First observation I have is a little off topic but still critical- Leslie Higgins has a very John Oliver vibe and I'd like to see him go a little more loud, sweary, goofy. I could easily follow him around for a day like we did with Coach Beard on his late night misadventures a while back. ANYWAY. Season finale. Ted is faced with everyone knowing that he has a panic disorder- sincerely, all of London is obsessed with this football team- and decides to confront it with the team and the press, something, he admits, he should have done earlier. I think his work with Sharon is paying off, and she calls in this episode, making it seem like maybe she's not TOTALLY gone, which is good. The other part of this, of course, is that Trent Crimm from The Independent is the one who wrote the piece and told Ted who his inside man was- Nate the Great. So Ted has to deal with that, too...and Mr. Crimm loses his job due to journalistic integrity or whatnot- Ted has that effect on people- they change a lifetime of professional and personal patterns of behavior because they're infected by his charm (?).
NOT EVERYONE IS CHARMED.
So, is our hero really a hero? Is this fish out of water ever really without water?
Nate's ego wounds have been festering- we've seen him obsessively following his press, rage/spit at himself several times, be cruel to those he considers less powerful than himself, we've seen him come on to a woman who shows him friendship but who is both coupled with a friend of his, and not attracted to him, we've seen him hunger for- and only gets when he takes- more power. Nate's got daddy issues and incel vibes, sure, but there are a million moments that tell the story of a little brown man being perpetually diminished and disdained even though he's a brilliant and powerful leader, and the big loud white guy always landing on his feet, even when he's a clueless clown. When they finally have a confrontation, Nate tells Ted he's worked his ass off to barely land in Ted's shadow and accuses Ted of not belonging, not earning his place there. ("Go back to Kansas to your son where you belong" is what he says precisely, I believe). He also says that Ted made him feel important (for the first time in his life?) only to then be dropped and ignored by him- apparently this is the first scene they've had together all season. Basically, Ted uses him but doesn't let him do any of the heavy lifting- even though in a clutch, Nate is always the one who bails the team out. They end up going back up into the premier league at the end of the season because of a tactical plan designed by Nate...but he notes that is doesn't feel collaborative. He's supposedly made it to the big leagues, but he still feels like an underdog in isolation, on an island of self-doubt and resentment from almost everyone- for his perceived weakness (he's never viewed as a threat), and his attempts at power and control, which are seen as pathetic and too ambitious.
So, is Ted being a good leader, elevating talent and rounding out his team with great coaches, or is he acting the white savior and patting himself on the back for recognizing Nate's skills, and then leaving him behind to rot? Is he using him? Or is that just how it is to be an assistant coach (as Beard and Roy say). AND are we all easily fooled into thinking average white men are more likable, important and critical than they are? Are our biases showing here- toward both characters? At first, when the Trent Crimm article came out, I was thinking the team could just lose Nate and move on with their lives, but that was probably my internalized biases against his meekness, browness, and child-like qualities that I perceived but were maybe never really there. Also, the team can't win without him. He's written as the most skilled, proactive, bold coach they have. And Ted's people-first attitude, bordering on toxic positivity, has been noted to be not especially competitive- maybe they needed Nate's sharp and competent edges to succeed the way they have? (Are Coach Lasso and Coach Beard even good coaches?? Why did we just assume they were? Because they're fun and nice and have been eking by on the back of...well, Nate?)
SO, when Rebecca's wicked ex-husband, Rupert Mannion (whose much younger pregnant girlfriend is played by Keeley Hazell, who is Jason Sudeikis's gf irl btw) buys a rival team and hires Nate to coach...it's setting up some really beautiful nemesis connections for season 3. Nate's hair gets more and more gray this season from the black it started with in season 1- and by the end, he's wearing a white wig. So either they're showing him coming into himself as a self-actualized and powerful adult man or villainy makes you gray. The end scene has Rupert whispering into Nate's ear- finally Nate the Great is the right hand man, the power broker he craved, and he can smash it all in Ted's happy believin' mustache next season.
Hoo-weee. That's some intense psychological drama right there. Lotsa people talking about this. Tons of credit due to Nick Mohammed, the actor who plays Nate- he shared his thoughts on the character here and here.
And what does it look like to be a "real man" a "good man" or "THE BETTER man?" I think that's what Nate is wrestling with. The whole series is a contemplation on masculinity.
Sam Obisanya got his agency back in a brilliant way and I am satisfied. He decided it was best for him to stay with the Richmond team in London (but not because of Rebecca) instead of going home to Nigeria to lead the billionaire's team that doesn't exist yet- and Edwin Akufo shows that he's not used to not getting what he wants, with a comical temper-tantrum (everyone was hoping Sam Richardson would get to show his comic chops- best known from Veep). Now with Sam more in control of the situation (and killing it on the pitch) hopefully next season he and Rebecca can explore the power dynamics more satisfactorily - ooooh that might be a great chance for Higgins to put his foot down.
Keeley and Roy. Sigh. They're both coming into their own as heavy weights in their industries- he as one of the Richmond coaches, she as now a fully-funded head of her own PR firm. She's been a bit of a drifter and muse for various men for a long time. I think she's figuring out who she is and that she might not want to be weighed down by a man- even THAT man. We'll see. At the end of the episode Roy tried to recenter himself/their relationship in her life by booking a 6 week holiday away...I'll never understand how millionaires work, like WHAT?!...anyway, and she declined. She's staying home to get her business under way and he's traveling by himself to an exotic paradise. Should be fine, though, right? ;) I think having HER/her career be the obstacle for them is cooler than it being an affair or something trite. They're too good for that, but this might be interesting.
I think that wraps it up- my keyboard is busted, so please forgive all the rando spacing. I'm too afraid that the Apple employees will see all the pictures of my broken boobs I have saved and call the FBI if I take it in for repair.
WHAT ARE WE WATCHING NOW??? (Let me recommend "Los Espooky's" on HBO).