The perfect season's over for the East Dillon Lions. The vitriol in the locker room found its way onto the football field. Vince and Luke, particularly, destroyed any chance of the Lions winning the game because Vince took Luke out of the game by calling his own plays, as Coach paced the sideline looking like someone about to burst. Following the game, in the locker room, the teammates continued to bicker and argue with one another until Coach kicked the entire team out of his field house because they didn't deserve to be there. Silently, the team filed out. Later, the coaches met and Coach Crawley said what everyone knew but hadn't spoken: Vince is the problem; he's lost the locker room.
Indeed, Vince became a major problem at the end of "Perfect Record." The QB's worse now. He changes plays in the huddle, talks back to his coach, phases his teammates out in the locker room. He's TV's version of Willie Beaman from Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday. Lucky for Vince (though he doesn't know this) and the rest of the team, a loss is the absolute best thing that could've happened to them at this point in time. The phrase "gut check" has been used for many, many years in post-game interviews. Lebron James or Dwayne Wade probably used the word gut check during one of the slumps the Heat experienced. Any NFL team that began the season well and lost will use the word "gut check." Winning is a wonderful thing--the best part about sports. Of course, winning hides problems or weaknesses in the team. A gut check allows the team and the coaches to finally correct the problems that exist. This is what happens in an episode titled "Gut Check." Coach gives Luke reps at QB in case Vince needs to be benched. The benching happens after Vince fails to attend a study session with Luke. The flood gates seemingly open.
However, Vince himself needs a gut check--that reality hovers over every Vince scene. The kid opened the season as a hard-working, humble football player who only transformed when his father returned to Dillon. Vince longed for his father but maybe his father doesn't have his best interests in mind (he definitely doesn't but I used Vince's mother's words). In such a short time, Vince lost the locker room, his friends and his girlfriend because his father, and other universities, convinced him that he's bigger than the team, the coach and anyone in his life.
Vince receives a gut check from the women in his life. Jess and his mother have been reduced to the back round in the last few episodes as the males battled for Vince's future. As important as women are in the series, their influence is rarely felt in football situations. It's a man's world that dismisses a woman's opinion. Even Coach Taylor's guilty of that because he essentially ignored Jess' recommendation letter for an internship with Baylor University. Little does Coach know that Jess is responsible for Tinker's improvement as well as Vince AND Luke's grasp of the offense. Anywho, Jess breaks up with Vince because his recent behavior pushed her out of his life. Later, Vince's mother suggests that maybe Ornette doesn't have Vince's best interests in mind. It gives Vince pause. In the course of the episode, he lost the locker room, a start, friendships and Jess. Finally, something gave him pause. Even more of a gut check: Luke leads the Lions into the playoffs with a 19-17 victory. Vince doesn't let his father verbally assault the Coach after the game, which suggests that Vince might have turned the corner because the Vince in "Fracture" would've led the charge with his father.
It's a testament to the writers, directors and actors that the new characters have become as engaging as Smash, Street, Riggins, Tyra, Lyla, Saracen and Landry during the first three seasons. The current stretch of episodes have been utterly fantastic, especially the football stuff. The Julie stuff barely registers when the A story's as strong as it's been for the majority of the season. Matt Saracen's return doesn't even make the C story interesting. I've written about my desire to see some old characters but the show's moved beyond them and the respective return of Street and Saracen exemplifies that, which is the point. Saracen's mature and secure in a way he never was in Dillon. He doesn't belong in Dillon anymore. He's moved beyond it. Julie, meanwhile, has yet to carve out her place in the world--she opts for safety net rather than adventure. She spins tales about how college isn't what she wants, after all. As they depart, Saracen hopes she finds what she's looking for. I have no idea what she's wanted the entire season. Hopefully the conclusion of her arc makes it worthwhile but I'm doubtful.
The Epyck subplot ended. Laurel accused the wayward youth of stealing $20 from her purse. A meeting with Epyck ended with Tami being pushed into a window by Epyck. Epyck left the school in hand cuffs. Later, Tami tells Eric that Epyck's being moved into a reform school and out of her foster home. Tami feels terribly about it. Again, the story is more suitable for Parenthood. I don't have much to write about Epyck and Tami; however, what happens to Epyck leads to a conversation between husband and wife about life out of Dillon, Texas. Coach met with Shane State. Julie doesn't fit into Dillon anymore and the town's wearing out Tami and Coach. Also, the scene with Epyck and Gracie Bell was adorable.
Overall, another strong episode for FNL. David Hudgins wrote the episode. Chris Eyre directed it.
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK