy series begins on a sleepy Monday morning, where we see the town and the Richmond faithful getting ready for the week ahead.

Nate (Nick Mohammed) is hanging around A Taste of Athens, waiting for the chance to see Jade (Edyta Budnik) again; Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) is checking in on his new restaurant and finds the staff outraged at the cruel actions of the British government; while Jack (Jodi Balfour) and Keeley (Juno Temple) grab a coffee at a rather cosy-looking cafe. As we didn’t get much chance to chat about Keeley last week, let’s start this recap with her story.

Keeley and Jack in Ted Lasso season 3

Ted Lasso season 3, episode 7 recap – Keeley gets love bombed

Keeley’s story revolves entirely around her new relationship with Jack. Things seem to be going really well between the pair, but there’s just one problem. Keeley feels awkward that she’s dating her boss, especially when Barbara (Katy Wix) decides to get passive-aggressive about the gifts Jack’s been showering Keeley with.

While Jack understands Keeley’s reluctance to be open about the relationship, she reassures her that they can’t get in trouble for dating each other as two consenting adults. Taking matters into her own hands, Jack declares to the office that she and Keeley are in a relationship, and everyone’s quietly accepting of the news.

I won’t lie. I wasn’t sure about this storyline, mostly because I was concerned it was just going to be treated as a roadblock for a cliched and seemingly inevitable Keeley and Roy reunion. I’m not necessarily sure that’s where the Jack and Keeley romance is going anymore, and the pair do make a cute couple. Still, I can’t help but shake the feeling that Keeley’s missing a few red flags here.

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Jack is her boss (even if she wouldn’t say that), and there’s an imbalance in their power dynamic. Jack’s rich and powerful and ultimately holds the future of Keeley’s company in her hands. There has to be a conflict of interest there, right? I’m not the only one who’s concerned, either.

When Keeley catches up with Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), the Richmond owner tells her young friend about “love bombing” — the practice of overwhelming someone with affection. Apparently, this is something Rupert (Anthony Head) did to Rebecca when they started dating, and if you think I was wary of Jack before this comparison, you can only imagine how I felt when she was mentioned in the same breath as the most reprehensible character in the show.

Maybe Keeley’s right and Jack is a decent person. Perhaps, to borrow Keeley’s ace expression, I’m “love colour blind”, and I see green flags as red ones. I certainly hope that’s the case, and Keeley does assert herself at the end of the episode, so here’s hoping I’m wrong. Anyway, Keeley’s not the only person for whom the course of love isn’t running smoothly.

Nate (NIck Mohammed) looks at the West Ham team

Ted Lasso season 3, episode 7 recap – Nate-r gonna give you up

After Jade finally realised Nate isn’t always a cocky douchebag and had some divine baklava with him a few weeks ago, the West Ham manager’s finally ready to ask her out on a proper date. Except, wait a minute, no he’s not. In one of the show’s most painfully relatable moments, Nate’s too shy to ask her out and instead awkwardly hangs around outside A Taste of Athens.

Thankfully Nate’s snapped out of his vaguely sinister behaviour after some words of wisdom from his mum and sister (as well a surprise revelation that his dad was similarly too shy to ask out his mum), which gives him the confidence he needs, and he secures the date.

This was probably one of my favourite story threads this week. Not because Nate got a date with Jade (I’m actually a little conflicted on that), but because this is the first time since season 1 that we’ve seen Nate assert himself without having to psyche himself up by spitting at his reflection.

Nate and Jade talk in Ted Lasso

Over the course of the last two seasons Nate has psyched himself up by burying the parts of himself he sees as weaknesses under a layer of bravado. He gets into this mindset by literally spitting at what he sees as his own weakness and inadequacies. Here though, when Nate does slip away into the bathroom to perform his gross ritual, he doesn’t spit. Instead, he goes and does something quintessentially Nate, something he did in the first season. He goes and does some arts and crafts.

It’s a cute moment, and while it doesn’t secure him the date (his art project ends up getting squashed), it does give him the confidence to ask Jade out. I also liked that we got a bit more of Nate’s dad in this episode, and we learn he’s not a complete dick (Editor: can anyone ever be 100% a dick). So much of who Nate is is tied up in that seemingly cruel man, but here we see that the father and son perhaps aren’t so different. Could Nate’s dad’s cruel indifference similarly come from self-esteem issues?

Sam from Ted Lasso smiles nervously

Ted Lasso season 3, episode 7 recap – Sam versus the government

Right, now, we’re cooking (both literally and figuratively) because it’s time to talk about Sam’s story. As we said, Sam’s week begins with him eagerly visiting his restaurant ahead of his dad’s trip to Richmond later in the week.

Once inside, however, Simi shows Sam recent comments about refugees made by Home Secretary Brinda Barot, which have incensed the kitchen staff. Ever the conciliator, Sam tries to calm his staff down and throws out a tweet asking Brinda to do everything she can to resolve the issue.

This seemingly innocuous tweet starts a bitter war of words between Sam and the Home Secretary. This culminates in a group of thugs eventually breaking into Sam’s restaurant and destroying the place. On the wall, they scribble one of Brinda’s tweets, “Shut up and dribble”.

