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November 22, 2014

Friday Night Lights: May The Best Man Win

by Brett Love, posted Feb 9th 2008 1:20PM

Connie Britton and Peter Berg - Friday Night Lights
(S02E15) Yeah. So, we can't really talk about this episode without getting into the possibility that this was the series finale of Friday Night Lights. No matter what comes of the big meetings this weekend regarding the writer's strike, there are no guarantees that the show will even get to finish season two, let alone come back for a third go. Recent comments from the network certainly don't paint an optimistic picture. And all of that is important, because where this episode ends up in the time line of the show will ultimately determine how successful it was. As episode 15 of a 22 episode second season, it was solid. As the series finale, not so much.

Setting the doom and gloom of possibilities aside for a bit, let's take a look at what we did get this week. The big news was, of course, Peter Berg's guest spot as Mo McArnold. Man, Mo is a giant tool and I didn't like one thing about him. That's a good thing I suppose, because he wasn't there to be liked. We've seen just enough of Eric's jealous streak in the past to make this story work. It wasn't a huge stretch, given that and Mo's tool-ness, that the whole thing eventually degenerated into a drunken brawl. I like the occasional glimpses of tough-guy Eric, so it was nice to see him finally get to act on it.

I do hope that the following capture is an example of someone at NBC having a laugh. A hung over, beat up Eric, laying in bed, skipping church, while his wife and two daughters look on.... queue the My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad overlay! If it was on purpose, it was funny. Not the kind of funny that means I'm going to go anywhere near that crap show, but still funny.


Eric, Tami, Julie, and Gracie - Friday Night Lights

Also a big story, big enough to be given away in the NBC previews, was news that Erin (Tamara Jolaine), the waitress from "The Confession," is pregnant with Street's baby. I'm left on the fence with this one. It did provide two really good scenes. The conversations Street had with Eric and Erin were both really well done and got me interested in the idea of the story. On the other hand, it is more of the too much, too fast, Street development. I'm still scratching my head at the way that character has been used all season. It's either full on, or he's disappeared. All of his stories would have worked much better had he been a regular feature of the show, giving them time to move at a better pace.

Street's good buddy Riggins had his own odd bit of story this week. His new found fondness for church actually works with what we've seen leading up to it. What I had a little more trouble with was the church giving him his own radio show. Now, I think we are safe in assuming that the word is out about Riggins in Dillon, and most likely all surrounding counties. While I'm sure that the powers that be at the church would be happy to welcome him into their congregation, I'm much less inclined to believe they are going to turn over reigns to their air waves. That being said, I did really enjoy his defense of Smash when he took the call about it. It just all would have played much better had he been a guest on the church sports show.

It would have also given him a chance to display this shiny new leaf he is turning over to Lyla. Give him some credit for dogged determination. He butts up against a wall and changes course to try a new attack. Will it work? There did seem to be a little bit of a break in Lyla's "over you" resolve. And I don't think Riggins was buying Chris' proclamations any more than we were.

Speaking of Smash, his rough run continues, but he did find some resolution. I really liked the little speech from the Alabama coach. "We're the University of Alabama. We don't play second fiddle to anyone." The fact that he was almost offended at the idea that anyone would have the audacity to make Alabama a second choice did serve as something of a wake up call to Smash I think. The pond is getting very big, and "The Smash" isn't looking as large as he has been accustomed to appearing. I think it ultimately played a big role in the decision to accept the Whitmore offer.

And how about that Whitmore decision? Let's all pause and give ourselves a pat on the back for calling it right back in a December poll, even if it was by only four votes. My only real disappointment with the story was that I thought we should have seen Mrs. Williams reaction to learning the news. Their final scene was good, but considering how she pushed for Whitmore, it would have been nice to see her reaction. The final shot of Smash was a little puzzling. It really doesn't seem like he's at peace with the decision yet. I will also toss in a couple bonus points for continuity with bringing back Coach Deeks. You may remember seeing him all the way back in season one's "Pilot" and "Wind Sprints."

The Panthers got back out on the field this week, with a rather strange lead up. What was with the dodge ball scene? Did we all just forget that whole thing about the team needing to win the last three games to make the playoffs and get Smash back on the field? I get that they were playing a pushover, but surely there could have been some story in prepping the team for the push to the playoffs.

I did like the gesture from Eric to let the other team score at the end of the game. The Landry touchdown on the other hand, eh. It's getting awfully close to the point that they have just ruined Landry for me. And yes, it does all come back to the murder story. For starters, punch a kid, 3 games, murder a guy, that's ok. Really, with all the media focus on the Panthers, shouldn't there have been some fallout from that? Did the writers finally just give in and decide to ignore the whole thing?

Along similar lines, we found Saracen hanging out at the Clarke household finally. What a novel concept. If you recall, one of the reasons for the murder plot, according to Jason Katims, was to get inside the Clarke home. It's hard to believe that someone came up with the Clue-esque, "It was Mr. Clarke, with a lead pipe, at the convenience store." before the just as effective, "Matt comes over to play Guitar Hero." Yeah, I'm still bitter about the murder. It is the overwhelming black mark on this second season. The scene was nice though. The bickering and jabs about Tyra's exploits and the hot Mexican nanny were something of a return to a relationship that has been all too absent for much of the season.

And so, there we are. Season two has been a bumpy ride. Even with all of the oddness, it's still been worth the journey. And this is still a show I'll be happy to recommend to people, although, I'll be recommending the season one DVDs. Should this end up being the end of the show, it's not a very satisfying conclusion. There are far too many questions left floating out there. Here are my best guesses at a few.

