Friday Night Lights 3.09 – “Game of the Week” Recap

vlcsnap-8591347This week on FNL: Tyra has second thoughts about Cash, Riggins avoids a college recruiter, and Lorraine and Shelby have a confrontation over Matthew. You know, like every week.

Previouslys! So, Tyra ran off with Cash to the rodeo; Coach decided to let Matt, his QB2, play wide receiver; Street and Tim went on one last road trip to NYC and Street stayed in the Big Apple, shattering Tim’s heart as well as yours and mine.

A red taxi drives up to the Riggins Ranch; Tim tells the driver to keep the change as he steps out into the Texas sunlight. I wonder how much of his $14,000 Timmy has left. Gypsy tickets aren’t cheap! He says “thank yew” like a good Texas boy, slapping the side of the taxi, and it drives off. Tim walks up the drive, looking at everything with new eyes: this is his world without Jason. It’s got to be weird. He walks up the driveway and pauses at the sight of his truck, because Black Betty is totaled. Her side rear view mirror’s twisted, and the hood’s completely accordioned up because she’s been driven into the bushes (and no doubt small concrete wall) at the front of the house. Tim storms into the house, slamming the front door back and bellowing for Billy, who is passed out on the living room couch and surrounded by empty beer bottles, of course. Tim tells Billy that he’s going to pay for all the work on his truck and then yells that he was only gone for three days. Billy’s blinking and covering his eyes, and Tim starts to snark that Billy, who’s lying practically naked on the couch, doesn’t look so hot either when Billy interrupts: “She dumped me.” All the wind goes out of Timmy’s sails. Billy sits up and says the wedding’s off; Tim quietly says he’s sorry to hear that. He asks Billy if he wants to talk about it, which is a real step forward for both boys, but Billy can’t do it: he grubs at his eyes and stands up, revealing that he’s only wearing little green briefs, and I guess we should be happy for that much, ladies and gentlemen. Also, the elder Riggins may not be cut like Timmy, but he’s still in fightin’ shape. How do these guys not all have giant beer guts? Ah, the magic of television. Anyway. Billy ambles past Tim to his bedroom, mumbling “Sorry about your truck” as he goes; the camera zooms in on a five of hearts playing card that’s stuck to his back. Heh. Tim stands in his desolation of a living room and marvels some more at how much the world can change in 72 hours.

Chez Taylor. Eric, his Panthers baseball cap turned backward, sits on the living room floor and plays with Gracie Belle; Julie has breakfast at the kitchen counter while Tami gets some milk. “Gracie and Mister Bear inform me someone’s birthday’s coming up,” Eric says. Awww, Mister Bear talks! I’m a total sucker for that stuff. Tami says she doesn’t know who Mister Bear could be referring to, and then announces that she’s not going to have her birthday this year. Eric and Mister Bear both look up, slack-jawed. Tami, not acknowledging them doesn’t mean they don’t still happen, but good on you for trying. “I feel old,” Tami admits, noting that if she has a birthday, Gracie Belle will have a birthday, and then Julie will have a birthday and where will it all lead? “I think it’s just the best present y’all can give me,” she says in that too-bright, sing-song voice of hers. “Agreed?” Julie, Eric, Gracie Belle and Mister Bear all try not to stare at Tami like she’s fallen off the deep end.

Panthers practice. Everyone takes a knee while Coach exposits that they’re in the playoffs, and that “this is where the fun begins.” He says those who have already been here know what he’s talking about, and those of them that haven’t – and here we get a quick shot of JD, looking up at Coach and then away – “you will.” We catch a glimpse of Landry in the background, too, which is a nice touch; Landry’s never been to state either. Coach recalls their Arnett Mead game, which is when Matt played his heart out but fumbled the final play. He says they were a good team then – cut to Matt, head down and staring at the turf – Coach finishes that they’re a better team now. Ouch. Coach asks them to look around at each other, and to ask themselves how much they’re willing to sacrifice out on the field. Behind Coach, Matt stares up at him. “I guarantee you, that question will determine the outcome of this game,” Coach says quietly. Cut to Riggins looking down, thinking. Coach encourages them to have a good practice, and the dirty guitar kicks in and we cut to…

JD throwing passes. Matt runs out, playing wide receiver, and catches the ball. The tackle who’s coming for him puts on the brakes and literally raises his hands instead of knocking Matt to the ground. Eric hollers, of course, and Wade explains that – in keeping with Eric’s valid recent observation that if Matt gets hurt, Eric doesn’t have a back-up quarterback – he told the boys not to tackle him. Eric says that if Saracen’s going to play, he needs to be able to take a hit. “You want to take some hits today, Saracen, or you want to take it real easy-like?” he yells. Hee! Cut to Saracen getting pounded on the field: he drops the ball, lies on the field trying to catch his breath, he’s just getting pummelled. And then Buddy Garrity and the Mayor are suddenly running on to the practice field. Coach is all wtf?, but the two bastions of Dillon interrupt the practice and ask for the team to gather round for their absolutely awesome news: the “TV people” have selected the Dillon game for the national game of the week, so the Panthers are going to be on national television. The team erupts into cheers as Buddy hollers “Are you ready for some football?” HEE. Eric stomps around, looking absolutely pissed as we go into the credits!

