After pulling a no show at a court hearing over a speeding ticket (and because Older Brother is not his legal guardian) Tim Riggins finds himself in need of his Absentee Father’s signature in order to keep his license. The idea of TR visiting their old man, whom neither of them have seen in two years, does not sit well with Older Brother, but Riggins is as stubborn as his jaw is chiseled, so he piles into the cab of his beloved truck and sets out to track down the man who made him.
Driving in silence on the highways of West Texas, Tim Riggins does what we all do best when behind the wheel: he remembers.
"Threw his sorry ass out six months ago, sugar."
At a roadside motel, the last known address of Absentee Father, Riggins talks with a smoke-wrinkled lady who loves country music (Conway Twitty, to be exact) and cigarettes. Though she hasn’t seen AF in quite some time, she points our hero to a golf course “out in the sticks” where his father has been known to make grocery money hustling on the back nine.
"Well c’mon! Give your old man a hug!"
No matter the history, there are few people in the world who don’t want to hear those words from their father, and Tim is no different. As he embraces the man who has abandoned him we see, only for a moment, his hand squeeze into Absentee Father’s back, like a child holding onto to the string of a balloon they never want to lose. There are no rules, dear reader, when it comes to love.
"Can you hang out for awhile?" AF asks with the voice of a man who knows he’s made mistakes.
"Yea, yea I can."
A couple of quick sodas (“Sober six weeks next Tuesday, otherwise I’d be buying you a beer”) turn into bowling, which turns into dinner, which turns into drinking by a fire and Riggins spending the night at his dad’s home.
"How’s Older Brother doing? I know he hates me, and I don’t blame him. You were too young, but he saw some things that I’m not to proud of."
"Dad, I was ten… I wasn’t blind."
The conversation pauses, and then, as so many of us do when a talk with a family member teeters on the brink of something meaningful, the two Texans shift in their seats and begin to discuss sports.
The next morning Tim Riggins plays golf with his father, who (because are we not all creatures of habit blindly repeating the mistakes we never meant to make?) puts a wager on the game.
"Well, let’s up the ante then. I win, you come to Dillon on Friday to watch me play. Deal?"
And with those words Tim Riggins loses, not to his father, but to the competitive gambling golf hustler who lives within the man he loves.
Driving in silence on the highways of West Texas, Tim Riggins does what we all do best when behind the wheel: he tries to forget.
It is clear upon Riggins’ return that spending the night at their old man’s place has upset Older Brother, who, while not the best role model, has at least stuck around and tried to do his best for our abandoned hero.
Right before the start of a game Older Brother grabs TR by his shoulder pads.
"Tim, I need an extra ticket… dad’s here."
And there, on the other side of a chain link fence, stands Absentee Father. Tim Riggins looks over his shoulder at his brother, and it is clear that our man’s heart is torn as asunder as the banner his team runs through as they take the field.