Daddy issues come home to roost in this ep: Coach finally tries to get JD to stand on his own; Buddy attempts to reconnect with his two California-livin’, younger children; and Jason gambles everything to get his family back. You know, the usual devastating, heartbreaking scenarios we’ve come to expect. Let’s get to it!
Previously on FNL, Monty was over-invested in his son’s football success; Devon, Crucifictorius’ new *girl* bass player (woo!), told Landry he needed to get over this chick that he kept writing the same damn song about; Seven had a crazy idea and a work list to bring his family back together; Buddy was a maniacally happy that Lyla stayed in Texas with him instead of going off to California with Lyla’s mom, their two younger kids and her successful, faithful, globally-thinking and locally-acting new love. Well, Buddy says “with a vegetarian raising figs”, but that’s what he meant.
At an airport, Buddy is almost at jogging speed with Lyla and Tim, searching for gate four. Tim says he thinks they should actually be looking for gate two, and Buddy is not amused: “Thank you so much for your unsolicited, WRONG opinion, Mister Tim Riggins,” he says. Lyla runs interference and mentions that she’s not sure about “this camping thing” that Buddy has planned, but Buddy thinks it’ll be quality time! Back to nature, just like God intended! Except for when we plow it under to build a football field, that’s a totally different thing. I can’t be too hard on Buddy, though, because we get a quick closeup of the very talented and underrated Brad Leland who has done such an amazing and solid job with this character for three whole seasons, and can clearly see that Buddy is equal parts hopeful and terrified, just like every father that’s separated from his family.
At gate two (heh), Buddy brightly announces “there they are!” and rushes over to greet Lyla’s brother and sister, who have flown in from California. Lyla excitedly hugs her brother and sister, but Buddy, on the fritz from his nervousness, goes from excited into manic and back again – he shakes Bud Jr’s hand, calling him “Lil’ Bud”, before pulling him in for a hug and then actually shaking him briskly. Aw, he’s so nervous! He can’t stop talking about how they big they are, which is really just how we acknowledge how much time has passed and how much we’ve missed. It’s the reason why parents mark the heights of their children on kitchen doorways: it’s to mark that they were there for their childhoods, not to show how tall their children grew. Buddy remarks that he’s going to have to call a friend and tell him his boy’s got the build of a linebacker, and Lil’ Bud breaks the harsh news that he’s “into soccer now.” Buddy zigzags into denial, saying football’s in the genes, like soccer’s a phase and not the sport that’s adored by most of the world’s population. He focuses on Tabitha (Tabby), pronouncing her his baby, and then immediately follows with “you look like a hippie.” Heh. He pulls her in for a big hug and she squirms, embarrassed, telling him that he’s all sweaty. Lyla, startled and defensive, says Buddy’s not. Lil’ sis looks immediately to Lyla and asks if her friend can come over to watch the Sex in the City movie, but Lyla says they’re miniature golfing tonight, which appalls lil’ Sis.
Eric and Tami pull up at the McCoy estates as Eric kvetches that he doesn’t want to stay long. “I feel sorry for this kid, the way his dad breathes down his neck all the time,” Eric grumps as they walk up the colossal steps. Tami says everyone’s got their own way of doing things, and that she really likes Katie. “Well I’m glad we’re here, then,” Eric grits out, trying to mean it, and Tami can’t not crack up. A few hours later, over a few glasses of wine, Katie coos over “the California closet guy” who’s apparently done wonders with the upstairs, and can’t wait to show Tami. Katie practically skips upstairs with Tami, Eric looks uncomfortable at the prospect of being left alone with Monty, and then JD comes in. Monty mentions that they’re playing golf the next day, and JD spontaneously swats at his father, telling him he better bring his A-game: Monty fakes cowering, and Eric’s charmed and a little relieved that their relationship is, in some respects, normal and loving. JD bounces upstairs, throwing a “love you” over his shoulder as he goes, and Monty calls the same back. Eric scratches the side of his head, thinking, and quietly says, “That’s a good boy.” Aw. Monty agrees – “due mostly to my wife”, he adds, which is a nice touch of vulnerability and self-awareness. Eric senses an opening and brings up the awkward conversation they had in church in the last episode, when Monty raked JD over the coals for drinking, and strongarmed Eric into the whole dress-down. Monty apologizes for crossing any lines and then assures Coach that it absolutely will not happen again, completely missing the fact that Eric’s talking about him, not about JD. It’s hard enough to work with a young kid to change their approach to a successful one – how do you talk a grown man into that? If this were Smash!Mama or Billy, they’d go where Coach pointed, but Monty’s an extremely successful man with Plans and an Agenda of his own. Eric starts to explain that that’s not quite what he meant, and Monty cuts him off: “Well good.” WOW. Eric changes tracks completely, complimenting Monty on the dinner. Monty grins that it’s “far from over”, and picks up a bottle, pouring it into a tumbler and asking Eric to “say when.” Eric says it as soon as liquid hits the bottom and Monty ignores him; Eric has to say it twice, forcefully, for Monty to stop. Monty pours a glass of his own and toasts, raising his glass to Eric: “To you and me. We make a hell of a team.” Eric stares up at Monty, completely at a loss, and takes his lumps in a gulp.