Giant TV trucks pull up at Panthers field. Tami makes some general announcements over the school speakers and then says that the students might have noticed some new people hanging around, and we cut to shots of camera crews and boom mikes in the cafeteria. Hee! I love how meta this is. She announces that Friday’s game will be on national television, and the whole school erupts in cheers. Football players raise the roof in the hallways; several male students in the cafeteria spontaneously rip off their shirts to reveal giant, blue-and-yellow letters on their torsos – they jump in front of the camera crew to spell out “PANTHERS.” Let’s assume that word of the broadcast leaked, and that Dillon High students don’t compulsively paint alphabet letters on their chests in the hopes of such an opportunity (“Dear Diary: Please, let today be the day! I finally got the shading just right!”). Although it is rural Texas, and there’s not much to do. Speaking of…

Rodeo circuit. Tyra snaps a photo of Cash with two fans. Cash leads Tyra over to “the board,” which I guess is where they post the rodeo’s line-up, and is elated with his horse du jour. “That’s easy money,” he crows, and kisses her. That first bit might be important later. The littlest fan-cowboy ever, complete with his little black five-gallon hat that’s a total shout-out to Cash’s constant black hat, toddles over and asks Cash for an autograph. AW. Tyra is smitten by her boyfriend and his fandom. Cash sends the little tyke off and tells Tyra “that was me, a long time ago.” A pretty blonde calls to Cash from her retail booth, and Cash leads Tyra over, introducing her to “Brooke.” Brooke laments Tyra’s lack of proper rodeo attire and tells her to “get back here” so they can get her properly outfitted. Cash tells them to enjoy their “girl time” and tells Tyra he’ll be back. Brooke starts selecting cowboy hats for Tyra, asking pretty innocently how long they’ve been together and telling Tyra that Cash is “quite a catch.” Out of the corner of her eye, Tyra sees a trio of men just outside the tent, talking pretty aggressively to Cash. Tyra tries to ask Brooke’s questions about what she does and where she’s from, but she’s distracted and worried for her man. She says she can’t afford any of Brooke’s nice things, but Brooke tells her “it’s on cash.” From a distance, we hear Cash assure the pack of ne’er-do-wells that he’s going to pay them their money. Cash is really living up to his name, isn’t he?

Dillon HS cafeteria. Julie and Landry shoot the breeze until a very assertive young woman comes up and demands to know where Tyra is. Landry buhs that he wasn’t aware he was supposed to know where Tyra is, but Assertive Girl will not be swayed! “She’s been missing for a week,” she says, lamenting that the winter formal is coming up in three weeks and they don’t have a theme! O NOES! “What are y’all gonna do?” Landry asks, hee. “She’s president of the student council and she keeps blowing off our meetings,” Assertive Girl humpfs, asking Landry to tell Tyra to call her, “otherwise we’re gonna pick a theme without her.” Landry agrees that nobody wants that, heh, and Assertive Girl flounces off with her entourage of one. Julie snarks at the ridiculousness of it, but Landry asks if Julie hasn’t seen Tyra either. “I think she said something about her aunt being sick,” Julie says. Julie’s not that great a liar, so I think Tyra gave her the same sick-aunt lie she gave Landry in “Hello, Goodbye” a few eps back. It doesn’t work, Tyra! Get some new material! Landry’s eyes immediately go cold. “Well, I’m sure she’s fine, wherever she is,” he says.

Panthers field. Tim walks out of the locker room and meets up with Lyla. As they’re walking away, a guy walks up calling for “Mister Riggins.” He introduces himself as Scotty Sims from San Antonio State, and is wearing the baseball cap to prove it. “I’m the one who’s been sending those recruiting letters,” he says, smiling. “You’re a hard man to track down.” Tim apologizes, saying that he’s been swamped with practice and road trips and not seeing his hot girlfriend in the last 72 hours. Maybe that last bit was just subtext. Scotty lets it slide, saying he knows what it’s like, and then politely introduces himself to Lyla. Poor Riggins is completely out of his element here. Sims tells Tim that he doesn’t mean to put him on the spot, but they’re graduating their entire back line next year, and they’d really like to have him on the team. Lyla’s eyes light up like it’s Christmas morning. He asks Tim to come by the next night to talk with him, and Tim starts backtracking – his truck’s in the shop, they’ve got the game coming up. Lyla interrupts that she’ll give Tim a ride to the interview, and repeats it to the college rep, who’s elated. He tells Tim he’ll see him tomorrow night at eight, and Tim nods distantly as Lyla glows at her boyfriend, wondering why he’s not excited too.

Eric walks down the corridors of Dillon High and stops at a classroom; he asks the teacher if he can speak to Julie. In the corridor, he tells Julie that he needs her help, because on Friday night he’s going to do something special for Tami – flowers, champagne, he’s renting a hotel room, the whole nine yards. Julie, horrified that her hot parents continue to have a sex life, begs him to stop talking. Heh. Eric explains that it’s going to be a surprise, so he needs Jules’ help: he wants her to pack some things for Tami while she’s not looking, and he needs Julie to look after Gracie Belle while they’re gone. Julie, who has grown up a lot in the last season, says she’s totally up for it, but she’s pretty sure that Tami said she didn’t want anything for her birthday. “Well that’s her problem,” Eric deadpans. Hee! He tells Julie to get back into class and study her Shakespeare. Julie says that it’s math, but Eric’s already gone, no doubt off to order some flowers or worry about his team being in the national spotlight. Aw.

Under an ominously overcast sky, Cash’s name is called over the rodeo loudspeakers, and Tyra screams in support of her man. She’s also wearing a black cowboy hat, for the record, so the assimiliation is near-complete. The bell rings and the gate opens, and Cash’s bronco busts out of the gate. He does well for a few seconds, and I have to admit, it is pretty cool – but then he gets thrown a few seconds in. He waits breathlessly for his results, and when he hears that he came in second place, he storms away. Tyra runs over to him, shrieking that he “did so good,” but Cash is pissed, and he’s feeling shouty: “Just chill out, alright? Second place is the first loser, it’s not good enough. It’s not good enough at all!” He throws his gear to the ground like a child and storms away. Tyra stares after him, stunned and humiliated, and then slowly makes her way after him. I love this girl, but sometimes I just want to shake her until she believes in herself one-tenth as much as Tami does. It’s brutal to watch this gorgeous, smart, funny young woman sell herself so short.

