Last week on Friday Night Lights: Coach is at East Dillon. So is Julie. Matt is delivering pizzas, and JD McCoy is a jackass. New people include Vince, who is very fast and quite surly, and bartender Alicia Witt and her National Anthem–singing daughter. The East Dillon football team got whipped so badly in their first game that Coach forfeited the second half. We cried. So: onward!
Tim Riggins is sleeping in his truck. Coach is also sleeping, but not well, since he forfeited his first game as coach of the East Dillon Lions and now not just his players, but someone who’s far too invested in such a crummy team, hates him enough to cover his yard and his players’ lockers with white surrender flags. And Julie still thinks it’s a good idea to go to East Dillon.
Landry knows better, as he tries to park before school (he got a new car after his dad torched the Murdermobile, apparently) and finds a group of Unfriendly Black Hotties standing in an empty space. When he tries to back out, he flattens some girl’s bike. Since she spells her name for us (J-E-S-S M-E-R-R-I-W-E-A-T-H-E-R), I’m sure she won’t be important later on. But on the bright side, Coach has finally stopped calling Landry “Lance.” On the dark side, Landry basically shoves Coach’s appeal to unify the team in his face, because Landry is just not feeling like much of a man these days. I suppose that can happen when Tyra Collette stops sleeping with you.
Tim Riggins is sleeping in his truck because Billy kicked him out of the house. Let me repeat that first part so you can read it in an appropriate Tim Riggins accent: Tim Riggins is sleeping in his truck. Alone, too, so you know the situation is really dire. So he’s working for Billy’s garage, where Billy is taking out all his frustration with pregnant, horrible Mindy on poor Tim, and not paying him for both fixing cars and putting up with his short-tempered bullshit. Lovely.
Over in Principalville, Tami has to tell one of the Panthers’ best players that she knows the address he’s using to enroll in school is just a mailbox on an empty lot, and that his parents’ house is really zoned for East Dillon. (It was at this point in my watching of the show that the Yankees won the World Series, and the street outside my apartment now sounds like Mardi Gras. If you care.) So it looks like Coach will be getting a new running back! The kid’s name is Luke and he puts on a truly pitiful show. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to go there either, but mostly because I could not deal with calculus again.
We got our first look at East Dillon itself this week, and how do I say this appropriately? It has a lot more black students than West Dillon. (There does not appear to be a demonstrable increase in the Hispanic population, even though this is Texas. Which is next to Mexico. So that’s weird.) It looks like the school zones, gerrymandered-by-Joe-McCoy as they are, also tend to fall along racial and/or economic lines. So that won’t create any tension at all, I’m sure.
So Revoltin’ Joe and New Coach Wade come to Tami and attempt to bribe her with new books and/or orchestra instruments to let Luke’s nonresidence slide. But Tami is not just a principal. She has principles! And I feel compelled to demonstrate that I know the difference between those two words at all times! So Revoltin’ threatens to dig into the past of Luke’s Mailbox of Destiny, saying it wasn’t his idea to have an East Dillon resident use it to qualify to attend West Dillon. Apparently it’s happened in the past. He implies that “games could be forfeited,” including, we might assume, Coach’s state championship from season 1. I love how completely Tami does not give a shit about Dillon football now that she isn’t married to it.
Tim Riggins is on his way to tow a car. I invite you to take a moment and think about how you’d feel if, broken down on the side of some hot, desolate Texas road, you looked up and Tim Riggins was there to save the day. Yes. I needed to sit down and fan myself a little as well. Except that the person who needs a tow doesn’t actually need one; it’s the National Anthem–singing girl from last week whose mom Tim slept with, and she needs a ride to school. As well as a ride. If you know what I mean.
Matt’s life drawing teacher has arranged for him to intern with a crazy metal-working artist who runs around in his underpants and chain-smokes. He kind of reminds me of the lunatic in Junebug that Embeth Davidtz made all that fuss about. Matt, for some reason (that reason is that he’s 19) is under the impression that the “famous artist” is supposed to care about Matt’s art, when actually, what the famous artist wants in an intern is exactly what Matt is providing: free manual labor. I feel like a bad person saying “Welcome to the real world” to Matt Saracen, but let’s just say it’s a good thing he only wants to be an artist and not something impractical like a magazine editor.