Riggins truck. Billy, who’s driving Street, says there’s something he’s been wanting to talk to Street about. He hands Street Tim’s recruitment letter from OU and gets Street’s wheelchair out of the back. He says Tim’s gotten a couple other letters and Billy’s replied – I love how Billy’s essentially Tim’s manager, as most parents of impassive teens are – but he hasn’t heard anything back. As Billy helps him into his wheelchair, Street says that the schools probably “send out a lot of ’em. I got hundreds back when I was…” walking. Playing. On the field, where I should have been. “…in high school,” he finishes awkwardly, wheeling around to look at Billy, who already knows exactly what’s going on. Street finishes by saying “Tim’s not exactly college material,” and telling Billy not to get his hopes up. There’s some truth to that, but you and I both know that some very small piece of Street is getting shredded, seeing Tim get the opportunity to do what he can’t. Billy says “I know the kid’s an idiot,” and I call timeout to note that the man who nailed his own hand to a wall in the previous ep says this, but Tim has great moments of insight too, so let’s just say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and call it even, okay? He continues his mantra from the past three seasons, saying that if there’s anything he can to do to get Tim into college, he’ll do it – he just needs to know what that is. Street hesitates, and Billy says “forget it,” crossing back to the truck and calling the whole idea stupid. Street calls out that it’s not stupid. He blinks, staring off to the side, and whatever was holding him back melts, and then it’s gone. He tells Billy to go through Tim’s tapes, make a highlight reel, try to get an interview with a coach. “Throw it all together, send it out to all the schools, generate a little interest…” Billy likes the idea, and walks into the Garrity house…
Where Herc and Tim are waiting, hanging out and drinking, as Billy announces that they’re gonna make a movie! “A whut?” Street wheels in and asks why Tim and Herc are just sitting around, and Tim observes that it’s because they’re DONE. Street is shocked, but Herc says there’s nothing left to spackle but Billy’s mouth. “Oh, that’s funny,” Billy says dryly, tossing a beer bottle cap at Herc, who promptly starts giggling. Hee! I really hope there’s cut scenes of these two ad-libbing on the DVD set, that would be comedy gold. “Look what two idiots and a coupla criminals can do,” Street says, which I guess makes him the former (heh), and compliments the group. Tim raises his beer at Street wordlessly as someone, I can’t tell who, mutters that it’s like “the Special Olympics.” Billy asks if they call Missy the realtor now, and Street says no, because she’s just gonna take six percent. Tim buhs and Street explains that they’ll do it themselves. “How hard can it be, you know?” Herc stares slackjawed at Street and repeats Street’s line to Billy, and all three boys stare at each other having no idea what they’re doing. Oh, this is gonna be hilarious. Credits!
At Dillon High, Mac waits in an empty hallway for Tami. He almost pounces on her when she finally appears, telling her that “it was an accident” and that “Jamarcus”, the Panthers’ starting fullback, is a good kid. Tami snarks that he should tell that to Bree Hudson’s mother and that this is Jamarcus’ third time in her office this semester. She walks in and a tall African-American kid stands up, immediately apologizing and saying that he didn’t mean to catch Bree’s hair on fire. The hell? She asked what he thought was going to happen when he sprayed deodorant into a bunsen burner and Jamarcus platitudes that he didn’t think it through. Ya think? Tami tells him to sit as Mac hovers in the doorway anxiously; she reminds Jamarcus they’ve been down this road before. She asks him what they said last time, and Jamarcus half-shouts that she has to let him play on Friday, turning to Mac for support. Tami says that’s a conversation they’ll have to have with his parents, and Jamarcus says that they can’t call his parents. “That’s what we talked about!” Tami says, leaning back in frustration. Mac suggests that maybe Coach T should be in on this conversation, which is the Wrong Card to Play With Tami, Mac, kthanxbye. Tami says as much and throws them both out, saying she’ll call Jamarcus’ parents and tell them to come in this afternoon. “Thank you for your help, Coach MacGill,” Tami says. Mac glares at her and Tami awesomely stage-whispers a “Come on, now, honestly“; Mac shakes his head in frustration and leaves.
Devon finds Landry in the empty band room. He says he’s just sitting there playing guitar and not thinking about Tyra. Devon sits down, sympathetic, when the school speakers come on. “Hey y’all! This is Tyra Colette, reminding everyone that Dillon High’s Annual Blood Drive is today…” Heh. Landry does not move, but his eyes roll up slowly to the intercom. “It’s unbelievable,” Landry mutters as the message ends. “She’s everywhere.” Devon turns to the piano and plays an adorkable version of the Flaming Lips’ “She Don’t Use Jelly”. Landry should be charmed by the discovery of someone more dorky and even less concerned about it than he is, but his ennui is too heavy! He cannot bear to be amused! “I thought for sure that would cheer you up,” Devon sighs. She tells him the emo thing is a little much (Landry: “…emo?“), and asks him for a ride home tomorrow after practice. Landry can muster up the energy for that, at least. She walks over and tells him to cheer up, laying a big smooch on his temple as she goes. The light that goes on in Landry’s eyes is instantaneous. Rebound!