Saracen household. A bruised and battered Saracen lies on the couch, morosely eating some junk food and generally feeling like he’s had the snot kicked out of him. From the kitchen, Shelby suggests that he come into the kitchen to eat; from the living room rocker, Lorraine snaps that it’s her house and that Matt can eat wherever he wants. Hee, I love that this pissing match is STILL going on. Lorraine holds such a grudge. They banter back as Matt acknowledges that he is being pretty messy, and finally Shelby just brings him a plate. Lorraine: “When you leavin’?” HEE, she’s such a brat! And I just can’t hate her for it. Matt’s all ‘Grandma, c’mon’ but Shelby’s taken aback. Lorraine says she means it, and she wants to know how much longer Shelby’s gonna be hanging around. Matt immediately starts stammering, but Shelby says that since Lorraine brought it up, they should all talk about it. Ooh, Lorraine, you have finally set yourself up, methinks.

Shelby says that Matt might go to college next year, which she thinks would be fantastic, and that she volunteered to stay on and help with Lorraine if that happens… so she’ll probably be staying a lot longer. Oh, this is going to be SO awful. Lorraine is utterly stunned and looks at Matt, who desperately tries to stave off the meltdown with a “Maybe. Just maybe,” but Lorraine looks at Shelby. “You two,” she says in disbelief. “You’ve been talking about me in my house. Haven’t you?” They both say no, that’s not what they meant, but it’s too late: Matt isn’t just Lorraine’s whole world, he’s what keeps her whole world stable. “Well that’s just about the worst idea I’ve ever heard,” Lorraine snaps, tears welling up in her eyes; her cheeks are splotchy. Shelby asks her to calm down, but Lorraine tells her that “Matthew isn’t going anywhere. He wouldn’t do that,” she says pointedly, glaring at Shelby. Oh, ouch. Lorraine can bring out personal-history artillery like nobody’s business. Shelby, completely unaware of the mine field she’s blindly walking into, points out that that’s a little bit selfish, and that word sets Lorraine off like a sleeping cat that’s just bit hit with a bucket of ice water: she pronounces Shelby, and I am quoting here, to be “the devil. The first day I met her, I knew. She ruined your daddy -” Shelby finally interrupts, saying that that is both untrue and a horrible thing to say, and I’m willing to bet she’s right on both counts. Lorraine steamrolls over the protest and tells Matt that Shelby would have ruined Matt, too, if it weren’t for Lorraine, and Matt’s had enough. He walks over to the chair to – I don’t know, lead her to her room, maybe, but Lorraine stands up, yelling at both of them to get away from her. “You can get rid of me, but do not leave me with her,” she says angrily, breaking into tears. Matt stares at his grandmother, speechless; she twists away and storms into her room, slamming the door behind her. Matt quietly says that Shelby can’t take Lorraine seriously when she talks like that, she doesn’t mean it… but Shelby knows full well that Lorraine meant everything she said and takes a page from Lorraine’s book, walking out and slamming the front door behind her. Poor Matty stands alone in his living room, bruised from practice, watching college slip further and further from his grasp. Poor Matt! Also, Louanne Stephens (Lorraine Saracen) is an unsung hero of this cast, because she can bring down the house. That was a brilliant, heartbreaking scene. Well done, Louanne.

Dillon HS. Julie walks Matt to his locker, talking about a paper she’s going to write about climate change, and finally asks if Matt’s listening to her. He says that he is, he’s just beat up from practice. Matt grumps that he almost hopes that they lose on Friday so Coach’ll get off his case. Whoa there, Matty boy! Coach is often a pain in the ass where you’re concerned, but you angled to be a wide receiver, and getting knocked on your tuchus comes with the territory. Julie counsels Matt that her dad is just trying to motivate him. “It’s basic psychology,” she adds, which is just hilarious. I like both Julie and Matt separately, but the two of them talking like a younger version of Eric and Tami? That’s TV gold, my friends. Landry walks up and practically squeals that zomg, he’s going to be interviewed on TV! Matt’s like, wait, what? and Landry explains that she’s interviewing members of the team, and he’s “speaking as a scholar-athlete.” HEE. Even Julie buhs at that, but Landry’s all, it’s totally true! ZOMG! Eeee! “I gotta go rehearse,” Landry says, stumbling away, cutely intoxicated on having his Big Moment. He calls back to Matt, asking if it’s not cool; Matt, disappointed that he’s not even on the producer’s radar, says that it is. So, to sum up: Newsflash! Matt Saracen still cannot catch a break! Aw. Matt grumps that he has to get to class, and Julie sighs despondently on his behalf.

