Did you know you don’t have to lie to me?
Oof, this one was all about girls and manipulation – a somewhat unfortunate combination! Let’s start with the manipulation: Epic, Vince’s dad, and Vince…
Man, Epic had me with that hunger routine and the sad story about social services. Perhaps I was particularly involved in this narrative because I too once worked with inner city kids and had to balance the goods and bads of a call to social services. And I too learned that things are never easy to discern in such situations…manipulation or not. Tammy Taylor really is the heart and soul of this show for me. If ever I feel like I might be a good and gracious person, Tammy Taylor reminds me that no ma’am, I most certainly am not. That woman exudes grace – even when the adulterous TA is at her door and she is being tough and awesome – right down to her toes. Her security in her self keeps her from being pissed at Epic and continuing to break bread with her. It felt like we reached a second naivete in that Chinese restaurant – we thought Tammy had gotten through in the car over tortilla chips, but she hadn’t…which is why we can’t totally trust that she has now, but we can hope.
Before I move to the second manipulation, let’s take a moment to note how central food is to this show. We had the BBQ last week that tried to re-affirm the solidarity of the team in the midst of strife…sure, it didn’t work, but it tried (and it echoed an ongoing theme of Tammy’s own work for the teams throughout the whole series). And here we had the scenes with Epic, in office, car and restaurant, as well as Julie and Derek breaking bread to say good-bye.
And what a good-bye it was – as Julie called Derek from the car, I thought to myself: “ugh, she’s not going back to school, but I sure do wish she’d just head to Matt in Chicago rather than that wanker in Tennessee.” Colour me ecstatic that in the midst of her bad decisions, she made a marginally good one! Perhaps that’s all we can hope for here.
Ok, second manipulation – Vince’s dad. Yikes! I loved what you had to say last week. I too find him terrifying and totally disarming. How on earth did he know that Coach was being wooed? And how on earth is Coach going to come through benching Vince unscathed? We saw a little of Coach’s own violent side in this episode, but smashing a tail-light is nothing compared to what Ornette can do. Even more than this potential showdown, however, I find myself torn up to pieces over whether Vince’s dad is trying to look out for him (but, nevertheless, misguided in how he is doing so), or whether he is trying to ride his son’s coat-tails to success. It’s one or the other, and both are heartbreaking…but the latter feels much, much too unredeemable for this show.
Which leads us to our third – Vince. The boy is changing. And he feels only a few steps away from where he began. Lying, covering up, treating his girl poorly…these things add up and once he gets benched next week, I fear for how he too will retaliate. What I can’t figure out is why no one – Coach Taylor in particular – is sitting him down and explaining things to him properly. If things implode here, Eric will need to take some of the blame for not spelling things out clearly: don’t take gifts because they get you disqualified from the season; don’t give a verbal because you’ll get screwed over.
In the midst of all this manipulation, we had the lovely, absolutely gorgeous story of Becky and her stripper friends. I’m with you – Becky and Luke are inching their way up to be the new Matt+Julie, Landry+Tyra, even Riggins+Lyla, in my view. But even more than that story, I’m loving Mindy taking Becky under her wing. The scene backstage at The Landing Strip actually brought a small tear to my eye as the girls all admitted to losing their virginity in trucks, but then as Mindy brought the sage advice, to leave your crap in the past…even if it was followed by the less sage advice to drink a lot because it really does help. Becky is walking a fine line here, as is the story. It’s sweet that she has this totally non-judgmental relationship with the strippers – I love seeing their care for each other. But the slide from pageant crown to nipple tassel actually feels slight, and while I want her to be friends with the strippers, I don’t actually want her to become one of them. How to balance these two desires will be tough in the weeks to come, I think.
Finally, I loved that the episode’s title was taken from poor Buddy Jr.: Fracture. That kid has been a quiet, but poignant figure in each episode – the branding, last week’s tackle, and this week’s injury. Crucial to each narrative, he nevertheless never gets his own story, and I wonder what might be coming up for him. Perhaps nothing – and that would be ok. Watching this tiny story between him and Buddy makes up the stunning detail of such an emotional, character driven show. There are more textures here than we can develop or even entertain…just as has life.
Tensions heighten between Billy and the rest of the coaching staff, Eric and Ornette, Coach+Tammy+Julie, internal to the Lions’ team, Jess and Vince and countless others…something is about to burst. How has this show stayed so great for so long!?! I just don’t know.
Can’t wait to hear what you thought!