DISCLAIMER: This recap of Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 3, “4-5-1,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back, Diamond Dogs! Ted Lasso‘s third episode of the season is a damn delight. This outing feels more like a setup piece as we plant several narrative seeds that will yield fruit later in the season. I love a good setup episode. “4-5-1” also does more character work than the previous two installments, which I can get behind. Character-wise, “4-5-1” brims with fun moments and exciting dynamics, from Sassy’s reappearance to Richmond acclimating to Zava and Roy offering to train Jamie. Side note: I love that Jamie corrects Roy and Coach Beard’s word choices in this episode. My sexy bab-eh is smart. 

Additionally, I love the more subtle beats, i.e., Roy watching Keeley walk away at work and then Keeley doing the same later in the episode. Rebecca’s and Ted’s emotional journeys mirror each other, as usual — mainly how they revolve around love. Regardless of whether the show decides to take them down the path of romance, I wholeheartedly believe Ted and Rebecca are soulmates. They could also fall into the platonic soulmate category. 

Destiny Ekaragha offers sleek direction from Bill Wrubel’s clever script. 

Ready to delve into “4-5-1”? Let’s get to it. 

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We open with Colin (Billy Harris) waking in someone else’s bed. After a fun night of steaminess, he dresses and heads downstairs to reunite with Michael (Sam Liu). Aw, my baby has a boyfriend. Colin gets in his car and recites his mantra about how he’s a “strong and capable man” before knocking over the trash bins near the end of the driveway. Hey, even strong, capable men knock sh*t over. Meanwhile, the Diamond Dogs assemble to brainstorm the new lineup with the addition of Zava. Roy (Brett Goldstein), Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), Ted (Jason Sudeikis), Higgins (Jeremy Swift) and Trent Crimm (James Lance) decide it’s best to bench Colin. 

However, how will Richmond’s strongest players, Jamie and Dani, feel about Zava coming in to steal their thunder? Dani won’t mind as a Zava fanatic, but Jamie will certainly harbor reservations. Amid their brainstorming session, the gang gets on a tangent about Julie Andrews and proceeds to rattle off their fave roles of hers. To the surprise of no one, Roy loves The Sound of Music. To the surprise of everyone, Trent’s a big Princess Diaries fan. God, this show is such a serotonin boost. 

Shandy and Keeley sit next to each other in the press room at Richmond while smiling in Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 3, "4-5-1."

Ambreen Razia and Juno Temple in “Ted Lasso,” Season 3 Episode 3, “4-5-1,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Next, Sam (Toheeb Jimoh), Isaac (Kola Bokinni), Colin, Dani (Cristo Fernández), Thierry (Moe Jeudy-Lamour) and the others channel their excitement for Zava’s arrival into discussing how some men possess charisma that transcends sexuality. Colin volunteers to sleep with Zava, which the gang interprets as a joke. They don’t know he’s gay. My baby will come out when he’s good and ready. 

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Later, fans gather at Nelson Road to await the introduction of Zava. Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) and Keeley (Juno Temple) sit together while the former nervously wonders whether the star footballer will show up at all. Rebecca meets Shandy (Ambreen Razia), who’s shadowing Keeley. Worlds collide. Then, Higgins reveals there’s a slight hiccup regarding Zava’s contract. He signed it with, “You’re welcome.” Uh-oh. Rebecca and Keeley depart hurriedly to hunt down Zava. Higgins takes to the mic to keep the audience distracted. 

The crew finds Zava (Maximilian Osinski) sitting in Rebecca’s chair. He remarks about the thick layer of biscuit crumbs on her desk. He’s envious because he’ll never get to partake in Biscuits with the Boss. Zava charms the pants off Ted, Keeley and Higgins, while Rebecca’s more hesitant to accept our new resident diva into the football fold. Zava makes a beeline for the locker room despite not knowing where it is. He introduces himself to the team. I love that he incessantly blocks Ted, no matter where the latter stands. Zava mistakes Jamie (Phil Dunster) for the kitman, which rubs our sexy bab-eh the wrong way. 