Outside the Riggins Ranch, Lyla is LAYING ON THE HORN, y’all. She bellows for Tim to get out there, because he’s going to miss his appointment. I am shocked, shocked, I tell you, to find out that Riggins is not ready and dressed in his best mismatched ensemble for his college interview. Inside the Riggins Ranch, Tim is… doing pushups against the kitchen counter? Hey, I’m not complaining. Billy hands him a shot, slurring that he was going to name his firstborn after his little brother. Aw. “I swear. Even if it was a girl. I mean that.” “That’s sweet of you,” Timmy says, taking the shot from his brother. HA! So we’re blowing off the college interview to get schnockered with Billy, then. Lyla walks in and takes in the scene much more calmly than I would have; she tells Tim that she’s been honking and screaming outside, and Tim says that he was just “tending to Billy and his broken heart.” Lyla gives this the “uh-huh” that it deserves and reminds Tim that he has an appointment in 15 minutes, and Tim plays the weirdest trump card yet: “You know, when you talk close to me like that, we should just go take a shower.” HEE! That’s not the only allusion you’re going to get to shower-sex in this ep, either. Lyla’s not having it, however, and Tim folds, scrubbing water from the kitchen sink over his face and repeatedly saying that he’s got his “game face” on. He tells her that he’s fine (“I haven’t been drinking! I had one shot and half a beer,” he says, like that’s what he has for breakfast. Maybe it is), and that he’ll be in the car. Billy, still slurring, tells Lyla that he was going to tell Tim to get ready for the meeting; Lyla, half-stunned and half-expectant, clarifies that meant Billy knew about the meeting. Billy does not deny it, and he must be at rock bottom if he’s interfering in any way with Tim’s meeting a college rep. College for Timmy has been Billy’s mantra forever. Lyla stares at the elder Riggins in disbelief and snaps a “Well done, Billy,” and that cuts through Billy’s drunken, red-eyed haze. He slurs that everything will be fine, and that Tim will be awesome, but he’s starting to worry that might not be true. Lyla snaps that Billy’s a mess, revealing her superpower of stating the obvious in an eviscerating fashion, and she flounces out.

Cut to the Garritymobile, in which Lyla tries to help Tim cram for his interview. She’s done the research on the school’s history and class sizes; Tim flips randomly through the documents she’s no doubt printed off the internet. Tim finally interrupts that he’s sure the guy just wants to talk about football; it’s not like it’s a job interview. Lyla’s face falls. “Actually, that’s exactly what it is,” she says quietly, finally realizing that the biggest obstacle to Tim going to college isn’t back home at the ranch feeling sorry for himself. “I know what you’re doing,” she says, and Tim asks what that’s about. “With avoiding the meetings, and drinking with your brother… you’re afraid,” Lyla says gently. She says Tim’s afraid he’s going to fail, and so he’s sabotaging himself. Tim counters that what he’s really afraid of is getting into college, because then he’ll have to actually, you know, go to college. Lyla argues that he has the chance to be the first Riggins to go to college, and what a huge achievement that is. Riggins snorts back a laugh, and now Lyla’s pissed. She asks if he’s laughing at her, and Tim admits that he kind of is, because “these meetings are a joke. They get you alone, they fill you up with empty promises, and that’s it.” Um. Spoken like a player? I mean, where’d all that come from?

Tim goes on to pronounce the whole thing a waste of time; Lyla repeats the phrase back to him in disbelief. Tim starts talking about looking forward to his free steak, but Lyla calls herself an idiot, and pulls off the side of the road. Riggins hilariously tells Lyla not to sell herself short. HEE! Oh, honey, you’ve got it coming to you now. Lyla says she is an idiot, because Tim didn’t mean any of it, did he? “You don’t care about the meeting, you don’t care about your future. Do you?” Tim grins that he’s just trying to do some research, and Lyla tells him to get out of her car. YES! I love it when Lyla gets her tough love on. Tim grins a “seriously?”, but Lyla is not remotely freaking charmed: “This is not a joke. Get out of my car. OUT.” Hee! Tim’s face falls. “I don’t appreciate being laughed at, Tim, I was just tryin’ to help,” Lyla says firmly, and her voice is so sad, but Tim can’t let his Class-Clown defenses down now. He gets out of the car and passive-aggressives that he doesn’t have a coat, so if he catches a cold, it’s Lyla’s fault. Boy, you better watch she doesn’t run over your feet. Lyla snaps that he’s been drinking, so he’ll be plenty warm. Heh. She drives off and oblivious, defensive, shut-down Riggins stands on the road, with nothing but the bottle in his hand. “Okay, seriously, it’s cold,” he mumbles after her, and I crack up in spite of myself, because Taylor Kitsch really can steal an entire scene with just one ad-lib.

Elsewhere in the dysfunctional men and the women who love them circuit: Tyra sits in a hotel room while Cash paces around with a big bottle of alcohol. Cash looks like he’s been rode hard and put away wet, and not in a good way, if you know what I mean. She tries to encourage him that he’ll do better next time, but the next rodeo’s in three weeks, so that doesn’t make him feel any better. She suggests that they go out and get some food; Cash isn’t interested in that either. Tyra finally snaps that he’s acting like a little baby, and that the two grand he won today is a lot of money. He spins around, shouting that two grand isn’t enough. He explains that he owes a lot of money to the guy who was confronting him the other day, and if he doesn’t get it… “can you guess? Can you fathom all that?” he snarks, and I take a moment to write a letter (Dear Jackass: your poor money management? NOT HER PROBLEM. Eyerollingly, Otter). Tyra asks how much money we’re talking about, and Cash snaps that it’s “a lot more.” Then he yells that this isn’t high school, it’s the real world. Tyra, finally recognizing that she has once again chosen a loser par excellence, asks how he can talk to her like that, and picks up her purse and leaves. FINALLY.

