Friday Night Lights this (back in January) week opens with all the dreams we thought we had: Julie’s dreams of a life with Matt, Billy’s dreams of not going broke when his kid is born, Tim’s dreams of land of his own, which we only just learned about
last week in December.
In Dillon, land of broken hearts, the Taylor household is melting down over Julie’s clothes. Gracie doesn’t have any pants, which has Eric befuddled, because apparently a two-year-old can’t wear just any pants you find that fit her, and Julie is all in a snit because none of her clothes for her college interviews, as if those happen any more, will go together unless she finds this one shirt. Eric is still wearing Coach Shorts, but he’s the only man on the face of the fucking planet who can wear them and not look castrated.
BUDDY! BUDDY IS BACK! The East Dillon Lions are facing the Campbell Park Timberwolves, the other worst team in the league, in the game that gives this week’s episode its name. We cut to Luke’s W.C. He yells to his mom about a follow-up with his doctor, but apparently Luke’s abdominal smushing in the cow fence last week was no big deal. Yeah. I so bet it wasn’t.
OH MY GOD FLASHBACK TO SEASON 1. Tim is talking to the real estate lady who was all suggestively asking him about the blitz back in the pilot. Seriously, I cannot believe either the show or I is bringing this up again. He’s talking about the property he and puppy Skeeter checked out this week, and I’m still concerned that that lady there is going to shove her hands down his pants. The real estate lady says the purchase price is $85,000, but $75,000 if he can pay half up front, and has she ever met Tim Riggins? Next shot is of him loosening his tie outside, and then of him shaking hands with the real estate cougar, and oh man, I am worried he has just promised her ten bundles of copper wire and a bucket of meth.
Landry is trying to talk Jess into a date, and someone, namely LANDRY, has forgotten that Landry got Tyra in the sack in season 2 so he should stop acting like such a godforsaken pantywaist. He explains how if they were on a date he’d be wearing some sort of button-down shirt that does not involve the periodic table, and this appears to win Jess over, because she is an Academic Bowl slut.
In the locker room, Coach is being all inspiring and shit, and I don’t know if any of y’all grew up with a football coach for a parent, but if you did, you know about how you aren’t individuals, you’re fighting for the good of the team, and this game right here is your greatest destiny of all time, ever. Shots linger on Vince, Luke, Tinker, Landry. As the team takes the field for practice, we gradually focus on the object on the 50-yard line: a toilet. This is what people think of East Dillon.
What…? And suddenly we’re in Boston. I’m confused. Julie and Tami are on their college tour, which seems a bit odd after Julie has applied to all those schools, but whatever. I’m still in my periodic coma of just how awesome the Explosions in the Sky credits music is. Seriously, no one will ever write a better theme song.
Coach and Tim are coaching. Tim notices Luke’s hip injury from the aforementioned cattle pen squishing, but as any manly man would, Tim just asks Luke if he’s okay, then gives him a casual smack in the belly when Luke assures Tim he’s fine. Of course, Luke probably has seven hernias or whatever. His abdominal area did not look okay, y’all. But Tim is wearing aviators, so I forgive Luke for being distracted, because DAMN.
BUDDY. BUDDY IS BACK I HAVE MISSED BUDDY. OMG, you guys, I have seriously missed Buddy Garrity. What is wrong with me? Buddy commiserates with Eric about the toilet bowl issue, and then says that he used to be something with the Panthers, which Eric of course knows, and then says that he wants to be that something, that power, that importance, with the Lions. Eric is all, sure. If it keeps me from buying uniforms myself, knock yourself out, fella.
Jess and her little brothers are getting food at the store and the young’uns are losing it when Vince pops up and shows one of them how to run a post route with a bag of Funyuns, which kind of throws Jess for a loop, because last we saw Vince interacting with her, he was all jealous of the Landry issue. But the two teenagers don’t have time to spar before Vince’s mom pops up to talk to the younger boys, who prove they’ve been raised right by calling Regina “ma’am.” She invites them over to dinner, and Jess demurs, possibly sensitive to Vince’s embarrassment, but Regina insists. It breaks my heart to see this poor kid trying to trust again and knowing this show is just cruel enough to rip out his tender heart.
