DISCLAIMER: This recap of Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 2, “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Diamond Dogs! This week’s episode of Ted Lasso bears the title of an Elvis Costello tune: “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea.” But guess what? The team goes to Chelsea for their first game back in the Premier League. Keeley and Rebecca eerily mirror each other when they put people in their place for being rude (Keeley with Barbara, Rebecca with Zava). Roy squashes his beef with Trent Crimm while our favorite independent writer hangs around Richmond because he’s writing a book about them.
“(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea” is one of my favorite Ted Lasso episodes from a comedy standpoint. I love all the gags, cheeky one-liners and hilarious performances. From the saying “no” gag toward the beginning of the outing to Ted’s shenanigans with the team when trying to figure out what’s bothering them, there’s plenty to laugh about in this episode. Who can forget everyone having a meltdown over Roy and Keeley breaking up? Roy methodically popping balloons while Trent’s on the phone with his publisher made me laugh out loud. This ensemble is a well-oiled, comedic machine.
Ready to delve into “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Barbara (Katy Wix), encouraging Keeley (Juno Temple) to ensure the commercial she’s overseeing doesn’t fall into overtime. Keeley invites Barbara out for an after-work event with the rest of the office, but the latter declines. You should never reject an invite from Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman insert on Sunday. Before departing the office, Keeley tries to encourage her team. However, as Barbara warned her, they’re always a bit sullen.
Next, Keeley, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) and Higgins (Jeremy Swift) surprise Ted (Jason Sudeikis) with a visitor: Trent Crimm (James Lance)! He’s no longer of The Independent, but he’s independent. We learn that Trent plans to write a book about Richmond and the various happenings at the club. Rebecca believes Ted should get the final say as club manager. While Ted audibly mulls over a response, Rebecca, Keeley and Higgins emphatically shake their heads and mouth “no.” They don’t think having Trent write about the team is a good idea.
However, Ted’s always gonna Ted. He says yes because Trent’s his buddy. Plus, who can say no to those luscious locks? Higgins tells the group that Zava, a famous footballer, is departing Juventus and hopes to play for a club in the UK. His wife’s a big fan of The Office (or the “premake,” as Ted calls it). Higgins and Rebecca marvel at Zava’s incredible skill despite his penchant for drama.
Rebecca would rather not scramble to bring Zava into the fold if he’s going to cause more trouble than he’s worth. Then, she changes her tune on a dime when she learns West Ham is one of the clubs vying for the footballer’s affection. Anything to beat Rupert at his own game. Trent respects Rebecca for wanting Zava merely so she can stick it to her sh*tty ex-husband.
Next, Keeley and Ted catch up. He imparts some bona fide Lasso wisdom regarding Keeley’s struggle with raising office morale. He suggests she take them out to an escape room. After Ted leaves, Isaac (Kola Bokinni) asks Keeley if she can get him a shoe campaign. No particular brand — just shoes. It’s reminiscent of the scene from Season 1 when Keeley asks the guys what brands they’d like to endorse. In true Isaac fashion, he claims he only wants Rolos. Nothing else.
Keeley encounters Jamie (Phil Dunster). He spots Roy (Brett Goldstein) emerging from the shadows like a grumbling bear and makes a break for the water cooler, where he observes her interaction with Roy. Isaac reveals he can tell Keeley and Roy broke up by their body language. It’s kinesics. I love Isaac.
Jamie appears to make a beeline for Keeley after she finishes her awkward conversation with Roy. However, he tails Roy instead. He asks Roy how he’s feeling. Roy orders Jamie to keep mum about the breakup. Oh, and he doesn’t want to talk about it. Jamie claims he’s not sniffing around for permission to date her. He only wants to make sure his friend is okay. Then, Jamie attempts to hug Roy, which doesn’t end well. Jamie’s made so much progress. Season 1 Jamie would’ve eagerly pursued Keeley regardless of how Roy felt. But Jamie cares about his friendship with Roy. Ugh, these two together are *chef’s kiss*.
Meanwhile, Beard (Brendan Hunt) catches Ted reading his book, Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics. The Season 2 finale is a play on this book title — “Inverting the Pyramid of Success.” Ted and Beard overhear Sam (Toheeb Jimoh), Isaac, Colin (Billy Harris), Dani (Cristo Fernández) and the rest of the team arguing in the locker room. Ted asks if they’ve heard the news about Rebecca hoping to recruit Zava. Everyone reacts excitedly to that news, especially Beard, who emits a high-pitched scream.
Well, it’s not that. Then, Ted wonders if the guys are feeling uneasy regarding Trent writing a book about them. No, it’s not that. Everyone’s losing it over Keeley and Roy breaking up. Roy lunges angrily at Jamie, thinking he told the group, but my boy wouldn’t go back on his word. Everyone knows because it’s earth-shattering, devastating news.
When Trent enters the locker room, Roy orders the crew to remain silent around the writer. Or else. Meanwhile, at the commercial shoot, Keeley reads a text from Ted claiming he heard about her breakup with Roy. She reunites with an old friend, Shandy Fine (Ambreen Razia), who’s sporting a very similar getup to Keeley’s lion costume from Season 1. Shandy even has the furry fingerless gloves! The only difference here is Shandy’s wearing ears. The pair catch up. We learn Shandy’s marital resume includes quite a few football players.
