Part of what makes "A Sort of Homecoming" work, in spite of its perfunctory purpose, is how a couple of interesting themes tie the episode together. First is the odd duck "wingman" theme, where one character is accompanied by another in a surprising way. The alpha-male pissing match carried over from last week ends with Luke joining Vince in a jail cell; Julie provides support for Devon at "a gay place"; and my favorite -- Riggins helps Becky pick out a pageant dress, like some Texas football-themed episode of Project Runway. There were even a couple of throwback wingmen -- Matt inviting himself to go hunting with Riggins (loved the #33 embroidered camouflage hat), and Buddy finally getting on board and joining Coach in creating the beginnings of an East Dillon booster club.
The other fancy bow tying the episodes together was repeats of "the shoe on the other foot" situations. Tami getting agitated while listening to talk radio bad-mouth her on air was an awful lot like the earful Coach would get at times. But while Coach takes his frustrations to the bar, Tami knows chocolate will suffice (someone's been reading too much Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus). Meanwhile, watching Julie fill out her college application forms seemed like a reversal of late last season, when Matt got accepted to The Art Institute of Chicago. Julie seems to have forgotten, though, as she's oblivious as to how her list of schools might make Matt feel. (At least throw in a school near Chicago, babe.) It's just another domino falling towards the impending Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) exodus.
If Julie's thoughtlessness about their future wasn't enough, the final moments of the episode provide a glimpse of what could be the catalyst for Matt finally getting out, and what a moving scene it was. Backed by Jose Gonzalez' brilliant cover of "Teardrop," a song who's tension is famously used as the theme song to House (in it's original Massive Attack form). We don't get to hear Grandma Lorraine's cry, making the sight of her breaking down even harder to take. (There's more where that came from next week.)
Finally, the scenes with the East Dillon Lions alumni were great, not only for their poignancy at the pep rally (not that drawing "pride" from Lions hasn't been done before), but also for dealing with the racial tension inherent in having the Taylors step in like Phil Drummond in Diffrent Strokes (RIP Gary Coleman). Just like Vince and the $20 bill from "After the Fall," the show is letting us know it's not going to be that kind of story. There has to be participation from the community to make it work, not just the Taylors waving their white magic wand.
Time to bite the bullet points:
- Most will associate this week's title ("A Sort of Homecoming") with the similarly titled song by U2, but Bono himself borrowed the title from Jewish poet Paul Celan, who wrote: "Poetry is a sort of homecoming." The East Dillon Lions 'coming home' is similar to the song, where war refugees come back home and find their war-torn surroundings quite different than how they left it.
- We have our first Crucifictorious reference of the season! Shame on Jess for turning off our favorite Christian-Speed-Metal-turned-Indie-Rock band.
- Riggins reaction to Becky asking "Is that a portrait neckline?" is classic.
- "I've kind of been down that road before. A girl asks me to do something and I say 'yes' then all of a sudden people are calling me a word that I don't like to use." Is that word is 'murderer?' Oh, that's right ... season two never actually happened.
- Seeing Stan at the gay bar was right up there with the WTF reveal of Rawls in The Wire. At least here we get some follow up.
Playlist: Friday Night Lights - Episode 4.04
"Forgotten" - Windsor For The Derby [download]: Tami drives to work listening to talk radio bash her
"White Knuckles" - OK Go [download]: Practice
"Untitled Demo Song" - Crucifictorious! - Landry picks up Jess& friends
"Press It Up" - Sean Paul [download]: Jess switches Landry's stereo to radio; Jess brushes off Vince at party
"When The Devil's Loose" - A.A. Bondy [download]: Coach invites Buddy over for dinner with East Dillon alumni
"Powerful Love" - Chuck and Mac: Coach asks Virgil about hosting pep rally
"Lady Luck" - Richard Swift [download]: Taylors host alumni; Buddy shows up
"3" - Britney Spears [download]: Devon & Julie at 'a gay place.'
"Keep It Hid" - Dan Auerbach [download]: Matt's rifle is confiscated by Tim; Tami loses it after hearing more talk radio
"Teardrop" - Jose Gonzalez [download]: Landry plants on on Jess; Lorraine & Shelby receive some bad news; Matt finds out from Julie
Previously: "In the Skin of a Lion" (Episode 4.03)