Ted Lasso fans have gone far too long without their comfort show, particularly after that brutal cliffhanger back in 2021. Thankfully, the wait for Ted Lasso Season 3 is over and we’re ready to find out what our favourite team has been up to, particularly now that one of their own has turned to the dark side.
Season 2 of the Apple TV+ series left both fictional characters and real audiences heartbroken as the loveable Nate Shelley turned his back on Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) and AFC Richmond.
Ahead of Season 3, Lifehacker spoke with Ted Lasso star Nick Mohammed about Nate’s betrayal and whether the new season could bring him a Star Wars-style redemption.
Looking back at Nate’s arc, Mohammed said he had known about the character’s dark turn for a while.
“I knew about it from really early on, from when we were filming Season one,” Mohammed said. “When we were filming episode three, Jason [Sudeikis] told me about this sort of downward spiral.”
The actor pointed to a moment in Season 1 as one of the first moments that signposted Nate’s inner darkness:
“There’s a shot at the end of episode [four] of Season one. When everyone gets up and is dancing at the charity gala,” he explained. “Everyone gets up dancing and Nate stays seated. And I think we’re meant to feel, ‘Oh, well, Nate doesn’t get up and dance because he’s just too shy.’”
“But actually, what Jason had said to me is like, Nate doesn’t get up to dance because he has seen the effect that Rupert can have in terms of transforming a room, and he’s sat back and is sort of taking it all in thinking, ‘Oh, I wonder if that’s something that I could ever be.’”
It was just the first of many moments that led to Nate’s eventual betrayal, and Mohammed revealed that we pick up with him right where we left off at the end of Season 2, as the coach for West Ham United. It’s a sweet new gig for Nate, but Mohammed hinted that his character’s decision is possibly tinged with a lot of regrets.
“I wouldn’t say he’s happy, but he’s made his bed and he’s kind of got to lie in it for a while. He’s made some pretty ruthless decisions, driven by ambition, greed, power, whatever. But now he finds himself as a sort of fish out of water, because he’s now in West Ham. He’s in an environment that he’s not familiar with…” Mohammed said.
“So Nate finds himself in a very delicate situation and you know, he’s got a lot of soul-searching to do. Possibly a lot of regret in the decision that he made.”
“It’s certainly no easy ride for Nate,” he added.
Adding to Nate’s pressure in Ted Lasso Season 3 is the interactions with his new boss, Rupert (Anthony Head), the ‘villain’ of the show who has beef with AFC Richmond, particularly his ex-wife Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham).
Mohammed described Rupert as a “very toxic force” and is “by no means an inspiring leader”, but Nate still finds himself trying to impress him.
“He needs to impress Rupert, he’s got a job to do. He still believes in football and has to believe in himself and his game, his strategies and so on,” Mohammed said.
The million-dollar question, of course, is whether Nate will be redeemed by the season’s end. Ted Lasso has seen its fair share of Star Wars parallels and many are hoping that the third season may bring a Return of the Jedi moment of redemption for Nate.
“I feel like it’s up to the audience to make up their own minds,” he said. “Because I think for some people, what Nate did is unforgivable. To betray Ted in such a cruel and vindictive way. You know, he can’t erase history. He did that.”
Without revealing too much, Mohammed said that the whole situation is complicated, even for him as an actor.
“It’s not like a smooth transition where he’s definitely redeemed or he’s definitely not redeemed. I think it’s a bit more nuanced than that,” he teased.
Ted Lasso Season 3 premieres today on Apple TV+.
This article has been updated since publication.