So Matt's gone, baby, gone, and Julie copes by drowning herself -- and a commandeered Landry -- in extracurriculars, including Academic Smackdown, which Julie attacks like the WWE product it's named for. Lucky for Landry, Jess is also a smackdowner, and he's finally able to muster the courage to talk his way around to a breakup voicemail to Tyra. Later, he's able to sweet talk Jess into accepting a date with him. Julie, however, is reeling, especially after finding out Matt found an apartment, told Grandma and Shelby about it, and still hasn't called her. At the big Smackdown meet (against West Dillon, natch), Julie sobs through her answer about Thomas Wolfe ("You Can't Go Home Again"), and again to Tami backstage, because teenage breakup hurts like an actual hammer to your bones.
For her part, Tami finds out Dillon High has won a blue ribbon award for academic excellence, and since Eric and Julie are off experiencing their own subplots and not able to celebrate Tami's achievement to GLENN's satisfaction, he organizes a faculty karaoke night, which wins a blue ribbon award for OH MY YES. There are shots and mom-dancing to "Car Wash" and GLENN growling out "Don't You (Forget About Me)." Afterwards, everybody's drunk, and GLENN is slurring about how Tami is such a super lady, and she tries to put him in a cab but he tries to kiss her! I mean, wouldn't we all, but that is no kind of a good idea if you're GLENN. The next morning, he apologizes profusely for his attempted mouth-raping, and Tami is kind but firm, saying it can't ever happen again.
It's the time of the season for cattle-rustling at the Cafferty ranch, so Luke is stuck at home, fixing a fence, not able to go to football practice or say "sucks." But that's not going to work for Coach; no class means Luke can't practice, which means he can't play in the big game happening in two weeks. So now Luke's mending fences, then school, then practice, then more fence-mending, and he's looking pretty haggard. Leave it to Tinker -- giant, wonderful Tinker -- who offers to round up the team to pitch in. Tink end up rounding up all of himself, but he shows up to help put just the same. And he impresses Luke's dad with how much Luke is valued at E. Dillon. Of course, it can't all be happy, EVER, which means Luke injured his leg on a fence post out in the cattle pen.
Coach has officially announced Vince as the Lions' new QB, but the afterglow doesn't get to last long as the cops show up and search Vince's locker for a gun. They don't find anything, but Coach is feeling guilty for both not trying to protect his player and for wondering whether Vince does have a gun stashed somewhere. He asks the kid straight-up, and Vince says no, but after getting a visit from Vince's still-cleaned-up mom, Coach decides to pay that guilt forward, telling Vince he needs to make a choice, between life of crime and football/responsibility. Vince makes late night call on Coach and hands over gun in paper sack. "That kid trusts me," Coach tells Tami that night.
The Riggins Bros. are trying to scrounge up change in the drive-thru at Whataburger when Mindy goes into premature labor. The doc prescribes bedrest for two months, 'til baby is born, which Billy can't afford. But the alternative is jank home remedies, so he and stripper Hannah organize a lapdance-a-thon fundraiser/world's trashiest Jack-and-Jill baby shower. In between motorboating for a good cause, that East Dillon player with cornrows whose name I don't know offers Billy a "business opportunity." Damn it, Billy.
Speaking of Tim-adjacent people who drive you crazy, Becky sets herself for a world of disappointment when her shiftless dad rolls in on his big rig, buys her a dog, and neglects to tell her about his secret Seattle family whom he's also struggling to support. He tells Tim, though, and after Becky shows up at the strip-raiser and acts out, he tells her. She flounces, and Deadbeat and Tim get into a fistfight about it later, which, since Tim has been re-living his own absentee dad drama all episode, is pretty cathartic. At episode's end Tim buys back the dog (Alicia Witt demanded Becky return it) and takes it out to an open -- and for sale -- piece of farmland, which he looks upon like he might finally by ready to answer that "what do you want?" question with something other than "Lyla."
Previously on Friday Night Lights: Becky's dad was a shiftless jerk and likely responsible for her being as needy and annoying as she is today; Jess slapped Landry for kissing her while still being hung up on Tyra; the Lions found an offensive spark by giving Vince the ball; and Matt Saracen left town.
Now, Tami is staking out Julie's bedroom in the early morning hours, checking to see if she's still crying her little eyes out. Matt hasn't called her yet, it sounds like. Coach wanders by and says he'll call, then offers to make Tami coffee. Tami's totally busted when Julie finally does emerge from her room. She's not crying, just dazed and surly and sleepy. She's either all cried out or she has not yet begun to cry.
At the Cafferty ranch, Luke and his parents try to rustle their giant herd of cattle into a pen. Ma and Pa Cafferty talk to their son about the "cow rustlers" who have been poaching their cattle as of late. "What kind of idiot would want to steal cows?" complains Luke, clearly annoyed at having to be up, in the mud, doing cow work. "This sucks," he follows. "Don't say sucks," Ma admonishes. "Have a vocabulary." This is how you get raised to apologize to Tami Taylor for lying to her face just then. Though I feel for Luke, having his semi-vulgar impulses stifled like this. Anyway, Pa tells Luke to plan on missing school this week to help get their fence fixed. Luke protests that if he doesn't go to school they won't let him practice. But Pa can't afford to hire anybody. God, the number of different ways this show finds to define the American experience as being well and truly fucked is astounding. Poor Luke.
Tami turns the corner into the West Dillon office to hushed murmuring. What's the deal? Well as Glenn -- Glenn! -- tells her, West Dillon has won a blue ribbon award for academic excellence! Actually, as Glenn tells it, it was Tami who won the award for the school. I swear to you people, as I was making my notes on my first viewing, I jotted down "Now who is this brown-noser trying to be Tami's new Glenn?" But it IS Glenn! It's been a while since we've all derisively spit out your name, Glenn. Anyway, Tami is just pleased as punch, and she does that thing where her voice goes up to soprano when she is just so pleased, y'all!.
Ugh. Becky. So her deadbeat dad rolls up in a big rig with no payload on the back, which means it's now just 18 wheels full of metaphors. Becky's jumping out of her skin to see her daddy, of course, because girls like her will never stop romanticizing dads like him. She runs out and hugs him, and he's got a teddy bear for her (of course) and is amazed at how grown up she's gotten, so Lord knows the last time he's even seen her. Cheryl comes out of the house all business, telling her ex that she's rented out the Airstream so he'll have to sleep in the guest room, then sweeps Becky off to drive her to school. Becky makes snotty "isn't she the worst?" faces to Deadbeat but still goes off with her mom. As they drive off, Tim emerges from his gleaming silver tube of sex and sloth. Deadbeat is immediately and obviously threatened, as anyone rightly would be. Tim introduces himself but Deadbeat doesn't, meaning that nickname's gonna stick all episode.