Vince's ego continues to bring its A game to the A plot. We open on a game already lost and piece together what happened via flashback and announcer voice over. Luke and Vince scrap in the locker room post-game, each blaming the other for the loss. But later on Crowley pinpoints the exact problem when he tells Eric that Vince, too busy showboating and being recruited, has lost control of his team. Coach Taylor benches Vince for one practice. Ornette tells Vince it's just a "power move" on Coach's part, to show them who's in charge. No need to worry. But when Vince fails to show up to a one-on-one mentoring session with Luke, Eric goes whole hog and benches Vince for the game. No matter how much Luke begs Coach NOT to keep him in as QB1, Coach persists, drawing out, once again, some hidden well of strength and confidence from a faltering boy, and Luke leads the team to a win and -- more importantly for those of us depending on the drama of a final playoff series -- a spot in the after season. Meanwhile, teamless Vince ends up Jess-less as well, as Jess finally gets sick of his narcissism. The poor kid is all floating and alone and lost until his mother finally steps up and tells him that maybe he shouldn't always listen to his father.
Tami continues to mentor Epyck, coaxing out the tough girl's soft side when she invites her over for dinner during which Gracie Bell works her Brian Eno charm. But when Laurel accuses Epyck of stealing money from her purse, the subsequent meeting between the three escalates and finds Epyck accidentally shoving Tami's head into a plate glass window. Ouch. Tami protests -- "Y'all it was just an accident!"-- but Epyck gets hauled off by the police and sent to juvie. And thus Tami Taylor's Dangerous Minds Gangster's Paradise dreams are dashed.
Becky works a different dream, and that is the one where the teen abortionee takes a job at a strip club (okay so she was only filling in temporarily for Mindy) and reconciling herself to her boyfriend's abortion-protesting mom. Yes, it's a very specific dream, but it's one I'm totally behind, because I am completely charmed by Becky under the influence of Mindy. I wish Almodovar would do a movie titled "Women Under the Influence of Ole Sis." But, sorry to bury this particular lede: Mindy needed the night off of work because... she is pregnant again! Pregnant by the "nacho smelling" Billy Riggins. Mmmm, nacho baby.
Too sophisticated for nachos are the sweetly white-wine-drinking Matt and Julie. Julie is hanging out aimlessly in a frustratingly not-really-on-location Chicago, and Matt likes it, but obviously wonders exactly what her plan is. When he asks her what her plan is, she takes some slight offense, interpreting this is as a "please leave." But as she packs herself up to go and starts driving off, Matt stops her and tells her that they're going to figure this all out and they both whisper, so self-seriously, to one another: "I love you." Young love!
Jess groans as she picks up trash from the sidelines of an empty football field. Announcer voiceover informs us that the East Dillon Lions' undefeated season is over, and we flash to the scoreboard to confirm. The lights click off and Jess asks the universe, "Really?"
In the locker room, Vince and Luke argue about whose fault the loss was. Flashback to the game where Luke is on the field when he's not supposed to be and draws a yellow flag for the Lions. Back in the locker room, Vince claims that Luke's mistake cost them the first half; Luke counters by saying it wasn't his fault, he was exhausted because defense was on the field the whole night trying to hold the line while Vince's offense went nowhere. Back on the field, Vince throws an interception; in the locker room Vince shouts that he was throwing the ball in the right place, just nobody knew their routes. Tinker takes offense and gets into the mix and Vince takes the blame over to Hastings, who is obviously in secret training with Coach regarding expressive hair. Speaking of Coach, he has come silently into the locker room to witness these fools bicker and nitpick. Finally, someone notices Coach is there and they all shut up. Coach stares at them, lips pressed together, and growls, "Y'all get your stuff together and get the hell out of our field house right now." Over in the corner, a small radio carries the sounds of post-game analysis and we hear the announcers talking about how Coach Taylor has given his team free rein all year, and tonight's disaster is the result. Coach picks up the radio and dumps it in the trash can. Jess flinches as it clunks the metal. Jess, lurking around, waiting for her own plot.
Matt folds some blankets as Julie comes out of the bathroom with wet hair. And just because I am a Chicago freak, I was really tickled by how hard the prop folks worked trying to make these spaces that are clearly in Austin into "Chicago." In this scene, there is Chicago CTA map tacked to the wall. Julie dries her hair some and tells Matt that she knows she was supposed to leave today, but she's been having such a good time in Chicago that she thinks she'll stay a while; she doesn't have anything she needs to be back for urgently. Julie Taylor! Go back to school! Matt is obviously kind of taken aback by her declaration, but tells her -- awkwardly -- that this plan to stay longer is fine. They both stand around not really looking at one another.
Lions coach's meeting. Spivey and Billy talk strategy about how to continue on to the playoffs, but Eric is focused on Coach Crowley's silent presence. "Is there something you want to say?" he demands. Crowley looks up and says that they all know what the problem is: "It's Vince. He's lost his team." Eric meets his eyes with begrudging acknowledgement. And if you've ever been in a point position like quarterback -- whether that's in the classroom or leading a meeting or whatever -- you know how fragile the ecosystem can be; you can lose a room in a split second. And that's terrifying. And it's what Crowley is talking about. How can a team progress without a quarterback?