  • Does the team make the playoffs? Of course they do. The team rallies and they bring Smash back for another run at State.
  • Do Street and Erin make a go at starting a family? I think so. A bumpy ride it will be, but you can never count out Street.
  • Will Lyla and Riggins end up together? Indeed they will. That look at the church was all too telling. You know it, I know it, and Chris knows it.
  • Does Smash actually end up at Whitmore? I think his final scene, and the prospects of playoffs leave some doors open, but I'm still betting on Whitmore.
  • Is there a future for Julie and Matt? Conventional wisdom would say yes, but the fact that it hasn't even been hinted at recently leads me to believe no.
  • Will Landry and Tyra make it? Good grief, at this point I just don't think I care.

And for now, we'll all have to start playing the waiting game to see if NBC will kick in a few more season two episodes, or boldly go forward with a third run. It seems a long shot, but then, so was season two, right?

Make your best guess. Was that the end of Friday Night Lights?
Unfortunately, yes it was.177 (24.2%)
Nope. Post strike there will be enough episodes ordered to tie up the loose ends.189 (25.9%)
Oh hell no. Season three in the fall!364 (49.9%)

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zkam

It's been a few weeks now, so maybe I'm forgetting something, but did they ever say Riggins was doing a *Church* radio show? Isn't just another show broadcast from the local radio station?

February 25 2008 at 10:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DQ

This is a great show that has the potential to be a hit if only givin a real chance.

I'm not feeling the Smash commitment after seeing the way he reacted to the potential of making some decent money in the Areana Football League. I hope the show gets the chance to explore this some more because coach & mom will be ticked off and that could create some great drama.

I also think Lyla's new (alter boy) boyfreind is going to snap cause no teenage GUY is actually that passive. He is going to loose it and either do something to Lyla or Riggins but either way Tim will end up giving him a beating and of course Lyla will be mad at Tim for it and the sexual tention will continue.

Now my final prediction concers Landry's love triangle. I see his little punk rock chic becoming a real problem for the on again off again couple. We saw the potetial fatal attraction side first when she confronted Tyra asking if she was competition and then when she told Landry he would regret breaking up with her.

Anyway I hope all these story lines get the chance to play out.

February 18 2008 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sansTV

There should be a law against canceling shows as good as Friday Night Lights. I sincerely hope somebody at NBC wakes up before getting rid of it.

February 16 2008 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Zach

So was I the only one wondering what happened in their last game? They ended the ep right before this one going into it. I was expecting it to open up in it and felt a bit short changed in it. While we got some football later (and a blowout for once), I was wondering who won it. I guess Dillon did, but I wasn't sure if I missed it or it just wasn't mentioned.

Hopefully this won't be the last ep, I agree with you guys that even with this rocky season it's still the best drama on TV. Better then House and some other dramas. A shame they stuck it on Friday Nights then are surprised no one watches.

February 11 2008 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
M. Reddick

Despite some missteps this season this show remains one of the best ever offered on television. I hope that it is either renewed or transfered to another network. For it to end would be a shame of major proportions.

February 11 2008 at 7:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Shooter

This is one of the best shows I have ever seen. NBC needs to be creative with their advertising dollars and focus on spending where their audience is....the internet!!! Please find a way to make this work

February 10 2008 at 11:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gene

Ugh. Not strictly a comment about the show, but the two screen caps posted here really illustrate something that burns me.
Since NBC has begun plastering promos all over the screen -- including the static text promo that is permanently attached to the logo bug -- I've stopped watching that network.
I don't watch anything on CBS or Fox, and so far ABC hasn't defaced "Lost" or "Eli Stone," although they have annoying transitions to commercials on "Ugly Betty."
Why aren't viewers up in arms and threatening to revolt over this crap, like I have? It is just impossible anymore to get into a television show because of the distracting clutter splattered all over the screen (and usually with sound effects, as well).
The lesson I've learned is that I can live without network television, especially in the era of quick DVD releases and Netflix. I've canceled my satellite because the cable networks are twice as bad at this.
Count me as a casualty of the clutter wars -- or, rather, a survivor.

February 10 2008 at 3:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
PORSCHE

Well I think Riggins is done with radio for saying ok to punch on a church radio show...now had he said smash was defending his sister and had reason then ok..but he just played it off as a fight and was fine with it.

I hope Street gets a family. I think maybe smash thought he owed the coach for telling taylor to use him at an early age.

Maybe Scaraceen will spend summer vacation in central america looking for his love...or he will find another ez girl and forget about her.

February 10 2008 at 7:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tammy

I love this show and it's so hard to talk people into watching it because they think it's just about football. I think NBC marketed this show wrong.

I would like to think FNL might get some awards (like Arrested Development) and that might buy it another year. The acting by the coach and his wife is top notch. I like the coach watching his wife watch Mo while he got into the helicopter... it was the perfect reaction. The fight was kind of dumb though.

My husband (who really doesn't get into too many tv shows) loves this show and thinks the casting and character development is it's strengths. He especially likes alot of the players on the team.

February 09 2008 at 11:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Randall

I don't really like the way they've handled the recruiting of smash. Just because he verbally committed didn't mean anything other schools would still be trying to get him, especially if he's the best running back in all of texas. I really hope this isn't the end though. I love this show.

February 09 2008 at 9:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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