And we're back just in time to say our goodbyes. Y'all, if this episode is any indication, I don't know how I'm going to handle this season, with all these kids constantly growing and leaving, the whole process like some unstoppable force of nature that we will never understand or fully countenance.
When we last saw everyone in Dillon, it was Thanksgiving. It's August now, Coach is still coaching the underdog East Dillon Lions and Tami, having left her job as principal at West Dillon, has joined him on the other side of the tracks as a perpetually underfunded and unsupported guidance counselor.
There's a Big Game, and Coach gets Vince and Luke to recruit a hippie, white-man-can-jump newcomer to join the football team as a receiver. Hastings (Hastings!) likes to think he's inscrutable (an intellectual jock?!), but he's obviously just one puka-shell necklace away from doing keg stands while Widespread Panic plays in the background. (How much did I just date myself? Sigh. No matter how far we travel through time, all my references continue to be from the '90s). Don't get me wrong, though, Hastings is pretty hot and brings some sizzle to his interactions with Jess, who Vince deploys to help with the recruiting, but who obviously is feeling some heat from Hastings that Vince would prefer to douse. The Big Game comes around and thanks in part to a well-timed injury sustained by the opposing quarterback, the Lions actually win!
Becky's mom is working some job out of town and has stashed her daughter with the dad and step-mom. When the dad takes off trucking, Becky and the step-mom clash, so the girl seeks out refuge in the Riggins' household. Tim told her that his family was her family, and no matter how much stinkface Mindy gives her, she's going to take him up on it. Meanwhile, Tim is still in jail (thankfully one of those progressive-type jails that let you keep your hair all long and luscious), and Billy is still trying to figure out how to be a man. To that end, Billy volunteers to help coach the East Dillon Lions, and Coach Taylor gives him a chance, and then valiantly controls his eye-rolling impulse when Billy brings ridiculous self-help quotes to read to the players for "inspiration."
And, finally, Landry and Julie are both off to college. Their goodbyes are wrenching-- Landry spending some quality time with Grandma Saracen, Julie gently clashing with her parents in that way we all do when trying to disentangle ourselves from our parents' worlds-- but it's time. At least that's what I'm telling myself for now.
Golden August light, one last time. No season opener will ever beat Season Two's for me, but I can't say I'm not completely elated to be back in the car, driving around Dillon, listening to Slammin' Sammy Meade shoot the shit. Sammy's topic this morning is the Whataburger Football Classic, in which the East Dillon Lions will be playing as major underdogs. Cut over to Vince and Luke running along a road shimmering with Texas August heat. Cut to Julie, getting off the phone with her new college roommate. Tami, lurking in the doorway, wants to get the scoop, but Julie brushes her off with the slightest of info ("Her name is Kim and she's from Corpus"). Tami exposits that since Julie isn't letting her parents drive her to school, the least she could do is serve up a little more dish on this roommate Tami won't get to meet right away. They look at each other across the kitchen table piled high with going-to-college supplies. And those anxious, exasperated looks... well, anyone else now remembering how complicated the relationship with your mom got the summer before college?
Buddy is still working the airwaves to drum up community love for the East Dillon Lions. He's talking about the Big Game coming up and we cut over to the East Dillon locker room, where the assistant coaches are sitting around listening to and grinning at Buddy's on-air antics. Coach comes in and reminds them, sternly, that they've got a game in three days and they need to stop messing around and get their shit together. "I do not like the way this is starting out" Coach declares. Well, sir, we'll have to agree to disagree, since you are wearing your hot dad man shorts which makes me quite happy with the way this season is starting out.
Billy visits Tim in jail, and we all breathe a sigh of relief as Tim's hair is still long and flowing, complimenting his prison garb quite nicely. Billy exposits that Tim has about three months left, and then Billy tries to make small talk about starting to coach football as a volunteer. Billy declares that the way he sees it, he was kind of a coach to Tim, but Tim quickly cuts him off, "Coach was my coach, Billy." Ouch. Billy asks if Tim could be a little more enthusiastic about this plan and Tim is like "I'M IN PRISON, Billy," and we all know he's probably also thinking "Taking the fall for YOU, dumbass." Billy tells Tim that he thinks every day about what Tim did for him and his family, and that he really wants to change. Tim just keeps looking off into the middle distance. Visiting hours are announced as over and Tim tells Billy as he leaves that he doesn't need to come so often, and that he hopes Billy will tell Becky the same thing. Hoo boy, am I itching for Tim Riggins to get out of jail already so I can see where this angry energy can take him. I like this boy riled up.
