Notes and spoilers after the jump ...
Show of hands for everyone who expects Eric to be working opposite ex-Coach sometime before the season is over. That said, I had one problem with the storyline: the swiftness with which ex-Coach was dispatched. I had figured that ex-Coach would still be in his job as long as he could win games, regardless of other turmoil; not sure one loss was enough to create momentum for his canning. (Didn't Eric have more than one loss on his way to the state championship?) Buddy sure retook the whip hand rapidly, considering the other boosters had aced him out. On the other hand, ex-Coach's confrontation with Eric was really good, mainly because of the look on Eric's face when he wanted to lie so badly but knew he couldn't do it. But it would have been more interesting to see Eric dangling a bit longer, especially after he had quit his college job (and what a great scene that was). But I think the show is cutting its losses on some plot lines; see the Julie notes below for another example.
The Street-Riggins road trip was also well done. Could have turned into all sorts of promotable frat-boy moments, and the show chose instead to go with Street waiting in agony in his hotel room for a chance at a dream that could so easily turn into a nightmare. Not sure about where Riggins turned for help; although it made some sense in the constrained, almost-no-friends world that Riggins inhabits, I'm still not sure he would think of her as someone who could talk Street out of anything. Eric maybe? But would Street and Riggins even know that Eric was back?
I will pause here to once again remark on how superb Connie Britton is as Tami and then move on.
Julie and the Swede: Like the ex-Coach story, it felt abrupt, as if the producers have concluded that some storylines were bad ideas and they need to get back to their powerful core. But well played by all involved.
Which brings us, once again, to the murder. And every time it lands center stage, I want to change the channel. And the melodrama looming makes it even more depressing. I didn't like the taste of what's to come in the promo, although I also remind myself -- with that and with the Street-in-the-water scene -- that promos exaggerate and mislead.
Considering how much old plot it jettisoned tonight, I'd like to see "FNL" come up with a way to get rid of the murder story. But any quick ending of it will strain credulity even more than the hasty departure of ex-Coach. So I can't quit, but I am still uneasy, and it still feels that some things -- in creative terms -- are going to end badly. Assuming the show keeps enough audience to be allowed any kind of dignified end at all.