DISCLAIMER: This recap of Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 11, “Mom City,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Diamond Dogs! We’ve reached penultimate episode territory with “Mom City.” It’s hard to believe this is the second-to-last Ted Lasso episode ever. So much happens in this outing to prep us for the endgame. Ted and Jamie have significant emotional moments, while the writers torture us by leaving Roy and Keeley’s relationship status in narrative purgatory.
“Mom City” is one of the season’s best episodes in a season that’s been all over the place. Season 3 boasts some wonderful moments despite the plot and structure inconsistencies. This outing proves that Jamie Tartt has the best arc and character development over the past three seasons, and you can’t change my mind on that.
Ready to delve into “Mom City”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Ted (Jason Sudeikis) walking out of his flat. Everyone greets him warmly, including the curmudgeonly “wanker” fellow. It starkly contrasts how he was received at the start of this series. Ted says hi to one woman sitting on a park bench … only to discover it’s his mother, Dottie (Becky Ann Baker). What the heck is she doin’ here? Meanwhile, Nate (Nick Mohammed) now works alongside Jade (Edyta Budnik) at Taste of Athens. Isaac (Kola Bokinni), Colin (Billy Harris) and Will (Charlie Hiscock) enter the restaurant to confirm that Nate really works there.
Then, the trio asks him a question: Will he come back to Richmond? According to the boys, the whole team discussed it and concluded that they’d like Nate to return to Greyhounds territory. I initially thought I had missed a scene from last week’s episode. Again, Ted Lasso opts not to show a pivotal moment that would better serve viewers’ understanding of the narrative instead of exposition. Strange. Anyway, Nate declines the offer.
Next, Ted asks his mom why she’s in London. Dottie claims she’s been there for a week and was staying in a hostel. However, Ted knows something’s amiss, and she evades his questions. He invites her to join him at work that day. Meanwhile, Roy (Brett Goldstein), Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) and Jamie (Phil Dunster) answer questions from the press. Jamie refuses to pat himself on the back for any of his accomplishments, instead directing them to his teammates. Roy and Sam notice something’s up with him. They state to the media that their successes wouldn’t be possible without Jamie’s talents. My sexeh baybeh’s down in the dumps.
Ted introduces Dottie to Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), who adores Dottie. Dottie meets the team, including Dani (Cristo Fernández), who’s her favorite (me too, Mama Lasso). She wins them all over with her Midwestern charm. Ted and Rebecca watch from afar. Initially, Ted plays it off like he’s fine with his mother visiting. However, Rebecca drops an “Oklahoma,” and now Ted must tell the truth. He thinks it’s weird she’s here at all, and she’s concealing the real reason for her visit. Naturally, this puts him on edge.
Trent (James Lance) introduces himself to Dottie and asks her questions for his book. Dottie takes every Ted story and redefines the truth. Roy pulls Jamie aside and asks him what’s wrong. Jamie’s depressed. He expresses this inexplicable sadness to Roy before completely breaking down. He embraces Roy. While parts of Jamie’s breakdown are ostensibly played for comedic effect, it’s hard not to feel for him. He hasn’t stated it yet, but the team playing Man City is lowering his spirits, especially with the dad-sized elephant in the room. Also, this Roy/Jamie hug reminds me of the Man City episode, although it’s less impactful than that one.
Next, Higgins (Jeremy Swift) meets Dottie, while Beard (Brendan Hunt) reunites with her. Higgins mentions that Nate works at Taste of Athens, and the team wants him back. Ted’s okay with this move, as is Higgins and, surprisingly, Roy. Beard, however, remains immovable. He’s a Nate Hater. Later, Roy pops in at KJPR, where he meets Barbara (Katy Wix). He asks Keeley (Juno Temple) if she’ll talk to Jamie.
Later, Ted and Beard take Dottie to The Crown & Anchor. Ted becomes absorbed in The Wizard of Oz pinball machine while Beart and Dottie share laughs with the pub’s patrons. Mae (Annette Badland) recites something particularly poignant and resonant about generational trauma to Ted that gets the wheels turning. That evening, Ted gives his mom his bedroom. Dottie reveals she won’t accompany him to the Manchester match. The following morning, Nate’s boss, Derek (Spencer Jones), tells the customers about Nate’s previous gig as the West Ham manager. Way to rub it in, guy.
