The last episode of Season Four brings us limping toward the goalposts just like Luke Cafferty. I'd say that after the highs of "Son" and my personal favorite "Stay," the season has kind of wandered. What's with Jess's mom? We don't know. What's so dramatic in Jess's and Vince's past? We don't know. Why is Tim Riggins acting like he lives in a Faith Hill song? Why won't Becky just go away? WE DON'T KNOW. But maybe I'm feeling vulnerable and testy because the heart of our family, Tami and Eric, have gotten so beaten down in these last few episodes.
In any case, the season ends on the big game between the Lions and the Panthers. They're calling it the Big Cat Clash, and the whole town is ready to skip work and close down shops to watch. The game takes place at West Dillon's Hermann Field since East Dillon's field is still destroyed from the privileged Panthers' jerk decision to take their trucks joy riding all over it. But as hard as they tried to make the field uneven, the Panthers can't hold the Lions back. Vince plays the best game of his life, Coach lets the injured Luke onto the field for a few gorgeous plays before the kid is led off the field limping again, and the game comes down to a final 47 yard field goal. Landry choked on his first extra point attempt, and Coach had shied away from using the kicker since, but Eric sends him out there with nothing but confidence that he can get it done, and SURPRISE he does. Lions win!!! It sure is nice to see Coach Taylor smile and shrug off those pounds of weight he's been carrying on his shoulders all season.
Tami wins her own kind of game, as she decides at the last minute that she will NOT apologize for counseling the scared and pregnant Becky. What was meant to be her public apology turns into her simply stating that she always always keeps the interests and welfare of her kids at the forefront. The Board -- because school boards apparently run on kindergarten playground ethics of "say you're sorry even if you're not" -- votes to put her on administrative leave. Tami's lawyer assures her that this is the first step in her firing, and advises her to sue. But Tami just wants to do the right thing; and what she feels is the right thing right now is for her to step down as principal and be given the job of heading the counseling program at East Dillon. Okay, sure! I wonder what the person who currently has that job thinks of that? (I'm assuming they'll "explain" to us that the position was open sometime at the beginning of next season).
Tim and Billy are in hot water for their little podunk chop shop operation. Their lawyer thinks he can get them a deal where they'll serve 1-5 years. And just in case you were wondering whether or not they could possibly be serious with this Tim Riggins martyr storyline, they have Tim decide to take the fall for his screw-up new father brother, and film him walking slowly into jail and punishment, hair flowing behind him like he's Jesus of Nazareth. Sigh.
Matt comes back for Thanksgiving, without giving Julie any fair warning. Surprise a minute, this kid. She's upset to see him, but finally comes around, and they have a warm farewell while sitting at the lakeside where he "deflowered" (Julie's words!) her. Matt has bought Julie a ticket to visit him in Chicago, but she tells him she can't come up. She thinks if she does, she'll fall in love with the city and follow him there, and never follow her own dreams. Matt realizes that she's breaking up with him, in a less ambivalent way than he did when he left. They're obviously on good terms, and we can all fantasize about how, seven years from now, they'll reconnect and get maaaarried.
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Mayor Lucy presides over a big pep rally in front of Dillon City Hall. Half of the crowd is in black and red and chanting "Lions! Lions! Lions!" and the other half are sporting tails and pitchforks. I jest. They're wearing blue and chanting "Panthers! Panthers!" Mayor Lucy coins this week's game their very own "Subway Series," the "Big Cat Clash." She hopes this will be the beginning of a long tradition... of what exactly? Heartbreak? Hatefulness? Evidence of severe inequality? She asks the teams and fans to come together and tries to start a chant where everyone shouts "Go Cats Go!" Except nobody's falling for that shit, and so the Lions keep chanting "Lions! Lions! Lions!" and the Panthers keep chanting "Evil! Evil! Evil!" Coach Wade, in his blue windbreaker, raises his arm (hmmm, like Hitler?) and points his number one finger in the air. Coach Taylor smiles and puts his hands on his hips, chest thrust out, cape flowing behind him. So Hitler, or Superman -- you decide who to root for.
Tim and Billy talk to a lawyer at their kitchen table while Mindy feeds Stephen a bottle and glares at them. The lawyer wants to know how many cars there were; Billy is vague, "Uh, more than five." Billy protests that they didn't steal the cars; the lawyer tells them the charge isn't theft but trafficking in stolen goods. Tim wonders how much time they'll do; the lawyer goes over their past fairly clean records: they both have a drunk and disorderly, Billy has two petty theft convictions. Mindy gets up and is like "You have TWO petty theft convictions?!" Billy gets mean for a second and reminds her of her not-so-angelic past: "Remember where we met." Mindy just groans "Nice" but wait, so now that she has a baby she is suddenly ashamed of and anti-stripper? That seems strangely Republican of her. The lawyer tells Billy and Tim that he thinks they can make a deal so that they'll serve 1-5 years. This is not good news, especially for the guy with the cooing newborn.
Grandma opens her front door and finds Julie there. They hug and love on one another a bit, Grandma is happy to see her. Julie tells her that she just came over to see if Grandma needs a ride over to their house for Thanksgiving, since Shelby is out of town. Grandma says that, well, nope, cuz Matt's got that rental car, so they'll just go over in that. Julie is confused, "Matt's in Chicago" she says right when Matt comes ambling into the frame behind Grandma. Matt Saracen!! Hello Matt Saracen!! Julie's smile disappears. Grandma excuses herself to go fuss about a leek and onion casserole, and Matt mutters to Julie, "It's actually better than it sounds." I bet Julie would like to tell him that there are lots of things that are better and easier than they sound at first: you know, like picking up a phone once in a while.