Friday Night Lights is at it's absolute best when it focuses on a slice of life. Last night was full of the small, simple, authentic moments that we've come to expect from this show and every one of them was affecting in some way.
A lot of attention was paid to the influence that Ornette is having in Vince's life and how that's changing Vince's relationship with Coach and what it's doing to the team. After being in prison for a large part of Vince's life, Ornette wants to be the father who guides his son's future and in part because Ornette helped him out of a bind last week, but also because he sees how happy his mother is, Vince wants to let his father in and trust that he's doing what's right and what's best for his future. Though I understand how Vince can stand behind his dad, it is disappointing to see him turn his back on coach in this way, given how much Coach cares about him and has been there for him when his father wasn't. It's especially hard to watch because I don't trust that Ornette actually wants what's best for Vince. And it is incomprehensible to me that he had the NERVE to treat Coach with such disdainful disrespect - at the barbecue Coach was hosting at his own home. He's a thug and he is poison to Vince's life.
The Ornette problem comes to a bit of a head when the Lions play the Panthers. East Dillon gives West Dillon a solid trouncing in the game - complete with some pretty savage hits - and, in the last moments of the game, ahead by 24 and in possession of the ball, Coach tells them to take a knee and allow the clock to run out so as not to kick their opponents while they're down. It's the classy thing to do. Coach sends the play in but Vince, encouraged by his dad and the recruiter in the stands, decides to take this opportunity to show off his arm. He throws a 65 yard pass for a final touchdown which is the sporting equivalent of rubbing the other teams' face in the dirt. It's petty, it's thugish, and it's the very epitome of unsportsmanlike conduct. Coach may have an undefeated team, but judging by the way they behaved on the field last night, he may be losing the battle when it comes to shaping them into men.
But as full as the story was with all things Vince and Ornette, there were a lot of other things happening. Tami had a brief, painfully awkward encounter with Derek that once again made me wish that the Emmy's had a "face acting" category because Connie Britton would OWN that trophy. Jason Street returned to Dillon and had just about the most delightful lunch with Coach where they talked about Jason getting married, about their kids, about Jason's job, about life. Billy gave Luke some truly awful advice about women in one of the funniest scenes in the show's history. My adoration for Luke's interest in discussing Mindy's employment at The Landing Strip can not be measured. Likewise, I'm beyond thrilled that Luke and Becky seem to have finally turned their relationship into...well, a relationship. Buddy and the East Dillon boosters camping out on the field to ensure that it is not vandalized before the rivalry game was full of overlapping dialogue and middle-aged insanity and it brought a tear to my eye to see how far we'd come in a little over a year.
Of course, it turns out that Coach is himself being recruited by a college in Florida. While Coach thinks he's happy where he is, the lure of a job as a college head coach together with the realization that while the boys he coaches may be of the highest importance to Coach, he and the team aren't always of the highest importance to him will likely send the Taylor family on to new challenges outside of Dillon when the series comes to an end.