A couple of novels’ worth of plot developments were jammed into episode three. We expected the return of Coach Taylor to Dillon to be a gradual process that might consume much of the season, but we forgot that a show with bad ratings can’t afford to be gradual about anything. Buddy Garrity, the car salesman–booster–boozer distraught over being cut out of the new regime organized by Taylor’s replacement, Coach McGregor, is conspiring to bring Taylor back. Of course, we can plainly see, even if Taylor can’t, that Buddy lacks the juice to pull it off. Taylor seems willing to involve himself with this shady scheme because his new job continues to suck — heartless college boss made him cut a nice boy, boo hoo! — and his family back home is imploding. The new baby is driving Tami berserk, and Julie broke her curfew and was caught swapping spit with Pool Guy in his van in front of the house. Tami stormed out there, dragged Julie from the van, and gave her a big ol’ bitch slap right there on the front lawn. Pool Guy, for his part, showed his heart to be pure, quivering chicken shit by quickly driving off. Poor Julie. By the time she comes crying back to Matt, he’ll be all madly in love/lust with Carlotta, the Latina hottie nurse taking care of his grandma.
Matt, for the time being, though, is in fairly piss-poor shape himself. After playing miserably in the first game, which Dillon pulled out on a last-second trick-play touchdown by Smash Williams, Matt chose the unorthodox celebration tactic of assaulting his triumphant teammate on the field. Does this mixed-up boy need a father figure or what? His one consolation was that when he arrived home, he got a bit of physical therapy from Carlotta. (That’s not a euphemism for sex — she actually helped him work out a sore spot. She seemed pretty into it but will probably still express shock and horror when he makes his clumsy first pass.)
Meanwhile, there are subplots aplenty, of variable quality. Jason Street, the former star quarterback who lost the use of his legs in the first game last year and then returned as an assistant coach, is off to Mexico to get some quack operation so he can walk again. Before he left, he dropped by his ex-pal Riggins’s house to say fuck you and farewell (Riggins, we will recall, started boinking Street’s girlfriend not long after he was paralyzed), and wouldn’t you know it, Riggins decides to take off to Mexico with him. This comes after Riggins passed out at practice from a combination of overwork, courtesy of McGregor, and too many brew-dogs the night before.
So here’s what’s shaping up: It looks like Taylor will quit his college job next week then, with Buddy’s help, try to get his old job back. That won’t work, though, because the new coach, whatever faults he might have, hasn’t screwed up enough to warrant the quick hook. That leaves Taylor with ample free time to … run down to Mexico after Street and Riggins. When he finds them there, stoned and broke, maybe in jail, who knows, he’ll rope their asses like a couple of steers and haul ‘em back to Dillon. By that time, presumably, McGregor has made a fine hash of the season, Smash has gone and done something stupid, Matt has served his penance on the bench and is ready for redemption, and Taylor has his chance to restore dignity to Dillon and to his strayed flock of fatherless boys. Throw in a couple of TD passes, and that’s the season.
Or at least how it looks right now. For the sake of brevity, we will table discussion of Landry and Tyra’s romance, about to be tested when her stalker’s dead body is discovered next week, as well as of Lyla’s newfound love for the Lord, which, for the time being, is keeping her on the sidelines. —Hugo Lindgren