Garrity House. Billy holds a video camera and VOs, panning up Tim’s body as he asks what his interests are. What kind of video you makin’, there, Billy? “Uh… I like football,” Tim says, trying to rise to the occasion. You can tell because he’s buttoned the second-to-the-top button of his shirt. “I’m not a big fan of practice, though,” he says honestly, and Herc helpfully volunteers from the sidelines not to forget that Tim loves Gwen Stefani. HA! Billy claps the video camera shut and glares down at Herc, asking what the hell his problem is; Tim yells that was his “best take“, hee, and the Riggins boys get all shouty with Herc, who’s the only one in the room who recognizes what a debacle this is. Street wheels in and asks what the hell’s going on, again. “We gotta keep our eye on the ball, and that’s this house. Can we focus?” Tim sits down on the fireplace, exhausted from thinking about college and interests and leaving Dillon and why is the beer gone? Poor Tim. Street shows them the flyers he made for the house sale, and Herc likes the color printing but not the price: Street is asking for $295K, which is $30K higher than the price they originally talked about. Street said that he did some research and that the higher price is fair, but Billy starts to freak out that he won’t see any return on his criminal nest egg. “QB, if we reduce this price, we’re dead in the water,” Herc squawks. “The longer we hold on to this place, the more we’re payin’ for it.” Street gets all Coach Taylor on their asses, saying they did this to make money, period. “We set the price there and we will get that price. Got it?” Billy shakes his head but agrees; Tim doesn’t even blink, because of course he’s in; Herc says alright resignedly, and looks away.
Principal Tami’s office. Tami explains to Jamarcus and his parents that they have to resolve Jamarcus’ discipline problem. The father isn’t defensive, but the mother points out that she has six (six!) children, and she assures Tami that Jamarcus will be punished. Tami respects that, but says next time Jamarcus will be suspended, which will hurt his academics not to mention missing some football games – which is when both parents’ heads snap toward Tami. “What’re you talking about?” his father asks, because they had no idea he was even on the team. Everyone stares at Jamarcus in disbelief, who just hangs his head, totally busted. Whoops!
Garrity SUV. As Lyla rides shotgun, Buddy tries to talk the kids in the back seat about kayaking and canoeing. Lil’ Bud and Tabby, however, are completely engrossed in texting or handheld video games and can’t be bothered to respond until Buddy directs them to put them away, like every parent ever. Buddy naively suggests that they have a sing-along like they used to, back when they were happy, and Tabby says she’s out. Buddy says that she used to love to have sing-alongs, and Tabby snarks that she used to not have pubic hair, either, but things have changed. Buddy nearly drives off the road at this TMI (heh), and Lyla’s right there with him. It’s funny, but it’s also no coincidence that she chooses an example that both freaks her dad out – and the sister who chose to stay with him – and also is irrefutable evidence that she’s growing up, even if you don’t count her current behavior. Lil’ Bud suddenly has to use the restroom, like, yesterday, and begs for his father to pull over. Tabby snarks that Kevin, mom’s new bf, says they shouldn’t be ashamed of their bodies, and that is when protective Lyla loses it and snaps at her little sister to shut up already. “If you really want me to, I’ll censor myself,” Tabby snaps. “For a minute I forgot I was back in fascist Texas.” HA! Oh, she’s really being as awful as she possibly can, this one. Buddy screeches to a stop at a gas station, and Lil’ Bud immediately asks for cash. Do you need money to use the restroom in Texas? You’re getting played, Buddy Garrity. Tabby and Bud rush from the car, and Buddy muses that it’s “just great having them back”; Lyla kindly says that they’ll come around. She asks if Buddy wants anything from the store, and Buddy asks for Tums. Heh. She leaves to get them, and we get a shot of Buddy’s worried eyes in the rear view mirror of his car.
Coach’s office after hours, which sounds a lot more naughty than it actually is. Tami walks in as Coach watches some game film. She kneels down next to him and tells him about Jamarcus; Coach is only half paying attention, sure the situation’s bad but under control, until Tami tells him that his parents never knew he was playing, he forged their signature on the permission slip, and his parents are pulling him from the team. That gets his attention. “What did you do?” Eric asks, pulling away from her. Suddenly it’s all “I need to know about this” and “I need to be part of this process”, but it’s really all about Coach retroactively being pissed because he’s now without a starting fullback and is well and truly screwed. Tami essentially says that her hands were tied and that there’s not a thing that Eric could have done about it whether he was there or not. “That and a dime’ll get me a cup of coffee, won’t it,” Coach snarks, and storms off. Not if you drink frappuccinos, it won’t!
Landry’s car pulls up at Devon’s house. He takes his keys out of the ignition, which Devon notices; she asks if he wants to come in. No, he’s just still kind of high off that kiss you gave him earlier, and this is the follow-up. They talk about the band, and its relative coolness, and how well she plays and how well she’s fitting in, and then Landry just leans across and kisses her. She’s surprised but doesn’t pull away; when he stops she half-smiles at him and gets out of the car, thanking him for the ride. Oh, ouch. He calls a goodbye to her, which she doesn’t call back: she looks over her shoulder at him as she walks away. Landry starts to smile, and we cut to –
Panthers practice, running drills: JD throws passes, 33 runs through the… you know, I have no idea what this yellow-limbed piece of equipment is. If anyone knows, please tell me. Street is on the 30-yard line, taking video footage of Tim as he runs through it over and over. Aww, Street! I love that you rally and bounce back from things so well, I really do. “Explode, Riggs, explode!” Street says encouragingly. Don’t taunt the fanfic writers, Street. Coach walks over to Street to ask if Mac got him out there, and Street starts to fill him in on the Get Timmy Into College plan, asking Coach if he might have a few minutes later for something. Cut to Monty, who’s standing on the very edge of the bleachers watching JD like a hawk: JD throws an incomplete and Monty storms the field to yell instructions at his son. Dude! Boundaries! The quarterback coach directs JD to throw the ball, and Monty waves off the coach to instruct his son on the fine art of football. Coach Taylor has to literally strong-arm his QB away from his father and direct Monty back to the bleachers.