Tim is having a manly discussion with Skeeter about this week’s game when Becky knocks on his trailer to tell him insane Mindy is on the phone about a blocked toilet. We are certainly all about the plumbing in this episode. Next thing we know, Becky is driving drunk Tim in his manual-transmission truck over to Billy and Mindy’s, grinding the gear box the whole way. Becky asks why Tim was wearing a suit (for his appointment at the bank), and he blows her off. While he’s fixing Mindy’s john, he pretends to know all about Billy’s “job,” which will probably land Billy in jail, because Billy is a moron. Mindy immediately assumes that Billy is having an affair, because he’s secretive and unavailable, and Tim, poor Tim, with both hands in the loo, tries to convince his sister-in-law that things are both not as bad and not as good as she thinks they are.
Buddy has apparently picked up a little Spanish from his Santiago adventure, and he’s trying to convince the proprietor of a local Spanish-language radio station that it would be awesome to broadcast East Dillon Lions games. Neither Coach nor the radio guy is impressed.
Tim is sleeping in the garage when Billy gets home, and he confronts him about cheating on Mindy. Because Billy is totally stealing copper wire with Bug Eyes, you know? Billy explains that he’s totally only taking chop-shop jobs from Bug Eyes because it’s what’s best for Mindy and the baby, but Tim, for once, knows better, and stalks out.
Julie and Tami. Julie is being an ungrateful, miserable little shit just because it’s become clear that Boston College was Tami’s first choice (and she…went to CC in Dillon? Unclear) and Julie is a wretched teenager. Yeah, that’s the gist of it.
Crucifictorious practice. Show of hands, who missed Devon? No one? Yeah. Her hair is cute, but it’s not Shane-on-The-L-Word cute. Landry is coming unglued because Jess has stood him up. Meanwhile, over at Vince’s house, Regina is microwaving food and Jess is trying to be polite as Regina explains her job problems. Regina comes to the conclusion that Jess is gorgeous, about which she is correct, and Vince, his face half in shadow, agrees. It bodes ill for Landry, is all I’m saying.
Coach has taken Gracie to a football coaches’ strategy dinner at Virgil’s, which is kind of adorable, because that kid is totally going to be able to read a spread offense before she can walk. Also, VIRGIL’S BARBECUE. Have I mentioned that I want to eat it? I do.
In the hotel in Boston, Julie is having a meltdown about how she’s more preoccupied with her breakup with Matt than with colleges, and that she’s letting Tami down by flubbing her interviews, because college interviews are still a thing that happens. Tami steps up to the Mom of the Year plate and is all, you don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to, because Matt didn’t get you pregnant so everything will be fine. Okay, I made that last bit up. But come on. What has led you to believe that Dillon High does comprehensive sex ed? It’s a fucking miracle we haven’t had a teen pregnancy storyline on four seasons of this show.
Bug Eyes is at Vince’s house, trying to convince our kid to come to the dark side. Vince is committed to his Coach-taught doctrine of Study Your Plays, Don’t Steal Cars, though, and he blows off Bug Eyes’ plans on account of how he’s still on probation, remember?
Becky is trying to teach Tim about pageant walking. Oh dear. God, Legion made me miss Adrianne Palicki so much. She’s so pretty and so calibrated, whereas this actress playing Becky is kind of all or nothing. Tim is working out his job application speech and Becky basically reaches in and rips her tender teenage heart out of her chest and splays it, bloody and pulsing, on Tim’s lap. He’s all, …and? They’re interrupted by Luke knocking on the sliding door, looking for Tim to teach him more punishing but effective ab exercises. Luke’s here to tell Tim about his unbearable crushing injury from the farm, and Tim, bless his heart, is completely in the wrong when he tells Luke how to lie to a local doctor for more pain meds. Seriously, this is going to fuck this kid up.
Landry has driven Jess and the Cosby young’uns somewhere because they have swords and are chanting “Jess likes the punter,” which I think shows a great grasp of field-position strategy for kids their age. It took me till I was in college to understand the importance of special teams. Jess gives Landry a kiss good-night on the cheek, and he talks to himself and a plastic shark for awhile. Oh, Landry.
In Boston, Tami tries to give Julie a come-to-Jesus talk about being a grownup and not letting a breakup derail her entire life. Julie reverts to season 2 and is a complete twat.
