'Friday Night Lights': Where everybody knows your name
Wait, this is "Friday Night Lights," so Buddy Garrity ( Brad Leland) opened a bar just for the occasion. And it has TVs, which is awesome, because though the Lions still might not be ranked, but they do warrant aerial photography on network TV.
When the celebrating is done, Vince ( Michael B. Jordan) returns home to find his mother cleaning the apartment. This can't be good. The lack of bags under her eyes tells us she's not back on the pipe, so it must be something else. His father's been paroled. A-whaaaa?
We're already getting misty and the opening titles haven't even started. Oh, wait. There they are. Time for a 42-second jam band induced emotional breakdown.
Turns out that trashy redhead rally girl who got wasted last week ended up on the Dillon version of YouTube, with half of the Lions' starting lineup tossing her around in a video called "Drunk Puppet Girl!!!!!!" This is going to cause problems for the Lions and the Taylors, because unlike other matters of juvenile delinquency at East Dillon, this one demands intervention.
Coach Eric ( Kyle Chandler) and the newly guidance counselor-ed Tami ( Connie Britton) have their first real coworker exchange, and in addition to it being adorable, includes the first Tami "come on, we know I've been a closet alcoholic since 15" Taylor smirk of the season. Our love for this woman knows no bounds.
Fallout from "Drunk Puppet Girl" (hereafter referred to only as DPG), is more annoying than we'd feared. Half the football team is under real [read: not real] threat of suspension and a representative from what we assume to be the Central Texas Temperance Coalition, appropriately named "Ms. Renee," gives a speech to the female student body about how booze is bad. DPG laughs and is later caught getting nasty in the supply closet with some hippy with long hair. Tami is displeased.
Buddy's decision to crash that "FNL" writers meeting really paid off. Not only does he have a bar, he has a dramatic plot turn. The former Mrs. Garrity is talking about Buddy Junior's awkward teenage years in Portland -- they moved to Portland, right? -- which we assume includes experimenting with drugs and flannel. This is a Buddy episode.
Meanwhile, at the University of Generic College Experience...
Julie ( Aimee Teegarden) is displeased with a bad grade. Sexual tension TA explains that she'd get better grades if she actually put ideas down on paper before inviting her to a "weekly salon for promising students." That must be euphemism, because she just got a C.
Never mind. Sexual tension TA is wearing a blazer with the sleeves rolled up, "Miami Vice"-style, and this is hardly intimate enough to be considered a "salon." But Julie does overhear the somewhat revelatory news that he's married. Discouraged Julie tops off her glass of Chardonnay, just like mama taught her.
Somehow there's a conversation during a romantic river walk and we actually find out that TA's marriage is on the rocks. So, naturally, Julie wakes up in bed with him the next morning. For a moment, just a moment, we actually think he looks like Jason Street laying there. (If. Only.) She slinks out of the bedroom and later gets the blow-off from him in the library or the quad or some other college-type location.
Back in Dillon...
Expulsion is apparently no longer on the table for the Lions, so their new punishment for partying with DPG is... wearing awesome suits and looking super cool. They're still not happy with this.
Tami has commenced her season 5 arc of stepping on Eric's toes by suggesting he bring on Jess ( Jurnee Smollett) as the Lions' equipment manager. He's not pleased, but he caves after a frightening, parroted plea from Gracie Bell.
Jess' new gig doesn't fly with Vince, who, understandably, is not into his girlfriend hanging out in the locker room -- you know, the one filled with all the naked dudes -- despite the fact that she warned him about this a few scenes ago. Just like a man. Am I right, ladies?
Vince does have other things on his mind right now. His father, who dresses like an endearingly old timey jazz musician, has moved back into the house and despite being sweet and dapper, does nothing but anger Vince. He takes this out on new dad (Eric), by complaining about his itchy suit and pushing some papers off the desk. He cries. We cry. Eric leaves to express his emotions the only way he knows how, via the metaphor of high school sports.
At the game, Vince's mom is solo in the stands while his dad hides, beaming, in the shadows. Vince "Superman" Howard isn't just carrying this team on his shoulders, announcer man, he's carrying the world. And we are completely content with the fact that he's the new star of this show. Though they really could cannibalize some of Julie's story for Eric and Tami's sake...
Touchdown, Lions! Vince's dad sees him embraced by the coach after win number 3 and realizes what a failure he's been as a father.
The East win inspires Buddy to really commit to his new storyline and call his ex-wife back, telling her to send Buddy Junior home to Dillon. Crappy mother that she is, she happily agrees to pass him off. Why can't all parents like the Taylors?
Back at Vince's house, his father is packing his bags. He apologizes to Vince for getting in the way and acknowledges he is the man of the house now. He tells his son that seeing him on the field gave him the first moment of pride in his life, before starting to leave. They cry. We cry. And though we're completely conVINCEd he's going to tell his dad to stay, he's all like, "Byeeeeeee," and old-timey dad walks off into the sunset.
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Photo credit: NBC-Universal