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‘Ted Lasso’ gives viewers one last reason to believe with its finale

<i>Apple TV+</i><br/>Although not officially billed as a “series finale
Apple TV+
Although not officially billed as a “series finale

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

(CNN) — Although not officially billed as a “series finale,” “Ted Lasso” surely reached what felt like the end of something, capping off the least appealing of its three seasons with an episode awash in sentimentality and heart. For those who felt the show drifted creatively a bit in the long buildup to the title character’s seemingly inevitable decision, the aptly subtitled “So Long, Farewell” offered one last reason to believe.

Although the opening sleepover gag offered a fleeting (if amusingly misleading) surprise, the outcome of the episode and indeed the season felt pretty well telegraphed over the course of last several extra-long installments. Homesick for his son, Ted (Jason Sudeikis) would return home to the US, despite a plea from AFC Richmond owner Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) to stay, telling him, “If you go, I go.”

Before Ted could fly back across the pond, though, there were a lot of goodbyes to be said – including a particularly appropriate song from “The Sound of Music” – and the little matter of settling scores with West Ham United and its sneering owner Rupert (Anthony Head), whose public mid-game meltdown was perhaps the finale’s clunkiest moment.

To its credit, the two-time Emmy winner didn’t tie up every loose end, leaving some mystery surrounding the triangle of Keeley (Juno Temple), Jamie (Phil Dunster) and Roy (Brett Goldstein), while anointing Roy as the seemingly obvious choice to fill Ted’s sneakers. Rebecca, meanwhile, reunited with her dalliance from Amsterdam for anyone who needed a more definitive romantic itch to be scratched.

There was a breakup of sorts, too, in Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) choosing to stay behind despite his loyalty to Ted, after the selflessness of Ted urging the author Trent Krimm (James Lance) to rename his book about the team, initially “The Lasso Way,” gently noting that it was never really about him.

In a way that’s true, since the fish-out-of-water framework of the series, featuring a character created for NBC Sports promos, turned out to be just a jumping-off point to a much richer, funnier and gently sweet property – one that leaves no shortage of directions to pursue, without Ted, going forward.

While he might be moving on, Ted leaves his distinctive wit and wisdom behind. Whatever Richmond’s record, the series also represented a victory for Apple TV+, not only garnering awards prestige and media attention but landing a recent White House visit to discuss mental-health issues.

Incorporating several callbacks to the very first episode, the show closed, appropriately, with the Cat Stevens song “Father and Son,” denoting the relationship that hung over “Ted Lasso” – the series and the character – from the beginning.

All told, it was a very good and touching finish to a not-so-great season. And if it happened to be a trifle predictable, that still worked, mostly because it was hard to imagine “Ted Lasso” achieving its goals any other way.

(Disclosure: Lowry’s wife works for a division of Apple.)

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