Zava stands in front of Ted in the locker room while clasping his palms together and looking serious in Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 3, "4-5-1."

Jason Sudeikis and Maximilian Osinski in “Ted Lasso,” Season 3 Episode 3, “4-5-1,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Zava addresses Will (Charlie Hiscock) first, claiming he was inspired by the sport while serving as a kitman. Will reveals he’s not 11 but 25, shocking everyone (well, mostly me). Zava urges our crew to breathe in tandem, signifying their union as a team. Zava heads into the managers’ office and constructs a lineup on their dry-erase board, consisting of him in the front with the team grouped far behind him. Zava runs the show now, y’all. 

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Meanwhile, Rebecca meets Tish (Emma Davies), her mother’s psychic. Tish claims Rebecca’s mom was a skeptic, but now she’s a believer (cue that Smash Mouth music video for Shrek). Rebecca places her hands on a kintsugi bowl with Tish, who reveals she’ll meet her “shite in nining armor.” Oh, and she’ll also have a green matchbook in her hands. Tish informs Rebecca that she’ll eventually start a family. With that, Rebecca tells Tish to f*ck off and calls her out for being cruel. Rebecca storms out. 

Next, Keeley and Shandy meet with Sam, Colin, Dani and Isaac to discuss future press engagements. Keeley encourages the boys to speak positively about Zava joining the team. Roy enters and reveals he doesn’t like doing interviews, but he’ll participate in one if Keeley wants him to. Ugh, he still loves her. End this charade — get back together, you two crazy kids. Shandy confronts Roy, demanding to know why he dumped Keeley. He evades the question. After addressing Shandy’s former penchant for eating her hair, he slips out of the room. 

Dani and Colin sit next to each other in Sam's restaurant while smiling in Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 3, "4-5-1."

Cristo Fernández and Billy Harris in “Ted Lasso,” Season 3 Episode 3, “4-5-1,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Jamie approaches Ted and Beard with his concerns regarding Zava. He claims he knows guys like him. Beard remarks how it’s ironic, coming from Jamie, who was the team’s prima donna (or Pre-Madonna) not too long ago. Jamie retorts that it’s hypocritical, not ironic. That’s one point for Jamie Tartt; zero for Beard. 

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Later, the crew assembles at Nelson Road for the Greyhounds’ first home match of the season. I love that the coaches wrote, “Make this match your match-terpiece!” on the dry-erase board. The puns on this show make my dad joke heart happy. Beard and Roy urge the boys to pass every ball to Zava, who is meditating in the corner. After the team puts their hands on Zava like he’s Jesus, Ted searches for his phone to call Henry. He wants to wish Henry luck as the latter heads into his first match with his soccer team. 

Unfortunately, Ted remembers he left his phone in the bathroom. Thus, he resorts to calling Henry on Michelle’s landline. In Kansas, we see Michelle (Andrea Anders) asking Henry (Gus Turner) where his gear is. Her new beau, Jacob Brianson (Mike O’Gorman), answers the phone and pretends to be Donald Trump. Admittedly, it’s a spot-on Trump impression. Jacob believes a telemarketer is on the other end. Needless to say, when Ted responds, things get a bit awkward. Michelle says they’ll discuss the developments at a later date. 

Zava wears a black jacket while standing in the Richmond managers' office with his hands behind his back in Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 3, "4-5-1."

Maximilian Osinski in “Ted Lasso,” Season 3 Episode 3, “4-5-1,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Next, the match begins. We see Ted in the beginning stages of a panic attack as he struggles to cope with Michelle’s new relationship. Thankfully, Zava scores a goal within seconds of being on the pitch, which helps him calm down. What transpires next is a montage featuring Zava winning match after match for Richmond. We see the team moving up in the ranks, much to the ire of Nate (Nick Mohammed) and Rupert (Anthony Head). At one point, when it appears Jamie might score a goal by himself, Zava steps in and steals his thunder. But, hey, Richmond is on fire. 

