Last week on Friday Night Lights, Coach was mocked for forfeiting the first game of the season. Matt met his new “mentor,” the pantless metalworking artist. Tami encountered friction with the Panther boosters and the Dillon students when she turned in fancy running back Luke Cafferty for lying about the district his parents’ home is in. Landry and Vince took a leadership role in uniting the East Dillon Lions, and Tim joined the Lions as kind of an assistant coach. He also moved in with Alicia Witt and her teenage daughter, whose name we think is Becky. Now, this week!
We open with a Lions fundraiser. Coach, for some reason, is having his players push a car in which his Tourette’s-y assistant coach from the first episode is riding and encouraging the residents of East Dillon to donate to the team’s uniform fund, since Coach and the boys set all the uniforms on fire last week. We learn, when Coach is speaking with the principal, that those uniforms were super-old, but that still means the Lions will be playing in their tatty undershirts and janky shoulder pads if they don’t rustle up the money for new togs. The principal, Levi, tells Coach that he’d like the Lions to actually finish a game before he invests in new equipment. Which, you know, math books are important, but my love for Coach Taylor is warping my perspective and child-of-teachers priorities.
Coach meets with his friendly neighborhood Under Armour rep about the money for the new uniforms. He has an established relationship with our friend from UA from his days at Dillon, but even a deep, abiding love of Coach and his expressive hair can’t make the rep let five grand in jerseys and helmets slide. In the manner of teachers everywhere who hand over their own cash for what their kids need, Coach writes a personal check for three thousand, with a promise to hand over the other two on delivery. Oh, that is going to be trouble.
Tami and Julie are at church with Baby Grace, who is truly a weird-looking child. I mean, the wee actress (prop?) playing Grace is cute, but she looks like an extremely miniature Nastia Liukin. She’s all forehead and eyes. It’s a little googly. So Julie is talking about how the church ladies are gossiping behind their backs, which just proves they were raised right. And Tami kind of gives Julie the party line on not calling their fellow churchgoers hypocrites. It will open up a whole can of worms with Julie beginning to question her faith and Tami coming to the conclusion that she’d like Julie to have faith to fall back on when she can’t fall back on Tami. Everyone say awwwwww for your weekly moment of family values.
Over in Tim Riggins’s Trailer of Hot Pants, Tim is sleeping. In his hot pants. God bless that man for not sleeping in flannel pants like I do. Boxer briefs are your friend, everyone. And Miss National Anthem, Alicia Witt’s teenage daughter, whose name is Becky, is banging (ON THE DOOR! ON THE DOOR! Nothing else!) to wake up Tim, hand him some toast, and ask him to drive her to school. Oh my god, honey, put it back in your pants. I’m going to start calling you Statutory Becky. Especially later, when she asks Tim to help her pick out a PAGEANT DRESS. Yes. Pageants! She’s all, pink? Or red? The red one looks like the dress Julie tried to wear back in season 1 on her first date with Matt and Tami was all, OMG, look into pants. Tim is running out the door like he can already hear the sirens.
At practice, the Lions are in a motley collection of practice jerseys, secondhand pads, and unmarked helmets. It’s a marked contrast to every Dillon practice we ever saw. Coach puts Luke on defense, which gives him a sad. Luckily for all of us, East Dillon does not have the funds to put Tim Riggins in Coach Shorts. You know what I’m talking about.
My dad spent most of my childhood wearing those things. Inappropriately short flat-front beige shorts with a built-in belt, and a waistband sturdy enough to hold a regulation-size clipboard filled with plays if you tuck it in the back of your Coach Shorts. What, you don’t use the back of your trousers for storage? They are among the world’s most resolutely unsexy garments, up there with sacred underwear, burqas, and Texas tuxedos. (Later I will tell you about how Under Armour has the exact opposite effect on me.) So let’s all say a prayer of thanks to whatever higher power keeps us from drinking in the morning that Tim Riggins is not wearing Coach Shorts. Because that would break my tiny heart.
But despite his lack of Coach Shorts, Tim is coaching. He’s providing some moral support to poor, neglected Luke, teaching him about defense, which doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense since Tim was a fullback, but I will let it slide because his hoodie says 33 on it. Tim is making Luke do some hideously punishing-looking sit-ups on a bench in the locker room, and Luke isn’t whining, because apparently he’s seen Tim without a shirt and knows that our friend Tim knows his shit. He counsels, wisely, “Give it a chance. Trust the coach.” LOVE. Coach sends Landry off to learn how to punt while he’s riding Vince like he’s one of those plastic ducks with saddles that you put a quarter into outside the Piggly-Wiggly. Because Vince has potential.
Matt’s pantsless artist mentor demands Matt drive him 200 miles to pick up some more scrap metal. Matt demands that Pantless Paley tell him about Art and Life and Meaning while they’re playing shuffleboard in a bar somewhere, because Texas apparently has no drinking ages at all. He tells Matt that being an artist is about being selfish, and about cutting ties to people who are holding you back. He basically spells out “YOUR GIRLFRIEND” in the crushed peanut shells on the floor. Or “YOUR SENILE GRANDMA.” Tears TK. It’s weird that there’s so little smoking on this show that’s set in Texas, right?