Sam smiles at Coach Lasso

Angry and upset, Sam heads to Richmond for training, and in his rage, he lashes out at his teammates when his father, Ola, suddenly appears.
After some sage words from his beloved daddy, Sam realises the best way to get revenge on the people who did this is to let go of his anger and reopen the restaurant, or as Ola puts it, “Don’t fight back. Fight forward.” Sam’s story this week ends with his Richmond teammates helping him repair the restaurant and cooking with his dad, unafraid to keep moving forward.

Now, Sam’s story is literally plucked from the headlines. The current UK government has been embroiled in countless battles with public figures over the last few years because it turns out running a country is pretty hard, and getting involved in culture wars is an easy way to score points with the electorate.

I initially thought this was the Ted Lasso writer’s take on the recent Gary Lineker and Suella Braverman debacle, but then I remembered these episodes would have been written a year ago, and this is likely a stand-in for Tyrone Mings’ battles with the last Home Secretary Priti Patel when she accused him and other footballers of gesture politics.

Senni and Sam in the restaurant

That’s right here in the UK. Our last two Home Secretaries have both resorted to arguing with famous people online rather than doing any actual work. Anyway, as someone who isn’t the biggest fan of the current Conservative government, I liked Ted Lasso taking a stance on this issue, and Sam seems like the right character to have this story play out.

I also thought Sam’s line about people cheering for him on the weekend and then hating him the next day for talking about politics was particularly incisive. I’ve always been fascinated by the cognitive dissonance required to champion someone one moment and then cast them as the enemy the next.

We saw it play out during the recent Euros and World Cup, with ministers and so-called fans celebrating the England team’s wins while still getting hot and bothered about players taking a knee in support of Black Lives Matter.

The Richmond team eat in Sam's restaurant

It won’t happen, and I don’t know if a sitcom about a hapless coach is the best place to have this conversation, but I hope we get more on this because while the show gives Sam a happy ending, that’s not how it happens in real life and this, along with the wider problem of racism in the sport, needs addressing.

As a final aside on Sam’s story, I love Sam’s relationship with his father, and Jimoh’s performance when they were reunited brought a genuine tear to my eye.

Roy, Coach Beard, and Ted Lasso watch the Richmond Team train

Ted Lasso season 3, episode 7 recap – To-Ted Football

The final major storyline revolves around Ted (Jason Sudeikis) trying to teach the Richmond squad about Total Football, which is where the bulk of this week’s humour comes from. As you’d expect, being asked to switch your style of play mid-way through a season is initially disastrous, and the squad can’t wrap their heads around it.

The show gets a fair bit of slapstick out of this as we see the Ted Lasso cast running into each other, being sick from exhaustion, and generally messing up. It all comes together in a delightfully wicked set piece where (and I can’t believe I’m writing this) Roy (Brett Goldstein) ties the squad together with red thread on their penises. It’s all very bizarre and gives us further terrifying insight into Roy Kent’s deranged psyche.

Unfortunately, the boys can’t make it work, but Ted persists and forces them to play against Arsenal using the tactic. It goes disastrously for the first half, but Jamie (Phil Dunster) has a brainwave. The problem has been Jamie’s positioning, and by moving him into the centre, the team can play through him, thus unlocking the power of Total Football.

The Richmond backroom squad celebrate

Sure enough, in the second half, Richmond plays a lot better, and everyone seems confident that although they still lost, things are turning around for the Greyhounds. As I wrote earlier, this was where the bulk of the episode’s laughs came from, and it was very funny seeing the squad run around like clowns, but it also paid off some long-running story beats.

We saw Jamie finally come into his own as a player, sacrificing the glory of scoring to instead be the lynchpin around whom the team operates, and I thought it was a nice touch to give him the breakthrough moment. It shows how much more seriously he’s taking the game now, and also, having been trained by Pep Guardiola, who’s no stranger to Total Football (apparently), he’d likely be the one best positioned to understand what Ted was trying to achieve.

Phil Dunster as Jamie Tartt

It also gave me a real cathartic rush when Richmond started playing, in the words of Alan Partridge, “liquid football” and managed to sneak one in past Arsenal. It helped how realistic the decision to switch tactics was. The team didn’t automatically master this new fluid formation, so they’re still not dominating, but it’s definitely about to change Richmond’s fate.

Giving Trent the epiphany that Ted’s style of leadership naturally lent itself to Total Football was a bit of a hat on a hat, but I can forgive the writers that because it gave us the austere Trent Crimm (James Lance) being giddy.

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Ted Lasso season 3, episode 7

  • Jack destroying a not so priceless artefact to impress Keeley
  • Ash’s hat (it frames his face)
  • Nate’s Siri calls him the Wunderkind, which is adorable and sad
  • Coach Beard comparing pegging to marriage
  • Roy’s haunting laugh when Jamie nearly loses his penis
  • Will’s incredible Coach Beard impression. Let’s gooooo baby!

If you love the Greyhounds, check out our story revealing the surprising origins of Ted Lasso. We’ve also got a guide breaking down who’s in the Ted Lasso cast, and if that’s not enough, we’ve got a list of the best TV series ever made.