Previously on FNL: Saracen decided to stay; Billy read Tim the riot act about going to college; Coach Taylor was ousted as Panthers coach, and Monty-puppet Wade got his job; CT took the head coach job for the newly re-established East Dillon High; he and Tami went to visit the wasteland of the East Dillon High football field.
It’s a rough start for our beloved Dillon boys: Saracen’s delivering “Panthers Pizza,” Tim’s baffled by college, raccoons are nesting in the travesty that is the Lions’ locker room, Landry’s been redistricted into East Dillon High, and Buddy is persona non grata on the Panthers football field. Up is down, ladies and gentlemen. At East Dillon, Eric stares at his desolation of a football field; he picks up an empty beer bottle on his field and throws it in disgust. Texas Forever, y’all! Elsewhere in Dillon, a shirtless, hot, young African-American man is pretty effectively running from the cops. A police car cuts him off and the officers yell at him to get on the ground. He puts his hands on his head – welcome to the gun show, btw – and the officers cuff him. Back in the locker room, Eric weighs the new team in. I think it’s safe to say it’s a more ethnically diverse group than the Panthers were. One of them initially refuses to take off a big gold chain, leading me to term him Bling. All of them want to play QB, but they’re useless on the field. Coach calls practice after 18 minutes and tells them to go home and think about whether they want to be here or not. After they leave, Coach marks the field lines when a cop car pulls up; a police officer, Detective Shaw, gets out with the kid who was running from the cops earlier. Shaw, whose brother Mike played for Coach years back, asks Coach to take the kid on, which will keep him out of juvie. The kid introduces himself as Vince; the sheriff, hilariously, says that the kid is great at running, as we saw earlier. Coach asks Vince to show up at 6AM sharp. “Six AM sharp means quarter ’til six,” he clarifies. Hee! Vince will be there. At the second practice, CT’s only assistant coach quits the team, just because one of the players accidentally hits him in the face with a football and bloodies his nose. The kid apologizes sincerely, but the Asst Coach could care less. Good riddance, but now Coach is literally on his own.
Credits, from which all Panthers colors and flag-waving has been removed. I really like how committed the writers are to this new storyline.
Tami has apparently been called to the Panthers’ locker room. When she arrives, Wade stands up to applaud her for “all the hard work (she) put into redistricting” when she arrives, telling her how strong the Panthers team is as a result of it, and thanks her “for steppin’ up and doin’ the right thing.” Monty, grinning broadly, informs her that they want her to do the coin toss at Friday’s game – the night Eric will have his first game as coach of the Lions. You know, I almost forgot how despicable this character was. Buddy and CT’s former coaches sit in silence around the table, ashamed and mortified. Monty goes so far as to tell Tami that she could call heads, just to emphasize how very IN CHARGE he is, and then laughs at her disbelief, claiming he was kidding. Tami draws strength from her well of awesomeness and diplomatically thanks them for the honor, saying she’ll think about it as she leaves.
Tim Riggins, bless him, is sitting in a college classroom, listening to his female professor talk about Odysseus. “Every hero has a journey,” she explains, saying that Odysseus’ journey helps him to appreciate his earlier life and the home he left. You don’t have to tell Tim Riggins, lady, who is already packing up and driving back to Dillon, throwing his textbooks out the window one by one, smiling with obvious relief once they’re all gone. Oh, Timmy. Back in Dillon, Saracen talks about his art with a community college instructor; she tells him she wouldn’t call it “art”, but “drawing without a point of view.” Saracen responds that the University of Chicago liked his art, and they’re a much better school than Dillon Tech. The instructor reasonably asks why he’s at Dillon Tech, then, and Saracen has no response.
Tim, Billy and Mindy sit at the Riggins dinner table; Mindy asks Tim what his life plan is. Ha! Oh, honey. Tim tells her that he’ll work at Riggins’ Rigs, Billy’s garage, and he’ll stay with them. A very pregnant Mindy rises, asking Billy for a moment of his time to ream him out over this latest development, and Billy follows, seething at an oblivious Tim as he goes. Dare I hope that this will dissolve into another bout of infamous Riggins wrestling before the ep is out? Stay tuned, gentle viewer.
At DH, Tami gets ready to make her first speech to the Dillon High PTA; Coach is in attendance and quickly starts chatting with his former coaching staff. They’re pretty annoyed with Monty and the golf cart he apparently drives around Panthers practice, but when Coach asks them to come over to East Dillon, they shuffle their feet. The economy’s bad, they need their benefits & job security, etc. It is nice to see Mac again, though. When Tami takes the stage, several parents shout out their frustrations at their children being redistricted to East Dillon. Tami talks about how it’s just as good as Dillon High, but the parents know better and ask why Tami’s daughter is going to Dillon, then. Julie’s a little freaked at the tone in the room and being brought into the discussion. Tami calmly states that it’s because she happens to be zoned for Dillon, but the crowd is not appeased, and keeps shouting her down. Tami says that they’re not going to get anything accomplished this way; Monty giggles in his chair and can barely keep from squirming happily.
