Last Chance U changes school from East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) to Independence Community College (ICC), Kansas for this year’s show. There is an added on extra episode outside of the ICC run to follow up what happened after the show’s cameras stopped rolling at EMCC, which is interesting to see.
New school, new team, new coach, new expectations and new pressures (but still some of the familiar things too). Independence is a small town, much like Scooba, but their football program is nowhere near as developed, or funded, as the EMCC one of previous years (Season 1 and 2). A new rule allowing Kansas schools to take more than 20 players from outside their state means that the ICC Pirates has the chance to make a huge leap in terms of quality to their roster and boost their chances for the coming season and beyond.
Incoming head coach Jason Brown is the mastermind behind this team, having made his name in turning around a number of other school programs in a short time, he is the ideal candidate to get the ICC team firing. Really abrasive and totally vocal, he makes Buddy Stephens look almost tame in comparison, but he knows his stuff, has played at a decent level and takes no shit from anyone, not always to his benefit.
Apart from the head coach the other coaches are mostly bit part players, coming and going at various times, having a say in some of the progress of the players (when they are getting the spotlight put on them) and team but ultimately they are inconsequential to the show. This season is really all about head coach Jason Brown! The Brittany Wagner of this year is Latonya Pinkard, English teacher and sometime emotional crutch for some of the players, dealing out hard truths and demanding that they try their best at their studies and everything else outside of football. A thankless task for the most part as we have already seen!
The players again are a mixed bunch. Some are excellent all year, doing well in games and not causing any extra stress in the classroom. Others are damaged goods, making no effort to improve their academics in step with their football. The authority demanded by coach Brown irked more than a few of the players, particularly the skilled QB Malik Henry, who as one of the closing scenes of the series shows, has such a fragile mentality never mind the talent that he has.
Overall a decent season, some characters and a different feel to the show as they weren’t the all-conquering side that EMCC were but more like the new kid on the block, trying to get a foothold and upturning the applecart to get there. Most of the fire and fury comes from the coach, Jason Brown, as he tries to kick these kids into shape, with no limit to the bad language as they go. Personality clashes are commonplace and flare-ups happen, relationships are made and disintegrate.
The most poignant moment for me was one of the final scenes where the star quarterback, with so much talent but with real issues, is with his dad and his trainer. His dad is talking about him in front of his face, laying it all on the line, and you can see Malik visibly being demoralised. And it is then that you can see where his problems have come from: No matter the talent, without the support it is so easy fall by the wayside.