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October 6, 2015

Friday Night Lights: Who Do You Think You Are?

by Brett Love, posted Jan 19th 2008 1:34PM
Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton - Friday Night Lights
(S02E12) It's an interesting title for what was ultimately a strange episode. The show on the whole continues to improve after what was a weak start to the season, but it's not without some bumps in the road. We could ask that question of so many of the characters after what we saw in this episode. Lyla, Riggins, Smash, Buddy, Santiago, Mrs. Williams. Just as easily though, it could be turned on the powers that be over at FNL.

It being the least eventful section of the night, let's start with the goings on at Taylor Central. There's nothing particularly wrong with baby Gracie and Tami's struggles with separation anxiety. On the other hand, it's really not a story worthy of as much screen time as it actually ended up with. It did have a couple of good moments. I especially liked the conversation between Eric and Mac that featured the little nugget of a line, "Sometimes the truth is stupid and ignorant." And the resolution where Eric and Tami finally patch up their little tiff was a nice moment. At the end of the day though, the whole thing felt more like, "We have to get more Kyle and Connie in this script." than anything else.

Think of it as the Where Is Street rule. I suppose we should be happy that at least he wasn't left out of the episode entirely this week, but really, there is nothing more exciting that we could be watching about Street in place of baby Gracie's first day of day care? And speaking of Street, his little cameo (yes, Jason Street has been relegated to cameos?!) brings up the first of the clunky bits of story that the powers that be should be questioned on.

So, after the original setup when Street moved in with Herc we find out that not only has Riggins been in touch, he's fine with hanging out and yucking it up with the boys. That's all well and good, but wouldn't that stop have been a little higher on the list for the Riggins needs a place to crash tour? You would think it would probably have edged out Coach Taylor's house, and certainly would have had to beat out the meth lab. It also would have had the bonus of involving Street in the story.

Our boy Tim also got in on the game with one of the stories I thought worked very well. That of the continuing growth of Lyla. My only real issue with any of that was the fact that they couldn't decide just when it was that she actually did the radio show. Before school, after school, and apparently late late at night. Come on now, pick a time and be done with it. That being said, I like the way they are treating Lyla and her new path.

Her confrontation with Riggins was a good example. She went out of her way to confront him about what he did, but did it in the nicest way possible. It would have been very easy for her to go holier than thou on him and point out once again all of the shortcomings in how he is living his life. She merely pointed out that his actions have consequences and he needs to think about that. And she was right, as both Riggins and the viewer knew.

Less successful, I thought, was this weeks Smash story. Things started out well with the Williams family heading to dinner with Noelle's parents. The fact that they chose that as the venue to air their concerns over the relationship was unexpected, but the concerns themselves rang true. As did Mrs. Williams agreement. Let's not forget her reaction to finding Smash and Tyra on her couch in season one and her scolding about him messing around with a white girl.

Even considering those previous events though, I get the feeling that Mrs. Williams agreement had as much, or more, to do with the fact that she just plain doesn't like Noelle as it did her concerns for trouble that an interracial relationship could bring her boy. It's an interesting angle to the story, and continues to challenge what my initial expectations were for Noelle's character. Where it felt like it went off the rails was the movie scene. Didn't we all get what the parents were getting at with the dinner conversation? Did it really need to be driven home with all the subtlety of a jack hammer?

For reasons I'm not completely sure of, I am still rather luke-warm on all things Santiago. Perhaps it is the way that story comes and goes, or how he really didn't get much time for an introduction and being integrated into the ensemble. Whatever it is, I'm not overly concerned with his story. His past coming back to be dealt with was something that we should have all seen coming. I will say that the casting of Francis Capra was a welcome addition. Once again though, what made the Santiago story for me was Buddy Garrity.

He's trying so hard to do the right thing, even when it goes against his better judgment. I'm now almost convinced that Buddy is a changed man, and I suspect that at some point we'll get to see that having a positive impact on his relationship with Lyla. The other thing that struck me about Buddy was his stop at the Taylor house. "Buddy's here, and he brought a box." Once again we see Buddy going to Eric for advice, and then proceeding to talk himself into what he had already decided.

And then there is Matt and Carlotta. Honestly, I haven't been a fan of that relationship from the start, so I could go either way on that part of the story. She's leaving, fine by me. The part of the story I was more interested in, and what I thought was another example of the show dropping the ball, was the return of Landry/Saracen. Was it just me, or did that feel completely out of place, like we missed a couple of really big scenes? All of a sudden they are back together, laughing and joking, like nothing ever happened? I think at some point there should have been a conversation about Tyra, or... ya know... killing a guy. And the idea that Saracen is just now getting around to telling his best friend about losing his virginity just doesn't jibe. He's a high school kid. Unless he lost his virginity to Landry's mother, he'd be telling him about it as soon as it happened. And this is FNL, so that whole mother/friend thing is certainly in play.

So, there we are. All the makings of a really good episode were there, but the execution just felt a bit off. I am left wondering if part of that can't be blamed on the strike. Perhaps some of those bits that were a little rough around the edges could have been smoothed had they had the opportunity to reshoot to add or change things? Or maybe it was just a bit of an off week. We'll know more when we see how episode 13 comes together next week.

Carlotta is gone. Yay or Nay?
Yay. Good riddance. Let's get back to Matt/Julie.179 (49.6%)
Nay. I dug the Matt/Carlotta story.92 (25.5%)
Whatever. I couldn't muster any interest in them either way.90 (24.9%)

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Remember when this show had FOOTBALL in it? If you take that away it slides dangerously close to being just another teen drama.

On the plus side I do have to give credits for some things FNL does right. First of all the characters talk more like people do in real life. You don't see guys going on and on about their feelings. I also like how polite everyone is in FNL. I don't know if this is true to how Texas really is but it seems like a nice place to live.

January 21 2008 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't like the movie scene for an entirely different reason: the timing. Smash and Noelle have been dating for how long now? And only AFTER their parents express discontent over their relationship Smash and Noelle start getting pressured about it by random jerks in movie theaters? I guess Dillon must be a very tolerant place for them to not have encountered any strife about it until this episode. The racism issue was unexpectedly brought up and then dismissed almost as instantly as it was brought up (Unlike the racism storyline from last year involving Mac (best episode of the series), which felt more organic). It was just to convenient and predictable that they would encounter racist hotheads in a movie theater in the same episode where their relationship was brought to the spotlight for the first time. Oh well. This year has been up and down. I like the show, but that first season was near perfection and hard to beat.

January 20 2008 at 2:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree it was a little uneven, but I liked the whole Matt/Landry scene the most and I think that Riggins is the most entertaining character on the show. The Taylors are regularly the best part about the show, but it's Riggins with his constant derailing that makes me tune in every week.

What I'd like to know, though, is why the show has moved almost completely away from using music by Explosions in the Sky. Their music was the soundtrack for the film, and the FNL crew got major points from me by continuing in that tradition on the series, plus using songs not used in the film. But for the past 7 or 8 episodes, not one song by the band has been used in a scene. Then, last night, the Coach and Mrs. T make up scene gets the EitS treatment. I was thrilled, but why have they resorted to using the light and boring original music by W G Snuffy Walden? They haven't mined all the uses of EitS yet -- they're such a dynamic band -- so are they just tired of paying royalties or something?

I'm looking forward to next week. Something tells me either Smash or Santiago will be talking to the police about their respective incidents. And Riggins gets another derail moment.

January 19 2008 at 3:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Basically agree except I've really enjoyed the Santiago storyline. One of my favorite parts.

January 19 2008 at 2:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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