How Nate Became The Lex Author Of The Ted Lasso Season 2 Finale
The Emmy Award-winning Ted Lasso is Apple TV+’s biggest hit to date. I think that’s safe to say given how much buzz the wholesome show about a fish out of water coach is getting. Jason Sudeikis even won the Emmy for his depiction of the Southern American coach with quirky expressions brought to coach the underdog
soccer football team in England. But given how the Ted Lasso season 2 finale was, another actor might be in the running for many awards next season. Read on to find out just how one of the supporting characters in the show, ends up potentially becoming the villain in the next season of Ted Lasso.
Please note, the following will feature plenty of spoilers from both seasons of Ted Lasso. You’ve been warned.
Nate’s Journey From Season 1 Of Ted Lasso
Image via Apple TV+
When audiences first met Nate Shelley (Nick Mohammed) in season 1 of Ted Lasso, he was a meek and soft-spoken kit man. As with everyone, through the influence of the cheery-eyed new coach Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), Nate eventually found his voice and talent. Nate ended up joining the coaching team with Lasso and Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), adding his own unique skill set toward the betterment of the team. It was a great addition and Nate’s journey was just another heartwarming aspect of the premiere season of Ted Lasso. Season 2, however, saw a more dark turn for Nate.
Nate got a helluva lot more story in season 2. His story was developed further as we got to see him interact with almost everyone else in the show. After proving his talent for coaching, Nate finally got the public fame and recognition he’s always craved. Clad in new suits, Nate Shelley was here to stay. Episode 5 saw Nate try to use his newfound clout to get a table at a restaurant for his parents’ anniversary. Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) even taught Nate how to stand up for himself, and find confidence.
However, he does so why by spitting at his reflection in the mirror; our first sign of the dark path that Nate eventually goes down. The addition of Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) to the coaching team in episode 6 definitely doesn’t sit well with Nate, for reasons we weren’t aware of at the time. Wanting the spotlight from Ted, and an awkward interaction with Keeley (Juno Temple) in episode 11, was finally the last straw. Nate ends up screwing over Ted, and the season 2 finale of Ted Lasso reveals him to be the big bad of the upcoming season 3. But, is he really?
How The The Hero Inadvertently Creates The Villain
Image via Apple TV+
The duality of hero and villain is always interesting and often explored in fiction. In a lot of Batman stories, there’s often a viewpoint of how the existence of a cowl-wearing vigilante is what aggravates and in turn, creates the need for even crazier mask-wearing villains like the Joker. The CW’s Smallville TV series amazingly depicted just how Lex Luthor becomes Superman’s greatest villain, through his friendship with Clark Kent. And in many ways, because of it. And similarly, Nate turning bad in the finale of season 2 Ted Lasso, was apparently Ted’s fault. Or at least, that’s the way that Nate puts it. And in many ways, he’s not entirely wrong. But that in no way justifies or defends his actions or behavior. But It’s definitely a viewpoint worth exploring.
As Nate outlined in the third act of the season 2 finale, it’s Ted’s empowerment of him, and eventual abandonment that created bitterness and anger within Nate. But it wasn’t really Ted’s fault when you think about it. Nate clearly was not emotionally ready for the new position on the coaching team, nor the newfound power and status that he was given on the team. His own insecurities coloured every interaction with Ted towards the negative.
And on the other end, season 2 had Ted finally deal with what was behind the smiling face when it came to himself. The story dealt with the ugliness that Ted hid by being a shining beacon of amazingness for everyone else around him. So of course, he wasn’t there for everyone that he boosted in season 1. The difference is, while Ted’s inspiring personality started everyone on their journey, it was their own latent nature that saw them through it.
The Others That Ted Influenced Who Didn’t Turn Bad
Image via Apple TV+
Take Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) for example. In many ways, he was the side-villain of season 1 of Ted Lasso. The problem on the team, who resisted Ted’s ways and caused a lot of issues for everyone. Tartt was a huge source of drama, whom Ted eventually won over in season 2. Jamie’s arc this season was all about becoming a better person, footballer and teammate. The big bad of season 1 herself, Rebecca, eventually came around to Ted. But the rest of her story, her relationship drama in season 2, the passing of her father and everything else, was completely devoid of Ted’s influence. Even Roy and Keeley went off on their own paths after colliding with the mustachio’d ray of sunshine that Ted was in season 1.
But when it came to Nate, he felt abandoned by Ted. Which is, honestly, not Ted’s problem. Nate himself was unable to handle what Ted empowered him to do, and therefore, felt betrayed by Ted’s absence to be there for him through it. If all the other characters that Ted Lasso touched didn’t turn bitter at Ted dealing with his own issues, then the problem is clearly with Nate.
To Be Clear: Nate Is Not The Villain In The Ted Lasso Season 2 Finale
Image via Apple TV+
But despite all this, I still don’t think that Nate is a villain; not exactly. The best villains always consider themselves the heroes of their own stories. Lex Luthor, in his eyes, isn’t trying to destroy the world but saving it from the dependency and reliance on Superman to solve all their problems. Similarly, Nate isn’t being evil in his actions throughout season 2 but feels victimized by Ted Lasso. But while Luthor is obviously a villain, I feel like Nate will get his own redemption arc in season 3 of Ted Lasso.
Firstly, creator Bill Lawrence mentioned that the series will only have a 3-season run. And knowing the wholesome ideals of both Ted Lasso the character and the show, it’s hard for me to see the series ending with Nate walking away after his defeat by Lasso and crew. It wouldn’t align with Lasso’s own ideals of forgiveness and second chances, as he did with Tartt and Rebecca. At the end of the day, I can totally see Nate and Ted go head to head on the
field pitch, and Nate eventually turning back to the light side, seeking forgiveness at Ted’s feet, as he damn well should! Sorry. I’m still a little salty about that season 2 finale.
Actor Nick Mohammed Details Nate’s Evolution On Twitter
Me again! CONTAINS SPOILERS so maybe don't read until you've watched the season finale, but here are a few thoughts on Nate and responses to your tweets! X #TedLasso PS Also, huge shoutout to the magnificent @joekellyjk47 who cowrote this episode with Jason ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/Z1Rvuok422
— Nick Mohammed (@nickmohammed) October 8, 2021
And I’m not the only one, as actor Nick Mohammed is seemingly getting a lot of crap over his amazing portrayal of Nate. Some fans seem to not be able to distinguish between the actor and character and are expressing their displeasure of the character, to the actor. So much so that Mohammed had to post a detailed timeline of Nate’s evolution during this season. And it’s a very interesting and illuminating read. It further points out how Nate is more of a tragic figure, subject to his own shame and insecurities, than an all-out villain. Just like how season 2 dealt with the darkness behind Ted’s positivity, hopefully season 3 will deal with the sadness behind Nate’s vile behaviour. The alternative of Nate remaining a villain seems even sadder.
All episodes of seasons 1 and 2 of Ted Lasso are now streaming on Apple TV+.
What did you think of Nate’s dark side turn in the Ted Lasso season 2 finale? Let me know in the comments below.
Featured image via Apple TV Plus.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.