I still think the show has a ways to go to make everything flow together as well as it did in season one, but boy, this episode really caught my attention. It elevated the intensity of all the good plot points, focused less on stuff I didn't care about and had only a minimal amount of lame things going on.
First off, I loved the tension growing between Matt and Smash. Matt is clearly disappointed with where he is right now after getting dumped by Julie, having a grandmother who is getting worse over time and being pushed to the back after Coach McGregor rearranges his team to focus on Smash. The fight between Smash and Matt was well-earned, especially since they've been subtly showing us how cocky Smash has gotten over the summer.
I also think the Tami/Julie plot came to a head nicely. Julie has been acting lately and Tami has been under a lot of stress, which means the slap that Tami gives her resonates that much more. It also makes me excited, if only because the more stress that Tami has, the more likely it is that Coach Taylor will return to Dillon. That's not to say that I don't like Tami's plots, but the Taylor's work better when they're both in Dillon and acting like a couple.
As for the rest of the characters, I've been really worried about what the writers will have them do and I still am worried. Riggins has gotten nothing to do but walk around and drink. I like him the most when the coach is pushing him so hard that he passes out or throws up. That actually creates tension between him and others. But his plot with Lila where he goes to church or his arguments with Jason feel tired and boring.
And I'm really coming around to the Tyra and Landry plot. They're not driving anything into our heads. Their relationship is pretty laid back right now, and despite the death of that rapist, the show isn't letting that dictate the direction of the season. If anything, this plot has allowed us to learn more about Landry as a character, which is a good thing, since he's a pretty good actor.
Overall, the season is doing okay, but it could be doing a lot better.