We are off to the races with deejay Slammin’ Sammy Meade and Panther Radio. The callers are debating whether or not bringing Coach Taylor back from TMU was the right thing to do. The callers are pissed that Smash got hurt, and Coach had no back-up plan, and it sounds like they have turned on Coach in the worst way. Please, Coach Taylor IS Panther Football, no matter what Panther Radio believes. As a resident of Texas, I can tell you that call-in shows like this one abound and they are ruthless.
While we are listening to Panter Radio, The Taylors are trying to get out of the house to start the first day of school, and Tami and Julie are alternately arguing about a car Julie wants to buy, the job Julie wants to get, and a class Tami wants Julie to be in that has a superior teacher. Poor Coach just wants people to stop littering in his car. Then he wins all of our hearts, yet again, when he tells Tami, “Principal Taylor, you look hot!” Yes, it is a new school year and Tami is the principal! I cannot wait to see how she and Buddy square off the first time she does something he and the Boosters don’t like.
First thing on Coach’s agenda for the day is addressing the ruthless local media. The first question asked is , “Coach Taylor, the problem remains, your team imploded in last year’s playoffs when Smash Williams hurt his knee.” The press are concerned that the team couldn’t win without Smash, so what are the Panthers supposed to do now that he has graduated? Coach reassures them the team is doing great, the team is solid, all the while we are treated to a montage of the football team and their disaster of a practice. No one can run, catch, throw, or even manage to remain upright long enough to look for a football, much less run the correct direction down the field. My twin niece and nephew, who are about to turn three, could probably do a better job than this.
The next concern the press has is moving Tim Riggins to Smash’s former position at tailback. My beloved Tim ran off to Mexico last year, and the press wants some kind of reassurance that he won’t pull the same stunt again. Coach responds, “One thing I can guarantee about Tim Riggins is he is focused on football and only football.” Of course the montage tells the real story of Tim arm wrestling, floating in a pool with about ten fawning girls, drinking beer and more beer, and finally, vomiting. You know what? Even vomiting, Taylor Kitsch manages to look hot.
Question three: How are Riggins and Saracen gelling? Coach says, “Tim and Matt are like brothers.” Video montage of Tim getting hit in the head by a pass from Matty, and the two yelling at each other about their respective inability to play the game of football correctly. Matt is entirely fed up with Tim’s partying and failure to focus on the game, rightfully so. Well, it IS an accurate portrayal of brothers, but I somehow don’t think that is what Coach was trying to imply.
Next, they want to know more about J.D. McCoy, the freshman quarterback who has apparently just moved to Dillon from Dallas, and is some kind of quarterback phenom. We learn he even broke state records when he was in middle school. Cue the heartbreaking footage of J.D. McCoy kicking ass at quarterback in practice while my beloved Matty Saracen looks on with a totally dejected expression. Coach tells the media that Matt Saracen is very much his man for quarterback, no matter what they may have heard about this McCoy kid.
Now we see Matt, Tyra, and Landry arriving at school. Apparently, Tyra and Landry have broken up or are “on a break”, depending on who you ask, but they are still clearly at least friends.
Pep rally. Everyone is clearly fired up. Buddy wanders over to Coach and tells him not to ” not even worry about that two game rumor.” Coach has no idea what he is talking about, and Buddy wanders off without explaining further, claiming he’s “got it all under control”. Oh, fantastic. Someone better get a shovel and start digging a grave for Coach right now if Buddy thinks he has something under control. Coach fires up the crowd and introduces the 2008 Dillon Panthers. I do love a good Panther pep rally, which is ironic considering I couldn’t be bothered to attend one when I was actually in high school.
It’s the next morning, and Buddy knocks on the door to Lyla’s room in their new apartment and adorably tries to entice her out with chocolate chip pancakes. Apparently Lyla’s Mom ran off with her two siblings to live in California with the hippie and make clothes out of hemp, or so I am imagining. Lyla says she’ll be right out, closes the door, and there is Tim Riggins in all his shirtless glory. Mrow. There is no blame from me that Lyla does not choose to bound out the door at that moment for chocolate chip pancakes.
On the field, Coach Taylor is running Smash through drills designed to get his knee back in fighting form. Coach tries to fire up Smash about getting into college, and asks him to get the doctor’s opinion on starting to do some side to side drills on the knee. Smash does not look at all confident.
Principal Taylor is walking through the halls greeting the students with glee, when she is accosted by Vice-Principal Trucks who informs her that the A/C is down and 34 students have not made it to school because a bus broke down, or something. Tami looks totally overwhelmed and is relieved that Trucks has put a band-aide on the A/C and managed to find some way to get the students to school. This is going to be so hard to watch, isn’t it? Tami started her day so excited to be the new principal, and she is already getting a little beaten down.