Landry is trying to learn to punt. It’s difficult and he’s not doing well. But his new friend J-E-S-S M-E-R-R-I-W-E-A-T-H-E-R shows up with her younger brothers to demonstrate proper form. I think she should be the Lions’ new punter. She’s better than Landry.
Vince is getting a pep talk from his bug-eyed friend whom Coach kicked off the team back in the season premiere. Bug Eyes reminds Vince that Coach is just one of a long line of white guys who’ll want to change Vince, and tells him he better know “the difference between Coach and Dad.” That’s as blatant as this show gets, since we know for a lot of the characters, there is no difference. Vince, with his addled mom and sad eyes, doesn’t know that yet.
Tami finds out about the personal check to Under Armour when Coach comes home from his latest attempt to squeeze money out of the boosters. Who knew East Dillon had boosters? They have like seven fans! Coach is kinda drunk, which is adorable, and Tami blows her stack. It’s seriously uncomfortable watching them argue about money. The next morning, Coach goes to see what’s up with Luke, who lives on a farm and apparently has one of those up-at-four-a.m.-to-feed-the-livestock-before-high-school lives. It puts his desperation to stay at Dillon, where he’d have a much better chance of getting noticed, and getting a scholarship, into starker relief. Coach tells Luke that he’ll do everything in his power to get Luke onto a college team, but that in return he needs him to be a leader. (It is a little strange that Riggins has to introduce himself to Luke, who was supposedly a star at Dillon just six months after Riggins graduated, and just a year after Smash left. Is this kid new to the whole area? With the farm, it seems unlikely. And he wouldn’t be a starter as a freshman. They wouldn’t have given him the Mailbox of Destiny if he was an unknown quantity. So many questions!)
Buddy is having a crisis. After showing Coach the Mailbox of Destiny, he’s now drifting, unmoored, among the Panther boosters, led by Revoltin’ Joe McCoy. At a Booster meet-and-drink, Buddy overhears two boorish lugs call Tami a bitch and Our Buddy Has Had It. Buddy Garrity goes apostate in front of the assembled Panther boosters, declaring that he was a Panther before any of these hosers, but now he’s no longer a Panther, and he isn’t a booster, and HE DOESN’T WANT YOUR LIFE. He declares that he put in the Mailbox of Destiny, and he’ll damn well set it on fire if he likes! And he lays down the second stinging indictment of Revoltin’ Joe in as many weeks when he tells McCoy, “You have been a cancer to me, you have been a cancer to my friends, and you have been a cancer to this team. Clear eyes, full hearts. Can’t lose.” BUDDY. I LOVE YOU.
Coach and the Lions arrive at their opponent of the week. Tinker, the gigantic defensive lineman I’ve been thinking Coach is calling “Tanker,” because, well, he looks like he could be hauling 10,000 barrels of crude, complains about how he’s wearing his street clothes, and Coach is all, shove it, kiddo. Then they walk into the locker room, and…UNIFORMS. Glorious, shiny red uniforms made of blood and pride and belief. The boys go bananas. Because they are boys. I love how this show, unlike so many about high school students, understands that kids that age walk the line between adult and child and skip back and forth across it like seven thousand times a day. This scene is so similar to those children going crazy over Jason Street back in the pilot that it makes me tear up.
The game. Game scenes are SO STRESSFUL. In the fourth quarter, with the home team up 27-0, Luke attempts to call a play, which is weird, because he’s on defense and, admittedly, that’s not his job. Vince calls the play. I am still unclear who is the actual quarterback. Luke picks off a pass from the opposing QB and breaks for the end zone, Vince on his right flank. There’s one purple-team fellow between Vince, Luke, and putting some points on the board, and Vince stops running. The other guy takes out Luke, who goes ballistic.
Coach gets in Vince’s face, and Vince rips off his helmet, all full of Bug Eyes’s bullshit, as Coach screams him down, telling him never, ever to do that again and to put his damn helmet back on. Vince swallows his pride and goes back on the field as Landry makes the last field goal attempt of the game. Landry, our special snowflake, fumbles the snap, recovers, and pitches it to Vince, who runs for 6. Beautiful.
Matt comes to drop off something for Pantsless Paley, while Julie waits in the car. Pantsless is squatting, drunk, in his yard, and accosts Julie when she gets out of the car. He calls her the ball and chain that’s holding Matt back. She tells Matt, and when he comes back to confront Pantsless, he sees the angel sculpture the artist has made out of old tricycles and smashed auto glass. Pantsless declares it a piece of crap. Matt amends, “A beautiful piece of crap.” Oh, man. Matt is not staying in Dillon, you guys. I think that’s going to destroy me more than when Jason Street and Smash left combined.