Post-practice, Jamarcus brings all his gear into Coach’s office. “It’s all there,” he says quietly. “Washed and everything.” Oh, teenage boys: I love how that’s such a hallmark of your regret. ‘I even washed it!’ ‘Yes, I can see now that you feel truly awful for your actions.’ HEE. Jamarcus says that his father wouldn’t have let him play, so he “did what he had to do”, and Eric interrupts: “I understand, but listen to me, a lie is a LIE and my hands are tied.” Jamarcus wibbles and asks Coach to tell the team that he’s sorry. That and a dime’ll get you a cup of coffee, Jamarcus.
Campground of Broken Dreams. Buddy brings a cooler out to his fractured family, which is gathered at a small picnic table. Bud grumbles that he’s bored, and Buddy suggests they throw the ol’ pigskin around. Bud says that football’s stupid, and Buddy can’t even believe that Bud said that. “Kevin says it’s the only sport that’s played here and nowhere else,” Bud says, but Buddy does not. Want. To hear about Kevin! If they’re not going to play football, they might as well eat, so Buddy brings out some prime, Nebraska, Angus steaks. YUM, says I, but Tabby’s indignant: “How many times do I have to tell you that I’m a vegan now?” Lyla rolls her eyes and tells Tabby to knock it off already; Buddy starts sing-songing about how magnificent this beef is – “that was slaughtered,” Buddy snarks. Lyla throws him the stink-eye, but Buddy doesn’t see the problem because they’ll have a little prayer for the cow before they eat it! That’ll make everything okay, right? “Kevin says meat is murder,” Tabby snaps. Buddy says again that he doesn’t want to hear what Kevin thinks, or about his “left-wing propaganda”. Tabby says it’s not propaganda, it’s a fact, and Buddy plays the only card he has left, the “Kevin is not your father” card, and Tabby shouts back what she’s wanted to say since she boarded the flight in California, which is “a real father wouldn’t have cheated on mom.” Have you noticed how many times they’ve quoted their mom since they’ve arrived? Not once. They quoted Kevin constantly to get back at Buddy for ruining their family, and I know she’s being a brat, but I understand it. “I wish you weren’t my father,” Tabby mutters, like every child of divorce does because the adults in her life have turned her world upside down and expected her to act like nothing changed. Buddy flips out, throwing the steaks into the woods for the coyotes; he tells Tabby that he’s been trying so hard, but all he got from them since they arrived is hate, and he’s tired of it. If it makes you feel any better, Buddy, they wouldn’t try to hurt you if they didn’t care so much. He storms away and Lyla twists to stare at her younger sister, acting what’s wrong with them – hellooo, she just said it, Lyla, were you not listening? – and saying they’ve been acting like little brats since they got here. They twist away, not looking at her.
Applebee’s. Tyra serves a couple as Landry comes up, full of shiny new love, and he’s there to thank Tyra and tell her that she was right about everything. He tells her he sees now that the two of them were never supposed to be together, and that he’s met someone else and they’re perfect for each other. Tyra wobbles on her axis a bit, metaphorically speaking, when she asks if Landry “has a girlfriend” – something that Landry doesn’t deny, he who is always thirty steps ahead of where he actually is – but she finds her equilibrium fast and says she’s happy for him. Landry says he’s happy for her too, and maybe now they can both be friends. Tyra says she’d like that and watches Landry as he goes, happy and sad and befuddled all at once.
Campground of Broken Dreams. Buddy walks a lonely road, the only one that he has ever known. Lyla drives up in the SUV and asks him to get in; he tries to brush her off but relents. Once inside, he thumbs his chin and mouth, humiliated. “That kinda sucked, huh?” Lyla asks gently, and Buddy says he acted terribly. Lyla says they deserved it, but Buddy’s not letting himself off the hook: “They hate me. All a man has is his children, and they hate me.” Lyla eyerolls that they’re just being brats and they don’t know what they’re saying, that they don’t mean it. Buddy, to his credit, knows they do, and moreover, he deserves it. There you go! There’s some character growth for you! What he doesn’t yet get that they love him just as much. He muses that he’s lost them, and Lyla doesn’t answer, because she thinks he might be right. Buddy notices the silence and looks over at Lyla, who stares back and shrugs her shoulders helplessly. “You’ve still got me,” she says in this little-girl voice – I mean, I know Minka Kelly usually speaks in a small-girl voice, but this time it’s even more so, and it sort of breaks. Buddy nods, turning away and blinking back tears. He tells her that means a lot, and takes her hand; she looks at him and realizes that she really is all that he has left.
