I was happy to see "A Sort of Homecoming" shift the focus off the struggling East Dillon Lions for a moment to investigate the lives of some other Dillon denizens. Not to say prior episodes this season have completely neglected Riggins and Saracen and the others, but their moments have been but small blips and quips as opposed to Coach Taylor's Epic Struggle to bring the Lions some legitimacy. For the first time this season we were entirely focused on the east side of life (with one notable exception), leaving the suddenly rich and successful west side of town alone (oh, excuse me: West Dillon had an economic boom in the 1980s and has, apparently a mall. The expansion of this town and its sudden backstories is increasingly unbelievable, and the show's largest folly).
An episode like "A Sort of Homecoming" is simply a set-up piece. Now that we have Vince and Luke learning Valuable Lessons about teamwork, and some of the racial issues have simmered (though not all - Landry might face some unfortunate reactions from his "not dating" Jess), it's time to look to the future. Will Matt Saracen stay in Dillon forever? Will Julie go far away to college? Will Tami be forced out of her role as principal? Will Riggins ever get his act together?
While the "next class" of Dillon kids are given more conventional arcs and storylines and begin establishing themselves, our veterans (Riggins and Saracen) have been dealt some of the best lines and situations while performing off the main stage. My favorite parts of Friday's episode were Rig's and Seven's (as they call each other from their football days) interactions. Both boys have chosen to stay in Dillon, having seen their former classmates (Tyra, Lyla, Jason Street) go on to greater things. During the hunting trip the boys considered the choices that brought them back to Dillon, and their consequences. They saw, I think, a flicker of life to come: low-income jobs, feeling weighed down by family, seeking solace in a Men's Weekend trip away from it all (as Matt responded to Julie's protests over the endeavor, "hold the phone! I live in Dillon, that's what people in Dillon do, they go huntin!"). The twanging instrumental guitar track that played over their silent car trip home fit the mood perfectly. "Texas Forever?" Matt asked Riggins with uncertainty. "Texas. Forever." Riggins replied definitively.
Of course, the continuation and crescendo of the music over Lorraine's subsequent wails when told her son had been killed overseas was another excellent choice. There was a lot of despair there, of different kinds, for all the characters. Once again Matt seems caught in the crossroads: it seems next week's episode is about family, so I have a feeling Matt may reevaluate his role.
Next week: Eric, Tami, Julie, and Landry rally around Matt during a family crisis; Vince jeopardizes his football career in order to support his family; and Becky and Tim become closer. (via Wikipedia)
Musings and Miscellanea:
Matt: So, did you miss Lyla though?
Riggins: I think we had different paths
Matt: So ... yes
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