“We didn’t do any of this crap when we were kids.”—Coach Eric Taylor
What I’ve been enjoying so far this season on Friday Night Lights is that it almost feels like a prequel, or an origin story, to the earlier seasons that featured the Dillon Panthers. When the show started, the Panther community and expectations were already in place. And now we get to see how hard the road was to get there with the East Dillon Lions. With the echo of the word “state” comes standards.
The Lions, right now, aren’t living by any standards. After the rally girl initiation last week, Jess’s enemy Maura has become the new “Drunk Puppet Girl” YouTube star, seen passed out and passed around the party in the arms of members of the team. To the players, it’s a joke, and to Maura it’s her way to be recognized.
But that’s certainly not okay with the Taylors, who enforce the standards on their own terms. Eric makes it clear that anyone who can’t be respectful is out, and two boys are kicked off the team within minutes for mocking the video. Eric enforces a new coat and tie dress code and mandates community outreach. Tami tries to educate the girls at the school, who only brush off her efforts.
Someone who could have used a bit of Tami’s lesson was Julie, who slept with her married teacher after getting tipsy at a professor’s party. This storyline could be seen from miles away, and so far hasn’t broken any new ground, which begs the question why Julie is the only character to leave Dillon and still have screen time. Speaking of insular plot lines this week, Jess became the new equipment manager of the team, Buddy opened a new bar (wasn’t he broke?), and Buddy Jr. will soon be returning.
The heart of this episode was Vince. His father (Cress Williams) is on parole after spending five years in prison, and returned home expecting to pick up where he left off. But in his father’s absence, Vince has become the man of the house and picked up the pieces after his mom struggled with addiction. A handshake certainly won’t be enough to fix the damage that’s been done.
Vince chooses to bottle everything up, until Coach calls him out on not living up to his standards. Vince has changed dramatically since last season when we first saw him running from the cops. But still, it’s not enough. Everyone expects him to be better: his mom, his coach, his girlfriend, his team. But after a mighty breakdown, Coach convinces him it’s all about striving, trying to change. And Vince does one better when he scores the winning touchdown, bringing the Lions record to 3-0 this season. His victory doesn’t go unnoticed by his dad, who tells his son he felt proud for the first time.
Michael B. Jordan (Vince) certainly showed off this episode in the heartfelt scenes between Vince and his father. Vince may be the man of the family now, one who’s going to stick around, but Michael B. Jordan really shined when the hurt little boy showed through. His dad may be proud of him now, but Vince has been proud of himself far longer, and hearing his coach, the one who started his transformation, tell him that was one hell of a performance meant so much more. Of course, Coach always says it best.
Thoughts? Theories on what Eric and Tami did when they were at football parties? Leave it in the comments!