Written by Duana

Season 5, Episode 12

I’m a pretty bad procrastinator – though I’ve learned to manage it much better over the years – and know a little bit about the psychology of it. Basically, procrastinators avoid doing tasks because of the potential for them not to go well. It’s terrifying. “Why would I possibly do this if I can’t do the best job possible ever?”

The rationale of procrastinators was brought to mind by the way I felt about all the returners in this episode.

Tyra filed back into town. Tyra! To talk to Tim Riggins! And Matty Saracen was there, and Julie, and they were all home for Christmas, I guess, but I felt so resentful of them. Instead of being happy to see them, I was irrational, all “What have you done for me lately? Where have you been? What, those other shows have been better to you? If you’re not going to come back full force, to be the people I cared about for so long, why show up at all?”

Irrationally, irritably, I believe that if they were still here, (except for Julie, who has been here-but-not if you know what I mean), then we wouldn’t be saying goodbye to this show tonight. Which is completely untrue. It was no single star or character that made the show and their absence therein doesn’t ruin it. But I need something to blame. I need some sort of reason for why the most consistently touching, uplifting, and yet real and unflinching portraits of people on TV is going away.

But I guess that’s why. It’s too real. Isn’t it? Forgetting the shenanigans of the football team being amalgamated into one – I’ll buy it of Dillon, but I’ve never seen anything so proactive in real life – there is reality to be found in the actions of the people.

I am not really ready to believe that Tyra and Tim should get back together. But I do believe she does. That after a couple of relatively uneventful years at college (and a not-great dye job), writing faithfully to him in jail, that she believes this is her big romantic moment. That she and he are supposed to find each other together and make the love work, the one they couldn’t when they were fifteen. She may be utterly wrong – but she’s fulfilling her destiny as a 20 year old by believing it. Tyra’s an interesting choice for Tim because there’s nothing for her to fix in him – she is and has been for some time an actualized person of her own. Despite working so hard to go to college (and I saw some people complain, but I always remembered it as being UT Austin), she became the person she is in Dillon. Remember when she told her mother it was the battering boyfriend or her? That’s when Tyra became her own person. So she has relatively little to lose by thinking she loves Tim – even for just a moment. There’s no bruise there but I do believe it’s more authentic than Ms. Lyla Garrity’s charity-case/bad-boy syndrome.

This is why we love Dillon. Because people become who they are in this town. In and around this football team. Behind the stands or near them and defiantly not on them. And though I hugely resent not seeing Landry last week, if I believe my own theme, well – Landry was always himself. He was secure. He doesn’t have to come back and show us how he’s changed and become a new man. We already know.

I would even venture that Dillon making you into who you are is an expectation. And if you can’t meet it, you feel somehow inferior. I felt that way about Luke and about Vince this week. In vastly different situations, they are both trying hard to be changed – to be men – about what’s happening in their lives.

The Ornette breakdown wasn’t surprising, but no less heartbreaking as a result. He wasn’t able to supersede his old behaviors, his old patterns – watching that realization hit Vince and his mother, well, I could have used a little more time with it, to realize what had been snatched away from him. From them.

What was problematic was the bright, sunny Vince – or at least the team spirited one – who was focused on what would become of his beloved Lions, and not what had become of his shattered-again world. Maybe I put too much significance on Ornette, but I would have loved to see the struggle of the boy whose worst fears were confirmed – his Dad couldn’t have totally changed – continue to play out.

The fact that he and Jess banded together again seems a little easy for me, not least because their school dreams are not all that crushed. There will be another place for Vince to triumph.

I didn’t have much sympathy, either, for Luke Cafferty. So you don’t get to play football in the way you wanted? I resent you, Luke, for not looking at other options besides staying home or playing. Isn’t there a third way? Perhaps there isn’t, but I’ve always had a stick in my craw about the people who, upon realizing plan A isn’t going to work, default straight to ‘no plan. I’m never trying again’.

And to that end, Tim Riggins, both the one I remember and the one I know now, who has been harshened by months in prison – he would have no time for the softness of Cafferty. Even now, he’s working on an exit strategy. Stupid though Alaska may be, it’s Tim constantly moving, beyond the clutches of the Devil Town.

When that music played, I cried - I mourned for our boys and the springs of emotion that come up when they do something they didn’t know they could do, and learn something about themselves and their hearts.

But I didn’t mourn for Eric Taylor.

