In a nicely thematic episode, everyone is feeling excluded, put-upon, lonely. Fresh off their unexpected victory, the Lions are expecting to place in the rankings... but do not. On top of that, Luke's big hit against the opposing team's quarterback last week finds him the subject of a belated and jacked-up inquiry, and he is ultimately (and unfairly) suspended for one game for the tackle. Luke handles the unfairness of life by getting hammered at a party and slobbering all over Becky. Coach handles the unfairness of life by screwing his mouth up a bit tighter, talking sternly to his team, and then blowing their lids with a silent, inspirational message on the white board before the next game: it simply reads "State."
It's Rally Girl time, and all the football players get their own real, live, cookie-baking, panty-tossing special "friend." Jess tells Vince she's okay with him having a Rally Girl, but one pair of panties too many in his locker find her trying to prove herself to the world by pulling the girl's hair and then challenging her to funnel a couple of beers. In other words: Jess being AWESOME. Along the way, she articulates a fierce critique of what Tami Taylor uncharacteristically lamely calls "just a part of Texas football." Jess is like, no, I am Texas football, I love the game, I love helping Vince get better at the game, and the game shouldn't have anything to do with women acting stupid in order to make men feel powerful. Yes to Jess!
Meanwhile, Vince is starting to get recruited by colleges, and he and his mother (out of rehab now) are elated that he seems to have a future. I am depressed that his only option is football. Hastings is somewhat underutilized in this episode, just popping up at various times acting like he doesn't understand the byzantine links between sport and character that Coach Taylor espouses. But, Luke has some simmering issues with the kid, and if you aren't looking forward to seeing that story line peak with some shirtless wrestling in the mud, well, you are way less of a gay man than I am.
Finally, mother and daughter time! Neither Julie nor Tami have any friends in their new places (Julie: UT; Tami: East Dillon). Tami isn't making much headway with the resistant, cynical teachers at East Dillon, and all of her chirping about helping "at-risk" kids gets met with eye-rolling. By the end, she seems to be chipping away at their apathy, when the sassy teacher from last episode, Laurel, volunteers to volunteer for one of Tami's goody two-shoes tutoring programs. Also, we meet troubled student Epic! And Tami starts to work insane televisual educator magic on her.
For her part, Julie is stuck in a boring Southern History class apparently taught by Mark Twain. But, things get a little more lively when the unfortunately-Chad-Lowe-looking "hot" TA Derek Bishop gets up and makes some quips about old people to make the students laugh. And if you were wondering what happens in the college classroom, this combination of actually interesting subject matter, droning, and desperate bids for attention and approval coming from the people in the front of the room -- well, it's shockingly accurate. Julie runs into Derek again at a history major reception, schools him on football, and then again out and about on campus, where he offers to buy her a coffee for not believing her expertise on football. We know Julie's got it in her to get hot for teacher. I just wish she'd go for someone more exciting. Like her ENGLISH TA, not a dowdy History one!
Slammin Sammy takes us across town, noting that rankings are about to come out, and East Dillon's surprise win last week might get them ranked for the first time. Coach listens in his car, Buddy oversees signage being put up for his new bar and grill (?!). In the East Dillon locker room, the assistant coaches are all abuzz like pretty princesses looking through the newspapers, getting excited about possibly getting ranked. Coach just looks at them like the dopes that they are and asks whether the field has gotten chalked yet.
Cut over to East Dillon cafeteria and Rally Girl bedlam. Tinker presides over a madly cheering crowd, pulling jerseys from one of those big metal lottery rolling cage things. Each jersey is given to a girl, who will be that player's "Rally Girl." Vince's jersey goes to a tremendously porn-mouthed girl wearing a belly sweater, short shorts, and heels, as you do for a day of high school. Vince hugs her and tells her that she can't keep the jersey; he takes it and brings it over to Jess who gives him a "That's right' kind of grin as he does so. Luke watches intently as Becky gets dragged up front to receive a jersey. Tinker shouts into the microphone when his jersey goes to her. Becky just sort of hangs her head and laughs, Luke looks on with clear developing plot line potential.
Tami, shirt dress and cowboy boots, struts out front of the school to find Epic, which is apparently spelled Epyck, sitting on a picnic table smoking. Tami reminds her that there's no smoking on school property, but Epyck one-ups her, reminding her that everyone, EVEN BABIES, smokes in Texas. Tami rolls with it, "Well, even babies can't smoke on school property." Those damn smoking babies. Tami and Epyck butt heads for a while more, Tami quietly introduces herself as the new guidance counselor who's going to help her with her grades, with coming to her counseling appointments, and with not smoking on school property. Epyck stubs out her cigarette, says "Okay," and saunters off towards the road. "School's this way, Epyck," Tami lamely notes.
