Friday Night Lights: Leave No One Behind
(S02E14) This episode left me comparing the show itself to its own fictional Panthers football team. Both had their seasons get off to a rough start, but now everyone seems to be coming together in the hopes of a strong finish. There are still no guarantees for another run at state, or a third season, but tonight was a step in the right direction for both teams. With some great development for Saracen, a turn in the Landry/Tyra story that didn't make you want to kick a writer in the crotch, and the continuation of Smash's story, a lot of points were put on the board.
Gallery: Friday Night Lights
Things have been kind of quiet on the Saracen front recently, so let's start there. I liked almost everything about this one. My only complaint, and it's a small one, is that it all came on just a bit too suddenly. It's been one of the bigger weaknesses of the show in this second season. The stories just don't seem to flow between the episodes as smoothly as they could.
While getting into this latest batch of Saracen story could have been smoother, the setup for it has been long in the making. And the payoff was fantastic. The writers managed to boil 35 episodes worth of Saracen's story down to that one climactic scene with Coach Taylor in the bathroom. "You left me for a better job. You're daughter left me for a better guy. Carlotta left me for Guatemala. My dad left me for a damn war. Everybody leaves me. Is there something wrong with me?" It was just perfect.
Saracen has been under so much pressure that some kind of reaction seemed inevitable. You could argue about the odd motorcycle scene, the ease with which high school kids seem to drink in public, or the trip to the strip club and how they fit into his downward spiral, but I don't know how they could have done any better than they did with that big scene bringing it all together. I will also add that I did really enjoy the little bit with Landry and Smash at school. Landry's line "I just don't want to see you become an at risk youth." was very funny. And Smash's disgust that Matt would be choosing Riggins as a role model reinforced the fact that while things aren't as contentious between those two as they once were, they still are far from the best of friends.
Speaking of our friend Smash... I kind of go both ways on the revelation that TMU has pulled his scholarship because of his questionable character. On the one hand, I thought it made for some good TV. There was a nice scene with his mother. His speech before the game was very moving. And that last shot with him breaking down in the locker room was great. On the other hand, if we are to believe that Smash is actually a blue-chip recruit, I'm far too cynical to buy into the notion that any big time school would let something like this dissuade them from offering a scholarship. Even in my happy little burg, we've seen athletes with much worse records get away with far more. Have a look at this recent article from The Seattle Times.
The short version, for those of you that are click-averse, finds a highly recruited senior football player at a pre-arranged fight. His friend hits someone in the head with a baseball bat, knocking him unconscious. And then the recruit proceeds to stomp on the unconscious participant's face, breaking his jaw. He was charged with felony assault and confined to his home while awaiting trial. But then he tested positive for marijuana, violating those conditions, and ended up spending three weeks in jail. Not even that could deter the UW coaches though, as three of them wrote to the judge assuring him that their offer of a scholarship was still good. And things only went downhill from there. It's a grisly tale, but for our purposes here, it calls to question the believability of the Smash story, for me anyway.
Moving on... I'm starting to wonder if Aimee Teegarden has done something to piss off the writer's room, because it just seems like they can't stop kicking Julie around. Every time I think, "Ok, they got past that one, now maybe that well adjusted good kid we met in season one will come back." they send her off on another bender. I was rolling my eyes a little bit at her jealousy of the Tami and Tyra relationship. It felt a little forced and they seemed to go a little overboard pointing it out. That was a case where less would have been more, because the forgotten meeting at the DMV carried more than enough weight to get them to the conflict anyway. It wasn't my favorite of the Taylor family moments, but like Charlie running at the football, I think this time Tami and Julie have made some progress.
And finally, a new wrinkle in the Landry/Tyra story. I really like what they are doing with the two of them now. Although, I was rooting for his decision to go the other way. Whether you were rooting for Jean or Tyra though, at least the story now feels like it has a place in the show. The unfortunate part to all of it is that they really didn't need the crappy murder story to get here. It all would have worked out perfectly fine if that had never entered the picture. They still would have had Tyra unsure of her feelings, concerned about appearances. Landry still would have been nervous, smitten, and gun shy that things were too good to be true. It was the wrong road, but at least it eventually got to the right destination.
And with that, only one episode left before FNL takes its place on the increasingly crowded sidelines. We're certainly going to be left with more questions than answers, but I'm taking solace in the fact that the ship has been righted.
|It had to be Tyra.||251 (52.6%)|
|It should have been Jean.||171 (35.8%)|
|Neither, I'm holding out hope for Jean and Tyra to get together.||55 (11.5%)|