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Review: 'Friday Night Lights' - 'Laboring'

by Allison Waldman, posted Feb 4th 2010 1:15AM
Friday_night_lights_nbc_tami_eric(S04E12) Facing the Lions, Coach Taylor said the word of the week was focus. He was wrong. The word of the week was choice. Everybody seemed to be facing impossible choices.

Bigger than right or wrong, yes or no, play or don't play. In this penultimate episode of 'Friday Night Lights,' the problems were everywhere, but solutions -- unfortunately -- were hard to come by. More on the big game, toothpicks, apologies and Habitat for Humanities after the jump.

The anticipation for the game between the Panthers and the Lions has been building for weeks. Buddy's obsessiveness should have been a tip-off that it was never going to be "just a football game." After the field issues were supposedly settled, nastiness escalated from pranks to destruction and Eric got the fuzzy end of that lollipop.

The Lions will not have home field advantage, but considering they've rarely won a game this season at home or away, does it matter? It will be a miracle if they win. All the pep talks in the world won't heal Luke's bum hip, and how could anyone expect Vince's head to be in the game with the death of Calvin haunting him.

Tami's troubles have erupted into a potential game changer for the Taylors. If she doesn't knuckle under and apologize for the Becky situation -- and she shouldn't have to because she didn't do a damn thing wrong -- her career will be over. If she loses her job, the Taylors may not remain in Dillon. How could they? She'd never get another job. This is a no-win situation for Tami. Eric knows it, too. The lawyer put it succinctly when he told she could always fight back a wrongful termination lawsuit, assuming she was fired. It would take years, but she could do it. Yeah, "There's law and there's life." The Taylors need a life.

Vince was ready to flush his life away to avoid being a "little bitch" and to avenge Calvin's death. What made him decide to get out the car and leave the gun behind? It might have been Jess's pleading with him to stop or perhaps the memory of his mother asking him not to make her bury him. Whatever, he made the right choice. But when he returned home and embraced Jess, something made it seem that their relationship is more familial than romantic. And the debt is still unsettled. Vince is going to have to payback somehow.

Finally, there's the Riggins. Both Billy and Tim. At the moment when happiness was finally in their hands, Tim with his land, Billy with his son, fate intervened in the form of the police. The chop shop came back to haunt them both. There may be a choice to be made that involves Tim taking the fall so that Billy can raise Steven and stay with Mindy. Making hard choices is in Tim's DNA. He turned down Becky. He'll do what he has to do for Billy and his nephew. Don't you think?

Other points of interest

-- Eric had tough love for Luke -- "Your job is to take care of that hip" -- but he didn't deserve anything else. His selfishness has jeopardized the team.

-- It was nice to see that Vince and Jess have both recognized that Landry's a nice guy. The bike, the toothpicks, the condolences for Calvin. Of course, you know what they say, "Nice guys finish last."

-- Eric asked Julie to go easy on Tami because it was going to be a rough week, and you can see that will probably result in Julie getting the okay to join the Habitat for Humanities training program. Will Matt's reappearance next week (in the previews) muck it up for Julie?

-- Billy seemed like he was doing an impression of Rob Petrie getting ready to take Laura to the hospital on 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' when it was time to drive Mindy to the hospital. Pants around the ankles is always funny stuff.

-- Toothpicks on the football field was a great prank. Who thought of that one? On the other hand, pickups destroying the turf was just evil.

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

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I couldn't possibly say it better than this ...

Alan Sepinwall wrote:

"And it occurs to me that, because Kennard was the mastermind behind the whole car theft ring, we could see a finale in which Tim and Vince's problems cancel each other out, with Billy rolling on Kennard to secure his freedom (and unintentionally secure Vince's safety).

And if that's what winds up happening, I'm not sure how I'd feel about it. On the one hand, it would seem a little too neat for a show that likes to be sloppy even with its happy endings. On the other, after so much bleakness for our characters in recent weeks, I could use a little sunlight - whether that comes from an improbable, pride-restoring win for the Lions, or Tami getting to keep her job without compromising her beliefs, or Vince and/or Tim getting out from under their criminal burdens. I don't know that I want all of those problems to be solved, but I do love these characters - both old and new - enough to not want to see them suffer any more."

February 04 2010 at 10:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to colby's comment
Bill Turner

I would hate for Tim to end up in jail too but what if it was my car that was stolen and chopped? I hope he does roll over on Kennard. It seems likely since it's the season finale and Tim is leaving the show. Is Landry's dad still the sheriff? I'm also wondering if it was the cash to the realtor that tipped off the police or if it was the junk yard guy. It was one of those two because the police came for Tim and not Billy. If it was the junk yard guy maybe they don't know about the land and he can keep it.

February 04 2010 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show has never been better. Riggins can do an entire scene without saying a word, its in his eyes. The whole cast has been outstanding, and kudos to Peter Berg for creating such a fantastic show this season. Maybe NBC will do something right for a change and give it the promotion and respect it deserves.

February 04 2010 at 10:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show is amazing.

February 04 2010 at 9:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe I am out of touch, but when is Friday Night Lights airing on regular TV?

February 04 2010 at 9:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tony's comment
Bill Turner

It returns to NBC on Friday, April 30th. It's been showing early on DirecTV Channel 101.

February 05 2010 at 8:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hope jail is not the end of the Tim Riggins story. That would be such a bland ending to a great character. Next to the Taylor's he has become one of the best characters on the show.

Why this show isn't more popular is beyond me. I have watched every episode since day one....

February 04 2010 at 8:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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