In the Panthers locker room, Landry is getting ready for his big interview alongside four other players, including JD. The reporter runs through Landry’s scholastic and extracurricular achievements: Associate Editor of the school newspaper, volunteer tutor and member of the Physics club. Landry starts to explain again, as he did with Tami a few eps back, that the physics club isn’t really meeting anymore: again, no one cares. Hee. The reporters asks after his GPA, and Landry says it’s a 4.6. I know I’m revealing myself as someone who never made it on the Dean’s List, but is that even possible? He asks if they’re going to talk about football at all, and then his cell phone goes off: three guesses as to who it is, and the first two don’t count. Like Tyra did with Cash before her interview with Weston, he steps away from his chair and make-up artist to take the call. Tyra sits by the hotel’s pool, in the rain, taking shelter under one of those sun umbrellas. I imagine she thought this trip would be a whole lot sunnier than it’s turning out to be. She asks what he’s up to, and he tells her about the interview – she’s as surprised as everyone else, but she’s happy for him. He asks the more important question, which is where is she at, and she admits that she’s in Dallas, touring the rodeo circuit with Cash. To Landry’s credit, he handles it pretty well. “It’s raining here,” she says quietly, and her eyebrows quirk the way they do before she starts crying. He asks if everything’s okay, and she says it is: “I just wanted to hear a familiar voice,” she says, her voice catching in her throat. He tells her about Assertive Girl wanting to know where she’s at and the imminent threat of their choosing a theme without her; Tyra laughs at the smallness of her problems back home. The reporter tries to call Landry over to start, and Landry says he’ll just be a sec: Tyra overhears and tells Landry to go. “I don’t want to ruin your interview,” she says, and wouldn’t it have been nice if Cash could have said that to her a few eps ago? (Dear Tyra: PLEASE WAKE UP. Best, Otter.) Landry hesitates and asks if she’s alright; Tyra says she is, so Landry says goodbye and hangs up. Tyra says goodbye to a dial tone, which is a level of loneliness that’s instinctively understood by everyone in the universe. She closes her cell phone, her face crumpling, and sits alone, wondering what to do.

Garritymobile. Lyla, wearing an adorable red-checkered top, has stopped at a local gas station/convenience store: she’s popped the hood of her car and is filling up on what looks like windshield-wiper fluid. Mindy emerges from the store behind her and walks by, tossing a “What up, Garrity” as she passes. Lyla straightens and says hi; she hesitates before adding that she “heard about you and Billy. I’m sorry.” Mindy turns around, chomping on her gum, sizing Lyla up. Man, the years of hard luck on this girl’s face. Lyla asks what happened. “He’s a dumbass, that’s what happened,” Mindy snaps. Hee! She says that Billy wanted her to stop working, which is ridiculous because “he hasn’t been able to hold a job for a month since I met him.” Lyla commiserates that they’re both idiots: “Their idea of planning for the future is what kind of beer do they want to have on Sunday.” Mindy grins and asks if there’s “trouble in paradise with Wonder Boy.” Wonder Boy? HEE! Lyla explains the recruiter debacle; Mindy asks if that means she’s not going to the game. “No. No game,” Lyla says quietly. Aw, Lyla! I appreciate your hanging tough, but you really do have it bad for Timmy. Mindy shifts her weight and stares at the car keys in her hands and shuffles her exotic dancer feet before finally asking it: “Wanna hang out?” Lyla stares at her openly, and Mindy can hardly believe she just asked it herself, and then Lyla shrugs an okay. Hee! The former princess and the stripper. Oh, this is too fabulous for words.

We cut to a not-very-impressive intro to the nationally televised Panthers game. Really? NBC couldn’t get some promo monkeys from whatever sports department they had to put something more slick together? I was expecting something more awesome. The announcer declares that the Dillon Panthers are hosting the Arnett Mead Tigers. In a great shot, we go from on-screen footage of the Panthers charging the field to the same shot on the Panthers’ Jumbotron, and then out onto the Panthers field. See, now, THAT was swanky. Well done, cinematography crew! The marching band plays its little heart out; the cheerleaders jump as high as they can. On the upper platforms, big expensive cameras swing around to catch all the action. Cut to the game itself, with everyone cheering and Coach screaming at his team from the sidelines, because the Panthers are a little dazzled by the bright lights of national television. Slammin’ Sammy Mead notes that the team is “dazed and confused”; a receiver (Number 10) runs the wrong route, and Wade starts to read the kid the riot act on the sidelines, because now they have to punt. Aaaand to make it worse, Arnett Mead scores a TD on the play. D’OH! The Panthers go back on offense, and it looks like JD’s pass is going to put the Panthers back in the game – but the same kid (10) goes for the ball, crashing into the receiver who’s supposed to catch it, and it’s an incomplete. Coach loses it on the sidelines, shouting for them to put Riggins in and run the damn ball; we get a shot of Matt, itching to get put into the game. Riggins goes in and does what he does best, of course, powering through defensive players until they get close enough to score a field goal. They break for halftime (7-3, Arnett Mead) with Slammin’ Sammy Mead VOing “Thank goodness for Tim Riggins, because the Panthers’ aerial attack has been completely MIA tonight.” Yowch.

Inside the locker room, it’s a hullaballoo of getting back on track: coaches yell encouragement and kids nod like they’ve gotten it together. Matt sits in his pristine uniform, frustrated at having nothing to do. Coach walks in and Wade calls for everyone to listen up; one of the coaches tells Coach Taylor they’ve got two minutes. Eric stares out at his fractured team. “You all want to go end this season?” he asks. “Pack your bags, go home? You know where the door is.” He tells them that defense alone cannot win this game, and that the offense has to execute, or else this season is over. He calls out an “understood?” and the boys call back a yessir. He mutters an “I can’t hear you” and they shout it again, and then a second time, rising to their feet. “Let’s go show me something, then!” Coach bellows, and they charge out of the locker room like a crowd possessed. I love these Texas, Henry V moments of his, I really do. Through the mass exodus, Coach shouts for Matt, who pushes his way through to Coach. Coach puts his arm around Matt’s shoulders and leads him off to the side.