Lyla and Tim walk the halls together as every Rally Girl and other girl in the school drools over Tim. One brave girl has the nerve to ask if they are together, and Tim and Lyla agree they are just good friends. What.Ever. Tim’s personal Rally Girl comes over to let him know that she is there for him, no matter what he needs. She stopped just short of writing “for a good time call…” on his arm.
Slow motion practice scene, with Buddy and Joe McCoy, J.D.’s dad looking on from the stands. I really love D.W. Moffett, but it is so apparent that his character is going to annoy the ever loving hell out of me until I eventually want to shoot my television. We learn that Mr. McCoy is some big-shot beer distributor with the charming nickname “the stud of suds”. Ugh.
Tyra is in Vice-Principal Trucks’ office, and he is being a total ass to her about her chances of college, telling her that “state schools are a pipe dream”. He follows this up with recommending she set her sights on Dillon Tech. Tyra looks totally shocked. What kind of crap vice-principal is Trucks?
Buddy has cornered Tami and wants to talk to her about two words, “Jumbo Tron”. Actually, Buddy, that’s one word, which you would know if you cared more about the actual academics than the football. He waxes poetic about how romantic it will be to have people getting engaged at the football games on the Jumbotron, and forks over a huge check from the Boosters. The amount is not given, but it is enough to make Tami’s eyes bug out, and she mentions how they just lost four teachers because the district couldn’t afford a teacher’s salary. That was enough to make me curious enough to pick up the phone and call a Jumbotron rental company to get a ballpark figure, and a rental alone for a football stadium would run approximately $30,000, per event. Thank you, Mark, at Visible Display! I couldn’t bring myself to call a company that sells Jumbotrons to ask what sale price is for one. I cannot believe I just admitted any of this. I am way too invested in this show. Back to the show, Buddy wants to give Tami all the credit for the Jumbotron, and thinks they will be “a beautiful team”. Ew.
The Riggins brothers are at their favorite local strip club where Billy’s girlfriend, Mindy works. Tim is upset that Lyla doesn’t want more than a friendship with him after they have spent the last six glorious weeks together having great sex. Billy takes this moment to tell Tim that Lyla basically thinks Tim is a joke, and that he needs the love of a good woman, like what he and Mindy have together. The stripping is just a job, what Mindy and Billy have is true love, and Tim needs to find that for himself. Billy totally wins the entire episode by reminding the audience of Lyla’s former devotion to church and how, “she went to bed with Jesus, and woke up with you. Jesus. You. You’re a rebound from Jesus, Tim!” It is so funny how not wrong he is about that, and I love that it is Billy that sums up Lyla’s character progression.
Smash and his Mom are at the doctor, and the doc says his ACL is healing nicely, and he should make a full recovery. Smash wonders why he still isn’t as fast as he used to be, and the doctor says he may never get back there. Smash’s Mom is trying to be so positive, but Smash clearly doesn’t believe he will ever be going to college. He is a man who has totally given up.
Since their break-up, Landry has apparently become the Collette family abuse pillow, as he is crunching the numbers trying to figure out how to boost Tyra’s G.P.A., while her Mom asks if he was able to fix the toilet. Indeed he has, but it is time to “tell Mindy to sopt putting so much toilet paper in there.” Oh, Landry. Walk away, honey. You don’t deserve this.
Tami is having her first meeting with the teachers and she opens the floor to hear their thoughts. The poor teachers just want to know if they are going to get their four colleagues back, as a Spanish teacher who actually speaks Spanish would be nice. Additionally, they have been using the same textbooks for 15 years, they have been buying their own supplies, and not even paper is provided by the school. Ouch.
Coach takes some time to rip into Saracen and Riggins for not playing nicely together. They are the leaders of the team after all. He lets them know in no uncertain terms he will replace them if they don’t get their act together.
During practice, a smoothie truck comes driving onto the field, provided by Joe McCoy. The team is really freaking excited about getting a smoothie. Seriously, you would think the Laker Girls walked onto the field, not a smoothie truck. Whatever, Coach is having none of it. They have all played awfully, and none of them deserve a smoothie.
Tami catches Tyra as she is fleeing the campus to ditch school. Tyra lights into Tami for giving her hope of ever getting into a good college. Tami tries to explain that colleges look at much more than just a G.P.A., but Tyra is having none of it and she stomps off, leaving Tami utterly dejected.
It’s the next morning, Tami has already left for school, and Julie cons Coach into signing her schedule change.
