This week featured people being branded, literally and metaphorically, as the Lions take a road trip to Kingdom for a big face-redeeming game with the team they forfeited against last year.
Buddy Jr (BJ) is saddled not only as the newest team member, thus the one who gets hazed, but also by Hastings as a virgin, despite denying it. (Why Hastings doesn't also get hazed is a mystery, since he's only been on the team a short while.) So BJ gets all the dirty work that Jess doesn't -- hauling luggage, getting ice, basically anything anyone else wants done. But interestingly, he is bonding with Hastings, who at one point, lived in Kingdom ("no bars and 9000 churches") long enough to make acquaintances, particularly with tattooed potheads and cheerleaders. He has taken a little of Tim's old wiseass role, chiding BJ and coach, asking "are we there yet." Sadly, it mainly made me miss Riggins.See more photos of "Kingdom">>
The night before the game, the "East Dillon Loins" (as the welcoming sign says) can't sleep, and wind up chilling and chattin' on their little adjoining patios. They don't know that Coach is also on his patio nearby, hidden by the bushes, listening. It's pretty adorable - the banter really feels like stuff they'd say, and Vince stands up for Coach's decision to forfeit last year, which is Eric's personal scarlet letter F. Vince is now coach's -- dare I say it -- Jason Street, and the trust is mutual as Vince and his dad agree to let Coach handle all inquiries about recruiting Vince. (That is, until his dad is approached in the stands by a guy from TMU. More on that later, for sure.)
The Lions win big after trailing at halftime. The other team did themselves no favors by race-baiting Vince before the second half. Since Vince can do everything on the field, and Coach has given him reins to the team, Vince checks himself into the first play on defense and levels the guy who trash talked him. From then on, Coach tells him to play by the Lions' rules - East Side! Instigated by Luke, who's drunk with brotherhood and victory (and beer), that night the team celebrates their loyalty by branding their biceps with an L amid Hastings' pothead friends. Ouch. And the coaches are playing poker and drinking, and although Eric has erased the F from his image, he still can't win at poker and drinking games. L.
Which bring us back to the letter A, and Julie and her illicit affair with her TA. I honestly hate this story line, and with Aimee Teegarden working across from an actor with lesser skills (or perhaps just a crummy role), she is unwatchable. He stalks her at a poetry reading and kidnaps her to go get some fried food. Dare I admit that when his wife shows up at the library looking for Julie, and slapping her and repeatedly yelling "JULIE TAYLOR IS A SLUT!" while karate kicking, I felt glee? Seriously. And that was one way for JT to get her tail home and see her momma, finally. (That said, the look on Tami's face as she watches Julie say hi to Gracie is priceless.) In any case, I hope Julie quits school just so this hacky story stops. Who cares about a degree.
At this point, it is worth considering the terrible story lines the women are given this season. Yes, the show centers around football, which excludes females, so by its nature is male-centric. And Jess' role as equipment manager desperately involving herself in any way possible, while a hack like Billy wears the coach moniker (alright, he was a state champ too) underscores the unjust bias. I bet -- I hope -- Jess replaces Billy as special teams coach very soon, as Billy's getting on Eric's last nerve. Julie has been reduced to a tramp, uninteresting in every way. Tami was left to care for Gracie and her nemesis at school has suddenly befriended her, going to Tami's for take-out and wine. And Tami's inability to reach Julie by phone adds to her ever-present feeling of alienation, despite being the glue that holds it all together.
And writers, a bit heavy at the end, when Hastings again asks Coach if they're there yet, and he answers "We're getting there. Slowly but surely we'll get there." Cough *state* cough.
(Image courtesy of NBC)