Written by Duana

Season 5, Episode 2

It’s funny how the ones that break your heart aren’t usually the saddest. They’re the ones that look, on the surface, to have promise, to be hopeful, to bring the year ahead some focus and drive and excitement. But you see those hopes all out in the open, and you have to wonder whose are going to be crushed, and who has a prayer of riding their hopes all the way to the end of the season.

This is one of those episodes that proves that, in a show that is ostensibly about the actions of men, women’s journeys ricochet through the world and make the impact that much stronger.

I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to see a parallel between Julie and Tami Taylor this week but as I watched the episode unfold I couldn’t help wonder if perhaps our girl is less prepared for college than we thought.

I will wait to find out why Julie is not at a fancier university on the east coast like she originally planned. It’s still something that’s driving me crazy, and I can see that perhaps she got a big scholarship from Burleson or something so that’s why she landed there – but it still seems strange to me. (As a sidebar: Shows often make up fictional universities because real universities don’t want to be portrayed less than positively, like if you know there’s going to be a rape storyline, nobody wants to see that go down at a ‘real’ school. But there have been exceptions, such as Yale on Gilmore Girls). I maintain that Julie, who was champing at the bit to go away with Habitat for Humanity last year, would go as far as she could – and maybe suffer homesickness there.

But I realize something that we’ve known about our girl, but that was nonetheless hard to watch. She is not a girl’s girl. She is not a girlfriend. Why, in that big lecture, did she only go to the cute guy to find out if he had a study group? Why couldn’t she approach one of the bajillion girls around her? Being sexiled sucks but rolling your eyes and huffing at your roommate isn’t a great way to make her your friend.

And finally, when Julie heads to a mixer, she skips over talking to anyone with an x chromosome and heads straight for the football. Yes, it’s easy to say ‘oh, it’s familiar to her’ but come on. She knows there will probably be guys watching. So it’s not hard to think the conclusion to come to is “Julie isn’t comfortable with girls, only guys”. She launches into flirting mode pretty hard and is rewarded when oh, look – he asks her out for coffee in what is either going to wind up being Bad Idea Jeans or a wedding. I’ll call it for sure next week.

What’s the deal, Jules? Do you think you’re too good for the girls of Burleson, much like you thought you were too good for the girls of Dillon? Most of the time you just put in your time in class before heading back to your boyfriend. How is poor old Lois, anyway?

Julie’s story was irritating, in the way that 18 year olds approaching university often are, whether they’re fictional or not. But Tami Taylor’s willful ignorance of how basic social interaction works – the idea that she really doesn’t know that sometimes you catch more flies with honey? Feed ‘em and liquor ‘em and THEN ask for some assistance? Are you kidding me? Tami Taylor wrote the book on that kind of thing, back in the days of West Dillon and the Panther parties. She knows this. So what gives?

It is the activity of a certain type of person to blame the writers immediately. (Jessica Alba would do this). To say that Tami’s out of character. I’d venture something else, though. I’d venture to say that we have met a flaw in one of our favourite people. Perhaps Tami, when she’s on top (like, say, principal) is easy and magnanimous and draws people to her like a moth. And maybe, when she’s feeling outwardly abandoned and insecure, she loses her ability to be magnetic, and kind of pushes people away, or is rather formal and awkward (don’t go home just because a drink spilled on you, try harder!), and has to be rescued by someone friendly like Laura.

And maybe she passed that quality on to her daughter. I’m just saying.

But not everything is genetic, of course, because there is Vince. Who, despite my continued curiosity re: the gang wars, is just straight-up charming this week. He is good to his teammates, he is great to Jess (we’ll get to her in a moment) and he is super-good to his mother. Which I have to say surprises me just a little. I am well aware that a parent who’s incapacitated, whether by drugs or alcohol or illness, can make the child grow up far too fast. But let’s be real here – often there’s a lot of resentment attached. Vince doesn’t seem to have that. And I am wincing for him. Because the last time I saw a player get that excited about letters of intent, the last time I saw a player count his chickens that way, well, I’m not saying the Smash Williams story had a bad end, but I’m not altogether sure I’m ready to have my heart broken in quite that way just yet.

Meanwhile, our high schoolers are out there being high schoolers. Jess suffers the injustice of having someone be terrible to her, sinking to her level, and then being the one who gets in trouble for it . Seriously, Ms. “Educator” Taylor? (She sure does love calling herself that) Please don’t keep one set of standards for the good kids and one for the ones you don’t think are worth saving. Or maybe put as much attention into Ms. Panties-rally-girl-funneller as into the mythic “Epic” (whom, I predict, will spend at least one night in Julie Taylor’s abandoned bedroom) (Two brackets in a row are terrible form but I giggled like mad at Tami telling Eric they couldn’t kiss, etc, on their daughter’s bed. Improv by Connie Britton? Please say yes).

I still don’t know enough about who Jess is and what she needs out of life, but I’m enjoying seeing her being a teenager and NOT pretending she’s someone’s mother. Becky giggles like a child at the idea that Billy and Mindy care where she goes at night. I totally believed Mindy’s irritated conflict. Some might ask where she was when Tyra was staying out all night, but first of all, we watched Tyra take care of herself far better than Becky ever could – and secondly, sometimes you don’t realize what you should’ve done until long after the fact. Billy Riggins is sweet, but it might be Mindy Collette who actually keeps Becky in line.

Coach Taylor outlined for us the trajectory of what will happen this season – those five scrawled letters, “STATE” , tell us where we’re going. But that trip is full of heartbreak, and there are always casualties – I know I’ll enjoy the ride, but I am wincing in anticipation of who is the first to fall. Also, stay gold, Tinker.

Attached – why is JD McCoy posing like this? There’s much worse. Click here.

Photo from www.troixmagazine.com