Welcome back, Panther fans! It's so good to see Friday Night Lights back on TV. In this episode, we do a lot of catching up, resetting to the start of another school year and football season — and some things have really changed around Dillon. To chat about Tami's new responsibilities, Coach's new protegee, and Buddy's new pet project,
This episode does a lot of catching up, but I love the way it's handled, through flashbacks and little surprise reveals — like, "Hey! That's Riggins in Lyla's bedroom!" or "Whoa, Smash came back after his suspension only to hurt his knee in the playoffs?" Also new: Tami's position as principal. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense: Tami was already working at the school, and it must be a pretty thankless job — which sounds like just the kind of thing Tami would decide she needs to take on. (Plus, she now has the power to change Julie's schedule.)
Coach isn't in a great spot with football right now: The team is struggling through drills, Riggins is being his hard-partying self, and there's a new freshman quarterback on the scene. We barely see JD McCoy, but we see a lot of his father, the man who has the means to buy smoothies for the whole team ("I know what the hell a smoothie is!") and bribe Coach with scotch and cigars. He's moved the whole family to Dillon solely so JD can be with the Panthers; JD is a natural talent, more Street than Saracen. Matt has to work hard; JD just fires the ball for touchdowns. That seems like an interesting showdown to watch as the season moves on.
Meanwhile, Smash is working with Coach to rehab his injured knee, but he's also having second thoughts: He's still slow, his body can't do the things it used to do, and he's got his job at the Alamo Freeze to keep him busy. But Coach won't let him go, and who can blame him? As he says during their impromptu racquetball match (the "whitest sport ever"), he needs something good to happen.
If the Panthers are in a bad place, Dillon High might be even worse off; they're losing teachers and sweltering in the late-Summer air while the football side of the building has shiny new computers and temperature control that works. And thus Tami wanders into her first major minefield, taking the money Buddy ponies up for a new jumbotron ("have you ever seen two people engaged on a jumbotron?") and deciding she can reallocate it. I generally think that Tami's right and Buddy's wrong, but this could get very bad very quickly.
Some other thoughts:
- Poor Tyra! She now has all these hopes for college, but the new guidance counselor is just smacking them all down. By the end of the episode, Tyra realizes there might be another way, and I just love that scene of her presenting her UT application and her petition to be student body president; Tyra doesn't take crap from anyone these days.
- Mindy's engagement to Billy Riggins probably helped push Tyra to her "no, seriously, I'm getting out of here" position. Is anyone else terrified at the idea of "three or four little Mindys and Billys running around"?
- The Taylor family dynamics crack me up. "Mom, I only put 12,000 miles in the car, and they were all to church, so technically they were all Christian miles."
- Amazing that Riggins and Lyla are trying to make a go of it. Buddy's not so pleased.
- I've made no secrets about being a montage crier, but that "Great Moments in Panthers History" video about had me on the floor.
Your thoughts? Surprised with anything going on in Dillon? Rooting for Tyra? Think Buddy or Tami is in the right on the jumbotron? Man, I love this show.
Photos courtesy of NBC