David, I'm not sure that you were supposed to believe Luke when he asked Becky whether she could imagine herself living on a farm. It was abrupt—just like their relationship—and the appearance of Tim cast a shadow over it all.
This episode was testing out various theories of what ties a man to his home, and none of them was supposed to satisfy. Luke was trying to tether himself with a romantic dream fed by the sun in his eyes and the girl on his car. But those kinds of dreams don't work out all that well, as we learned from Tim. Buddy, always ham-handed and literal-minded, proposed the most concrete anchors to Dillon—statues and plaques. "A man can't leave if they erect a statue in his honor," he proposed, meaning Eric. But we all know that it's Buddy who would be persuaded by a statue in his honor, not Eric. Tim was tied to home by grim reality and lack of options. There he was in that cramped kitchen, opening that same refrigerator door, listening to the baby howl, looking as if he wished he were anywhere else. All of those reasons to be in Dillon felt fleeting and incomplete, and maybe we can read them as clues that Coach is not going to stay after all.
Another clue: The Taylors were speaking in the non-Dillon dialect, as they do sometimes—charter schools, pools, test scores, massage. Can you imagine Lorraine saying the words "charter school?" Every once in a while we get a glimpse of the yuppie couple the Taylors could have been if they hadn't been tied to Dillon, and this episode provided several.
I am with you about Vince and Ornette; in this episode it felt as if they were going through the motions—with one exception. Vince's mom finally got off an excellent, angry line—"He needs a father, not an agent." But my real disappointment was not from seeing them replay the same melodrama but from seeing how they decided to resolve it. I must confess: A part of me really wanted Vince and his thug father to be correct about the brutal nature of college recruiting and to come out the victors. I know this is not how FNL works, and Vince is far too good for that. But I was hoping that since this is the last season, and we are getting close to the end, the writers would let one spell of evil go unpunished—just one. Or at least find a way out of the dilemma without making Vince give the "Without you I'd be in jail or in a ditch somewhere" speech at Coach's doorstep.
I had a hard time reading Tim. He doesn't do a very convincing angry, so I was left guessing where he was coming from. Is this about something concrete—Billy never made payments on the land? Did he just curdle while he was in jail and start to resent Billy for allowing him to live this lie? Or does Tim just have limited tolerance for having Coach think he's a bad man? Vince, after all, could only tolerate Coach's disapproval for a couple of episodes; Tim has had to go months.