Jamarcus’ house. Eric tells Tami, as they’re coming up the walk to the house, to let him do the talking. Tami tries to explain that she’s already established a relationship with the parents, but Coach insists he’s gonna be the one in charge this time. “Oh yes. Okay. Indeed,” Tami says blithely. HEE. Inside, Mama J is telling a youngun not to run in the house; the father sits on the couch and tries to explain that they’re just not “football people”. Eric’s in schmooze mode: “Baseball? Basketball? Don’t tell me you’re a soccer family…” Hee, especially given Lil’ Bud’s storyline. Papa J ‘splains that he’s an engineer at the power plant. The one that the Riggins boys robbed? Nice! Papa J goes on to say that his company has moved them ten times in the last five years, so there’s no point in Jamarcus getting involved in team sports when he’s just going to move on anyway. Coach tries to explain how football can help a young man, but Papa J’s not having it: “We’re not one of your Dillon football fanatics… you can explain all you want, but football doesn’t mean anything to our family!” Methinks someone got beat up by some jocks in middle school. Tami’s eyes go a little wide at this. Papa J goes on to say that Jamarcus is self-centered, and that being a high school football star won’t do much to tamp down his ego or to keep him focused on school. Eric starts to talk about community spirit, and Papa J snarks that he thought it was a “dumb game that this whole whacked-out town is obsessed with.” Oh no you didn’t!
Eric snaps that he wouldn’t devote his life to some dumb game, and Tami finally jumps in. She says she didn’t get the whole football thing at first either, but then she realized what it could do for young kids, and it’s all because of Eric. “He has a great ability to take a kid, get him out on the football field, and inspire them and empower them, and then that transfers over to their lives, at school and in every way,” she says; Eric looks away, humbled. Mama J – speaking for the first time, and I love how now that the women are speaking, we’re finally getting somewhere – says that Jamarcus has lied to them all year. Tami agrees that she’s concerned about that as well, and says that Eric will make him regret the day he ever did that. She asks them to come to a game and watch their son play, saying that it might make a difference for everyone involved to experience that for themselves. Mama J smiles at Tami and says “We’ll think about it.” Now, you know that’s all it took this whole time. Outside, on the way to the car, Tami smugs that she thought that went well; she notes that Eric’s opening the door for her, and thanks him as she gets in. Eric closes the door without a word. Heh.
School grounds. Devon’s hanging with a friend, who’s a girl (SPOILER!), when Landry comes up and asks if she wants to hang later; Devon essentially sends her friend off so she can have a Very Important Conversation with her Male Friend. Landry lets his hand fall on Devon’s arm as he asks her out after band practice, and we have my favorite exchange of the episode:
Devon: Landry? I’m a lesbian.
Landry: What? No you’re not.
Devon explains that she likes girls, of the girl variety, of which poor Landry is not. Why does Landry get saddled with all the Afterschool Special storylines? Landry looks absolutely stunned as Devon babbles for a bit, and then quips that that is “important information”, and why did she kiss him back yesterday, then? Because she didn’t want to be rude, and because she wanted to BE SURE. Oh, LANDRY. You just cannot catch a damn break, my friend. “I really should thank you, I guess,” Devon says, and Landry can’t take anymore; he rushes off saying he has to let this soak in, because he does not know how to handle it. No one ever does, Landry; Devon didn’t either.
Garrity House of Financial Dreams. Billy, dressed in a cheap suit, sweet-talks a young, interracial couple (in Dillon? *fistbump*) about the house. He tops it off in true Riggins style by telling them that the master bath has “room for a third.” Aaaand they’re gone. A be-suited Street welcomes a new couple, telling them that he or “Timothy here” (HA!) will be happy to answer any questions they might have. Billy’s wearing some kind of blue-grey car salesman concoction, btw, and Tim’s decked out in a widely not-matching ensemble. Street, of course, looks fab. He overhears Herc telling another couple that there’s “wiggle room on the price” and wheels over to harsh that buzz rightthehellnow; Herc snarks back that it’s best to “deal with reality”. Cut to the outside deck, on which Street and Herc are circling each other, barely keeping their voices to a whisper as they argue about the price.
Billy comes out and snaps that he hasn’t even gotten a nibble on the house yet. I have to take a moment to note that in addition to wearing the cheap blue-grey suit, I do believe that Billy has chosen to complete his ensemble with some kind of silver cowboy boots. Dare I hope it’s snakeskin? Because that would be BRILLIANT. Street yells at both of them to get some balls. Herc snarks that since he lost his legs, he’s a little sensitive about losing his balls, so why don’t they vote right now on lowering the price? Both he and Billy vote yea. Street vetoes that. Billy rightly states that Street never mentioned $295K until he showed up with the flyers, and that no one put him in charge; Street counters that he stepped up because no one else would. Herc calls Street a “maverick” (heh) and reminds Street again that they will be on the hook for the mortgage, and then says it’s not just about Street and his kid. “Don’t you dare bring Noah into this,” Street growls. “No, don’t you bring Noah into this,” Herc snaps. “Every time there’s a decision to be made, you wave that kid around like a gun!” WHOA. Street’s got nothing to counter this and rams his chair against Herc’s, who rams his chair right back. Billy tries to calm them down, but you just walked into a murderball game and don’t even know the rules, Billy, so I’d back the hell up. Street smacks Herc and it is ON with the grappling and shoving and elbowing. Inside, in my favorite part of the episode, Tim Riggins pulls the curtains closed and offers to show everyone the upstairs. HA!