Coach goes looking for Vince, since none of his players are showing up to practice. Vince lives in Dillon’s Only Apartment Complex, which is not, I don’t think, the one where Voodoo’s family was living in back in season 1. It turns out that Vince’s mom has some substance problems, or else she just really needs some concealer. She demands $20 in return for her son’s whereabouts, and the expression on Coach’s face as he hands over the money is one of the saddest things I’ve seen this season, and seriously, he forfeited a game last week. This season is not fucking around, folks.
Coach and Tami fight about when and if he knew about the Mailbox of Destiny. I mean, they really fight. It upsets me. So then Coach goes and tries to get Vince back on the team, which doesn’t exactly work out. One of the things I like about this show is that they hired actors who could make a pretty good living as mimes; they do so much with very little, or in some cases absolutely no dialogue. Remember the time the offensive line smashed the shit out of Riggins’s truck because he was sleeping with Lyla? Taylor Kitsch only said about three words in the entire episode, and it was masterful. Same with the kid playing Vince here. I hear he was on The Wire, so I guess he’s proved he can act.
Coach is pretty much at the end of his rope. He proposes a special Saturday night practice to his assistant coaches, which makes me squeal inwardly, because of that time he made the team run up a giant hill in the pouring rain and it was awesome. And then Tim shows up to offer his services to the East Dillon Lions. And all is right with the world.
Tami ovaries up and goes to lay the smack down on Revoltin’ Joe, telling him that Luke will go to East Dillon and if he’d like to do any digging that will result in West Dillon forfeiting state titles, he can just go ahead and do so. She tells him this in front of the entire booster organization, including Buddy. Tami is just so very, very cool. I covet her sunglasses at all times.
The famous artist essentially tells Matt to kill all his darlings. And then Matt goes to get a tetanus shot because he’s been hauling rusty metal around in the background for the whole episode.
Vince comes to give Coach back his $20, laying bare some of the show’s primary themes when he says, “You’re not my father.” Coach implores Vince to help him put the team back together, not for Coach’s future, but for Vince’s. One of the great pleasures of this show is watching Eric Taylor father the fatherless boys of Dillon. Back in season 1, pretty much the only characters who had fathers were Jason Street, Lyla, and Landry, and watching how Coach has been a father to all these lost boys is what makes it about something more than football. His work is over for Smash, and pretty much done with Matt and Tim. I’m really looking forward to seeing how he can help this new batch. I wonder if Luke has a dad.
Pep rally. I have a crippling flashback to pep rallies past. This one even looks like it could’ve been filmed at my high school. We were blue and gold as well, and the pom-poms, the handmade signs, the propaganda—ack. Smothering. Tami gets booed for her rule-enforcing efforts, with the students chanting “We Want Luke.” Buddy looks uncomfortable on the sidelines, and Revoltin’ Joe just leers smarmily.
Saturday night practice. Luke is the first one to show, all eager and freshly scrubbed and wearing his blue Dillon T-shirt. But Landry and Vince and the others eventually arrive. Coach apologizes for the forfeit and asks the team to let him help them finish their fight. He does not make them run up a giant hill in the rain, because, baby steps. And then he…burns last week’s game tapes? Yeah, that doesn’t seem like such a good idea. Toxic fumes and whatnot. And then one by one, like the opposite of the end of Rudy, the team throws their game jerseys into the bonfire (and Luke’s Dillon shirt). It’s symbolically brilliant, but seems a little practically short-sighted, because what will they wear now?
Tim might be employed now, but he still needs a place to live. He actually has a conversation with a woman he’s already slept with when Alicia Witt, the redheaded bartender, offers him the trailer behind her house for $100 a month. Which puts him, oh, like 30 feet from her teenage daughter, who is looking more like Tyra by the second. My inner Cassandra says that this is going to end in blood and fire.
We end on Coach and Tami debriefing on the couch in the dark. She tells him about the booing; he apologizes for lying. I love them so much.
Photos courtesy of DirecTV’s 101 Channel.