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August 30, 2015

Review: Friday Night Lights - The Son

by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 3rd 2009 9:02AM
When you see an episode like this one, you feel bad that Friday Night Lights has been flying under the radar when it comes to Emmy consideration. The performance by Zach Gilford as Matt was the best I've seen on TV since Aaron Paul blew me away with Breaking Bad last summer. Hopefully someone will remember him next year when it's Emmy time, and this is the show that could win it for him. He was just that good. More after the jump on Matt, Vince, Becky and the other Dillon denizens.

There was a lot about family for the characters to deal with. The death of Matt's father was the centerpiece, but Vince also had issues with his mother's addiction. He was riding high after leading the Lions to a couple of scores in the game. The team still lost, but there was at least something to cheer about.

And yet, at home, the water and electricity were off, the milk was sour and his mother was strung out and unable to get into the house without his carrying her. But will stealing cars be the choice Vince makes over football? Peer pressure is part of it, but so is necessity. Vince is in a tough spot, but you know he loves football and would rather be playing than training to be a criminal.

And Becky had her troubles with Lorraine. She appeared in the pageant, but instead of it being about Becky, Lorraine made it about Becky's no-account father. The only solace for Becky was that Tim showed up to see her perform. However, Tim's only interested in friendship -- or being a brother -- and Becky misunderstands. She's young and she threw herself at him.Thankfully, Tim was older and wiser. Also, I think Tim knew that Lila would be at the funeral.

Later, prefiguring a possible relationship, Becky met Luke at the convenience store; she was upset by Riggins' rejection. He was upset about J.D. McCoy and the paintball incident. They seemed to click. It didn't hurt that Luke was shirtless.

But this show was really Matt's story. He seemed to go through most of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief, with an emphasis on anger. His father had abandoned him by being in the military and Matt was uncomfortable writing a eulogy. His feelings culminate on the drunken romp with Tim, Landry and Billy, when Tim gives him permission to go see his father's body. Big mistake, which Riggins realizes after the fact.

The look into the coffin ripped Matt apart. Julie couldn't help him. He broke down at the Taylor's and he spun out of control. When he left, Julie was in tears, Tami wasn't the person he needed. Matt needed a father figure and it was up to Eric. He chased him down, but not for a big emotional confrontation. It was just, "I'm going to walk you home."

Finally, at the gravesite, Matt did his own version of a eulogy, but it was the cathartic act of picking up the shovel and burying his father that brought him to acceptance. What he couldn't say with words, he let out with his actions.

Other points of interest

-- "Why do they call it a breakfast if it's at one o'clock?" - Vince's response to an invitation to speak to Pop Warner players

-- Emcee: "She'll be singing 'Popuar' from The Wicked."
Becky: "Oh, it's just Wicked."

-- Didn't you love the way Tami went after the funeral director?

-- The Lions need to keep running the spread offense/Wildcat. It was mutiny by Vince and Luke to call the play without Eric's approval, but the results cannot be denied. Two scores in two snaps.

[Watch Friday Night Lights episodes and clips at SlashControl.]

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Sheila Nicholas

Absolutely the best drama on TV! I have been a faithful watcher since the first season. Congrats to DirectTV for keeping it on the air and NBC for not cancelling. This episode was the best yet!

December 09 2009 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Such a fantastic episode - this one should definitely win some awards.

I think it really solidified the fact that Matt Saracen is the best character in television right now. He has so much character depth, yet it never is forced, and everything he does seems so natural. Here in this episode we are shown some different sides of him, but they all make sense in context. Brilliant writing, really. I hope episodes like this help give the show wider exposure because it's up there with Sons of Anarchy as the best drama on TV, and I think it should be getting better exposure.

Also, I thought it was cool to hear Great Northern's "Driveway" during the funeral procession. FNL the movie did a perfect job with its music, and I'm glad the show understands the importance of music as a mood setter, too.

December 04 2009 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is truly one of the best if not the best show on TV. It's sad that this may be the last season since Comcast just bought NBC.

December 03 2009 at 4:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Loved last night's episode so much. Closest thing I've ever seen to an accurate portrayal of the loss of a parent in an older teen on TV. Especially the getting drunk with friends part. (My husband lost his mom at about the same age). My favorite part was Tammy and the funeral director. She really rocks!

December 03 2009 at 1:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This part shouldn't be overlooked for long-time FNL fans. Coach Taylor was watching a game on TV while playing with Gracie. The announcer said, "I'm not saying this kid, Brian "Smash" Williams, is ready to start but he's got 6 carries for 38 yards." Subtle touch.

December 03 2009 at 1:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sad that this show does not get the credit it deserves. No wonder NBC sucks, even when they have a good show they ignore it.

December 03 2009 at 10:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Stacie's comment

People need to give NBC credit when it comes to FNL. If it was on any other network (except maybe the CW) it would've been canceled a long time ago and we wouldn't get to enjoy some of the best television ever. And it's not from lack of promotion or buzz.

When you have a country that would rather watch crap like Dancing With the Stars and Glee and Two and a Half Men, it's hard for a show that's actually GOOD, on a major network, to go anywhere.

December 03 2009 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Definitely the best of the season, maybe the entire series.

December 03 2009 at 10:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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