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Five great moments from the 'Ted Lasso' finale

Brendan Hunt, Jason Sudeikis, and Brett Goldstein as Richmond coaches Beard, Ted and Roy.
Colin Hutton
/
Apple
Brendan Hunt, Jason Sudeikis, and Brett Goldstein as Richmond coaches Beard, Ted and Roy.

Ted Lasso had a bit of a bumpy third season, and its final episode (now streaming on Apple TV+) didn't undo all of those bumps. Nevertheless, the show pulled off some very nice moments that doubtless reminded viewers why they fell in love with it in the first place. It stands to reason, hopefully, that spoilers follow.

1. A song for the coach.

Richmond AFC's performance of "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music called back to the time we saw the team do "Bye Bye Bye."If you know the movie, you were well-prepared for all those heads to pop out and say "cuckoo," and it was a pure delight. Granted, having seen "Bye Bye Bye," I'd have loved more dancing from Jamie (Phil Dunster) (my third season MVP), but perhaps it was enough that Roy was mouthing along. Sue me, I love a musical number.

2. Roy asks to become a Diamond Dog.

With Nate back in the fold (despite some misgivings I have about how that story developed), the Diamond Dogs 2.0, now including Trent Crimm, were shocked and flattered when Roy said the words Ted had longed to hear: "Can I be a Diamond Dog?" Part of the charm of Ted Lasso when it's at its best is that unabashedly corny things work because of the charm of the performances. And even if it was always inevitable that Roy would give himself up to the loving embrace of his pals, his growth was signaled beautifully by his willingness not simply to say yes when asked, but to ask on his own. Who among us has not felt the need to say, "Can I be your friend?" Or, in this case, "Can I be a Diamond Dog?"

Jeremy Swift, Juno Temple and Hannah Waddingham as Leslie,  Keeley and Rebecca.
Luke Varley / Apple
/
Apple
Jeremy Swift, Juno Temple and Hannah Waddingham as Leslie, Keeley and Rebecca.

3. Rebecca asks Ted to stay.

Ted and Rebecca have had a friendship that has changed the courses of both of their lives. Their relationship is emotionally intimate but not romantic, which is a kind of bond that television often can't hold in its head when it comes to (as far as we know) a straight man and a straight woman. Rebecca had to make that last ask to him, the best version of "we could stay together" that she could come up with, even though it was not especially reasonable to suggest his wife and son should both change continents. But she had to try. That scene also gave the finale a chance to luxuriate in the stadium seats from the opening credits that have been so much a part of the show's iconography.

4. The team reassembles the sign.

Look, you were never going to like this show if the sight of all the Greyhounds retrieving their various pieces of the destroyed "BELIEVE" sign and reassembling them made you roll your eyes. Again, corny! But it works! And realizing they'd all hidden them in different places — behind a photo, in a book, in a sock or a sleeve — was a pretty literal but charming representation of how these guys have taken in what Ted was trying to teach them and are capable of recreating it themselves.

Phil Dunster as Jamie, left, and Brett Goldstein as Roy.
Luke Varley / Apple
/
Apple
Phil Dunster as Jamie, left, and Brett Goldstein as Roy.

5. Jamie passes the ball.

Jamie Tartt has had the most complete, coherent and satisfying character arc of any character on the show. He has never been anything other than himself (he still has his entire arsenal of body spray, right next to his copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned), but he has genuinely learned both to have friends (like Roy) and to share in the achievements of a team. By giving up the ball to Dani for the penalty and to Sam when Sam was open — while still scoring — he managed to be both star and cooperative teammate in Richmond's final game, finally achieving the balance that has so often eluded him.

In the end, it wasn't entirely clear whether all the futures that we saw, with Roy becoming the manager of AFC Richmond, and with Rebecca ending up with the guy she met in Amsterdam, and with Keeley and Rebecca preparing to start a women's team, were real. It wasn't even clear where Ted's own family life ended up, although it did seem that Dr. Jacob had left the scene. While cast members have said on social media that this was the end of the road, Apple has resisted saying for sure whether we'll ever return to this world. If we don't, it's good that there was some singing and dancing, some good football, and a reminder that this is, at its heart, a show about friendship and camaraderie.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.