6.5/10. Let's talk about the good stuff to start off.
First, I'm impressed that the show went through with the whole Coach going to TMU thing. The end of S1 seemed to suggest the series would follow the path of least resistance and have Coach renege at the last minute, but the fact that they're following through with him being in Austin and his family being in Dillon and the strain that puts on the Taylors is a good plot decision. Admittedly, it wouldn't shock me to see the Tennessee Tyrant quickly fired for going too far in hazing Riggins and the pressure of being away from Tami, Julie, and his newborn baby being too much for Coach to where he comes back to fill the vacancy, but I appreciate that the show is at least taking an episode or two to stick with the story it started out with an explore the difficulties that Coach, Tami, and Julie are having with being apart.
Second, I initially hated the Julie love triangle bit with "The Swede." It seemed like such forced drama and a contrived attempt to throw some conflict into the well-established, generally copacetic relationship between her and Matt, and her blowing off Matt didn't endear her to me. That said, the conversation between Julie and Coach, which was far and away the highlight of the episode, made it retroactively a much better storyline. The idea that Julie is sixteen, sees herself and her boyfriend slowly but surely turning into her parents, and gets scared at things going too quickly, to where she wants to sew some wild oats is very understandable and sympathetic. Obviously cheating on Matt, or trying to anyway, is less so, but that can be chalked up to teenager being young and dumb and impulsive about these sorts of things. They frankly did a lot with the Julie character here, showing how she felt pulled at all angles by her mom being pregnant and her dad being away, and the disobedience and reconciliation between her and Coach was a big highlight.
Third, the Tyra/Landry stuff is a big mix of the incredibly human and relatable, and the absurd overly dramatic nonsense. Landry completely overthinking dating Tyra, and making a huge deal about getting to touch her arm, and the general adorableness of the two of them together absolutely worked. Their scenes together truly captured the sense of awkwardness, perilousness, and joy of being a teenage boy trying to impress a teenage girl and enjoying the slightest modicum of success.
But man, what the hell is it with the creepy stalker rapist guy? It seems so out there, like something out of Spielberg's Duel" that seems out of step with the tone of the show. Rather than the real sense of tension or foreboding from his stalking, it felt like some cheap horror out of *I Know What You Did Last Summer. Frankly, I liked the initial resolution of the story, where gentle Landry, who's had trouble finding his physical, hard-hitting side on the football field, summons up that part of him when the girl he cares for is in danger, and things go awry. There's something to that idea, where again, a teenage boy who feels he has to fit a certain Tim Riggins-esque mold in order to keep the girl he's interested in stumbles in the attempt with serious consequences.
The problem is that them dumping the body rather than calling 911 feels like more strained drama. The idea that the two of them have to keep this shared secret feels 1. like yet another cliche and 2. like something out of a different show that doesn't really fit the atmosphere or kinds of mostly down-to-earth stories FNL has told previously.
There's other interesting bits here and there. Again, the new coach being a hardass should lead to somewhere. Jason was kept to a minimum, which is good, though they're setting him up for some kind of real conflict with the new coach and Riggins in terms of having to choose between being a friend or a member of the staff. Lyla making her holier than thou routine more literal feels like more of the same for a character who hasn't really worked, but it's kind of interesting as a reaction to her Dad failing in her eyes and her mom shacking up with some kind of, presumably "not religious but spiritual" hippie guy. Her exchange with Riggins, who's apparently not playing the good guy for his neighbor anymore, was pretty forced on that front. Buddy's finding himself stymied in practice and the domestic drama with Pam doesn't really portend anything great. But hey, there's still Matt to feel like the realest teenage boy in the world, from the sweet fatherly reuinion with Coach to his sad puppy dog routine at the party. Not enough Smash, but I assume that'll be rectified in the future.
Not the best start, but a lot of good moments and threads that could be great or terrible in the rest of the season.