Next, the Greyhounds gang, including Rebecca, Keeley and Higgins, arrive at their hotel in Manchester. Keeley pops into Jamie’s room to chat for a spell. Side note: I love that every hotel episode features a local tourist-themed commercial with Keeley. It’s a fun running gag for the series. Keeley asks Jamie if something’s bothering him. He dances around it. He observes how a suitcase is a drawer without a home (admittedly, this cracked me up).
Then, Keeley inadvertently makes it worse by mentioning that it’s Jamie’s first time returning to Manchester since he left the team. Plus, it’s the first time he’ll see his dad since Wembley. Methinks Keeley hit too close to home. Later, the group gathers for their traditional movie night. This time, You’ve Got Mail is on the table. It’s Nora Ephron Time, folks. Everyone’s wholly invested in the story, tears and all, except for Jamie. Keeley’s asleep on Roy’s shoulder. Rebecca’s sitting next to Ted, but she’s making googly eyes at Sam. I think Rebecca + Sam might be a red herring.
Plus, Ted mentions how he prefers Sleepless in Seattle to You’ve Got Mail — a movie where the two leads get together at the last minute. Hmm. Jamie leaves the hotel with Roy and Keeley hot on his heels. He eventually discovers they’re following him and invites them into his home. We meet Jamie’s mom (Leanne Best) and her partner, Simon (Steve Edge). Jade asks Nate why he turned down the offer to return to Richmond. Nate knows he left the club on bad terms and admits he’s entirely at fault. That’s progress. He thinks it would be too weird to go back. He vows to find another job with a different club soon.
Jamie spends some quality snuggle time with his mum while Simon gives Roy and Keeley the grand tour. He shows them Jamie’s room. We see two significant posters on the walls: one of a young Roy Kent and one of Keeley during her modeling days, where she’s posing with two footballs. Jamie loves his boyfriend and girlfriend.
Jamie has a heart-to-heart with his mom. He doesn’t have to explicitly state what’s on his mind and heart because she gets it. She reminds her son that he doesn’t owe his dad anything. He doesn’t have to prove that sh*tty man wrong. She also reassures Jamie that he’s not lost — he’s simply unsure of his direction. Give Phil Dunster that Emmy now, please. And Leanne Best is great. Side note: Jamie mentions “poop-eh” again. I think this is the third time this season. Gotta love a good “poop” running gag.
Roy confesses that he doesn’t want to just be friends. Keeley grabs his hand and is about to say something when Jamie enters his room. He notices that Roy and Keeley are holding hands but doesn’t acknowledge it. Our fave trio heads back to their hotel. The following day, we see the big match is underway. The Greyhounds arrive on the pitch. Jamie enters to incessant booing from the Man City side of the stands. Then, once he’s on the pitch, the Man City players try to sabotage him at every turn.
Our boys are playing like champs. They even score the first goal. Van Damme (Moe Jeudy-Lamour) blocks that ball as if his life depends on it. Jamie prevents the opposing team from scoring at the expense of his ankle. We see him curl up on the ground in pain. Uh-oh. Meanwhile, Derek pulls Nate into his office and fires him, explaining that Jade threatened to expose Derek’s shady dealings if he didn’t sack Nate. Aw, that’s true love.
While the medical personnel are tending to Jamie’s injury, he has a chat with Ted. So far, Jamie hasn’t seen his dad in the stands. Ted urges Jamie to consider forgiving James. They don’t have to have a father-son relationship, but holding onto that hate can consume you. After taking some painkillers, Jamie hobbles back onto the pitch to finish the match. He scores the winning goal, ensuring the Greyhounds are one step closer to winning the whole dang thing. Everyone cheers, including the Man City fans. They all love Jamie Tartt again. His dad’s friends talk about James in the past tense, claiming he would’ve “loved this.” Hmm.
Ted shakes hands with Pep Guardiola, the real-life manager of Man City. He congratulates Ted on the win and states something our titular coach has said: It’s not about wins; it’s about putting these men on the right path. Meanwhile, we see James (Kieran O’Brien) is still alive. He’s in rehab, and he claps for Jamie while looking proud. Here’s hoping he turns his life around.
