One more episode to go and once again we are headed to state! I love that we have come around to this moment. I also kind of like that this episode took us through the full play off slate in one go. It is true that the actual football is taking a back seat to make more room for the personal stories, but those stories are holding me so close. The heart of this episode was the two women you paired together last week: Tammy and Becky. Tammy and Becky have not had any screen time together since Tim Riggins brought Becky to the Taylor home when she found out she was pregnant. You raised the interesting possibility that Becky could be a kind of Tammy-junior. Or rather, maybe Becky and Luke could be a Tammy-Eric duo in the future. This episode showed us just how far Becky would have to go to be Tammy. But it also showed us that there is some serious unfinished business between Becky and Tim. Not that this is surprising, at least not on Becky’s part. What did surprise me a little is how much Tim pinned his hopes of innocence and redemption on Becky. To come home and discover she is waitressing at the Landing Strip was perhaps the hardest blow for him to take. It definitely tipped him off to all the ways Billy and Mindy still fall short of the Taylor paradigm (and um, maybe, Billy getting wasted while he watches his pregnant wife make the rounds with her customers was a clue too). It also raised his resentments against the town itself. As he gets kicked out of the bar he shouts “only in Dillon, TX” or something to that effect. Of course, when he makes a big deal of leaving I expect him to go farther than the beat up trailer in the back of Becky’s mom’s yard. But really, isn’t that trailer the place that always seemed to house Tim best?
As much as I agree with Tim’s outburst and hope Becky gets the hell out of the Landing Strip, her insistence that this is her job fit into the larger theme of the episode, which could be called something like “women’s empowerment” but was really more about women trying to figure out their vocational paths in a violent, brutish man’s world. In this way, though on a totally different plane, we watched Tammy make steps toward her own discernment. The cover school for Bryn Mawr (that was what it was supposed to be, basically, right?) looked pretty damn appealing and I think you might get your wish that the Taylors will move for Tammy not for Eric. Though what he will do outside of Philadelphia is a bit of an enigma to me. Imagining them in a small “almost Ivy” college town environment was a little hard to do, wasn’t it? But the fact that I could do it at all, shows that there is a yearning in the Taylors that Dillon will probably never quite meet. And maybe that yearning has to do with more than swimming pools and better booster money.
We also watched Jess finally confess her coaching aspirations to Eric and I found his response pretty much perfect. I think it is a huge disservice and counter productive to adopt a “you can be anything you want to be” approach – with young women or men. The truth is that some careers are going to be pretty well-nigh impossible for some people for various reasons. Being absolutely crystal clear about the prejudice and difficulty Jess will face seemed like the way Coach could take her most seriously before grudgingly taking her into the coaching fold.
So what does it mean that this penultimate episode took the focus off the field and into these female character story lines? It felt like the final nod to the truth that this show is not “a football show” but stories about the relationships that bind us to places and other people. And in a very profound way, in Dillon, TX and in most of the world, those relationships find their center in the women who birth children, love and raise them, and partner with the children of other women to do it. What do you think? Do you buy that? What else was going on?
All the way to state baby,
p.s. I am out of time and space, but I didn’t even touch the other emotional center, Vince and his parents. Though there too we have a son clinging to and protecting his mother. But omph, what a way for Ornette to go!