Written by Duana

Season 5, Episode 5

This week’s FNL is the most cohesive version of ‘the new class’ we’ve seen. They saw what they needed to do and gave us a group of boys ready and willing to bond, to see the greatness in what they’ve been given as a team. They are friends, they are, for the moment, not competing within themselves, and for the first time in months, the Lions are on a high. They can afford to be kind to Buddy Garrity Jr. They have nothing to lose right now.

And that’s usually when the stupidest things happen in teenage life. I’ve thought a lot about it – about the things you do that are so dumb, so ill conceived, that you start praying moments after they happen that you could rewind time. Now, I have to admit, none of mine were that bad (I bruised my mom’s car more than once, but always in these lame, not-even-an-accident ways) but whether it’s a drunken night that rankles in the morning like those gonna-get-gangrene tattoos, or the slower, more insidious ones, Jess stayed up all night, and I wonder whether that isn’t the youthful mistake that will stay with her, wondering what made her do it. After all, you can get through anything if you can talk through it, right? It’s the things you do alone that creep into your heart and brain and make you question who you are…

But we’ll get to Julie in a moment.

The road trip was so much fun – so much of what that high school experience promises. You know someone’s getting drunk and someone’s having sex and someone’s doing something truly horrifying that will only be whispered in the halls – and I thought they got the vibe quite right. I think Buddy Jr has assimilated rather well for a kid who can’t play – when he sat down beside Hastings Ruckle, I thought for certain that these two were going to be the alt. guys, the non-football-players. But they seem to have gotten on board – and I wonder whether there’s just not enough time to follow their dissent from the team or whether something big is going to rock the team, and we’re going to need our core of boys to be solid. Either way, that adorable bonding on their back porches at night was pretty classic, and it reminds you when you think you’re grown up and worldly, how much sleeping away from home can render you vulnerable enough to share secrets with your friends, and how well behaved these boys really are, when it comes down to it. Big game tomorrow or not, you think Tim Riggins would have stayed in his room? There would have been midnight swimming at the very, very least (and you’re telling me the cheerleaders were bussed in the day of? Please).

I raised a bit of an eyebrow at Coach bristling at the shunning of the rules. I actually think this is a bit babyish of him. You can’t have it both ways, Coach, which is to say, playing dirty/winning the game, partying in the hallways, and then say ‘oh, but I wasn’t sure I liked how it went down.’ He isn’t a newbie, and I think this might be the beginnings of a rift between Coach and the more ‘modern thinkers’ - it’s so hard to believe we have just eight episodes left, but anything could happen…

And then, again, I didn’t understand why we are making Vince a junior in high school. Now, I had to look up whether you can skip college and play in the NFL (consensus seems to be: possible but very unlikely), but I’m banking on most other viewers of the show not knowing either. And since I’m pretty sure that by the time this episode, five, was written and shot, that they knew it was their final season, I’m not sure where they’re going with the slight suspiciousness of Vince’s dad (you know you think so too) and his seeming easy-peasy buddyship with Luke Cafferty, which obviously hangs in the balance at some point.

As a side note: I have never been truly enamoured of Luke and I think he needs more acknowledgement of his dickish side that can come out here and there, but I thought his rap, which I’ll bet was improv’ed by the actor, was adorable and endearing and in character.

It seems I always wrap up these recaps with Julie and her Bad Idea TA, but that seems to be what the show wants from me – for the takeaway lesson to be hers. Julie’s mistakes are so textbook for a girl who’s trying hard to be an adult – she swallows every line he gives her because she doesn’t want to seem petulant and little-girly if she disagrees. She smirks her ‘oh, I’m older and wiser than you think’ smirk and inwardly delights at how much like a grown up he treats her. There’s a particular type of guy, who knows that the right button to press is to tell a girl how ‘mature’ she is, how much he enjoys the banter – in short, a guy who says “I know we’re in bed together, but I’m really here because of your brain.”

It’s pretty cheesy, and for a certain type of girl, it works every damn time. In fact, I don’t know, nor do I wish to, the relationship between Allison and TA, but I bet there are elements of it there. That before he decided he was going to ride her adjunct to a PhD program, he liked that she was smart.

However, I don’t actually buy that a woman who deals with a philandering husband, who acknowledges that Julie is ‘not the first’, is getting anything out of cowering an 18 year old girl into submission. I could be wrong, of course, but I never understood what that does. Your husband did the bad thing, which means you are the one who made the stupid choice. If anything, you should be commiserating with that girl for choosing the same stupid loser you did. I know this is an unpopular position, but I kind of feel like all the violence against ‘homewreckers’ is misplaced . He’s the one you should be mad at. He has to take responsibility for his own d*ck.

So now Julie comes home, and even though Tami doesn’t outwardly know why Julie has her tail between her legs, you can see, from her face, from Julie’s, that she knows the rest of the story is still to come. At least, I certainly hope she does. (Such genuine joy from Julie on the ‘Hi Gracie’ line made me forgive her a lot of her dumb sins…) And I hope, with the story still to come, we find out why Julie’s parents suddenly couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for the pricy east-coast colleges Tami was pushing last year? Something still doesn’t add up – although Julie could as easily have been seduced into driving for ‘the best chili in Boston’ so I should be happy for the small things. At least she can come home.

I do feel like our boys are protected so far this year. Nobody’s done anything stupid – not even Smash-taking-steroids stupid. If the worst they have to show after five episodes are about-to-be-infected scars, then we’re heading for a fall. At least, I hope so. Is that weird?

Attached – totally missed on these Aimee Teegarden shots from Variety’s Power of Youth event a few weeks ago.

Photos from Wenn.com and Frazer Harrison/Gettyimages.com