Later, the team returns home to celebrate their victory. Ted shows Beard video footage from the night Nate tore the BELIEVE sign. He hid under Ted’s desk for hours to evade detection from the players and the cleaning crew. Eventually, he clambered out of the window in disgrace. Ted hopes nobody judges him at his lowest, sending a loud message to Beard about second chances. The crux of this show.
Roy and Keeley join Jamie in the nurse’s office while the latter ices his ankle. They all chat and laugh. Jamie sends a text to his father. Ted walks by and peers into the window. He smiles. This parallels the Season 1 scene wherein Ted watches James yell at Jamie in that same room. Always with the callbacks and parallels, this show.
Next, Beard stops by Nate’s place to tell him a story. He talks about how he met Ted while playing American football. The two parted ways. Ted and Michelle married, and Beard went to prison. After he got out, Ted took him under his wing and helped him get back on his feet. However, Beard stole Ted’s car. To ensure his friend wouldn’t return to prison, Ted told the police he gave it to Beard. Nate can’t help but draw comparisons to Les Misérables. Beard confirms he went to prison for stealing a “loaf of meth.”
All this to say, Ted gave Beard a second chance. Beard forgives Nate for what he did and offers him his job back. He orders Nate to arrive on Monday at 10 am before embracing him. What a beautiful scene that’s gorgeously acted by Brendan Hunt. We finally get some context into Beard’s life and how he met Ted.
Ted arrives home to find his mom making two dinners for them. He confronts her regarding his childhood and his father’s suicide. Shockingly, he tells Dottie, “f*ck you,” repeatedly. I know we’ve heard him drop the f-bomb before, but it’s still jarring every time he says it. Like Steve from Blue’s Clues saying “c**ksucker” or something. Ted thinks it’s awful that Dottie pretended like nothing happened after Ted found his father’s body. She brushed it all under the rug. Dottie apologizes for disregarding his feelings and not discussing his dad’s death. Then, Dottie reveals why she’s there: Henry misses him.
Ted states he misses his son more than words can say. He admits he fears getting too close to Henry because of what happened with his father. Dottie and Ted hug it out. Jason Sudeikis delivers a tenderhearted, gut-wrenching performance here. Meanwhile, Bex (Keeley Hazell) and Ms. Kakes (Rosie Lou) wind up on Rebecca’s doorstep to ask for advice. Even though Bex doesn’t explicitly state it, she’s there because of Rupert.
The following morning, Ted finds Rebecca in his office. It’s that time of year again — Truth Bomb Day. Funnily enough, Ted is standing where Rebecca usually stands for Truth Bomb Day (first in Season 1 Episode 9, then Season 2 Episode 11). Rebecca admits she has nothing. She tried to think of something to tell him on the way there but came up short. However, Ted has news to impart. He opens his mouth to deliver the surprise … and then the scene cuts to black. Damn you, Ted Lasso, for this cliffhanger.
I’ll reiterate: give Phil Dunster his Emmy now, please. I love Jamie with all my heart. Nate deserved the arc Jamie has. I wish Nate’s big narrative beats didn’t happen off-screen, i.e., his quitting West Ham, but I’m glad he’s on the path to redemption. We’ll undoubtedly get a Nate/Ted reunion in the series finale. Besides Dunster, Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt also deliver the acting goods.
“Mom City” hits home the show’s central theme of second chances and redemption. Imparting forgiveness even if someone does us wrong. While we don’t get any major Tedbecca hints or nudges, this series could pull a Sleepless in Seattle and bring them together at the last minute. Regardless, I think Ted’s news on Truth Bomb Day is that he’s returning to Kansas. He misses Henry too much.
I’m okay either way — the writers can push Ted and Rebecca together or leave them as is. It won’t ruin my overall enjoyment. I’ll miss the exuberance and unadulterated joy this show represents. Here’s hoping the series finale brings it all home.
Do you think the Greyhounds will win the title in the finale? Will Tedbecca be a thing? Will Roy and Keeley become an item again? Only time (and one more episode) will tell.
Ted Lasso drops its series finale on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, on Apple TV+.