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August 29, 2015

Review: Friday Night Lights - Stay

by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 11th 2009 12:48AM
After last week's episode -- a tour de force by Zach Gilford as Matt -- this show felt almost like a transition. The stories are in motion, the characters are in flux, and change is coming. It's inevitable given the relationships and the ages of most of the cast, so it would be disingenuous to be surprised by what's happening.

There were two songs that informed the major changes, Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and Patsy Cline's "Crazy." More on the tunes and the trials, not to mention that thirteen on eleven drill that's got the East Dillon Lions starting to roar on the field. Not winning the game, but at least winning respect. For more on all this stuff, follow me.

Standing at the crossroads of life is precisely where Matt Saracen has found himself. The trip to Austin with Julie was a revelation because at last the truth came out. He had stayed in Dillon for her and Julie knew it. She let it happen. She was selfish because she loves him.

So, teenager that she is, Julie risked the wrath of Tami -- and she knew she was going to get it when she got home -- to placate Matt and to hold onto their romance by arranging the trip to Austin. Sure, Matt needed a diversion after the trauma of his father's death, but the difficulties he's dealing with can't be solved with a music festival.

Now, the Bob Dylan song suggests that Matt's moved on, not to mention his driving off to somewhere in Texas after leaving Julie and seeing his family through the window. Is this the end of Matt's story? I don't think so. It's not his style to walk away like that. I think he's on a walk-about in a station wagon. And as for his romance with Julie, well, as Bob sang, "I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind, You could have done better but I don't mind. You just kinda wasted my precious time. But don't think twice, it's all right."

As for the the other musical reference, we have Lyla and Tim. She was home for mid-break and for a few days, their romance was rekindled. The key moment for them, though, was the final morning after. What did Riggins want? Lyla asked. His answer was Lyla. Not once, but twice. That said it all for Lyla. She wanted Tim to want more, and Tim can't see beyond the horizon. Or the next beer. Patsy Cline's song, like Dylan's, said it all about Tim's love for Lyla: "Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you, I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying, And I'm crazy for loving you."

When Lyla took that bus back to college, there was no question it was a door closing. Becky's "sage" advice for Tim, about first love being heartbreaking and your greatest love might be across the world in Sri Lanka, was actually pretty sweet. So was Tim's response. He told her to shut up. Then added a please.

Tami's freaking out about Julie taking off without permission was pure prefiguration. Tami's going to freak out when Julie goes off to college in a year, especially since she's talking about out of state schools. Eric's middle of the night response was perfect -- and exactly why these two are such a real couple. He said he supported Tami 100 percent. Smart husband.

As for the game, it looks like Eric's making some headway. The Riggins boys joining in for a practice paid off. The Lions didn't win, as I said, but they're improving. And nobody's forfeiting anything anymore.

Like I said, transitions. Lyla moving on without Tim. Julie accepting that Matt's not staying in Dillon. Tami preparing for her second favorite daughter to leave the nest.

All in all, a good episode -- but I want to see Matt come back or call home in a future show. I need more closure on his story.

Other points of interest

-- Do you think by the time Landry graduates high school he'll learn to think before speaking? He put his foot in his mouth three times in this episode!

-- Great product placement when Vince and Luke took the game film to Sears to watch it on the big screen in the electronics department. You see, product placement can work if it's done realistically and with subtlety.

-- Vince's mom seems to be clean for the moment and it was nice that she cared enough to go to the game. I just don't think she'll be able to stay that way for long. And Vince is still being lead astray by the barber shop guys.

-- Is Jess really interested in Landry or Vince? I'm thinking she likes the red head.

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

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My two main problems with the show are huge emotional moments from the last season finale were undone this season.

1. Riggins' brother made an impassioned plea for Riggins to go to college and make something of himself. Riggins agrees and then quits college after sitting in class for 10 min.

2. Matt decides not to go to art school to stay home and take care of his Grandma since "she's the only one who never left him". Now they're trying to say he stayed home for Julie when I didn't really see evidence of that last season.

Despite these two points FNL is one of my favorite dramas on TV. My only question is how this season will end. If the Lions keep losing what will the climax be? And if they go to the playoffs won't that be awful unrealistic?

January 06 2010 at 10:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to RC's comment

No way they make the playoffs. The climax will be when they play and beat West Dillon.

I know what you mean about Riggs dropping out of college. It was a wierd undoing of all of that build up and eventual resolution last season. But its also a totally believable thing for his character to do. Its painful to watch him left behind as everyone else leaves him and goes on to greater things. But there is always that guy. Its real.

You know what is bothering me the most this season... In the first season, Julie is a sophmore. This is made very clear when Tami tells coach about the sophemore girl who came to see her and told her that her panther wanted to have a three-way. She says "our Julie is a sophemore". So, she would have graduated with Matt as he was clearly identified as a sophemore in the first season as well. Unless she flunked. Which doesn't make sense as she is supposed to be such a good student. seems a wierd error to make and not explain somehow for such a realistic show. I mean, the Landry thing is wierd since Matt and Landry were friends since they were 5 and Landry is super smart and academic - yet he is a year behind Matt in school. But at least they never came right out and said what year he was like they did with Julie.

Small complaints, though. This is the best TV has to offer.

January 22 2010 at 11:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

According to an L.A. Times interview with Zach Gilford, Matt will make brief appearances in 2 more episodes this season - http://bit.ly/5j6xzW

December 11 2009 at 7:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm pretty sure Zach Gilford is suppose to be in at least one more episode, so I don't think that's the last we've seen of Matt Saracen.

December 11 2009 at 12:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show is like fine wine. Thank God it is on while Mad Men is on hiatus! I don't know how it does it, but it feels more real than anything else on TV. Lyla's story was pitch perfect. She's straddled between two worlds and didn't know which one she wanted - until now. Many, many college freshman go through the same thing. Many make the choice to stay, like Tim, and some move on like Lyla.

The Julie/Matt storyline is more complicated and I think has more to go. They may not resolve this for months or years in Dillon time, but I hope we get to see it.

Becky is actually growing on me, as well as the other new characters. They've had an excellent balance of old and new this year.

December 11 2009 at 9:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Allison's comment

hey allison,

I represent http://tv-reviewed.blogspot.com, another TV reviewing site, that's kind of like yours except we only do reviews, polls and the occasional announcements. I was wondering if you could be a guest writer, reviewing Friday Night Lights on our blog? I chose Friday Night Lights because nobody on our site has done it yet and you exceed at reviews for that show. You would probably just review the pilot, to get our readers interested. And who knows... if you like it a lot, than you come back to do more!

If you're interested than you can email me at 12luckynumber12ianlf@gmail.com and I will set you up!

-Ian F.

December 13 2009 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dying to find out what the history is between Vince & Jess. I love to see young actors grow on the screen. Still remember Jurnee Smollett from Full House & Cosby and Michael B. Jordan from the Wire. Too bad this show doesn't have a larger audience; it's one of the best things on tv right now...

December 11 2009 at 3:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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