Written by Duana

Season 5, Episode 11

(NOTE: Friday Night Lights Season 5 will be available on DVD on April 5th. In other words, it doesn’t matter if those assholes at NBC decide to air it or not.)

I felt like I was home, this week, in Dillon. I felt like they knew I was there and that they welcomed me – even as they stayed the same as ever, they couldn’t help but bring me into their lives that are both different and exactly the same as they’ve always been.

I was at home.

More stuff has happened in previous episodes. More action, more press, more Julie (sorry, honey), although not more football – 3 games in one episode?

But there has not been an episode all season that left me feeling as close to these people as I did last night. There hasn’t been a time yet, over these last weeks, where I have thought ‘they finally opened up the door to show me who they are like they do on this show EVERY week’. This episode changed all that.

There were things I didn’t know I would miss until I saw them. Like an entire football team on Coach’s lawn – on Billy Riggins’ lawn. The fact that every boy that competes for Becky’s affections drives a pickup truck. A seventeen year old wearing a bikini top to waitress in, and nobody bats. A damn eye.

Let’s just break it down on the Tim Riggins front for a moment. I loved that he was there, but he is breaking my heart. Where Taylor Kitsch used to match Derek Phillips’ (that’s Billy Riggins, and it’s a testament to him that I had to look up the actor’s name – as far as I’m concerned, he is Billy) energy with a sort of loping half-grin, the absolute deadness he’s offering right now is just totally beyond my comprehension.

Tim came to life exactly twice. First when he beat the hell out of Billy – for not protecting Becky. For not being better and making a different life for his son, and for Mindy. Because if he had, maybe there’d be somewhere for Tim to land. A family to fit back into. Something secure to leave behind. But the minute Tim realized that wasn’t the case, back in the trailer , when he finally succumbed to his privacy and the soft hiss of the beer as it opened, that was the second moment we saw him real.

The Tim Riggins we knew can’t come back. He’s been bruised. He saw things or things happened or he spent too much time in his own head. I know that seeing ‘aggie’ Smash Williams wouldn’t have made him blink before. The Landing Strip never bothered him before, and I’m willing to bet Becky isn’t the only 17 year old in there. Did it take Tim being locked away from Dillon to really see Dillon?

He can’t stay – he won’t. And as we heard – he’ll never forgive Billy, not really. So where is the world for Tim Riggins? Fictionally? They keep talking about the land, but what’s he going to do there to make it worth it?

I suppose that if Coach Taylor moves up north with his wife (what? I can’t even think it?) there will be a coaching job open for a former Panther at the newly-combined football program. But I’m not sure Tim is a football coach. He’s been hardened in a way that can’t be permeated, perhaps permanently.

Apparently Coach is the only one who is any judge of who can be a coach, ever. Listen, I understand that politics are what they are. That there aren’t a whole lot of female football coaches (Natalie Watson got a lot of airtime though) and that Jess is maybe chasing a dream that not enough people will be able to shepherd through for her in the long term. But honestly? Coach tells her he has two daughters on the one hand, and laughs in her face on the other?

Here is one of the things that kills me a little about this show, and that makes me love it. The people we love aren’t perfect. Billy disappointed Tim. Ornette showed his true colours (but weren’t you expecting that?), and Coach Taylor is maybe kind of a bit of a sexist.

Yeah, I said it. And it doesn’t make me love him less, because it’s him, and I do love him. But wow, is it ever startling to watch him be dismissive of Jess, and call her a pest, and sure, it takes a certain type of kid to deal with coach, and I probably would have thrived on that kind of attention at that age – but if a boy had come to him he would have paid attention right away.

This is the thing about Eric the man – he’s a little bit self-centered. I love him and of course I want him to mold boys into young men and all that but it would never occur to him that budget cuts might actually eliminate his program. It would never occur to him that Tami’s job offer might actually be better than what he has going. And I cannot WAIT to see that conversation next week and I hope they don’t cheat us out of it.

But you know he doesn’t see it coming. He doesn’t think there’s a world in which he might take a backseat for awhile. And what might be available to him in the northeast? A third-position coaching job? Why do I feel Eric’s ego might get in the way of such a thing, even if it were in service of his wife’s dream?

Those two feel so solid that I can look forward to the conflict without truly worrying. The trouble I was so worried about will not have enough time to really come to pass, even if they argue. But you know I’m right. Eric is many things but maybe humble isn’t one of them.

He’ll have his hands full picking up the broken pieces of Vince; and while I think Ornette going so downhill so quickly felt super-fast, I did love the look of acknowledgement between Coach and Vince’s mom. It’s one of the things that makes this show incredible. Even though Vince did the unthinkable and lied about her mental state just a couple of weeks before, it wasn’t a total lie – as is evident by the troubled looks on her face and Vince’s. They have a fragile peace, and though Daddy dearest seemed to burn his place in the house pretty completely, I was still worried that Vince wouldn’t have anyone there when he got off the bus. He’s still young enough to be hurt by that.

He’s got another year of football to make him into a man. We won’t be there, but someone will – and Vince may lead them all.

Attached – Connie Britton at the premiere of The Rite last week. Don’t worry about Tami Taylor. A lot of people want to work with Tami Taylor. She’ll be ok.

Photos from Wenn.com