How about that for a first kiss, huh?

Throughout much of his adolescence, it’s likely Landry’s fantasies revolved around a scenario like this: His impossibly gorgeous object of desire slipping unannounced into his room, sidling up next to him on the bed, and giving him a night to remember. I would also guess that this was the first time any girl has kissed him, and for that girl to be Tyra gives it a special charge—or would have if the circumstances weren’t so fraught with confusion and dread.

One week after the VBM (Very Bad Mistake) of Landry braining Tyra’s attacker with a pipe, I’m beginning to regret calling it a VBM at all. Much as I hate to consider Landry as a killer—however understandable his actions were at the time—the situation has shown him in a new light and drawn out facets of his character that might not have surfaced otherwise. When he and Tyra go back to the scene of the crime to look for his missing wristwatch, I worried that the conversation was going to turn on how to cover up their misdeeds. But then Landry considers how no search has happened yet and speculates, with not a little empathy, that the man he killed may not have anyone around who cares enough to look for him. Naturally, the VBM brings some instant intimacy into his relationship with Tyra, since they now share a secret that virtually requires them to be together.


Later, in probably my favorite scene in a solid episode, the two have a fight prompted by Landry asking his assigned Rally Girl whether she thinks all humans are capable of evil. Tyra wants him to suck it up and act like a man, but then Landry shows us what being a decent man is all about; after the VBM, a decent man has trouble living with what he’s done, has empathy for the victim, and is as concerned with the state of his soul as he is with covering his tracks. He also lays bare his feelings for Tyra in a way that chastises her for denying they existed at all. Clearly, our boy isn’t going to settle for playing Milhouse anymore; if they ever have another movie night, I’m guessing he won’t acquiesce so readily to watching Fried Green Tomatoes, that’s for damned sure. When Tyra slips into his room at the end of the episode, it’s both a sweet and bitterly ironic moment. Landry finally got the girl of his dreams, but does she really reciprocate his love or is she confusing it for something else?

(Right now, I’m not so sure. I think she’s being honest when she calls Landry the best guy she’s ever known—or something to that effect—but that doesn’t mean he’s ultimately the right romantic partner for her. Tyra is used to destructive men being a part of her life; she takes after his mother in that sense. Landry doesn’t really fit into that model and it honestly takes some getting used to. They’re in a very raw, volatile place right now and I can see some problems down the road, regardless of how the VBM resolves itself.)

And oh yeah, there’s some other stuff going on this week, too! More great scenes involving Eric and Tami, even if they’re not sharing the same space. There’s just never a bum note between Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton on this show, and here the actors and writers are right on point about the stress of being apart, especially with a newborn around. Without Eric around to take some shifts with the baby, who’s crying nonstop, Tami is at the end of her rope; Britton nails the bleary-eyed misery of a sleepless, beleaguered mother working without her support system. Still, she’s a strong woman, and it just kills me to watch her poignant efforts to keep her husband in the dark on just how miserable she’s feeling. (And has anyone, in the history of anything, cried as convincingly as Britton?)


Over at Texas Methodist University, we see some early signs of Eric’s inevitable departure. He’s having trouble fitting into the “inner circle” of coaches at TMU (for some reason, I thought he was leaving Dillon for a head coaching position, but that’s clearly not the case), and ironically, his ticket into the inner circle is the very thing that repulses him about the realities of working in big-time college sports. The head coach praises him for the way he handled a star player’s suspension hearing, but he’s repulsed by the whole dirty situation. He doesn’t care for the kid’s arrogance and sense of entitlement—shades of that hot-shot Louisiana quarterback from last season—and isn’t comfortable with having to defend him. I think it’s a bit obvious to attack college sports from this angle, but the thing that saved these scenes for me is the kid deflating Eric’s righteousness by teasing him for not being home with his wife and newborn child.

Meanwhile, his petulant daughter Julie finally breaks up with Saracen after a stolen kiss with the Swede, who creepily accepts her advances after telling her earlier that she’s gonna be a “heartbreaker” some day. It’s a pretty cold scene, considering all the great moments they’ve shared together the previous season, but properly so. She’s going through an uncertain time, and he agrees all-too-eagerly with her “it’s not you, it’s me” excuse. There’s some suggestion that a little romance could develop between Saracen and the feisty nurse he’s hired to take care of his grandmother, but I can’t imagine his relationship with Julie ends there. They’re just taking a break.

Other developments are of only moderate interest: Street is starting to feel like maybe he can walk again, but the news makes everybody wince. (And will make me wince pretty hard if he’s right, frankly.) And hedonist Riggins and saintly Lila are making eyes at each other after Riggins helps scoop up the blitzed Buddy and assures her, in a touching line, that he’s not really a drunk, just sad. And he’s an expert on miserable drunks.


So what did you think? Is the VBM growing on you a little, too?

Grade: B+

Stray observations:

• Wilco’s “Muzzle Of Bees” last week, and now a (too-short) montage set to Big Star’s “September Gurls?” Swoon.


• Landry has become a tragic figure this season, but he’s still capable of peeling off a great sardonic one-liner. After getting pounded by Riggins on the practice field, he derails his dad’s feeble compliments by saying, “I can’t really feel my right ear for some reason.”

• Was that Murderball star Mark Zupan counseling Street about experimental Mexican stem-cell surgery? Does this mean Herc is out of the picture? If so… woo-hoo!