Season 5 begins! But oddly, with more departures than arrivals. Julie and Landry are off to college. And hard to believe, but Dillon's parents are less present than ever, away pursuing the ever scarcer almighty buck, in the meantime abandoning their kids. Gone are Jess' dad, to Dallas to open three rib franchises, causing her brother Andre to act out and be bratty. Vince -- now officially Jess' boyfriend -- has a heart-to-heart with Andre, asking him to help Jess and be the man of the house.
Becky's mom is on a casino boat, presumably bartending or running a blackjack table, replaced at home by her mostly absent trucker dad and his new bitchy wife and their baby. Her stepmom hisses that she "didn't sign up for this" and "fix it" to her husband about the generally well-behaved Becky, who takes refuge with Billy and Mindy in -- of all places -- Tim's old room. The Riggins are surprised and reluctant but welcome Becky -- in no small part due to guilt over Tim (and, I'm thinkin', free Stevie-sitting!). But this feels somewhat plot-forced, I have to say. Speaking of ...
Tim. Tim is really in prison -- looking aged, somber and somewhat saintly in his white jumpsuit as Billy visits. Tim tells him he need not visit so often and to tell Becky the same, that he has only three months to go on good behavior. It's nice to know they're checking in on Tim, but it's also sad to learn they're probably his only two visitors. And Tim clearly is festering inside about taking the fall for Billy; when Billy tells Tim he wants to help Coach Taylor with the Lions, because after all, he was kind of a coach to Tim, Tim retorts, "Coach was my coach." Billy convinces Eric to let him help the Lions, even though he can't pay him. Coach Riggins II.
Much of the show is spent on the new kid in town, Hastings Ruckle (Grey Damon, who plays Kitch! a hotshot QB from Hotshot! on True Blood
), a self-titled "free spirit" and basketball player who thinks football is dumb, scouted by Buddy, whose vertical leap Eric would very much like to have at his disposal. He enlists Luke and Vince (who in turn enlists Jess) to woo him at Luke's ranch party, where the highlight is Tinker trying to kiss a pig. Tinker has clearly inherited the comic relief mantle from the departing Landry. The coaxing and daring convinces Hastings to show up to board the team bus for the first game, chased by his basketball coach. Reality check: Would you really allow a guy who's never worn a football uniform to suit up for a game? Ah, but this is
Gametime! Despite Eric's dismay at his ramshackle coaching staff, the Lions have fared well in other areas, gaining not just a new scoreboard, but sponsors too, and those cool Underarmour arm band thingies! But they still trail most of the game until -- you guessed it -- Ruckle steps up, telling Coach he guarded the opponent in b-ball and knows he can outjump him, proving himself by scoring a TD. With Vince at QB, and Luke running and tackling like a demon, the Lions be gellin' and winnin'!
Landry is off to Rice, and we follow his (and Crucifictorious') goodbye tour, including a stop at Grandma Saracen's where she adorably tells him to keep up the music thing, that she has Crucifictorious on her MP3 player. Awww. The band plays its final gig to its biggest audience ever, including Julie. In an uncharacteristic twist, she treats Landry to a night at the Landing Strip, bidding him goodbye and telling him to make sure he has cab fare home. Wha? Suddenly she's like Tim initiating virgin Matt a few seasons ago. Makes no sense given the characters. Also making no sense -- Julie drives herself to college without her parents. Really? The tightest family on TV? And where she's going to school is a mystery (unless I missed it), but clearly it's within driving distance. But Julie has matured and she's ready to leave Dillon, while her parents are already missing her.
Finally, and most boringly, Tami is now the guidance counselor at East Dillon, where she's in a windowless office with a broken phone, and even the parents are truant, blowing off their meetings with her. Principal Levi grimly leads a staff meeting where teachers are snarking at him and looking skeptically at little Susie Sunshine, Tami. We know she'll prevail, but it'll be tough. Isn't everything in Dillon?See All Friday Night Lights Season 5 Coverage>>
(Image courtesy of DirecTV)