Tami sits across a table with Buddy Garrity with all her cards very well hidden. She's done a lot of thinking, and a lot of research on Santiago. He's been in Juvie twice, and there's a history of violent episodes -- which I'm sure will bite us in the ass around episode 14 or so -- and all of this info together makes for a very messed up situation. So you put a kid with that stuff going on, that fear of extinction, that confusion of purpose, that strength without will or direction, that pain, into foster care or a group home...seriously. Foster care turned me into Wolverine, and I'm the biggest pussy you've ever met. I can't imagine how damaged Santiago would be by it, especially so close to being an adult, especially being so self-sufficient already. Buddy goes, "I understand." And you know, he does. The fear is back, because this, now, is Buddy's test, and he knows it. There's no Super Future Buddy, anymore. Even before he got kicked out of the house and started drinking, he'd given up on that. He's more like Santiago than not: they're both living alone in squalor with no idea how to grow up. Buddy Garrity is the loneliest man in Dillon, and the worst part is, he and everybody else knows it. So the question isn't, "Can Buddy be the father to this boy?" The question is, "Can two half men make one whole one?" Breaks my heart; breaks Tami's heart too.
"You're looking at him like a great football player, but let me make something clear to you: this is a boy who needs a home, and this is a boy who's at risk." True of Buddy, too. "I know, Tami. I've got three kids. I know what it takes." Which is true, and I love most that Buddy isn't flinching yet. He's scared, but it's not like he hasn't thought about this. You can see it in the performance, how he wants to say, "Stop saying this out loud, it's too big." She agrees that he is a good father -- and I don't disagree -- but Santiago is not Lyla. This is a whole other situation. He pauses and nods. It's true: "Even though I am a little bit nervous about it, I know I can do this. And I really like the kid. He has a great heart, and I want him to have a chance." So does Tami. She stares him down, and it's on. At first I thought, if this is how it's going down, why couldn't it be Tim? It's because Tim has never been afraid of extinction, because Tim has always had Jason Street to remind him he exists. To give him permission to exist. But Buddy has nobody, and Santiago is the definition of having nobody. I love Buddy Garrity so much, and I'm not, I think, making wild intuitive claims when I say that this is what makes or breaks Buddy Garrity; this is the way it had to go.