The half-way point of the final season finds almost every character tested — not to mention our affections for them. There’s no shortage of unbecoming behavior this week.
So who better to start with than Buddy (Brad Leland) and his new group of East Dillon boosters. It’s rivalry week (Panthers vs Lions), so they’re making sure there isn’t a repeat of Season 4’s field-trashing by camping out with cameras, Weber grills and shotguns.
And seeing as how they’re seemingly prepared for everything, it figures that the real attack would come from them newfangled Internets. Someone, presumably on the western side of town, posts the criminal records of half the Lions’ starting lineup online. Buddy never saw it coming.
Something we did see coming is Jason Street (Scott Porter). But that didn’t make it any less special to see him. After filling us in on two seasons of absentee back story — he married the waitress, got the big promotion, forced his baby to play football and is generally living the American dream — he tells us why he’s really here: to get Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) the hell off this sinking ship.
“I couldn’t be happier than where I am right now,” Eric says.
Are you sure? Because Vince’s dad just did an unsanctioned “Supermarket Sweep” run through the TMU book store. Turns out he hasn’t exactly been abiding the “it all goes through me” rule of recruiting Vince (Michael B. Jordan). He doesn’t seem to be completely off the nice wagon yet, but let’s preemptively start re-referring to him as Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.
For now, Eric is in the dark. And his primary concern is the impressively designed website with all the East Dillon mugshots on it. He heads over to Applebee’s — OK, it’s not Applebee’s, but we miss the Dillon Applebes’s — where he gives the Panther boosters a piece of his mind. Mac (or old, white coach who looks like Mac) feigns ignorance, which he would, because he’s racist. [Editor’s note: Wade Aikman and Joe McCoy are conspicuously absent — did J.D. graduate or did the show just not want to bring us down any more with their presence?]
The Billy/Luke/Mindy/Becky love quadrangle of guidance and trashiness continues to be the most enjoyable part of these dark episodes. And because Billy’s (Derek Phillips) taking Luke (Matt Lauria) under his wings for matters outside of just football, he gives him the absolute worst personal advice ever, telling him to ignore the girl he likes/got pregnant in order to solidify her affections. Genius.
Tami (Connie Britton) is just as sick of looking at Julie (Aimee Teegarden) as we are. The emo pseudo-dropout as lingering in the Taylor household, consuming the snobby college food she seemed to acquire a taste for with only three days of higher education under her belt. So, in a true sign of love for her family, Tami suggests they partake in her all-time least favorite pastime: entertaining. A Lions BBQ in the Taylor backyard could be just the band-aid for everyone’s problems.
Speaking of answers to problems, a call from a Florida school comes through, and it’s some athletic director offering Eric the head coaching position for their college football team. Not assistant, head. Eric brushes him off, but the man says he’ll call again.
If it wasn’t clear already, Leroy Brown is officially a terrible, terrible creep again. He’s fielding all sorts of recruiting calls for Vince. And Vince, just so thrilled to have even the shell of a happy nuclear family again, is pretending that this isn’t going to end in tragedy. Leroy ruins Lion practice by harassing Jason Street — wearing a very bold Panthers jersey, by the way — and suggesting which plays the Coach should call. It’s nauseating.
Good thing we get an introduction to the Billy Riggins work-out, which he teaches Luke while wearing little Stevie in a Wal-Mart Baby Bjorn knock-off and drinking a Bud Light. Billy is out of his late Season 4/early Season 5 crapper. We love him again.
At the BBQ, Vince’s mom really just breaks our heart. She’s so happy and has no idea how horrible things are actually about to get. “You see that?” she asks Jess (Jurnee Smollett, who is still really hurting for a storyline), pointing to her husband and son. “That’s everything a girl could want.”
Somebody get this woman a feminist intervention with Tami Taylor, stat.
Leroy Brown is now our least favorite fictional person in the history of television and film. You do not screw up your son’s future like that and you do not talk to Eric Taylor like that. Also: enough already with the flipping pie. We get it, there’s no pie in prison.
The only thing that could make Eric feel better after that awkward exchange would be some fooling around with his wife, but she has a big day ahead of her, going to Julie’s school and having an equally horrible encounter with Derek, the married TA.
Piper Perabo, we know Golden Globes aren’t worth a crap, but the fact that you currently occupy a spot that could be taken by Connie Britton is a crime. This woman can act, and her largely silent scene in the professor’s office is testament to how well.
It’s the Panthers/Lions game, and everyone brings extra ‘tude. Not knowing what else to do, the Lions behave like the hooligans they’ve been accused of being. They’re rough, they’re boastful and they’re getting a whole lot of yellow flags.
If you want to know how we were feeling during the excruciating game, just look at Streets’ face. We were initially angry with him for watching from the Panther side, but we’re reaching for our old Dillon spirit wear by mid-game.
It pains us to think it, but we actually wish the Lions would lose. They don’t, of course. And even though Eric tries to let them run the clock out and to give the Panthers a less-humiliating defeat, Vince takes his father’s orders and throws an absurdly long touchdown pass. We’re embarrassed for everyone, but we’re not really angry until Eric is greeted in the locker room by an openly defiant Vince. He only needs one father figure now.
Eric leaves his dejected coaching staff and sees Vince and Leroy Brown courting recruiters in the parking lot. Surly looks are exchanged, and Eric drives off.
It’ll be OK, coach. We’ll see if still likes his pie when he’s forking down the humble variety by the end of the season. Hey-o!