Later, Rebecca receives a video call from her mother, Deborah (Harriet Walter), on a retreat. She claims her psychic, Tish, is considering meeting with Rebecca. Apparently, our gal needs maternal guidance only a mother can’t provide. Trent wanders down the corridors, encountering various players along the way who fall instantly silent when passing him. He pokes his head into the locker room and has the same experience: absolute silence. Trent shares an office with Roy, who’s not a fan of the idea but acquiesces.
We see Roy’s desk is covered with balloons, flowers, teddy bears and cards from folks expressing condolences re: the breakup. Roy receives a letter C card boasting fish on it with the message, “Plenty of fish in the C. Get it?” The sender is named Liza. Now, Liza Katzer is an executive producer for the show, so perhaps it’s a nod to her. However, I wonder if Ms. Bowen’s first name is Liza. It sounds like the kind of joke she’d make. Plus, she seemed into Roy last season. Maybe she sent him a card? Hmm…
Later, Barbara meets Shandy and grills the latter regarding her credentials, of which she has none that qualify her to work in PR. Keeley confronts Barbara and addresses her CFO’s unnecessary rudeness before chatting about Barbara’s knack for collecting snow globes whenever she travels for work. Keeley introduces a Lassoism into the conversation: believe. She encourages Barbara to believe in the people that work here. Barbara invents a position for Shandy, and it appears the straight talk worked. Ted would be proud.
Next, it’s game time. Richmond is poised to play their first game back in the Premier League after one year off. They’re playing Chelsea, where Zava is supposedly going now. Roy reunites with an old friend who works at Chelsea. Said friend broaches the Keeley subject, causing Roy to remind everyone that he ended things with her. The stands break into the familiar Roy Kent chant. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to hear that again. He really is here and every-f*cking-where.
The Crown & Anchor gang prepares for the big match. We see Paul (Kevin ‘KG’ Garry) make a stylish entrance in a suit and top hat. He’s ready to cheer on Richmond. Mae (Annette Badland) brings out food for Paul, Baz (Adam Colborne) and Jeremy (Bronson Webb). It feels like reuniting with old friends. Rebecca spots Zava (Maximilian Osinski) meeting with none other than Rupert (Anthony Head) despite the footballer’s desire to sign with Chelsea.
Next, Ted brings the team together for one of his signature pep talks. Richmond’s losing, but they can turn it around. Jamie offers an idea about how they can score a goal; however, he zips it once Trent enters the locker room. Ted pulls Roy aside and urges him to squash his beef with Trent. Roy takes Trent aside and reads a newspaper clip from decades ago penned by Trent Crimm about his performance on the pitch. Roy reveals the cutting remarks hurt him deeply. You can tell because he cut out the clip and has been carrying it in his wallet.
Trent apologizes, revealing he was a young writer trying to be edgy to get attention. Roy accepts Trent’s apology. Old wounds can heal. Aw, my babies. Roy informs the gang that they can talk around Trent now. Jamie reveals his grand plan, and the boys rally around it. They’re determined to succeed.
Meanwhile, Rebecca works up the courage to approach Zava herself. If Rupert can ingratiate himself with Zava in the hopes of recruiting him, she can, too. Unfortunately, Zava doesn’t want to meet her. She and Rupert exchange snide remarks. When Zava emerges, Rupert introduces Rebecca to him. Zava doesn’t care. What a turd. Rupert departs, his Darth Vader-esque black cape flowing behind him. The Star Wars villain vibes are spot-on.
Rebecca follows Zava into the bathroom and calls him “chickensh*t,” and proceeds to “sour yell” (Keeley’s words) at him. No sweet talking here. Rebecca storms out. That’s my girl. Next, Richmond finally scores a goal thanks to Dani’s face. Face goal! The team celebrates. Zava sits with the club manager of Chelsea and prepares to sign his contract on TV. Rupert watches the event from his car while Rebecca, Keeley and Higgins watch the TV at the club.
Suddenly, the footballer does the unexpected: he claims he’s no longer interested in playing for Chelsea. He wants to sign with Richmond. Huzzah! Later, the team returns home after a successful first game, celebrating that and their snagging of Zava. Beard departs to attend an immersive theater event about menstrual cycles with Jane, while Roy tells Trent and Ted about a triumphant match when he played for Chelsea. They creamed Arsenal that day. However, Roy played like sh*t. Ergo, returning to Chelsea, his old stomping grounds, made him sad. Ted reminds Roy that if he hadn’t left Chelsea, they wouldn’t have met. Everything happens for a reason. Ted seems to ponder that silently after Roy and Trent go.
“(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea” is a treasure trove of fun Easter eggs for Lasso fans. It also potentially sets Richmond up for a successful season. Perhaps they won’t get relegated after all. It’ll be interesting to watch Zava interact with the Richmond players, especially if he maintains his dickish persona or behaves because of Rebecca’s rant.
I’ve said it once, but it bears repeating: I love the attention to detail the writers give to these characters. We’re still learning facts about them. For example, Beard has a key to Ted’s flat. Higgins has connections. Keeley’s friend Shandy who we just met this episode. Oh, and who can forget Dani revealing he was in El Chapo’s youth league?
Who do you think this mysterious Liza is? Will Roy and Keeley’s breakup make international headlines (it should because we’re all distraught)? How will Zava gel with the team? Only time (and more episodes) will tell.
Ted Lasso drops new episodes every Wednesday on Apple TV+.
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