I agree, David, that the show got exactly right what it's like to leave for college. This is great territory for a show about small moments, and, for me, it more than made up for the lack of dramatic arc in the episode. (Also, I was glad for the football scenes, though I did not believe in that winning catch.)
Was Julie right about the cobbler? It's Tami's pre-nostalgia for a chapter in her family life that's about to close. She's prolonging the moment when Julie is rushing through. Usually, Tami encircles Julie, but now her daughter is leaving, and the temptation is to smother. Julie has to get herself out of there. I wanted her to be more gracious in capsizing the end of dinner—sure, she should be loyal to Landry, but, really, she can't spare 15 minutes? And she has to talk about how long she's been sitting there as if she'd been looking at her phone the whole time? (Tami's line about the phone is a welcome bit of teenager realism.) The italics and the guilt questions are my pulse racing as I imagine my own kids grown another foot and racing out the door, no dessert sweet enough to hold them. No way am I letting them drive themselves to college.
But Julie can't be gentle with Tami about dinner because the moment and their relationship is too charged. She manages better with Eric when he asks her to play a final game of Ping-Pong and they find her old Girl Scout badges. Hanna, you reminded us of how much we're meant to admire Julie's relationship with Tami. Doesn't Eric have it easier, as many fathers do with daughters?
The show doubled down on its theme of family this week by juxtaposing Julie with Becky. What's the difference between these good-hearted girls? Parents. Becky's mother is like the slutty-Halloween-costume version of Tami. It is perfect that she is AWOL on a casino boat. Becky's deadbeat dad is back—he must have heard that Tim got locked up—for a nanosecond before he takes off again in his truck, leaving Becky with his sourpuss second wife. I'm not sure Billy and Mindy's place is the best haven for Becky, but she was right to get away from a woman who has made up her mind to feel dumped on. Becky's venture into not-quite-homelessness mirrors Tim's a few seasons ago, when he went to Tyra's (right?) and then Coach Taylor's. It's not easy to move out when you don't really have anywhere to go. Maybe Tami can add Becky to her lost-sheep count now that she's a counselor at East Dillon and Luke's mom can't come after her.
It doesn't bode well for either Becky or Tim, though, that Tim doesn't want her to keep visiting him as much in prison. In the scene in the yard with Billy, he mostly seems tired. Tim did a noble thing by taking the rap for Billy, but actually serving the time is embittering. Tear down Taylor Kitsch all you want, you tough-minded Rosinplotzes, but I think David Hudgins is right and Tim is at the heart of the show. If he's getting out in three months, though, does that mean he'll be on the inside for the rest of the season? I'm not sure I want to watch him caged in the whole time. Will the season end when he gets sprung?
My bet is that Julie is going to UT Austin—her roommate is from Corpus, and she's driving, so she's not leaving Texas. Sending Landry to Rice was a nice in-state touch, too. Tami did not look old in that last scene saying goodbye in the driveway with her sunglasses perched on her head. Was it strange to you that Julie didn't hug Gracie Bell? Which parts of the episodes do you think were improvised, now that we have that hint from David Hudgins about Tami telling Eric to take off his hat? Did it strike you as meaningful or just weird that the East Dillon girl the teachers complained about is named Epic (if I heard that right) in an episode in which Landry used that word to perfect effect? About Vince, Jess, and Huckle, I mean Hastings Ruckle—she has to stick with Vince for all the reasons you gave, David, and also because her dimples are a perfect match for his curly eyelashes.