The episode "Keep Looking" raised the question, can people really change? Let's go character by character this week.
Buddy. Buddy Jr.'s in town, and boy is he a handful. Jeff Rosick as the kid looks exactly like Brad Leland might've as a teen. They drive by the shuttered Garrity Motors. He's still sullen but shows his dad a glimmer of hope when he disses seitan (sounds like "satan," lol), the perfect vegetarian meat substitute. He asks if they give shock treatments at slummy East Dillon while checking out Tami's rack. Soon he's broken into Buddy's Bar & Grill and gotten trashed. As if that's not enough, BJ steals his dad's credit card and car, leading to a wild goose chase where Buddy actually runs him down and tackles him. Very impressive, Buddy! This is enough to merit him a trip to Eric's Disciplinary Academy, otherwise known as the football team. We think Buddy Jr. can change in the hands of the molder of men.
At last! Some rainbows and puppies for 44. Not only is he manning up to ask Becky out on a date (at the dance, oddly enough), boldy telling her she likes him. "I'm coming for you, Sproles," he says. Aww. He's getting looked at by recruiters, finally, and gets invited to TMU. He brings five buddies to sit at the 50 yard line for a game, including Vince, who, by accident or foresight, is invited into the head coach's office for some sort of clandestine interview. Will Vince get a scholarship instead of Luke, whose luck would dictate that sort of twist? Anyway, Luke has changed into a happy guy, at least for one ep, so sweet and polite and appreciative. But this has got to end badly in some kind of recruiting illegality for either him or Vince.
Vince. His dad's still hanging around, attending Lions' practices (although Vince doesn't want to introduce him to Coach) and wooing back his mom. While you want to believe he's for real, it feels more right when Vince refuses to believe his dad is on the straight and narrow when he used to be the "baddest cat" around, dealing drugs before doing time for aggravated assault. (And it evokes The Wire to see him with Michael B. Jordan, the sweet kid who gets suckered into bad stuff.) But after Vince searches his room and they get into a screaming match, they reach a truce, with his dad promising he'd never let his mom touch dope again. Not really convinced about this cat changing his spots ... but here's hoping.
Jess. Vince is totally flummoxed about Jess' job as equipment manager. He watches as she trash talks like a pro with the other guys, simultaneously admiring her and wanting to protect her. He tells her she has to quit, as if that's gonna work. I'm still not sure about Jess becoming equipment manager -- her total willingness to do all the dirty work it involves without a dent to her dignity. (And again -- what about Ray's BBQ?) But a very good reason for her managing to insert herself into the Lions' locker room, no matter how, comes up when Billy is perplexed about Tinker's performance. Jess whispers the reason why in his ear (he's going by the snap count and not watching the ball) and overhears later as Billy announces it in a coach's meeting, to Eric's approval. Can't be long before Jess is wearing a coach's hat.
Tami. Still battling ever reduced budgets. But confident that the staff can change things themselves. Epyck is back, shoveling out the crap at Tami, saying math is boring before whacking another kid with her textbook. (Eric says her name sounds like something someone came up with when they were drunk.) Principal Deacon gives her a one-day suspension, which is clearly what she was hoping for. She has to turn out to be ultra-smart, but before that, Tami might have to tranquilize her ... Tami winds up bartering math tutoring to chaperone the school dance, where Epyck tries unsuccessfully to get into the dance, which in itself doesn't make any sense. You'd think that's the last place she'd want to be.
Becky. Chirpy as ever, making the morning's public announcements at school, asking Mindy if it's OK to have the dance committee meeting chez Riggins. Her dad (Bull) calls, angry that she up and left her stepmom, demanding she go back home the next day. But when Mindy drives her home and sees how Becky's treated before threatening to call the cops on her dad, she takes her back to the Riggins ranch. Dad and family ditch Dillon, mom's still on the casino boat, so she's still the ward of Mindy and Billy. Nothing changes for Jess this week.
Mindy. It's understandable she doesn't want Becky around, but she has a change of heart after witnessing the Sproles crap firsthand. She gets support from Becks too, asking Becky to evaluate her ass, after going back to the Landing Strip after maternity leave and being told she'd be working the day shift. As she did with Tim, Becky's bringing out a better side of Mindy, who hugs her sweetly and tells her she can stay with them.
Julie. Resisting the married TA, then going to his apartment and getting seduced. No change here and some lame acting to boot, people. Zzz.
Typically for FNL, there was so much wistfulness throughout. We see a picture of Julie with her parents as Tami futilely tries calling her. And behind Becky, with her adopted role models Mindy and Bill, we see a photo of Tim in his Panther uniform, gone but not forgotten ... a kid who did change, who reached his potential despite the odds, only to be sacrificed for the sake of his family.
(Image courtesy of NBC)