Billy finally separates Herc and Street, and a disheveled Street shouts that Herc’s right: “Yeah, I need the money for my family, but everybody here needs the money! Billy’s trying to get married, Timmy’s tryin’ to go to school, Erin’s up in New England right now with my kid and her parents are putting him into daycare, which I can’t afford. How am I supposed to compete with that, Herc? I can’t!” Cut to Herc, who looks sadder than I’ve ever seen him. I can take Herc angry or snarky or obnoxious, but when Herc’s on the verge of tears, you know it’s pretty bad. Street insists that they have to keep the price where it is, for everybody’s sake. “Please, just trust me,” he says, putting his head in his hands, and that’s all Herc needed to hear: “Alright, QB,” he says quietly. I kind of love that Herc calls him that, even though he knew him after his accident; he knows that still defines so much of who Street is. Herc has to say it again to get Street to look up: “We’ll do it your way.” Street gulps a ‘thank you’, still reeling, and we go to black.
Landry sits in the high school library, musing over his awful record when it comes to women, when Tami stops by to talk about the Physics club. Landry explains there no longer is a physics club, since he was one of two members and they decided they had a lot on their plates. Before Tami can leave, Landry has a question for her: why is he revolting to women? Tami sits down, as you do when a high school boy asks you this question. Landry recaps his dating history, and Tami says it’s probably difficult to see this at the moment, but “you are at the beginning of your life. A lot of these football heroes here? They’re not gonna get much further than this. But you are gonna go to some great college, you are gonna have a career that you love, and the women are gonna flock to you.” Landry cracks up at this suggestion, but Tami swears that she’s right. “I’m right a hundred percent of the time. You can ask my husband.” HA! Landry grins, still not buying it entirely, but willing to consider the possibility.
Friday Night! Buddy brings a sulking Lil’ Bud and Tabby to the Panthers game; Katie and Tami hug each other in the stands like old college roommates; Tami welcomes Mama and Papa J to the game. Street’s at the game too, buying some peanuts at the concession stand when he sees a former teammate. He calls over to him – Wendell Foley, for the record – and says hello. He congratulates Wendell on going pro, and Wendell apologizes for not coming to see him when Street got hurt, but he had a Florida game that weekend. Okay, so Wendell had already graduated when Street got injured. Got it. Wendell asks what Street’s been “up to”, and I have to admit I winced at that line a little bit. Maybe the actor chose it deliberately as a Freudian slip? Street talks about selling cars and flipping houses when a man in a fantastic suit walks up and Wendell introduces his “soon-to-be” agent, Grant. He tells his agent about what a fantastic QB Street was: “to this day, the best QB I’ve ever seen.” Aw. Grant mentions that he played at Westerbee, which Street ribs him about. Grant says he couldn’t go pro, so he did the next best thing. You can practically see the light bulb go off above Street’s head. “Get to talk football all day, friends of some of the greatest players in the world, and the money’s pretty great,” Grant says. Wendell makes his goodbyes and Grant follows, handing Street a business card as he leaves. “If you’re ever in the big apple, look me up,” he says; Street stares at the card before yelling after Grant that it was nice to meet him.
We return to the game, in which JD throws one of his cah-raaaazy passes – and it’s too long. In the stands, Monty bellows, “What! Are! You! Doing, JD!” so loudly that coach can hear it through the roar of the crowd. Jamarcus, wearing a One Panthers jersey, makes a run up the middle and his Mama claps and cheers for her baby, nudging Papa J. “I see him,” Mr Dumb Game grumps. JD makes another pass and it’s long again; Monty screams more instructions to his son. Buddy tells Monty that his son “only missed it by (a foot),” but Monty’s enraged because “we’ve worked on this all week!” Next to Buddy, both Lil’ Bud and Tabby are still sulking. They should sit next to Papa J and start an Eeyore section! (Dear Eeyore supporters: I love Eeyore and meant that in the best possible way.) JD hands off to Jamarcus, who Slammin’ Sammy calls “the lone bright spot in this Panther offense.” He runs up the middle and gets pounded by a tackle; in the stands, his mother grabs at her heart. JD puts the ball in the air and throws it to a Panther in the end zone, except he throws it to the wrong team. Interception! They stop him at the 15, but the Panthers are in bad shape: they’re getting boos from their own fans. Yowch.
JD runs off the field and toward the locker room for halftime; Monty runs down from the bleachers to stand at the locker room entrance and glower at his boy in disapproval. WTF, Monty? Monty calls JD over like he’s three years old, and JD totters over like it’s a Pavlovian response. Maybe it is. Monty yells at JD about his timing and his elbow and God knows what else as the entire Panthers team files fast, taking the whole humiliation in. JD apologizes – “sorry, sir” – and looks down; Monty shoves him lightly, yelling for JD to “look at me when I’m talkin‘ to you”, and JD’s head snaps up. Coach walks over out of nowhere: “I need my quarterback,” he says quietly, and Mac literally strongarms JD away from Monty. Coach asks what Monty’s doing, and Monty pulls the only card he has: “I’m talking to my son. Is that a problem?” Coach says that his yelling at JD isn’t going to help him, and Monty plays the card again, saying it’s a family matter. “I’m not trying to get into your family matters, Joe. I’ll ask you to give him some breathing room so I can work with him, how’s that?” Coach snaps, turning and walking into the locker room. Oooooh! I mean, he didn’t give you any other course, Coach, but DAMN.
