Nate Shelley has a dark-side arc

We knew entering the Ted Lasso season 2 finale that we were going to see some sort of culmination to the Nate Shelley villain arc. He’s had quite the journey over the course of the season, and we can say that it’s a rather depressing one.

Yet, it also is rooted precisely in who we know this man to be. For most of his life, Nate was unheralded and overlooked. He was thought of as a nobody and Ted gave him his first chance. He validated him and through that, he got a small taste of fame.

After that, though, Nate became addicted to the idea of praise and attention. He needed it as a way to screw the doubters, so when Ted hired Roy to the coaching staff, it may have looked as though he wasn’t good enough. Meanwhile, Ted got credit in the press for some of Nate’s ideas and this drove him up the wall. The players didn’t love him, either. The reason we think he leaked to Trent Crimm about Ted’s panic attack was likely that: He wanted to see him panic. He wanted the team to lose faith in him and then validate him, the real mind behind their success on the pitch.

Yet, one of the lessons of Ted Lasso is that sports aren’t just about strategy; they are also about faith. Ted and Nate worked because they figured some things out together and Nate let his jealousy and his insecurity overtake him. It’s why he betrayed Richmond and sided with Rupert, who bought Wes Ham and eventually hired Nate at the end of the finale. This sets the stage for a rivalry like no other in season 3, where the underdog now becomes the villain. Rupert will give him all the attention that he wants and he gets to have his name in lights … even if nobody really loves him along the way.

Will Nate eventually learn a lesson here? Perhaps, but it is one that could take him quite some time to figure out.

What did you think about the Ted Lasso season 2 finale?

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