EPISODE 08: The Petition
Tears of a Coach
Today, Coach Sam starts some fights–with his tears, but first! Mr. M has some good news! that comes crashing down a few seconds later. Ticket sales have spiked! Has this small town finally realized how deep and meaningful and relevant theatre is?
Oh, no. No. Of course not. They have realized that there is a youtube promotional video for the show that includes a whole lot of butt close ups (among other parts) from rehearsals. Mr. M and Tracey give each other sidelong glances and wonder if they should take the video down.
They should get the video down like responsible human adult authority figures, but– all. those. tickets.
The video stays up.
At rehearsal, Robbie is back from his tantrum (on another day). He’s apologizing, but not quitting. He knows he isn’t the greatest actor like the rest of them, but he’s going to do his best! Mr. M wants to try and fix things though, because even though QB1 is back, he’s lacking the proper mojo he supposedly had in the beginning.
Mr. M’s solution is to go to Coach Sam and admit that it was his terrible idea for Robbie to call his bluff. There’s a big game coming up and they both know that Robbie is the best QB. Mr. M is totally not doing this because some high school football commentators on a presumably public access radio show have been shit talking him for all of Stanton to hear. Coach is uninterested in this olive branch until Mr. M gives Robbie the entire week off rehearsals to prepare for the game. Finally coach gives in. Later on Lilette has to run lines with her mom because Robbie is footballing all week and Tracey is totally gobsmacked at this insane decision only a couple weeks from opening night. We don’t get to see if this tactic has repaired Robbie’s broken mojo or not re: stage performance.
Let us tackle the secondary story lines. Mr. M’s second problem with the show, right behind Robbie’s mojo, is Simon and his scene partner, whose name nobody says in this episode either, but I caved and looked it up. It’s Jeremy. A good solid name. I will keep you posted when and if anybody actually says it in the final two episodes.
Anyway, their scene is just going terribly. Jeremy sitting on stage, still mad. Simon is standing upright at least two feet away from him. Mr. M is wondering what the heck is going on. What happened to all the physicality etc. Simon says they were going for something a little more subtle. Subtle as in non-existent. Mr. M is like: no. Don’t be afraid of the material! (For some reason Annabelle isn’t around this week to also be mad at Simon from the chorus area of the stage.)
We will come back to Simon in a minute, but first Principal W. arrives to yell about the video and demand that it be taken down. Tracey and Mr. M pretend like they have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. They are very convincing /sarc.
Anyway, it turns out one of the Chorus who has never been seen before has perpetrated these video crimes. She runs away to take the video down immediately. After the commercial break she’s crying in Mr. M’s office, and he’s doing his best to comfort her and assure her that she’s not actually in trouble when who walks in but yet another Robert. I have now learned Simon’s dad’s name. He is there to inform Mr. M that even though the video is down, the internet never forgets. He vows he is going to do everything in his power to end this play and proclaims that Mr. M is only hurting the kids. If only Dad!Robert had a mustache to twirl.
Back in football-land, Robbie is staying after school for extra time to throw balls at some barrels. Gordy is there too because he’s still on probation with coach for the booze found in his locker. Robbie asks him to run plays, because living breathing humans are better than barrels. This seems to become their after school routine and at least one time Coach Sam catches them at these extra night practices. This will come into play later.
This week Gordy also attempts to talk to Gwen, but she appears to be over it already. Or at least she definitely doesn’t want to be his girlfriend. It was fun, and maybe they’ll do it again, but she was going through a thing and is not in that place right now. Gordy is a bit put out by this, but doesn’t run straight back into the arms of Jack Daniels for the time being.
Back to Coach and Lilette’s mom (Vanessa!) Gwen has been upset all week and when Lilette asks her what’s wrong she says Why don’t you ask your mom?? So she does. After a short interrogation, Vanessa admits that she’s back with Coach Sam.
Lilette is 1,000% not here for this irresponsibility. (Hooking up while at work.) She’s also not here for coach, but Vanessa seems to think they’re going to make an actual go of it now that the divorce is still on after breakup #1.
Later on Vanessa goes to visit Coach at school, and we can tell he’s not going to make an actual go of it by how quickly he closes the blinds of his office. Vanessa tells him that the kids know, and he tells her that maybe they should cool it after all. He’s trying to keep his family together and only just moved out a week ago, so he’s not ready to be publicly dating anybody else right now. The divorce IS still on isn’t it? Maybe he’s just worried about Gwen hating him for the rest of time? Whatever it is, Vanessa storms out on him, broken hearted, and he’s trying to punch back his own tears. He basically spends the rest of the episode with red rimmed eyes since his entire family life and extra curricular love life is falling apart around him. (But whose fault is that?)
Back at home Vanessa is sad about breakup #2 and wants to hang with her best girlfriend, Lilette. Lilette just gives it to her with both barrels instead. She’s tired of taking care of mom. Mom should be the adult doing the adulting. Basically, Lilette is tired of picking up the pieces and doesn’t want to be a best girlfriend. They have a huge fight, say some regrettably mean things with a surprising amount of cursing at each other, and Lilette’s mom gets in the car and runs away. The only thing anybody sees of Vanessa for the rest of the episode is her driving alone down a dark highway, which I thought was going to end in a devastating car wreck as it was juxtaposed with Sad Coach Sam being weepy amongst his piles of lonely fast food bags at the hotel, and Mr. M meeting Robbie’s mother, who is sick, but no. My instincts were wrong about one piece of drama. (So far!)