Credits. Little clues as to the season to come: Becky and Luke get closer, Buddy opens a bar/restaurant?!
East Dillon High. Principal Levi and a bunch of teachers are crammed into an under-air-conditioned room looking ill-funded and put upon. There's one particularly sassy female teacher giving Levi lip about how boring his budget talks are. Levi introduces Tami, who is like a fresh sprig of mint in this sagging room. She chirps about how glad she is to be joining them. Levi starts to move on to the next item when Tami interrupts him and asks if now is the time for suggestions and questions. Levi is like, "Lady, none of us get paid enough to think up 'suggestions'" but lets her go ahead. She chirps along about how at West Dillon, they found that handwritten letters of recommendation made a huge difference in their college acceptance rate and that she knows it's more work for the teachers, but it really is a help. Everyone in the room sort of rolls their eyes at her but nobody challenges the obvious falsity of this statement. What college in the universe wants to read a bunch of hand scrawled letters?! Anyhow, they move on, and the sassy teacher in the corner starts bitching about having "Epic" in her homeroom again this year and then says that "she's a complete nightmare, it'd be better if she didn't show up to school." Tami is SHOCKED that in AMERICA in THIS DAY AND AGE a teacher would say such a thing about the precious angels who populate our high schools. I for one cannot wait to meet this Epic person. Also, y'all might as well know that I'm currently pregnant and casting about for names for this baby. "Epic" just went to the top of that damned list.
Jess and Vince hang laundry outside her house while her brothers act like fools shooting each other with the hose. While Janelle Monae plays in the background, there's lots of exposition about how her father has been gone for a while and her aunt isn't home right now. Vince asks her exaggeratedly if she needs help INSIDE with the laundry, and she says "Why, yes!" They tumble towards the door while her brothers come around to gawk, "Ooooh, they're gonna do it!" Vince tells them to beat it and closes the door.
Becky's dad loads up his truck to head out on the road for a couple of weeks, and we got a lot more exposition about how her mom is out of town working on a casino boat (ha!) and for the time being, Becky has to stay at home with her step-mom and step-sister. Becky is not happy about this. The step-mom, Dorreen, comes out with a baby on her hip declaring "Packed you Lunchables, Red Bull, Nicorette." If that's not one of those Hemingway six-word stories, I don't know what is. They engage in some gross making out, and then Becky's dad comes right over to her and kisses her on the cheek with that same nasty step-mom trench mouth. Becky practically shudders and her father drives off.
Billy pitches himself to Coach, he's played the game a long time, it's in his blood. Coach points out that there's a big difference between playing and coaching and Billy leans forward and tells him that this isn't about the money, though that will help, but about how he respects Coach, that Coach is a "molder of men" (as Tami once put it), and how, now that he's a father, Billy thinks it'd be really good to be around someone like Coach right now. Damn, Coach Taylor, what an exhausting job. Cleaning up after other men's poor fathering. But Coach does the right thing (as always) and gives Billy a shot.
Crucifictorious! One last practice in Landry's garage. Devin is there, being super cute still, Jimmy the drummer is "being a little flashy" (as Landry calls it), trying to spin his drumsticks. We learn that they've got a big show ("The Last Waltz") on for Thursday night, the night before Landry leaves for college. Devin and Jimmy seem a little reluctant, seemingly only to give Landry the chance to be overly enthusiastic about how this is going to be a historic rock show for Dillon, one that their grandchildren will talk about. "Shit, Jimmy, you might even get laid."
Buddy and Coach lurk around the basketball courts of East Dillon. Buddy tells Coach that Vince is a great quarterback, but he needs someone to throw to. He points Coach's attention to a kid who's dominating on the court, driving the ball and dunking and shit. "It's the white kid," Buddy notes, which makes me chuckle. The kid's name is Hastings Ruckle. Coach: "Ruckle? What the hell kind of name is that?" Buddy: "It's Welsh." Cut to Buddy and Coach alone with Hastings, grilling him on his basketball stats. Hastings gives them a talking-to about football. He doesn't like it, with its "bunch of 'roided-out freaks trying to hit me. Football's stupid." And here we wish Coach wasn't wearing his hat, because you KNOW his hair would get all "Oh, ho, ho, ho, hold up now." Hastings continues "Football celebrates the worst instincts in American culture. Rushing, violence..." and Coach can't take it anymore, "Naw, naw, what football celebrates is teamwork and character." But Hastings still isn't convinced. He doesn't like all the equipment, the pads and cups-- Coach guffaws, "We don't wear cups in footb