Cut to Lorraine, lying on her bed and watching the game on TV, eating some of those cookies she likes so much. In the living room, Shelby flips through a magazine; the living room TV’s turned to the game as well. The announcer says that it looks like Matt’s going to be in the game as wide receiver. Lorraine gasps and launches off the bed; in the living room, Shelby gets up and shrieks joyfully. “Are you seeing this?” Lorraine says, jogging out of the living room. Shelby points at her little boy on the TV screen, and both of them turn to face each other at the same time to say the same thing: “We gotta go.” Sorry, but this is where your friendly neighborhood recapper started to lose it. Lorraine grabs her coat and fusses about tickets, but she says she knows the man at the gate, and he’ll let them in. Shelby tries to help Lorraine with her coat, and Lorraine brushes her off, but not unkindly: “I’m not an invalid! Heavens to Betsy.” She jerks open the door and looks back at Shelby. “Let’s go,” she says, practically running down the walk. Shelby allows herself a small smile, amazed, and then she runs after Lorraine. Ach, the dust in here! I love it.

Panthers field. Lorraine and Shelby, speeded by the magic of television, hurry through the bleachers. On the first play out, JD throws the ball to Saracen, who catches it and immediately takes a huge hit. Coach is practically flapping big giant chicken wings on the side, he is such a Mama Hen worried for his QB2, but Saracen holds on to the ball. “Like he’s holdin’ on to his mama,” Slammin’ Sammy notes, as we cut to Shelby cheering her lungs out in the stands, and I tear up again. Matt jumps up and heads back to the huddle. Way to go, Matt! On the next play, JD throws a “shovel pass” to Riggins; he gets some mileage under his belt, but a tackle’s coming for him – and then MATT takes the guy out. Just knocks him flat! I cannot tell you how happy I am to write that. Another player comes for Riggins, but he’s got too much steam built up; he knocks the other guy down and charges into the end zone. Kill me now so I can die happy, y’all. Saracen launches himself at Riggins joyfully, and it took me two watchings to realize that the third person slapping both Saracen and Riggins as they run back to the huddle? That’s #12: JD McCoy. Oh, boys. “Matt Saracen is making the difference out there, folks,” Slammin’ Sammy says. Damn straight, Sammy.

We skip ahead to late in the fourth quarter. “Panthers have to get a first down and this game is in the bag,” Sammy exposits. JD throws it to Riggins, who’s brought down fast by four defensive players. Yipes. On the sidelines, Wade recommends that they punt, because it’s too far for a field goal. Coach stares at the scoreboard, which reads 10-7 for the Panthers, then back at his boys; Sammy VOs that they have to get this first down, or the Tigers will get the ball back in great field position. Coach looks at the end zone again, and then he leans over to one of his coaches and tells him that they’re going to “go for it”. Wade overhears and freaks out, telling Coach that it’s too risky; Coach walks past him and tells JD the exact play he wants him to run. “That’s you, Seven,” Riggins grins. On the field, JD calls the snap; it’s a short pass to Saracen, who shakes one tackle off but can’t lose the second: he stretches his arm out as far as he can when he falls, hoping the few inches make the difference. The refs come out and the Panthers side hold their breath… and it’s good. Shelby’s jumping up and down, Buddy heaves a sigh of relief, Tami hugs Katie in the stands, and Sammy ‘splains it all for the rest of us – they won’t have to run another play, and the Panthers win. Yes! On the sidelines, Wade leans over to Coach, telling him that was the right call. Again I say: damn skippy. “There you go, baby,” Coach hollers to his team. “There you go.” The crowd counts down the final seconds as JD takes a knee, and then they charge the field. Shelby yells to her son, who comes running over; Lorraine clutches him tight, almost in tears. He asks how long they’ve been there, and Shelby says they’ve been there for a while. “You guys came together?” he asks in disbelief, and they both nod, united in their love for Matthew. Football: Training for the Rest of Your Life.

And from that joyful elation, we go to this: Tyra Colette, sitting alone in a dive bar with sketchy characters, while Cash plays his last hand at a poker game in the back. I guess he found a reason to leave the hotel room. He loses his hand, of course, and asks for a marker. The dealer, who knows the score, says that’s not possible; Cash leaves the table, humiliated and furious, and says he’s going to get some money, and then he’ll be back. Tyra rises as he walks past her, asking if they’re leaving, and he physically shoves her back into her seat: “No we’re not! Now sit down, I didn’t say get up! Now sit there, I’ll be right back.” Tyra’s stunned and surprised; why, I don’t know. The man is literally treating her like his dog. How bad does it have to get, Tyra? She looks around the room, and the sketchy guys in the room all stare back. I don’t know if Tyra’s been alone in a room full of strange men since her attempted rape, but she’s clearly humiliated and not a little scared. She picks up her purse and walks outside; Cash is gone, of course, and I’m willing to bet he’s taken his truck. She stands there, her lower lip quivering, and tries to think of how in the world she can fix this; how in the world she can get back home.

Cut to Eric, who’s practically frog-marching Tami to their SUV. She asks what is up with him, and accuses him of being sneaky; he counters that she’s suspicious. Oh, Taylors! You’re both right, and beautifully so. He opens the car door for her, and she announces that if he’s not taking her to the after-game party, that would be the best present ever. He tells her to get in the car already, and they’re off.

Riggins walks out of the locker room, talking to some of the other players – possibly one of the freshmen from the Naked Mile a few eps back. Scotty Sims, recruiter extraordinaire, walks up to Tim and shakes his hand, congratulating him on the game. Tim thanks him and then apologizes for not keeping his appointment. “You know what, don’t even worry about it. Here’s the deal,” Scotty says. “Coach Powers called me about you again today. He says you’re our number one priority right now.” Tim looks up at Sims skeptically, not daring to hope that Scotty’s telling the truth, and that someone actually wants him for once. Sims tells him it’s a direct quote. “So how ’bout you let me buy you a pop and you help me keep my job?” Sims says, smiling a little. Tim hesitates, starting to wonder what else Lyla was right about, and then nods and says okay. Aw.