Coach calls Vince into his office, asks him what day it is. Well, it's September 1, and Coach informs Vince that's the first day of NCAA contact period for junior athletes. Coach tosses a bunch of envelopes in Vince's direction-- Georgia, UT, Alabama, USC. Vince can barely keep his face screwed on right, he's so excited. "These are for me?" Coach, no nonsense, directs him out of the office but as the boy leaves, lets one bit of coachly humanity through: "Pretty cool, huh?"
Credits. Football practice. Anyone else notice the cheap-ass filler music that's playing in the background? Not that this is exactly the scene for inspirational Explosions in the Sky action, but this music sounds like it was produced with MS Paint. Bunch of guys in the stands stand around wondering about the rankings; the kids on the field gossip about the same in between plays. Coach overhears Luke jawing on about being top ten and tells him to cut it out. Billy works with Hastings, who takes his helmet off, sits down, and asks "You got any protein on you, Billy?" Billy shouts at him military-style, dragging him back up by the shirt. Hastings doesn't seem to get the whole subjugation-to-authority part of football as he sort of just grins goofily and runs back toward practice. Coach comes over to tell Billy to go easy on Hastings, but then goes over to Hastings himself and clench-mutters, "Don't you ever take your helmet off on my field again."
The boys find treats in their lockers from the Rally Girls. Cookies, Rice Krispie treats, the tattered remnants of these girls' self worth. Vince doesn't have ANY cookies in his locker, though. Cut to the cafeteria, where Vince sits down next to Jess. They smooch and he wonders why he didn't get anything from his Rally Girl. Jess is like, 'Yeah, about that...." and says that the rally girl thing isn't really for her. She tells him that he can have a rally girl, he doesn't believe her at first -- "You'd have a fit seeing another girl wearing my jersey" -- but she repeats, "Boy, get yourself a rally girl." He gets up and leaves, Jess looking a bit unsure as he walks away.
Tami's Dangerous Minds schtick is getting old already for the other teachers at East Dillon. She's got them cornered again in the tiny room where they hold their meetings, chirping brightly about how she's just talking about them volunteering a few hours more per week to run an after-school tutoring program. Everyone avoids making eye contact with her. The sassy teacher from last week, Laurel, speaks up and says that they are all giving all they've got, and they already know which kids want their help. Tami says she understands but tries to drum up enthusiasm for reaching the more difficult-to-reach kids. Laurel doesn't want that focus to take away from the other kids. Tami sits down, looking daunted. Principle Levi just wants to talk about who the hell is going to supervise the parking lot. Ah, education.
Julie sits in lecture while Mark Twain drones on and on about the Alamo. He wraps up his lecture and leaves the stage to "Head TA Derek Bishop." I've never heard of a "Head TA" before, but Derek Bishop charms me right out of that complaint by using cool lingo just like Poochie, words like "deets" instead of "details." The college kids eat it right up, because they are apparently actually complete suckers. Derek tells them about the annual History Department Mixer and jokes about "old people with halitosis" which gets a big laugh from the lecture hall. Julie is clearly enamored, though. And I guess if I could go back and get a clear look at the TAs I got enamored with in college, I'd probably be pretty embarrassed about my bad taste. He tells them to form their study groups and dismisses class. Julie kind of lurks around, watching everyone else immediately group up. She approaches one galoot, but he tells her that he's just a frat pledge taking notes for one of his brothers. She looks around, somewhat lost. Ah, education.
Speaking of the failures of the American educational system, Becky hangs around the Playgirl Ranch in short terry shorts making cookies, but totally failing. Billy comes in and she asks his advice about doubling the recipe, which she doesn't think she did right. Billy's advice? "You have to double all the ingredients." Becky, "Oh, goodness me! I didn't know!!!" and bluebirds twirl and tweet around her little head. Mindy comes out in her ratty t-shirt and sweats and watches all this leaning and chirping that is going on in the kitchen. Mindy calls Billy outside with her, and continues on her journey to become America's Next Top Harpy. She tells Billy she doesn't like it, she doesn't like Becky in her short shorts looking all cute and Billy being all "milk in the recipe" and it's all bigger than Billy, "it's nature, and there's a fox in my henhouse and I don't like it." Billy reminds her of Tim's solemn vow to Becky that his family shall be her family and begat begat begat.
Vince goes through his letters of intent when his mother comes home from work. Before he can tell her all about it, she starts moaning about her troubles at work and doing a lot of sighing. He goes over and shows her all his letters and says "Momma, they want me. Where do you want to live? The city? Beach? Florida? California? I'm going to take care of you, momma." Yes, because no career is more of a sure thing than college and professional sports.
Commercials. Morning at the Taylor house. Coach just mumbles his good mornings to his wife who wonders what's wrong. Coach tells her that the Lions have not been ranked. Tami says that doesn't seem right, but Coach underplays it, saying that they were 2-8 last year, it's to be expected. He asks Gracie -- who my good friend has pointed out looks exactly like 1 2 3 4 5Next