The Biggest 'Ted Lasso' Twist Was Hiding in Plain Sight

·7 min read

The following story contains spoilers for Ted Lasso Season 2.

While the first season of Ted Lasso made its mark instantly as the feel-good show that everyone needed in the dark summer of 2020—and was instantly one of the year's best new shows in the process—Season 2 dug deeper. Now, it was still a comedy at its core, a story about the titular uber-positive head soccer (or, football) coach (Jason Sudeikis) and the power that his relentless positivity has on everyone and everything in his orbit.

But Season 2 also added shades of gray; we explored mental health through Ted Lasso's lens, saw Coach Beard navigate through his own potentially toxic relationship (and get an incredible After Hours-esque episode of his own), and saw how the relationship between Roy, Keely, and even Jamie helped all three of them to grow as people. But perhaps the most surprising development of Season 2 was that of Nate, who in the first season was a timid and overlooked equipment manager. After a promotion late in Season 1 to assistant coach, his personality seemed to shift little by little in Season 2. This incremental change hits a climax when it's revealed that Nate—who's been going on about wanting to be a boss—leaked the information about Ted having a panic attack during a game to Trent Crimm (from The Independent).

It continues from there, as Nate blows up at Ted, cursing at him, and eventually even storming off the pitch and ripping the AFC Richmond "Believe" sign in a fit of rage. By the very end of the season—and we'll talk about this moment in a bit—it's clear that Nate has gone full villain.

It really is quite a shift, and for anyone not paying attention, it may seem a little bit sudden. But it actually has been telegraphed all along, slowly but surely, throughout the season.

Why was Nate mad at Ted Lasso?

As Nate revealed to Ted in the Season 1 finale, he was mad at Ted because he felt like the coach gave him so much love and attention and positivity in Season 1, when they first met, and then abandoned him and hung him out to dry ever since. And while you may not have noticed because there was so much else going on, that confrontation was the only scene just between Nate and Ted in the entirety of Season 2; their last one-on-one scene was back in Season 1, Episode 7, when Ted apologized to Nate for snapping at him (in the same episode where everyone goes to Karaoke and Ted has his first panic attack).

Photo credit: Apple
Photo credit: Apple

The scene between the two is actually really sad and quite heartbreaking. While it doesn't make what Nate did—acting out, exposing Ted's private information, etc—OK, it really cuts deep into what led both characters to this moment. We knew that Ted was going through a lot all season, and we could tell that Nate was unraveling, at least a little bit at a time (remember him yelling at the new equipment manager, making a remark about Dani's salary, and feeling so slighted that he couldn't get his table of choice at his favorite restaurant). But the scene—expertly acted by both parties—is sad because what has happened can't be undone, and while Ted's nature is still to wan to try to make things right, it's clear that Nate is both mad at Ted, but also mad at himself and how far down this new road he's gone. This isn't what he wanted, but it's where he's taken himself. That's why he spit at himself in the mirror after kissing Keely; he's disgusted at what he's become over the course of Season 2.

Photo credit: Men's Health
Photo credit: Men's Health

Nate also constantly feels left out and undercut; he gave Ted a photo as a gift, which Ted has proudly on display at his home. But Nate doesn't see it at his office, and thus likely got the idea that Ted didn't appreciate his token of gratitude. He also felt slighted by moments like when Ted didn't consider him a 'big dog.' While it was Roy and not Ted, it's also clear that Nate feels slighted when Roy is talking about how mad he was at Jamie for talking to Keely, but isn't even slightly bothered by Nate for kissing her.

Actor Nick Mohammed, who plays Nate, was probably justifiably getting a lot of messages questioning and wondering about his Ted Lasso heel turn. In response, he shared a detailed list of all the factors that went into Nate landing where he did at the end of Season 2, including some of what we pointed at above.


Is Nate a head coach now?

While it's actually not 100% clear that Nate is the head coach, the final scene of the Season 2 finale, after several time jumps, shows that Nate has left AFC Richmond, and has gone to join the coaching staff of West Ham United. This sets up quite the dynamic, as we've already learned earlier in the episode that Rupert, Rebecca's cruel ex-husband, has purchased the club himself and given up his remaining shares of AFC Richmond.

Photo credit: Apple
Photo credit: Apple

And while it's not entirely clear, we would venture to say that Nate has become the head coach of the team. The way he's watching the players from a removed angle, and with his newfound social media fame as "The Wonder Kid," it seems likely that he could have gotten a head coaching opportunity. And even more likely considering the fact that Rupert owns the team, and seems like the kind of guy who would take any opportunity to take a swing at Ted and Rebecca.

What's with Nate's gray hair?

If you noticed Nate's hair slowly but surely changing color as Season 2 went along...nice job. Mohammed clarified in his Tweet (posted above) that while he does have gray specks in his own hair (perhaps at first the show just stopped coloring his hair), the show deliberately colored his hair with more and more gray as his transformation into the new Nate came to be. He even clarifies that in that final scene with Rupert at the practice for West Ham, it's not even his own hair anymore, but a fully grey wig.

Photo credit: Apple
Photo credit: Apple

Mohammed said in his note that he pictured this as Nate transforming into José Mourinho, considered one of the best soccer managers of all time (currently managing Roma and previously with Chelsea, Manchester United, and Real Madrid, among others). "In the way bitterness, guilt, shame and stress can often change someone's appearance they thought it would be fun to track Nate's spiral in this way (in my head Nate was transforming into José Mourinho!)"

It's also worth noting that in addition to Nate's transformation as far as his hair color goes, the closing shot of the season also literally sees the light leave Nate's eyes; his pupils are all dark by the time the Run the Jewels song plays and the credits begin to roll. Does this mean the Nate we knew from Season 1 is totally gone? Does he have a redemption arc in him like Jamie did in Season 2? Or is he just totally gone, and only going to get worse because he's now in close proximity with Rupert who is, yes, the worst? Just even more reason for us all to be excited about what could possibly be in store in Ted Lasso Season 3. It cannot come soon enough.

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