Back on the football field, it is the last game of the season. Stanton has one chance to make the playoffs, and they’re losing with very little time left on the clock. One of the receivers goes down and Coach Sam sends in a surprise substitution. It’s Gordy! who has apparently been riding the pine for this entire season. Initial thought: He’s going to catch a hail mary and win the game, triumphantly propelling our guys into the post-season!
Almost. Gordy does get the pass, but instead of all the glory, he manages a bit of footballery and gets out of bounds in time to stop the clock so we can have one more play. Robbie runs the ball in for a touchdown as the clock winds down to the last second. Playoffs here we go. Taking bets now on whether or not Robbie’s going to have to choose between a game or the show.
Of course, Mr. M and family are beside themselves with excitement. For some reason Robbie decides that Mr. M needs to come with him to visit his mom in the skilled nursing facility where she is located. I forget why she is there, but I kind of remember that it seemed like the dad abandoned her in her illness. Maybe we will learn about Mr. Robbie’s dad’s motivations in the future, or maybe we learned about them in the past when I wasn’t paying attention.
Also, after the football game, Coach tries to patch things up with Gwen, but she’s done with him too. She does not accept his explanation that adult relationships are complicated. So, he’s broken up with Vanessa, broken up with his wife, and Gwen still totally hates him and doesn’t want to get rides to school, or ever speak to him again for that matter. He tries to fight away the tears again.
Speaking of complicated, in other non-sports related drama, Michael has gone to a doctor’s appointment with Sasha since the boyfriend is the worst. It appears that they have indeed made up! Sasha still doesn’t know what she’s going to do. Later on, back at Sasha’s place she reveals to her friend that she’s leaning towards keeping the baby. She wants to make her own family and have someone that will love her all her own. Michael doesn’t think this is the best idea and we find out later that he goes to Tracey with his misgivings.
Tracey has a talk with Sasha and reveals that she too was pregnant as a teenager and she gave the baby up for adoption. She has decided that she’s going to be there for Sasha and help her no matter what she decides despite the teacher/student boundaries she insisted on earlier.
As for Maashous, nothing too big happens with him. He’s still unsure about the whole mom thing, but he tells Mr. and Mrs. M about it because he needs a ride. Later he has a heart to heart with Mr. M about all the nice things they’ve done for him. It’s unsaid, but basically staying with them was more like a family than any of his other foster homes. He does end up meeting with his mom, but we don’t really find out how that goes in this episode. All we see is them hugging while Mr. and Mrs. M watch on and Mrs. M cries.
In the most dramatic part of the show, let us circle back to the sexy video, fallout and Dad!Robert.
Simon gets eyes on this petition at some point and confronts his mother about it, because her name is on the thing, and he feels betrayed. She’s his only support at home after all. (He’s the only drama kid whose parents have signed this, by the way, which just makes it all worse.) Mom tells him that she’ll take care of it and we get a glance at the petition too.
She did not sign it. Seems Dad!Robert has taken it upon himself to include her without her permission.
She confronts him on this when he gets home and this does not go well at all. He thinks she would have been glad to have her agency taken away, because clearly she should be on his side. He is only protecting his family, and it is the Christianly thing to do. She stands up to him. He thinks he’s helping Simon, Mom says he’s only hurting him by not letting him be himself. Dad wonders what she means by this and…basically does the equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and going “lalalalala” Supportive Mom (Patricia!) doesn’t let him get away with it though and she follows him for more confrontation.
Turns out they are in some kind of loveless marriage where he never looks at her or touches her or anything like that. She wonders if this isn’t about Simon could it be about him? She more or less just asks him if it’s because he’s gay and hiding behind religion that he’s doing this. He nopes right on out of the conversation again and storms out of the room while telling her he will never stop protecting his family. He totally does not answer her question. (I was right!)
PS. Simon is upstairs with his sister while this yelling conversation is happening. He hears the entire thing.
Back at school the next week, Mr. M finds out that the whole entire PTA have now joined Simon’s dad’s crusade. The woman he is speaking to about it wonders what he was thinking. It looks like Mr. M is wondering the same thing.
Meanwhile, in the office, Tracey is meeting with Principal Whatever, who has now become Principal Action Man, because the school board, the pta, the community, everybody is basically on his ass about the content of the show.
(Tracey and Mr. M basically keep trying and trying to explain that the video isn’t representative of the show for this entire episode, but nobody is believing them.)
Anyway, Principal wants her to rework the show so it is PG. If she does, he will take the drama program away from Mr. M and give it back to her. He knows she wants the job after all! And that is the end of the episode!
Next Time: Will Tracey sacrifice the art for the job? Will Simon’s dad succeed? Will something tragic happen to either Vanessa or Coach Sam? Stay tuned!