Let us dispense first of all with the concept that the changing of the football team affects him really at all. We know he is in demand. We know he will coach whichever football team emerges victorious, and we know he has other offers in the event that Dillon becomes less attractive. Yes, by removing the Lions from contention they’re removing Eric’s most recent achievement, but again – he’ll still be a molder of young men. He’ll cherry pick his players. Eric Taylor will be fine.

….except that his ego is a tiny bit bruised that they didn’t just say “We’ll do whatever Taylor wants” and so he’s considering taking his toys and going home. And then, again, that HE may not have the job of a lifetime, in the sense that coaching the Panthers to State is something he’s already done – but he’s damn well not going to let anyone else have the job of a lifetime either. Isn’t that right, Tami?

Let’s think about the life of this woman, who reminded us over and over again that she’s been a coach’s wife for 18 years (and really, isn’t that so convenient? Either Eric started coaching the year Julie was born or they got pregnant before they got married and either way, it’s a bit cute, and not in the good way) . The fact is, Tami could have had and has had jobs up ‘til now. They’ve been Dillon-oriented and coaching-adjacent, but her primary function has been as a coach’s wife. Also Julie and Gracie-Belle’s mother, of course (Aimee Teegarden looks like herself again. Did she do something?), but the Taylor family has never made decisions based on Tami’s career.

So should they?

I’m asking honestly. Of course I think it’s a damn hot job and she’d probably be great at it and she’s not joking when she says it would be good for the family – I have an image of an 18 year old Gracie in a New England prep school talking about how funny it is that she was born in Texas, of all places – but it’s not how their arrangement has gone up ‘til now, and I am furious at Eric for not even considering it, but I also kind of understand why he isn’t.

I have a friend who talks about “Your own brand of crazy” when it comes to relationships. Her opinion is that while your own partner might drive you up-the-wall nuts, their flaws are preferable to the flaws you see in other people’s partners.

Her bigger point, though, is that in all committed relationships, you accept that the person you’re with has flaws, you accept them for what they are, because everyone has some. Tami chose this man with these flaws.

Eric is egotistical. He is smug, to a certain extent. He is selfish – and that’s not just talking about this situation. We’ve seen him say, a number of times, that he needs her to do something for him, without giving enough notice or against her rationale. He’s got a temper, when his cord gets pulled, which is pretty volatile.

This is not to take away from any of his other qualities – he’s a great dad, and he’s appreciative and morally upstanding. But Tami has known him for (oh, fine) 18 years. Should she expect that, after 20 years of doing things one way, it’s going to be easy to turn them around?

I’m not worried about the Taylor’s marriage and I don’t believe the creators want anyone to dislike Eric. He’ll go to Braemore College with Tami. At this point in the game, that’s a safe bet. But I do appreciate the questions about marriage that arose. What’s fair game, where your spouse is concerned? What do you get to ask of him or her? At what point, after one person is happy with the way things have been going for the longest time, do you get to reset the rules?

I want Tami to succeed, I don’t think that’s a surprise. But I also want Tami and Eric to get to a place where they can remember and acknowledge that thing that they taught us in the first place: that marriages, theirs especially, are living breathing entities that need to morph and change depending on the needs of the people in them; that they don’t stagnate in roles that stay the same – at least you hope; that, if you believe in that term ‘partnership’, you allow for the give and take and for that person to surprise you over and over again.

It’s the penultimate episode so people always wonder if you have thoughts on ‘what’s going to happen’. I don’t want to worry too much about who’s getting married to who (although the show wants me to be reassured about Luke and Becky, so let me wipe that pretend sweat off my brow), but I do think Julie and Matt will find that , declarations aside, they make each other happy for the moment. Her revelation to Tyra that ‘I don’t know what we are right now’ is usually what people utter when they realize being apart would suck.

I don’t need as much from this show at the end as I expected. I don’t need to see Buddy Garrity’s children hug him again. Nor a postcard of Jason Street’s family. I would like to believe that Vince is still going to be able to grow. I want Matt to be at peace with Grandma Saracen’s mental deterioration, to somehow not get sucked into the guilt chasm again. I would like to hear that someone in the Mindy-Billy-Collette-Becky cocktail has a brain in their heads between them and the soon to be three children.

And I really hope to see all the Taylors find a focus that reminds us that their unit, their strength, is not in Dillon, not in football, but in each other.

Too much to ask?

Attached – Michael B Jordan at a Super Bowl party this weekend.

Photos from Maury Phillips/Gettyimages.com