In the interest of discussing as much of the episode -- which had its ups and its downs but largely seemed like a transitional show setting up next week's (hopeful) conclusion to the rapist storyline -- as possible in as little space/time as I have available, let's go straight to the bullet points:
- Riggins' time rooming with the meth-cooking underwear model was handled in just about the right way, I thought. Clearly, there was something wrong with the guy well before he made the suspicious cold medicine request, but Tim actually seemed to be enjoying his time there (a little) for a day or so. I liked him doing individual apologies to all the players on the team (calling red-headed Bradley "Firecrotch" was a nice touch), and wish that the scene had carried on as if he was going to do one for every player, even as Coach was putting the guys through their calisthenics and barking at Riggins about all his future probationary work.
- Beyond Riggins' return to the team, the football stuff seemed odd. Even in a strange season where the new coach was forced out after a handful of games, shouldn't the natives be a lot more restless when the team has two losses (or is it three?) already, and one a humiliating, Knicks vs. Celtics-style blow-out? Shouldn't Coach be in bunker mode trying to fix the defense, with him as the one letting the marriage slip away again? Instead, the only comment anyone made about the loss was Glenn; even Saracen didn't stay mad at Smash for very long after Smash seemed to not care about losing.
- I thought the handling of the Julie/Noah story was much more interesting this week, particularly if it turns out that Tami was overreacting to that just as much as Eric was to her and Glenn. I continue to find Julie an intolerable brat this year, but she's a realistic brat, and in the scene where she confronted her mom about Noah, Aimee Teegarden reached down deep to a place I'm not sure even she knew existed. That wasn't just her cranking up the volume; that was pure, unadulterated, unforced rage.
- On the other hand, Matt and Carlotta continues to bore me, and it was strange how the Smash storyline ended halfway through the episode and largely turned into an excuse for Smash to play love doctor for Matt. I don't mind a lighter story now and then, but after playing Smash's college choice much more seriously in the last episode (and even in the Mama Smash scene here), the stakes suddenly seemed much lower tonight. On the other hand, Zach Gilford's delivery of "Was it Cabo in your pants?" made the entire thing worth it.
- If it hadn't been for Lyla hitching a ride in the Landry Love Wagon back in "State," I guess this would have been the first Lyla/Landry scene ever. I'm waiting to see how this ends up (if, in fact, it ends up) next week, but the one thing I can never complain about with this story arc is Jesse Plemmons' performance. The kid brings it every week, whether the material deserves it or not.
- Just because it merits saying every week: Connie Britton is amazing. Highlights this time included her response to Eric accusing her of not spending time on the family, her tearing into Noah, the look of guilt and shame on her face as the argument with Shelley got away from her, and her joy at hearing Eric say he liked her.