In a really strange scene, CT takes some equipment to a major department chain to be repaired, and the guy on the floor turns out to be a major Coach Taylor fanboy/stalker, who talks CT into letting him volunteer as assistant coach for the Lions. At the next practice, the guy repeats everything after Coach says it, shouting it at the boys. What the hell? Vince is running well but is having trouble learning the plays. Not quite as easy as Madden football, is it, #5? Cut to Jules, riding shotgun with Saracen as he delivers pizza to Monty’s house. JD answers the door and is as much of a prick to Saracen as Monty has been to Tami: he taunts Matt for taking Julie with him on his shift, rubs salt in the wound of Matt not going to Chicago, and stiffs him for the tip. There’s an upcoming party that Julie wants to go to, btw, and Matt doesn’t because he says it’s going to be a “Panthers party.”
Panthers party at Chez Monty. Landry’s in the house talking with his Crucifictorious bass-player lesbian buddy; Julie walks in awkwardly. JD, hanging all over some half-dressed girl, asks where “Pizza Man” is. Julie awkwardly says Matt’s showing up later. JD calls over Luke, who I believe we saw in the promos, who asks Julie if she’s coming to the game. Julie brightly says that she’ll be seeing the Lions play, thanksSOmuch, and JD smirks that the Lions won’t win once their whole season. Then he says something about Julie’s chances being better, leans in and strokes her hair. EW! EW OFFSPRING OF MONTY EW. Luke pulls JD back, apologizing for JD’s drunken state, but JD brings his & Julie’s parents into it, saying that Eric could still be coaching a winning team, and that Monty gave him the chance. Julie: “Yeah? Well, your dad’s an ass.” LOVE IT. Being the dim-witted, passive-aggressive guy that he is, JD decides to throw Julie in the pool. Luke tries to hold him back but he picks her up easily, Julie starts screaming, and of course that’s when Matt walks in and tackles JD to the ground. Landry and Julie get Matt up and Luke holds JD back. “He should’ve never taken me out of the game, Saracen!” JD yells, finally getting to the drama of last year’s championship game, when JD fell apart under the pressure: “He just felt sorry for you, that’s all.” I’m about to dub you Revisionist History Boy, JD. Saracen walks away as JD shouts that it’s “(his) Dillon now.”
Riggins Ranch. Tim and Billy paint the nursery a sickly yellow – because Mindy doesn’t want to know the sex of the baby, of course – and Tim rags on the color. The back-and-forth quickly devolves into pushing, of course, and then it’s a shoving match, and then the Riggins brothers are destroying nursery shelves left and right and wrestling on the floor. Yay! Oh, I missed this. The carnage isn’t much, but there are a few plastic shelving units that will never bear a stack of diapers. Billy’s furious that Tim would “come into my house” acting like this; Tim uses Monty’s excuse that he was “only joking”, and Billy shouts that it’s not a freaking joke, that he busted his ass for eight years so that Tim could go to college, and Tim can’t even make it through September. Tim counters that Lyla was the one who wanted him to go to college, completely not hearing a word Billy just said. Billy finally tells Tim that he’s got a wife and a kid on the way, and there’s no room for Tim here. Tim looks like he’s been gutted. On his way out, he says, “All I wanted to do was come home.” That’s what Ulysses said, kid. He goes to drink away his sorrows and nurse his wounds with bar napkins; the comely, middle-aged barmaid asks his name, and I think we all know where Tim’s sleeping tonight.
Dillon High. Tami, the VP and what looks like the campus cops walk to a classroom; apparently one of the kids has been redistricted to East Dillon, but has been showing up at Dillon High. Tami asks for… Landry’s bass player. Aw. Julie gets up from her seat and watches as her mom walks the girl down the hall and out of the school. Meanwhile, over at Chez Saracen, Matt tries to talk Landry into having a better attitude about the Lions, telling him that he might actually get off the bench at EDH. Landry sees right through this backhanded compliment, but accepts it nonetheless. Grandma Saracen comes out and reveals her dementia by telling Matt that he should be throwing the ball in preparation for the Panthers game on Friday. Yikes.
Lions practice. Bling from the weigh-in, who also caused the former assistant coach’s bloody nose, cannot sit still and listen to Coach for two minutes; no, he has to tell Landry that he looks “like Opie”. Not the new one, my friend. When Landry ignores him, he pours Gatorade on him. Landry tells him to shut up and listen to Coach, but Bling’s having none of that – he tackles Landry to the ground and the entire team gets up, yelling “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT”. Let’s see if they exhibit that bloodlust in their first game, shall we? Cut to the inside of the locker room, where the whole team sits in stony silence. Coach walks in and he has HAD it, y’all, pronouncing them all cowards and dumbasses, telling them that they don’t fight on HIS FIELD or in HIS COLORS. Nice! He tells Landry and Bling to “make it right” and Landry steps to immediately, apologizing to Bling and extending his hand, but Bling looks him up and down contemptuously, saying he will have none (“Screw you, Rudy”). Coach instantly and magnificently LOSES it, getting in Bling’s face and screaming for him to GET OUT OF HIS HOUSE and encouraging anyone who might be so inclined to follow him. Five or six players leave, several of them African-American, as Bling is – which is why, I think, Coach gets in Vince’s face and asks him if he wants to leave as well. “I want to play, Coach,” Vince says softly. “I want to play.” Man, I forgot how Kyle Chandler could really bring the CRAZY. Fantastic scene.
