In Chicago, Julie tells Matt she had a really good weekend. But she wants to stay. Matt says that’ll be fine.
The Lions have apparently just lost 17-28 to East Cambria and are now 8-1. Jess is cleaning up the benches on the field.
The team is in disarray in the locker room. Coach kicks them all out. Sammy Meade (does he do East Dillon games?) says the Lions played not as a team, but as individuals.
The Lions’ playoff hopes are still alive though. If they win on Friday, they’re in. But even if they lose, they can clinch next week. Crowley says they all know the problem here. Vince has lost his team.
At practice, Coach tells the team this has not been them. They are not themselves. To get them back on track, he tells Vince to give Luke the red shirt today. Vince can’t believe it and he fights back. (“Don’t talk back to me on the field.”)
Over at the Landing Strip, Mindy is feeling sick, so Becky offers to take her first. Mindy reluctantly agrees and she suits up and waits tables. She ends up with wads of cash and thinks maybe she might like this job.
Mindy doesn’t want Becky to work at The Landing Strip. Then she tells her that she’s pregnant again though she’s not happy about it.
When Mindy tells Billy, he is freakin’ excited and reassures Mindy that everything will be okay. He puts the pregnancy test in his mouth.
Coach asks Vince to work with Luke on the playbook and tape tonight. In the locker room, Jess’ annoyance with Vince comes to a head. Now Vince is accusing Jess of being some kind of traitor. She can’t believe it. (“It’s never Vince’s fault.)
“Maybe you got your dad’s hand so far up your ass you can’t see nothing but you own damn ego.”
Vince’s ego, already taking a strong punch gets a harder blow… “We’re done jackass, we’re through!”
And Jess leaves the locker room.
That night, Luke is in the locker room, waiting for Vince but he doesn’t show. Jess sees him and decides to help instead.
Across town, Coach meets with Shane State who hand him a very nice offer while Counselor Mrs. Coach welcomes Epic into their home for dinner and some study time. Gracie belle comes walking out and boom goes the dynamite, Epic is actually very sweet with kids. Woah, wait, what?
Over in Chicago, while in bed, Julie fesses up to Matt about TA Derek. Matt doesn’t really care. It’s not like she cheated on him. They kiss and Matt suggests he go down the street to get them some breakfast. He heads into the bathroom, but there’s a look of uncertainty on his face.
Coach tells Vince he’s officially benched this week.
“You’re trying to mess up my future!” Vince argues.
“There goes that mouth again. Want to make it two weeks?”
Vince goes to see his mother at work. You know your father loves you, she says, but you don’t have to take his advice all the time. “Use that good head on your shoulders.”
Coach finds Jess crying as she’s setting up in the locker room. She apologizes for crying, but Coach says “You don’t need to be sorry. You know, I got two daughters. You take all the time you need.”
Teacher Laurel thinks Epic stole $20 from her purse. Counselor Mrs. Coach has the two of them in her office and Epic denies it. Teacher Laurel grabs Epic’s bag and the fight over it until Counselor Mrs. Coach grabs it prompting Epic to slam Mrs. Coach’s head or slap her head or something into the window. The police arrive to take Epic to jail.
“For Lord’s sake.”
Julie is excited to tell Matt about her day, but he’s itching to get something off his chest.
“Don’t you have to go home at some point? Do your parents even know that you’re here? This has all been great. You’re amazing, but I don’t want to be your safety net.”
What is that supposed to mean? Julie asks. Matt says she’s avoiding stuff, that she has a life somewhere else that she needs to be living… in Burleson. “I wish you lived her, but you don’t.”
Julie can’t believe it. She goes out for a walk.
Meanwhile, Coach and Mrs. Coach are at home. Mrs. Coach tells him Epic is being sent to Kilroy and to a different home now. You did everything you could for that girl, he says but she still feels sad.
Coach has some news too. He tells her about Shane State and how nice it would be to work with adults for a change. Someone is at the door, Luke. He’s come to tell Coach to start Vince tomorrow since he’s been struggling all week.
Friday night, Senior night for the Lions. Luke gets introduced last, “meat of the defense” and First Team All-District. His parents are very proud.
But the game starts off very rocky. Luke gets sacked then intercepted. Luke wants Coach to put Vince in, but Coach pushes him. Luke takes the challenge and asks Coach to let him run the ball. He gets the first down then the TD for the win. 19-17. They are going to the playoffs. Pops ain’t happy though. He wants to go give Coach a piece of his mind, but Vince holds him back.
Luke finds Becky on field and they kiss. Out in the parking lot, Luke brings Becky to his parents and invites her to join them for the post-game celebratory dinner. Luke’s parents reluctantly agree.
Matt packs Julie’s stuff into her car. “Thanks for the hospitality,” she says as they hug. A chilly goodbye in the windy city.
But Matt runs after her car. He opens her door, she gets out and he kisses her. “We’ll figure this out,” he says, “I love you.”
A warmer goodbye this time as Julie nods and drives off.
Best episode of the season so far. Again, the story beats have gotten much better and everything is definitely starting to build up to the finale.
Are we finally rid of Epic? I think the writers didn’t do the best job at introducing her or making us root for her, if we were supposed to, because really, the whole thing ends up mainly being a reason for us to love and appreciate how good a person Counselor Mrs. Coach is.
And actually, another thing that while I’m willing to suspend disbelief, am kind of annoyed by, is how Vince is supposed to be the hottest recruit in the country. Smash didn’ t even get the kind of love calls Vince has gotten and he was a much better and much more dynamic player over a longer period of time than Vince has been. The Lions ascension to being state champ contenders is nice all too, but hardly 100% believable.
Still, it brings the drama and thankfully the down the earth performances help balance out how contrived some of this is.