Even though Permian Panthers of the book have a handful of alumni who have gone on to fairly successful college and professional football careers, we have yet to hear of any such escapes from Dillon, Texas. In spite of the previous implication that the Panthers are a perennial contender for state, the first Panther alum we meet in the series faltered badly in college (both in football and in life) and never recovered, news that his hometown either doesn't know or refuses to acknowledge.*
*He's telling people in Dillon that he has a successful insurance agency in Dallas, though it doesn't seem like a lie one of Dillon's favorite sons could keep up for very long.
Lucas Mize was the star quaterback for the 2000 State Championship Team, and he's given a rousing introduction at a rally preceding the homecoming game. The town goes wild to see him again and the Panthers themselves are in awe, especially after he demonstrates at practice the next day that he still has a throwing arm.
The Panthers share the town's sad delusions, though. No matter how impressive Mize seems to them now, he admits to Coach Taylor that his college career, which was already fizzling, ended with a blown out knee in his sophomore year. Shortly thereafter, he lost his scholarship, dropped out of school and at some point had a kid he only rarely sees. His actual agenda in coming back to Dillon is to ask Eric for a job.
That Lucas flamed out is not a surprise to Tami, who repeats her criticism, first expressed in an Eyes Wide Open deleted scene, of how Dillon mythologizes its kids for their football talents, but fails to prepare them for life outside of football. She's further validated by his reaction to Coach telling him he doesn't have the budget for another assistant coach: bitterness and entitlement in lieu of humility and gratitude.
The cycle of entitlement continues, though, with Smash. After blithely dismissing a college scout's concerns about his strength and size, Smash chokes during the homecoming game so badly that he doesn't carry the ball at all in the second half. He's much more receptive to the scout's concerns after the game, but his solution isn't to hit the gym but to start injecting steroids. Doing the former, of course, would be a public admission of fallibility which, even if it is Coach Taylor's style, isn't what Dillon expects out of its stars.
- More tension, last seen in a Who's Your Daddy? deleted scene, between Jason's parents, this time over whether he should make an appearance at the homecoming game. It's worth noting that Tim, with the good-hearted intentions, fulfills Herc's prophesy that showing up will mean Jason gets treated like a mascot.
- At the rehab facility, Eric doesn't hesitate or flinch when Cory offers him a "stump" to shake when they're introduced.
- I was wrong about Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War being the only references to real-world events, this episode has a 9/11 reference. (We learn that it indirectly ended Billy's career as a golfer and shortly afterward their father left town and Billy assumed responsibility for raising Tim.)
- Tim Riggins sure sounds like a Canadian in his locker room speech
- I think this is the first time Billy Riggins and Mindy Collette have a scene together. Mindy refers to her future husband as an "asshat."
- Tami mentions having a sister in Plano, which is near Dallas.
- Some confusing information about Dillon's location in Texas. Previous episodes have placed it in the west Texas panhandle, though (weirdly) in this one Lucas recalls that Eric used to drive __ miles from Macedonia, Texas to coach him. There are two Macedonias in Texas, one in central part of the state and one in the far east part. Obviously, neither is 22 miles from the panhandle.
- Smash mentions that Dillon is in Carr County, though, which is consistent with a reference in the fourth season's finale. There is no Carr County, Texas. The Midland-Odessa area is in Ector County.
- The Panther play, and defeat, the Larabee Lions in this episode.
- Billy Joe Shaver, "Good Ol' USA"
- Explosions in the Sky, "Remember me as a Time of Day"
- Explosions in the Sky, "First Breath After Coma"
- At the homecoming game rally, Buddy and Eric eat together while Buddy talks about how dangerous the Larabee quarterback is, and how a loss for the Panthers would put the playoffs out of reach; Mayor Rodell introduces more of the 2000 championship team, and Julie wonders "how can it be homecoming if they never leave?"
- Tyra convinces Billy to call in sick so they can plan their anti-homecoming party
- Smash at the diner, blowing off concerns about how tough the Larabee game will be and listening to some teammates speculate that some Larabee players must use steroids and discuss how to obtain some.
- Matt trying to flirt with a resistant Julie