Coach Taylor goes looking for Tinker who hasn't been coming to practice and is directed to go check out Carroll Park, which he promptly sets out for, but instead ends up taking a wrong turn onto the set of The Blind Side. Okay, okay, this opening scene is not quite as blatantly racist as The Blind Side, but it comes close to being a misstep. I guess the main thing that I object to is that literally within two minutes of being at the SCARY park looking for Tinker, a twelve-year-old kid gets shot in the shoulder. Come now. But I guess we needed some deux ex machina for Coach to latch onto the idea that if the LIGHTS got turned on in the park, then everyone over there would clean up their acts. Someone who is skeptical of this plan is D'Angelo Freaking Barksdale, who tells Coach and Buddy that if they really want to make a difference for the kids living in the rough part of town, that they need to be more than outsiders, more than Great White Hopes. So they decide to set up a football game on Saturday night between the Lions and a pick-up team from the 'hood. Kids and folks turn out and everyone's heart is warmed.
Still walking the line between one side of town and the other is Vince, who is trying to keep his record clean but is entertaining a fair amount of "you with us or them?" bullshit from his neighborhood friends. Vince seeks out a job to make some cash and stay out of trouble, and Coach finds him one: at Ray's B-B-Q where he has to work alongside Jess, who is maddened by this turn of events. Whatever happened between Jess and Vince remains unclear to us, but Jess's father Virgil (or Big Meri as folks start to call him in this episode) is coming around to Vince (as a favor to Coach) faster than she is. Meanwhile, Jess is moving forward in her relationship with Landry. I don't know about you, but there is something really wrong about their make-out sessions. They don't seem right together, and Jess is clearly trying to force herself to feel something for Landry that she doesn't completely feel.
Julie's spending a couple of days working on a house for Habitat for Humanity, at first bratting about it, but then turning the brat way down once she sees that a tall, blonde drink of sincerity is working the house, too. He tries to ask her out to dinner, she replies with a bunch of verbal vomit about how she just got out of a serious relationship, but then suggests that they forget dinner and just make out instead. Julie Taylor!
The Taylor women are make-out queens, we know. Unfortunately, now Coach also knows because Glenn (I mean, really, Glenn) approaches Coach and thanks the man for not punching him after he kissed Tami. Coach is like "Wha, wha?" and the whole thing is played pretty hilariously. The Taylors try to arrange a date night since they've been spending so much time, respectively, on drunk karaoke and Oscar-bait movie sets. But their date night falls through, so they settle for taking a quick drive and gaze at the lake on the shores of which they first dated dated, you know wink wink?
Wishing she'd never winked back at Luke Cafferty is Becky, who finds out that winking sometimes leads to pregnancy. She decides to get an abortion and asks Luke for money, and he is the perfect combination of sympathetic, supportive, and confused. He thinks she should do what she thinks is right, but he doesn't know what is right himself. Becky's resolve is shaken a bit and she finally breaks down and tells Tim Riggins, who hugs her and tells her everything will be alright. Oh Tim Riggins, this Becky person is turning you into a treacly country music song.
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Coach knocks on a door, and a young African-American girl answers. Coach is looking for Dallas (Tinker, that is), and wonders if the girl, his sister, knows where he is. She doesn't but she tells Coach to check out Carroll Park, "he hangs there all the time."
Vince is in a shirt and tie filling out an application form at a diner. He gets to the "Have you ever been arrested?" question, leans back for a moment, and then screws up his mouth and checks "Yes."
Becky, voice shaking, is on the phone in a pink, pink bathroom. She says she's sure they get this a lot, but she's wondering how accurate their tests really are, "like they can be wrong, right?" Cut down to her hand gripping a pregnancy test. The customer service person apparently just tells her to take the test again, but then we cut to the counter where there are four other tests, all showing a positive "+" sign. Something about Becky using the 800 number they provide really makes me sad; like she's reaching out to whatever kind of authority she can, hoping someone more powerful than her will undo this.
Back at the diner, Vince gets the brush-off from the manager. She tells him that they're not ready to make a decision and will keep his application on file. Vince reminds her that she told him they'd have an interview, but she says there's nothing open right now, and she'll call him if something opens up. His face is hardened and he turns on his heel and leaves, obviously realizing why her attitude has changed.
Coach pulls up to Carroll Park at night. Rap plays (African-American Sonic Forcefield is in effect), the park is full of black kids hanging out, smoking, leaning, holding paper-bagged forties, playing dice. Coach goes up to three guys who look at him somewhat angrily and asks them if they might know where Dallas Tinker is. One of the guys busts out laughing, "Tinkerwho? Tinkerbell?!" Coach asks them to tell Tinker that his coach is looking for him, and one of the other guys looks Coach up and down, "What do we look like some damn messenger to you, Coach?" Before Coach gets a chance to answer, shots ring out and kids go running and screaming away. A cop car (apparently activated by the mere sound of gunshots) instantaneously comes siren-ing up to the scene, the policemen going over to a young kid lying on the asphalt holding his shoulder and grimacing. Coach watches. And, just, sigh. What to do about these kinds of scenes? I mentioned in the recaplet that Coach takes a wrong turn into The Blind Side, but this scene isn't nearly as egregious as that film is. It's just that it's unfortunate that popular media has to bring the viewer to these "ooo scary" places full of "oooo scary" black kids via a "universal" figure like Coach Taylor in order to open our eyes to injustice and all that jazz. I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes the worst racism is full of good intentions. Like, go ask Harriet Beecher Stowe about that.