Coach pulls JD into his office and starts talking about his relationship with his own father. I wonder who they would ever cast in that role, because Coach has mentioned his dad so many times, starting from way back in the second episode of the series when he was working with Matt; those would be big, big shoes. Coach says that his father had huge expectations for him, expectations that Eric could not fulfill, and that it was very difficult for him. “My dad just wants me to do my best,” JD says, having drunk all the Kool-Aid with one hand and mixing up a fresh batch with the other. “He just wants me to succeed.” Eric stares at JD for a second; in retrospect, I think he makes the decision right here to throw everything at the wall and hope to God that something sticks. The players are called back out, and they take the field. On the sidelines, Coach announces that they’re going to go no-huddle, something they’ve worked on all year. The O-line charges out and Coach stops JD short: “You call the plays out there. I don’t want you lookin’ in the stands at your daddy, I don’t want you lookin’ to the sidelines at me, you understand?” JD gulps and says he does. “I will pull your ass off the field if you do. I have all the confidence in the world in you,” Coach says, and JD blinks. Coach shoves him out on the field and hopes to God that he just did the right thing.
And it’s all JD needed, of course. He throws a first down and then a touchdown; Riggins carries the ball for 2o yards; JD throws a 50-yard pass and Jamarcus catches it in the end zone with no one near him. The crowd is elated – even Lil’ Bud and Tabby are begrudgingly standing up and clapping softly, rolling their eyes at Buddy and Lyla respectively that maybe football isn’t so bad – and Monty stands in the midst of it all like a glowering statue, watching his son win the game and dominate the field without him and sulking about it like a child. He and Tabby should hang out. “Hello, playoffs!” Slammin’ Sammy Mead crows. The clock counts down and Coach runs out on the field, patting JD’s helmet and telling him “Well done.” Aw! JD beams and looks to the stands; his father scowls and walks away. Jackass.
Parking lot after the game. Jamarcus hangs with his friends until he sees his father watching him, still skeptical; he walks over with his head down and the winning football in his hand. Papa J looks him up and down, sizing him up. “You looked good out there,” he says, smiling, and Jamarcus bursts into a big grin. They grip hands and pull each other in for a hug; Mama J comes out of the car to kiss her son. I would still be pretty pissed about the whole ‘lying to me all year’ thing, not to mention setting a girl’s hair on fire, but as Tami says, everyone’s got their own way. Also, it’s television, which I sometimes forget.
The Garritys walk through the parking lot. Buddy tells Lil’ Bud and Tabby that they need to get home and get to bed so they can catch their flight early the next day. Tabby shyly asks if they can have sundaes. NO! NO SUNDAES FOR YOU! I’m just kidding. Buddy jibes that they’re made of DAIRY, vegan girl, and Tabby rolls her eyes and just says please. See? Was that so hard, Garritys? Well done. Everyone’s smiling and off for a sugar rush.
Speaking of infantile behavior, JD walks over to Katie, who’s standing in the parking lot alone. She squeals and shrieks that he did a great job; he asks where Monty is. Katie tries to lie to her son that her loser husband, who’s proud of his son only so long as he’s the one literally calling the shots, had a booster club meeting; JD calls bull. On a side note, the Riggins boys are looking on from the flatbed of the black truck, and I do believe that they’re checking out Katie. Bless them and their slightly incestuous, brunette-MILF issues. JD realizes that his father is mad at him for doing well without Monty’s input, which is so many levels of screwed up that I don’t even know where to start, and Katie tries to enable her husband and help her son at the same time: “Look at me. He should be mad at himself. I’ve known him forever, he just needs a little time on his own.” She asks her son if he wants to get some junk food – which Monty won’t let JD eat, remember – and he says yes. Street wheels up to Billy and Tim while talking to someone on the phone; they both ignore him because they’re busy elbowing each other, adjusting their collars and waving goodbye to Katie as she leaves the parking lot with JD. HA! Oh, Riggins brothers: never change. Street finishes up his call and Tim asks what that was about; Street tells them that it was a client who just got them their first offer on the house. The Riggins boys both jump off the flatbed truck in disbelief, asking if Street’s serious – Jason punches the sky and shouts triumphantly. It’s way fast, and I will agree that they’re sewing up a lot of storylines this season because of the ever-present question about whether the series will be renewed, but I’m going to give it a pass just because I missed Street a lot. Woo!
