Notes on tonight's episode, after the jump ...
Good stuff first:
Matt's meltdown. Some of it could have been better. For one thing, considering that the Dillon program was already in trouble because of Smash's situation, I would have expected Coach to suspend Matt the second he suspected Matt had been drinking. But the dramatic payoff -- from Matt's grandmother telling the coach that Matt needed help, to the confrontation in the shower, to Matt's boiled-over resentment that "everybody leaves me" -- was as powerful and heart-breaking as the show has ever been. As I said last week (when I had already seen this episode), I feel some optimism about "FNL" finding its way again. I watched that sequence again tonight, and it still gets to me.
Also fine was the Smash story (although I have to think that he would have been stopped at practice even before he suited up). The whole Smash-inspires-the-team bit was a little much, especially when Matt demands that Smash play. (Then again, Matt has been making a lot of lousy decisions lately.) But the final shot with Smash -- who can't play, who has lost his scholarship, who has been forced to doubt everything he believed about himself -- that moment was a killer.
Mixed feelings: The payoff to the Tami-and-Julie story. I like just about anything Connie Britton does, and I love the way she and Kyle Chandler work together. (Yes, I have said it before. Still bears repeating.) And I like to watch Eric and Tami as parents. But this whole Tami-as-coach business has felt contrived, especially the way the Tami-recruited Tyra miraculously turns around a team that, from what we first saw, didn't have anyone else who knew how to serve or pass the ball. But in the context of Matt's feelings of abandonment, to be reminded that even Julie -- with two loving parents -- can fear being deserted by those who love her.
And now, distaste. You know where I'm going.
That's right, the Landry-Tyra SWAK.
I liked that Landry had moved on. I liked that the girl with him was not only sweet but a good fit for him. And I don't believe that Tyra has put aside her issues about Landry not being good enough for her. This feels more like an ego thing. She doesn't only like his adoration, she expects it. She obviously did not like the idea of someone else being with Landry, and I suspect part of it was her dismay that he was happy so quickly after she had dismissed him -- presumably breaking his heart. If it's not about ego and competition, why would she try to take him back WHEN HE IS ON A DATE WITH THE OTHER GIRL?
So either this is going to end badly, or continue unconvincingly.