Tami is at her hotel, completely overwhelmed at Eric’s thoughtfulness. She squees over the champagne and the roses and the chocolates and hotel bathrobes! Eeee! I feel you, girl. Eric couldn’t be happier that Tami’s so blissed out, and suggests that they steal the robes. Psst! Coach! You know they charge your credit card for that. Aw, he doesn’t care. He hands her a full glass of champagne and they toast: he wishes her a happy birthday. Tami is positively glowing, and Coach knows he’s getting lucky. She tells him this is the only birthday party she’s ever wanted and leans in to kiss him; he sets down the glasses as he kisses her back. Tami suggests that they could take a shower (see?), but Eric’s cradling her face in his hands and he’s walking her straight back to the bed, and I feel like I have suddenly started writing fanfic. Is it hot in here? When the back of her knees hit the bed, her cell phone rings. These are not the bells that I asked for! What the hell, phone! Tami runs to get it “in case it’s Jules”; Coach stands there hoping that cell towers everywhere spontaneously crash to the earth. Tami says that it’s Tyra, and grimaces at Eric before answering. Tami just can’t let her girl down. In a Dallas hotel room, Tyra is openly weeping; she apologizes for calling Tami so late, “but I’m in a little bit of trouble.” If by “little bit” you mean “a world of”, Tyra, then yes. Poor woobie. Tami asks what’s going on; Coach scrubs his hand over his face, already sensing that his magical night might involve less magic and oh, let’s say, driving across Texas. Tyra begs for Tami not to be mad, and Tami says what every good mother always says: “I’m not gonna be mad, just tell me what’s goin’ on.” Aw! Tyra says that she’s in Dallas, she’s all alone, she left with Cash but he’s taken off and she has no money, and her mom’s out of town and she can’t get a hold of Mindy… Tami looks at Eric, who immediately says “I don’t like that look”; Tami turns away and literally puts her hand over his mouth to keep him from saying it again. She asks Tyra what she needs, and Tyra – who’s totally lost it now, with the runny nose and splotchy cheeks and ragged, awful gasps – asks Tami to come pick her up. Tami hesitates for a second, and then she says of course she will. Tyra gives her the address, and Tami tells her to stay put and lock the door. “Yes ma’am,” Tyra says, still crying. Tami tells her to keep her cell phone on so she can call when they get close. She hangs up the phone and looks at Eric, whose eyebrows are practically up to his hairline: “Maybe we can still take a shower,” he says, and Tami laughs, telling him there’s no time and she’s so sorry and they have to go get Tyra. To his credit, the only thing Eric says is, “Where are we going?” AW. Tami grabs up the champagne and the chocolates as they head out. “Yeah, get the chocolates, that’s real important,” Eric grumps. Hee!

Chez Colette, wherein certain older sisters must buzzkill Coach’s romantic evenings because they cannot be bothered to pick up a phone. Lyla and Mindy are getting quite wasted, thank you very much. Mindy tells Lyla that she’d read a Cosmo article about breaking bad dating habits, and Lyla grins: “I read that one.” Mindy reiterates that it’s the one about the “toxic signs” of a bad boyfriend, and lists all the ways in which Billy personified every one. “Let the loser go,” Mindy says, quoting the magazine, and Lyla agrees, saying that it’s a great idea. Mindy cracks up at the former Princess of Dillon being completely wasted, but Lyla says Mindy should Move On! “Do you know how much time I’ve wasted on Tim Riggins?” Lyla asks. “I have to focus on me. I am going to Vanderbilt next year -” Mindy: “Shut UP. You got in?” Lyla: “…no. But I will!” Mindy says she doesn’t know where that is, but it sounds fancy-pantsy – I kind of love that she was all squealy about Vanderbilt when she doesn’t know where it is, bless her – and runs off to get a “present” for Lyla, which is a bottle of booze from the freezer. It’s the little things. And then we get this little gem, which is my favorite one of the night:

Lyla: I really like this song!

Mindy: It’s mom’s favorite manhater break-up song.

Lyla: It makes me want to dance!

Mindy: Yeah, it gets a lot of playing time around here.


They toast to man-hating, throw back their shots, and we cut to Lyla Garrity, dancing up a storm in the Colette living room. No, “dancing” doesn’t cut it; girl is cutting loose and shakin’ what her mama and the Good Lord gave her. The national grid falters as fanboys everywhere hit pause, rewind, and then the slo-mo. Mindy waves her arm in the empty space between Lyla and herself and declares, “This? Right here?” to be an “anti-Riggins force field.” Lyla cracks up at this, especially when Mindy announces that there is, in fact, no Billy in her chili. Well, there’s a euphemism you don’t hear every day! And then Lyla asks Mindy to show her some exotic dancer moves, as if the teenage male population of America can handle that much awesome, and Mindy moves to do just that when a pickup truck pulls up, and Billy Riggins is yelling in the Colette’s front yard. Oh, sweet baby Jesus. Lyla asks her not to, but Mindy runs over and turns the music off anyway. Billy stands outside and begs Mindy to come outside and talk to him. Lyla: “Go away, Billy! Nobody likes you!” BWA! She turns to Mindy and rolls her eyes that it’s a Riggins brother, but Mindy’s not moving. Billy yells that Mindy can go back to her job, he doesn’t care, he’s just sorry and he wants her back. “I love you,” he yells, and Mindy closes her eyes. There you go. He asks her for one more chance, and says again that he loves her; Mindy rushes past Lyla, who tries to “Nonono” Mindy into stopping, but clearly she’s never seen Flashdance. Mindy runs outside and hugs Billy, who asks her to never leave him again; inside, Lyla bites her lip and looks defeated. Aw. Give him one more chance, Lyla!

