I'm going to be a little briefer than usual, both because it's my birthday and I want to get this done, and because it's been so long since I watched the episode that, even with detailed notes, some of the impact (positive and negative) has faded.
While I continue to have major problems with the Tyra/Landry/corpse story, I want to start elsewhere, because for the moment, that's where the have bigger problems lie.
As I explained last week, I wish Katims and company had taken advantage of last season's ambiguous ending and come back with Coach having turned down the TMU job. It takes him out of the central action and turns the early episodes into one big contrivance to get him back to the Panthers sideline. And while these episodes have served as an illustration of Coach's importance to the team and his family -- who are both falling apart, violently, in his absence -- all the conflict feels artificial.
Connie Britton played the hell out of Tami's reaction to slapping her own daughter, but I admired the series much more when it could portray subtler forms of strife within the Taylor family, moments when husband and wife or parent and child argued in a way that still fundamentally showed how much they loved each other. And Saracen going so crazy with jealousy over Smash that he would actually tackle a teammate in the middle of a game feels worlds removed from the guy we knew last year, even after he started to grow a backbone late in the year.
MacGregor was written with some complexity in the first episode -- he had a point in his dressing down of Street -- but now he's just a straw man villain, there as both excuse for Eric to want to return and obstacle to that return.
All of this bickering and slapping and rasslin' -- and Magical Latina love interests and wacky Mexican road trips -- may be flashier and make for a more promotable show, but even without the murder plot, this doesn't feel like the show I loved so much last season. My only hope is that Buddy's scheme is so brilliant that the status quo is reset by the end of next week; it wouldn't solve every problem, but it would solve a number of them.
Some other thoughts:
- Interesting how Riggins is involved in three separate stories at once: dealing with Jackie the MILF now dating his brother, having a genuine spiritual moment at Lyla's church (and then immediately perverting it into an excuse to hit on her) and taking Street on the trip to Mexico, which I hope leads to some drunken hijinks but not an actual attempt to cure the poor guy. Of course, the Jackie and Lyla stories are the reason Tim is available and interested in leaving the country with Street.
- Smash speaks! Infrequently, but still! It's odd how the nine-month gap allowed the writers to essentially reboot both Smash and Riggins back to their personalities from the start of the series. Riggins even seems to have forgotten the period in the middle of season one when he sobered up and started playing so well, as evidenced by his "That's kind of what I'm afraid of" line about playing without booze.
- I'm only going to say a few things about Tyra/Landry/corpse: 1)I still believe that all the stuff with Landry and his dad, and Tyra and Landry's dad (a lovely scene) could have been accomplished without the death, and nothing's happened yet to change my mind; 2)Tyra cracking a joke about killing Landry to keep him silent was possibly the most uncomfortable moment of the series; 3)Mr. Clarke's comments about the watch and the impending grandparent visit mean we're not done with this thing yet.
- Glad to see that Kevin Rankin has time for both of Katims' shows, here as Herc, "Bionic Woman" as the resident techie.
- I really did like the church service scene. Whether or not we're meant to take Lyla's conversion at face value or just her retreating from last year's problems, the show takes religion itself very seriously.
- How many more episodes before Saracen and Carlotta are sleeping together? Two? Three? One?