Crucifictorius practice. Devon shows up late and drummer boy excuses himself, saying he needs to get some water: there’s no indication that Landry’s mentioned anything about Devon’s sexual orientation to Jimmy, and that would be a pretty humiliating story to tell from Landry’s POV, so there you are. Devon says she doesn’t want things to be weird, and Landry launches into agreement, saying that it was all his fault and he misunderstood and he wants everything to be okay. She asks if he’s okay with keeping her secret, which: it’s Landry. It’s not like anyone died! (Sorry, I had to.) Jimmy comes back and says he’s going to slit his wrists if they keep playing the same old song, and Landry, bless him, starts playing “She Don’t Use Jelly.” Devon practically glows and joins in on the chorus.
Riggins Ranch, wherein Billy, Herc, Tim and Street are all having a celebratory drink. Lyla rushes in breathlessly, apologizing for being late, and I pause for a nanosecond to wonder is this weird? How’s Street gonna feel? What’s Tim gonna do? But it’s fine, of course; these guys are totally over it and don’t even blink. Oh, the things we didn’t get to see in that too-short second season! Street says they have something to show them, and Billy cues up the video camera. Lyla giggles at Tim, half-falling into his lap; she asks how he’s doing. Tim has a slice of pizza, his girl and his friends, and you know there’s a six-pack around somewhere, so he’s great. He asks what they’re watching, and I have to admit in all the chaos of this episode that I forgot, the first time, what was coming. “Tim Riggins goes to college,” Street announces. Lyla woos and Herc claps. Can you believe how far all these characters have come? The video opens on a picture of Tim, taking a knee in his blue uniform. In one of my favorite bits of continuity, you can also see that the Riggins TV is still duct-taped in the upper right corner, a war wound from when Billy and Tim had that knock-down, drag-out fight back in S1. I absolutely love that the production team’s kept that in for so long. Anyway, some fast guitar kicks in and we fade to a game film; Street’s put a spotlight on the beginning of each clip so the viewer’s eye has a chance to follow Tim throughout the play. In the first clip, he runs up the middle for 15 yards and it takes six guys to bring him down, as Street reminds us: “Typical Tim Riggins style.” Hee! In the second clip Tim runs – “Speed, speed, speed,” Billy chants, and we get a shot of him chewing on his nails because he wants this for Tim so damn bad – “And power,” Street finishes as Tim practically head-butts a tackle just so he can get another three yards. “This is my favorite one,” Street says before the third clip. Saracen hands off to Tim, who runs up the middle and encounters two defense players standing right in front of him in the end zone – he literally knocks them down and falls into the end zone with them. HA! Lyla mentions how quickly Tim gets up, and I blush on her behalf. Street tells Tim they had about two years of footage to go through. Aw. On the TV screen, we cut to…
Street asking Coach what defines Tim as a football player. Everybody in the room hesitates. “Toughness,” Coach says. “I’ve never seen a kid…” his voice trails off, and I swear to God, Coach gets a just tiny, little bit choked up, and then he rallies: “…with more fortitude than Tim Riggins. No fear.” Tim blinks, moved by Coach’s respect. Street cuts to Billy, asking him what his favorite memory is of Tim playing football. Tim glances at Billy, who ducks his head. “Watchin’ him get that ring back in ’06,” Billy says, beaming. “After all we’ve been through together, watching him win state was probably the happiest day of my life, I was just… really proud of him,” Billy says, his voice wobbling a little. SO AWESOME. The vid fades to a title card that reads, “TIM RIGGINS. COMING SOON TO A STADIUM NEAR YOU”, and in a perfect world, Jason Street. “Tim, I think you might actually go to college,” Lyla says, glowing. Billy stands up and raises a toast to Street. He thanks Jason for the house, and for everything: Tim softly calls his thanks to Jason and calls him “Six”. I’m glad he doesn’t do that often, because it kills me. Everybody raises their glass to Tim going to school, and Tim smiles, finally happy, and we cut to…
Jason, sitting poolside with his legs up on the diving board, staring up at the stars. Lyla sits down and asks what he’s doing; he says he’s just staring up at the sky, but you can hear the wheels turning. He asks if she thinks he could make it somewhere else. Somewhere in particular, Street? “Do you think I could… I don’t know, be a good… sports agent, or something?” he asks, and Lyla immediately looks stricken. He asks what’s wrong, and the tone of voice he uses, you’d swear they were still together. They’re not, of course, and I don’t think they even want to be, but some habits become instinct, you know? Street, Riggins and Lyla really are OTP. He asks again if she’s alright. “You’re leaving,” she says simply, near tears. Street shakes his head and says that’s not what he said. “You didn’t have to,” she says, staring at him. Street looks away, hopeful and terrified. Just like every father who’s separated from his family.
Lyla takes a deep breath and tells him that he’d be great: he’s smart, he knows football, he’s a great negotiator… Street starts to tear up and looks away. Lyla looks at him and says it again, with more conviction, the way she surely used to before a big game, the way Tami does every day for Eric and vice versa: she tells him that his dreams aren’t impossible, that he has everything he needs to accomplish it, and that she believes in him one hundred percent. Well, that’s what she means; what she says is, “You’d make a great sports agent.” She asks if he’s going, and he says he is, of course: to the big apple, to try and get a job, to make a new life with Erin and Noah. “I think that’s great,” she says softly, taking his head in her hands and kissing his forehead; he strokes her arm with his hand. Sometimes habit becomes instinct. She leans her forehead against his, holding on to him while he holds on to her, both of them saying goodbye without saying a word… and the screen goes black. Perfect.