Smash and Riggins are at the Alamo Freeze, and Riggins is whining about how it doesn’t matter what he does, he will never be Smash Williams. Smash replies that he isn’t even Smash Williams anymore. Tim refuses to accept this and points out that just because the doctor said he can’t do it, doesn’t make it true. I love the friendship that has evolved between these two.
We’re back at school, and Tim has more girls hanging all over him. Lyla comes over and basically tells him that he scares her, and that is why she won’t make a commitment. He deosn’t go to class, he shows up drunk to school, he lets the Rally Girls do all his homework, his past relationships have all lasted twenty minutes, so why should she take him seriously when he doesn’t even take himself seriously? Point to Lyla.
Joe McCoy has showed up at Coach Taylor’s office with a bottle of scotch and two Cuban cigars, which of course Coach refuses to accept. Joe takes this time to say that the radio callers are all wrong, Coach is a genius, he took a mediocre quarterback in Matt Saracen and won the state championship. Suds McCoy moved his family from Dallas to Dillion so J.D. could be coached by Eric Taylor, the man who made Jason Street and Smash Williams. He leaves with a chipper, “Hope J.D. gets some snaps on Friday!” He is so creepy.
It’s nighttime, and Tami finally makes it home at a ridiculously late hour because the district can’t afford to pay the secretaries overtime, so she has been photo copying the budget for the year. Eric makes an attempt to cheer her up, but it all falls to hell when Tami sees Julie’s changed school schedule and loses it. She screams at Julie, Eric, and vows that the one thing she can do as principal is change her daughter’s school schedule, deadline be damned! Eric, in turn, tells Julie he cannot believe she used him to go specifically against what her mother had told her to do.
Landry and Tyra are at Seven Senoritas, and Tyra gets more and more depressed as Billy proposes to Mindy, and Tyra sees what her own future will likely be. She heads to the Taylor home where she asks Tami to help her reach her goals.
It’s early in the morning, and Coach is on the field waiting for Smash, who shows up late and not wearing any workout clothing. He tells Coach he “has to start living his life as Brian, I’m never going to be Smash again.” He thanks Coach for everything and says, ‘I had the best times of my life on this field.” It is a heartbreaking scene, and I am not sure who is more depressed at this point, Coach or Smash.
Tyra returns to the vice-principal’s office, where she proceeds to give him her completed application for U.T., a signed petition for her to be student council president, and totally tells him off for ever assuming she wasn’t going anywhere in life except Dillon Tech. Go, Tyra! That’s the girl we all know and love!
Tami visits Eric in his office to apologize for getting angry at him for what Julie did. While there, she notices the brand new networked computers and the downright frigid air temperature, which is just the way Coach likes it.
Finally, it’s Friday night. Riggins, in the opening drive, gets the ball into the red zone, and then scored a touchdown on the next play. Next, Matty Saracen runs for a touchdown! Another touchdown for Riggins! The Panthers are on fire, and as such, the starters are coming out of the game, and J.D. McCoy is going in. He throws a 70 yard pass for a touchdown, and the announcer likens him to the second coming of Jason Street. Matty and Grandma both look like they are about to cry.
The after party is being held at, where else, Garrity Motors. I would like to take this moment as a Texan to say that we do not party at our car dealerships on weekends, or weekdays for that matter. Sometimes they try to entice us in with a barbeque, but there is never a country band and a party at a car dealership, at least not in Dallas/Ft. Worth.
Buddy and the Boosters are drooling over their ridiculous model of the field, complete with a miniature working Jumbotron. Tami has had enough, and informs Buddy that she, as principal, has the right to reallocate the funds to academics, and that is exactly what she is going to do.
Tim finds Lyla and thanks her for kicking his ass into gear and says he is fine with keeping their relationship on the down low if that is what she wants. She proceeds to make out with him while a horrified Buddy looks on. Yeah, he’s not having the best night of his life.
They roll out a huge screen and show the great moments of Panther football, including game footage of Jason Street, Smash Williams, and the 2006 Panthers winning the state championship. I’ll admit it, I cried.
Final scene, Coach takes Smash to play some raquetball, which seems an odd thing to do after winning a big game, until it becomes clear that he did it to show Smash that he has full range of movement in his knee. Smash is eating up the raquetball court, his knee is not hindering him in any way. Coach tells Smash, “I can promise you this, we can figure it out. If you want this, I will help you get it. Into college, and playing football again, and I can promise you I won’t stop until you get there.” Smash asks why Coach wants to help him so much to which he replies, “Because I need something good to happen.” They play some more raquetball, and Coach stops, points his raquet at Smash’s knee and says, “There is nothing wrong with your knee. Man, if you want this, it is waiting for you. I can’t want it for you.” Coach leaves the court and Smash looks hopeful for the first time. It is a really beautiful moment. This show is just so, so excellent.