Dallas hotel of desperation. Tami and Eric pull up to Tyra’s hotel room; the door is open. Inside, Cash is yelling at Tyra, asking why she’s doing this – “I got the money. I’m gonna pay ’em back.” Tyra, near hysterics, is shoving her things into duffel bags. She says that she doesn’t care, and that Cash left her alone there with all those men. Cash bellows that he said he was coming back, and Tyra shouts that she doesn’t care, and then the sonofashoves her to the bed and screams at her to sit down. If I were Eric or Tami, I would be getting something heavy and metal out of my truck, but I suppose that led us to the season 2 storyline which shall not be named, so shutting up. Tyra is literally screaming for help now, even as Cash keeps blocking the door and shouting that she’s not leaving. Tyra runs for the Taylors, who are finally getting out of their SUV; Tami lunges for Tyra, pulling her away, and Eric puts himself between Cash and Tyra, saying “whoa” and “easy” over and over. “Who are you?” Cash says, hilariously, glancing at Eric and then continuing to move toward the SUV. Eric keeps blocking, trying to get the guy to look at him, not at Tyra; once Tami and Tyra are safely in the car, Eric gets in and locks the doors. Cash slams his hands on the SUV’s hood like a child. If I have ever gotten myself into a terrifying situation, I’m calling the Taylors. Cash changes his broken record of horrific behavior to “I’m sorrys” and “please, baby”; Eric drives away. Cash screams a “sonofa/em>”; if he had something in his hands to throw after the car, he would. Tami looks over at Eric, who keeps his eyes on the road; in the back seat, Tyra sits stunned. She’s never looked so much like Angela to me before, not ever.

At a gas station, Tami and Tyra sit alone in the car. Tami looks back at Tyra, who’s staring at Tami worriedly. She sees the hard disappointment and worry in Tami’s face and her face crumples. Tami stares out the windshield. “You alright?” Tami finally asks, her voice quiet. Tyra breathes in sharply, nodding once: “Yes ma’am,” she says, her voice barely more than a whisper. Tami cranes around again: “Really?” Tyra bites her lower lip and closes her eyes. No. Of course not. And they both know it. Tami turns around again, facing the windshield, and sighs. Behind her, Tyra croaks out a “thank you.” “Mm-hm,” Tami says quietly. You can’t help people who don’t want to be helped; Tami knows that, but she’s also been where Tyra is, too – she told Julie as much. Eric comes out to the car; Tyra sees the quiet look of faint disapproval and concern on his face, mirroring Tami’s, and closes her eyes.

Chez Saracen. Matt talks out loud while doing calculus, did y’all know that? I did not know that, and it makes him that much cuter. Also, why the hell weren’t those reporters talking to Matt as a scholar-athlete? Shelby comes in and offers Matt some college prep books. She says that she’s found out that most colleges have January 15th as the deadline for filing admissions; she encourages Matt to fill out his applications and then work on his essays. “What’m I gonna do about Grandma?” Matt asks. Shelby leans down and says she’s sure they could work something out. Matt shakes his head and wonders how he’s supposed to pay for it. “We could rob a bank,” Shelby suggests. Matt stares up at her. “I’ll drive the getaway car, you go in, Grandma covers the door…” Matt cracks up a little, as I do, at the idea of Lorraine covering the door. She’d be badass at it, you know she would. Shelby points out that there’s scholarships for kids of military families, and then points out one with a really great art department. Aw! Shelby has totally won me over, y’all.

Garrity Condo. Buddy’s watching football on TV – shocking, I know – when a clearly hung-over Lyla emerges from her bedroom. “Oh! It’s alive!” Buddy snarks. He claims that it’s “already beer-thirty in here, what’re you doing sleeping so late?” Hee. There’s a knock on the front door and Buddy’s snarkitude continues: “Huh! Who could that be! It’s not your mother, and I don’t have any friends…” Lyla rolls her eyes and goes to the door. Outside, Tim has ants in his pants. Well, I assume so, because he’s practically dancing back and forth in the hallway. Also, it is a shame that Taylor Kitsch is entirely backlit during this scene, so all of his shots are in shadow. I’m just sayin’. He asks what Lyla’s doing, and when she doesn’t answer, asks if she wants to “come outside and play” with him. Lyla is not amused, and asks what Tim wants. “Why don’t you want to play?” Tim asks, beaming. “Let’s go play.” Lyla starts to walk away, and Tim calls out that he’s in – he got in to college. Lyla looks away, processing this information, and Tim starts babbling, talking about the recruiter and filling out paperwork and the recruiter said he was in, “even some half-scholarship or even more, I dunno, but I’m in.”

Lyla bites her lower lip; it’s to keep herself from smiling. Tim: “Still nuthin’. Okay, do you need me to say you were right and I was wrong? Because you were right and I was wrong.” There you go. Lyla purses her lips and rolls her eyes slightly, milking it. Heh. “Um. It’s not working yet, is it… lemme cover my bases here: One? I’m sorry. Two? I mean it. Three, thank you, four, I wanna go celebrate, and I only want to celebrate with you because I wouldn’t be here without you.” AW. “Five, say yes. At this point, c’mon, I’ll keep on goin’…” and Lyla finally breaks: “Did you really get in?” Tim says he did, the first Riggins to do so. “Probably the only last,” he adds, but Lyla’s already smiling. “I knew you would,” she says quietly. “I told you.” He smiles and moves closer to kiss her, and then steps back suddenly, shocked by the amount of alcohol on her breath. “Are you on a bender right now?” he asks, grinning; she covers her mouth self-consciously, laughing. She falls into his arms, apologizing, and he tells her not to because it’s fantastic. Really, if Riggins could get drunk by kissing Lyla Garrity, he’d never come up for air. He tells her as much in the hallway, God bless the boy; Lyla’s laughing and kissing him as we fade to black. Yeah, that’s still the best job in the world, I think.

Riggins is going to COLLEGE! WOO!

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