I don't presume to know exactly how Jason Katims and his team plan to bring Friday Night Lights' fifth and final season to a close but I do think I'm starting to sense the direction they're heading and if my sense is correct, I think they're doing a fantastic job of getting there organically and lessening the sting by making it so clearly the right decision for Coach and his family.
At the end of the first season, when Coach accepted the job with TMU, it seemed like he was doing it because he thought it was the right thing for his career, maybe even a little because he thought it was his one shot at moving up to the college level. It never felt like his heart was really in it. He loved the Panthers and the kids on his team and he certainly knew that he was making a difference in the town, at the school, for the team and for the boys. When Street came to town a few weeks ago and let him know that there were once again colleges who'd like to hire him, he didn't hesitate to say that he was happy where he was because he'd learned from the earlier experience that there is something to be said for making a difference and loving the kids. But a lot has changed in a short time and I don't think it'll be getting much better any time soon.
Ornette may well believe he has his son's best interests at heart but he doesn't really know what's best for Vince's future and he certainly doesn't know the first thing about teaching his boy how to be a man or what that even means. Under Ornette's influence, Vince has stopped caring about the Lions and has developed selfish and egotistical habits that are causing friction with his friends on the team, with Jess, and with Coach.
This week Ornette takes Vince out of school for a day so the two of them can make an "unofficial" visit to an Oklahoma school. During the trip they're set up to "overhear" the coach say that they have two QBs in their recruiting pipeline and the first one to give them a verbal commitment will be offered the scholarship. They're also photographed without knowing it. When Vince returns to school the next day he tells Jess the truth and she's pissed because he put her in a position of having to lie or cover for him with Coach. Her lie (that she thought maybe he was sick) is nothing compared to the doozy that Vince drops when Coach asks him about his unexcused absence - he blames it on his mother falling off the crack wagon. That's just shameful.
The picture is then posted online and Coach calls him out on the lie but the damage is so much worse than that. The team, already pretty pissed about the way that Vince is courting the spotlight for himself alone, isn't happy to hear that he missed practice for an (illegal) recruiting trip. Luke in particular isn't feeling very brotherly toward Vince anymore.
Coach tells Ornette that if Vince misses another practice - or steps out of line at all - he'll be benched. Ornette tries to threaten Coach, because I guess he didn't think I hated him enough already, by saying that he knows that Coach is being recruited by a college himself and therefore isn't really putting the Lions first either. Coach isn't ruffled and just reiterates that he means what he says.
Meanwhile, Luke and Becky are heating up which is making Becky uncomfortable because every time she's with him she thinks about the pregnancy and the abortion and she freaks out a little. I'm glad to see them acknowledging this because after Mindy cracked a couple of jokes about Luke and Becky having sex, I was worried that they might not. Anyway, Becky tries to distract herself by entering a beauty pageant which Mindy and two of her stripper besties help Becky prepare for. One night backstage at The Landing Strip, Becky tells the girls what the problem is with her and Luke and while there is no way for me to convey how sweet and funny and sad and great the scene is, you have to know that it was perfect in every way. Becky takes 3rd place (that's 2nd runner up on the pageant circuit) and the girls act a little obnoxious about it, because they're supportive like that. When she comes home, she leaves Luke a note telling him she wants them to start over. Now that Matt and Caroline have split up on The Vampire Diaries, Luke and Becky are the cutest couple on television. (It might be a tie if Dan Patch hadn't broken up with Savannah but, you know, Marti ruins everything.)
Tami continues to be in storyline Siberia with Epych who is making up stories about not being fed and maybe being sexually assaulted by foster brothers. Tami is her friend and eats soup. Poor Tami, she's much too good for this.
Buddy Jr. breaks his leg during The African Anteater Ritual or some such nonsense that Billy has the defense engaged in at practice.
And finally, Julie's TA creep comes to Dillon to talk her into going back to school by telling her that he quit and also that he cares about her and some other stuff that sounds pretty disingenuous coming from a guy who's carried on more than one extra-marital affair with a student. The first time he shows up to the house and Coach chases him off waving the handlebars of Gracie's not-yet-assembled bike at him and eventually busting TA's tail light. Next he pops in to see Tami at work and she is way nicer than Coach about it but tells him to get lost, just the same. He finally talks to Julie and the next day she apologizes to her parents for being such a brat and then packs up and goes back to school. On the drive, she calls TA. She asks if he meant what he said or if he was just trying to get her to go back to school. He meant it. She turns around. I was sure she was heading to Tennessee to see him but when she knocked on the door and the camera moved behind the head of the man who answered, I got a sudden rush of excitement and then...MATT SARACEN!
Next week: More fights, more saddness and Matt and Julie hang out in Chicago and then probably break up...again. Pass me a tissue, would ya?