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Speaking of fire, Rebecca lights a candle in her kitchen and stops short, realizing she’s holding a matchbook, as Tish said. Well, except it’s not green. After Richmond’s latest string of successes, we see they’re number three, right under West Ham and Manchester. Although, they just defeated the latter in a match. The team celebrates in the locker room, where Sam invites everyone to his restaurant. It doesn’t open for a few weeks, but he’s willing to do a test run with his teammates. 

At the restaurant, we see Sam flirting with Simi (Precious Mustapha), his cook. Rebecca takes notice. Jane (Phoebe Walsh) barges into the restaurant and proceeds to make out with Beard ferociously. Ted mopes at his table. He’s been struggling with the idea of Michelle dating their couples therapist. He had a virtual therapy session with Dr. Sharon (Sarah Niles), where he ranted about Michelle. Ted didn’t even have time to ask Sharon personal questions at the end. 

Ted leans back in his chair at his desk with his hands behind his head while smiling in Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 3, "4-5-1."

Jason Sudeikis in “Ted Lasso,” Season 3 Episode 3, “4-5-1,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Sassy (Ellie Taylor) makes her grand entrance. She reunites with Keeley and Rebecca. Then, she proceeds to hunt down Ted, her Marlboro Man. Meanwhile, Jamie also sulks in the corner. Roy sits with his new BFF. Jamie reveals he wants to be the best player. He wants to surpass Zava in that regard. Roy offers to train Jamie, which our “Pre-Madonna” eagerly accepts. I love their dynamic so much. It’s the enemies-to-besties pipeline. 

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Keeley watches while Roy departs, just as Rebecca sneaks a look at Sam with Simi. Sassy finds Ted, but Ted proceeds to emotionally dump on Sassy re: Michelle, and she agrees that Ted’s ex’s relationship with their therapist is borderline unethical. Sam hands out green matchbooks bearing the restaurant’s name, Ola, to everyone within. Rebecca panics at the sight of it, thinking about what Tish told her.

Colin invites Michael to the restaurant and introduces him as his “buddy.” Michael describes himself as a wingman to Colin and how he helps the latter find ladies. This makes me sad. I want them to feel like they can live authentically in the open. 

Roy, Ted and Coach Beard look at something in the locker room with shocked expressions on their faces in Ted Lasso Season 3 Episode 3, "4-5-1."

Brett Goldstein, Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt in “Ted Lasso,” Season 3 Episode 3, “4-5-1,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Later, Trent departs the restaurant after bidding farewell to Sam. While on his walk home, he spots Colin and Michael making out in a dark alley. He watches them for a beat before continuing his walk. 

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I love how “4-5-1” starts with Colin and ends with him. I don’t think Trent will out Colin — quite the opposite. Trent might take Colin under his wing to protect him. If Trent lost his job because he gave Ted a preemptive heads-up about his takedown piece, he wouldn’t out a closeted gay man. Regardless, I feel like Trent and Colin’s narrative journeys intertwine somehow if the writers placed Trent in that particular scene. In addition, when Roy calls Colin a “chameleon” earlier in the episode (which frames Colin’s struggle in a different light), the camera pans to Trent. 

I can see Ted’s seasonal arc related to how he processes change. Zava constantly standing in front of Ted might indicate our fave coach’s need to step aside and do some introspection. He’ll also have to officially move on from his divorce, seeing as Michelle now has a boyfriend. 

Rebecca held that green matchbook as per Tish’s predictions. Does that mean she’s a legit psychic? Could the green matchbook lead Rebecca back to Sam since it’s from his restaurant? “Shite in nining armor” is, obviously, a nod to the phrase “knight in shining armor,” but who will be Rebecca’s shite? Perhaps Ted. I have an out-of-the-box theory: Jamie is a bit of a shite, and he wears the number nine on his jersey. Could we see a Rebecca-Jamie romance in the future? That made me simultaneously giggle and grimace while typing that.

Before anyone calls me out, no, I don’t think that’ll come to fruition. Anyway, “4-5-1” is a classic Lasso outing: deeply hilarious, touching, heartbreaking and a much-needed mood lifter amid a shite week. On a separate note, Maximilian Osinski is perfect as Zava. I want to punt him across a field. 

Ted Lasso drops new episodes every Wednesday on Apple TV+

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