Next morning: Barmaid’s house. A girl sings the Star-Spangled Banner at the top of her lungs as Tim Riggins slowly gets up from the barmaid’s bed, and while a shirtless, boxer-brief-wearing Riggins would make anyone want to stand up and salute, I have a low tolerance for people singing on TV. Tim walks out to the living room, boots in hand, and the girl in the kitchen stops singing. She asks if he’s not “Panthers’ Tim Riggins.” Do we have another disarming young tot who feels compelled to call our boy by his first and last name? I think we do. The girl asks if her mom is going to be in any condition to drive anytime soon, and Tim smiles and tilts his head to indicate not so much. The charming tot insists on a ride to school – EDH, don’tcha know – and we cut to Black Betty’s engine, which Tim is working on while the girl talks his ear off about how he used to be a local hero and now he’s just a regular guy, and it’s massively annoying. When she asks what he’s going to do now, he tells her that she’ll have to walk to school. She flirts with him before she leaves, and then she’s gone. Girl, ease up.
Coach reviews his team roster, which has more than a few empty spaces on it, and discusses it with stalker assistant coach. Eric finally snaps at him, telling him to stop repeating everything he says, when one of the coaches from the Panthers walks in (not Mac). He tells Coach that they have no chance of winning the upcoming game, but says he’s there to “coach ’em up.” Eric throws him his Lions cap and looks hopeful for the first time since the season started. There you go!
Game Day. Lions and Panthers signs cover the town. Tami tells Eric she’s sad she has to miss his first game, and then suggestively flirts that she’s gonna “flip my coin” and then sneak out to see the Lions play. Eric starts macking, and Julie decides that this is the perfect time to (a) interrupt and (b) announce that she’s going to go to East Dillon High. Tami is bug-eyed, of course, as Julie lists that all her friends go there or have graduated, everyone at DH is a Panthers freak, Tami said EDH is just as good a school, so it’s all decided, then. She’s out the door as Tami can barely muster a “NOOOO”, and Eric just stands there, shell-shocked.
Lions locker room. In a nice callback to Riggins, one of the Lions has jittery legs, but it’s not out of hunger to win, it’s fear. One of the boys hums tunelessly to himself, another one rocks back and forth, they’re all psyched out of their heads. Vince and Landry look around, a little freaked out. Coach comes out and tells them to give 100%, and people will look at them differently tomorrow, but something’s off: when he says “Clear eyes, full hearts”, Landry’s the only one who initially responds with the “Can’t lose” refrain. As the Lions file out, pumped up, the camera lingers on the “NEVER OUT OF THE FIGHT” stenciled on the locker room wall. Once on the field, we see the Lions have none of the pomp and circumstance of Dillon’s Friday game – just half-empty bleachers and the barmaid’s daughter singing the Star-Spangled Banner. She goes sharp on the high note and a few others, but I think we’ve all been there. Across town, of course, it’s a different story: Panthers chestbump on the sidelines, the local TV’s covering the game, cheerleader pompoms are flying. Wade tells Tami that if they win the toss, they want to play defense first. Tami nods dutifully and heads out to the field, with Wade shouting after her that they want defense; JD, Luke and another player follow her to the coin toss. She chooses tails – nice recall to the fact that Monty wanted her to choose heads – and when it comes up tails, she tells the ref that Dillon wants the ball. HEE! JD scrambles to protest that they want to play defense, but Tami’s already walking off the field, telling Wade “y’all have a great game” as she goes. HA! THAT’S my girl.
The Lions, of course, are struggling. Vince (#5) runs fast, as the sheriff said he did, but these kids are rusty: they fumble the snap, they’re not used to getting tackled and they’re not sure of the plays. Coach rants and hollers from the sidelines as best he can, but once they start throwing interceptions, they kind of give up, and then it’s all over. At halftime, the score’s 45-o. In the locker room, Landry’s spitting out blood; Vince’s foot isn’t broken, but it’s a messed-up sprain. Vince says he can still play. Coach checks in with his boys around the room, and they are a collective hot mess. When he gets to Landry he checks the boy’s tooth. Landry: “ArgharghARGH!… I think it’s alright.” Aw, LANDRY! Eric walks out to the field just as Tami walks into the bleachers; he calls the ref over and says that they’re done. The ref tries to talk him out of it, but he’s adamant: “We’ve got to forfeit the game, is that what you want to hear?” The ref walks out and makes the announcement; the few people remaining in the fans start to boo. Oh, OUCH. I don’t know that Coach has ever called a game. That’s a brutal, but honest, beginning.