Julie has her interview. Tim interviews for a job at Sears. On the balcony of their hotel, Julie tells her mother that she kicked ass in her interview, and that she’s sorry she was such a fucking brat about applying to Tami’s dream school. Tami explains that she went to a perfectly fine school herself, and met Eric, and had Julie, and that was her dream. And it is suddenly all kinds of dusty in here. Does no one else recognize the dustiness?!
Luke is getting his phony prescription from the doctor Tim sent him to. I’m praying this doesn’t turn into a post-stabbing Dr. Carter–on–ER storyline.
Tim takes Becky to the property he’d wanted to buy. He’s still wearing his interview suit, loosening his tie, untucking his shirt. I have lost all cognitive function. Tim starts plotting out where he wants the house to be on the land, how he wants the deck to look, and oh God, it’s so hopeful and so unlikely and so not with this girl, and it’s all heartbreaking. She is a child, Tim. A child. He’s explaining how the treeline works with his vision and the sun is caught on both of them, and he thanks her for her help, and oh, for the love of GOD he’s just encouraging her. Becky leans in and kisses him, and it’s just wrong it’s wrong OH MY GOD IT’S WRONG. She breaks the kiss as the sun slips below the horizon.
Game night. Buddy (Buddy!) is calling the game on 1040 AM, El Fuego, because apparently he got in good enough with the Spanish-speaking radio fellows. It’s kind of odd to hear someone other than Slammin’ Sammy Meade calling the games. The Lions and Timberwolves are playing in a driving rain, churning up the field and reminding us of the glorious season 1 episode “Mud Bowl.” The sound design here is half rap and half mariachi, which tickles me. It’s so Texas. I imagine. Vince hucks one into the end zone, but there’s no receiver, and it just bounces dully off the mud. It’s 14-7, Lions, when Coach calls Landry in for the field goal. THE KICK IS GOOD. THE KICK IS GOOD!! Score is 17-7, Lions.
Tim has to force the door on Billy’s chop shop to get in. He asks Billy how much money is at stake, and while Billy initially protests, he eventually gives in and tells Tim he can make more money chopping cars than he can in two years at Sears. But…no! Tim! God. Stop listening to fucking Billy! Remember the meth dealer?! Does no one on this show have an institutional memory?!
Back at the game, Vince’s pass is picked off and run back for a touchdown, making the score 14-17, with the Lions still in the lead. On the next (?) play, with no explanation of how the Lions regained possession, Vince pitches it to Luke, who gets socked and fumbles the ball, because let’s not forget he’s got a wee bit of his intestines poking out through his abdominal wall. A Campbell player scoops up the ball and runs it in for a touchdown, bringing the score to 21-17 Timberwolves. If the Lions could afford trainers, maybe someone would notice that Luke has a piece of his guts sticking out and that’s why he’s playing like shit. I’m just saying. One bright spot is that the Lions faithful seem to have grown in numbers; there are actually enough people chanting “Let’s go Lions” to make it audible over the rain.
Snap. Vince falls back and passes to Luke. Luke sucks his innards back in and gets clobbered by a Campbell lineman. Coach calls a time out. With 30 seconds left on the clock, he asks if Luke is okay to go for the next series. Luke, all grit and Texas manhood, says he’s fine. Or maybe he’s flying on Oxy, I can’t tell. Third and goal from the 2. Vince hands off to Luke, who fakes left, then right, shrugging off Campbell defenders like they’re peewees. He runs through the line, oblivious to the rain, oblivious to the mud, oblivious to the pain, and the crowd is roaring, and even Bug Eyes is on his feet screaming, and Luke falls across the line into the end zone, putting six on the board to bring East Dillon its first win of the season and if you aren’t crying for that kid and his ruptured abdominal wall and that school and its litany of sadness then sir, I do not know who you are.
In the booth, Buddy is rejoicing. On the field, Tinker and the other D-line guys are sliding in the mud like children. Coach is backslapping his assistants, and the gay one is super excited about it, because Kyle Chandler is so hot. After the game, Bug Eyes and Vince are celebrating, and Jess is torn between the victorious men: Vince and Landry. She goes to Landry, because let’s not forget, 23-21 isn’t a win without that field goal.
Tim and Billy are taking a car apart. It looks like an SUV, and I’m not sure if we’re supposed to find that significant—was it stupid-ass JD McCoy’s SUV? We end there.
Photo courtesy of DirecTV’s The 101 Network.