Hey guys, here we are again, the chosen few watching the world's best television show. Take a knee and give thanks.
While we were in network exile, Dillon has gone through the process of redistricting. The redistricting looks good on paper, but is a mess on the ground. East Dillon is clearly inferior as far as resources go, and parents shout down Tami Taylor -- one of the perceived architects of the redistricting -- at a meeting. Meanwhile the Dillon High Fat Cat Athletic Department grin and smirk in the background: none of their kids or star players are getting pushed over to Red territory. Tami assures the parents that East Dillon is just as good of a school, but her daughter, ever the iconoclast, realizes this isn't true.
Part of what drives this home to Julie is an August kick-off party being thrown by one of the Panther cheerleaders. Demoralized Matt-- who is getting harsh critiques by his art teachers at Dillon Tech (ouch) and working as a pizza delivery guy-- realizes that the party's just going to be a Panther crush, but Julie thinks it'll be fun. She shows up and promptly gets hit on by a drunk J.D., whose character arc is just superb. Last season, we were given just enough to develop a little sympathy for the kid with the psychotic dad; but like so many talented rich kids, he takes whatever emotional hardship he's had in his life and twists it into a reliquary of douchebaggery. The Panthers, who we all rooted for so sincerely for three years, are now a bunch of dicks who might as well be wearing Ed Hardy. Julie realizes her place is in East Dillon, with the redistricted Landry and Siobhan Magnus-y lesbian Devin.
Tim, during a lecture on Homer in college, decides to chuck it all out the window (literally; he gets in his truck and throws his books out of the window), leave college, and return home. Tim thinks he'll just ease right on back into Billy's house and Billy's auto repair shop, but pregnant Mindy and nervous soon-to-be father Billy have different ideas. Tim's again adrift, drinking himself into a stupor, sleeping with another mom, always already a shell of his never-really-acheived former self.
And, talk about shells of former glory. The new East Dillon football team is a mess. A bunch of thugs and misfits, Coach basically drives half of the team away by insisting they show up to work, not eff around. The half he has left -- including Landry and the important newcomer Vince -- has heart but inferior bodies to the task. The episode ends with their first game of the season, and if we thought the show had run out of ways to represent heartbreaking losses, we were wrong. Losing 45-0 at halftime, his locker room full of seriously wounded kids -- a sprained ankle here, stiched up chin there, loose tooth over there -- Coach has to make the tough call to forfeit the game.
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Ah, August. Ah, Peter Berg. Ah, Opening Montage. In the golden Texas light, Coach Taylor puts on a red cap that reads "East" while on the radio Sammy Meade declares that "this town has been divided." The Eastern Conference Champions croon in the background as we go moving through the town: Julie and Tami playing with baby Grace in the front yard; Matt getting in his car which now sports a "Panther Pizza" delivery triangle on top; Landry going to his mailbox and pulling out a letter that tells him he's be attending East Dillon high this next year.
On the Panther field, Joe McCoy drives his pet football coach Wade around in a dinky little golf cart while an army of boys execute jumping jacks, the super-saturated colors of the green, green field and their blue, blue uniforms screaming "$$$." Cut over to East Dillon, where Coach walks onto a dried-out brown field with rickety bleachers that haven't been painted since 1972. Coach makes his way over to a door nearly overgrown with viney weeds and starts kicking the locked door. A custodian jogs over thinking Coach is a vandal, and they have a stilted Spanglish conversation before he lets Coach into the locker room -- which is full of knocked over lockers, graffiti and, just for good luck, one raccoon. Coach looks back at the custodian with a tight mouth, "You know there's a raccoon in here?"
The music shifts as we cut over to an African-American kid hauling ass around a corner, sirens and cops on foot in pursuit. They cut him off at the end of an alley and wrestle him to the ground. And, you guys, guess who it is? It's Wallace from The Wire! You know, Wallace with the juice boxes? And the extreme tragedy?
In the East locker room, Coach weighs kids in. A bunch of bruisers in boxer shorts, the first guy steps on with a heavy gold chain around his neck; Coach instructs him to take it off. The kid gives Coach lip. I repeat: THE KID GIVES COACH LIP. This will not end well. He declares he wants to play quarterback as the camera ranges back down the line where a kid introduces himself as Kenny to Landry. They knew each other back on JV at Dillon. Kenny declares he's going out for quarterback. Back at the head of the line, we cut from boy to boy declaring that he's going out for quarterback. Coach, looking at his clipboard while a very large kid steps on the scale, wryly notes, "Alright, we've found our quarterback, gentlemen."