Friday Night Lights: May The Best Man Win
(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.
Gallery: Friday Night Lights
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.
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?
|Unfortunately, yes it was.||178 (24.4%)|
|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 (49.8%)|