One possible upside to Friday Night Lights ending its season in a couple weeks is this: At least we will be spared further silliness from the world of Tim Riggins.

I suppose that, once you see Tim and brother Billy stealing $3,000 from a meth dealer, you have to bring that story to a conclusion. I just wish the way they’d done it hadn’t been quite so goofy.

(Spoilers coming as soon as I figure out the difference between power metal and grindcore.)

I want to dismiss with the Riggins strangeness first, because I really enjoyed much of the rest of the episode (particularly Landry’s adorable new alterna-girl friend). And even the Riggins stuff with Lyla, while sort of pitiful, at least felt of a piece with what’s come before. But the business with Tim, Billy and the meth man? Yeesh.

So, yeah, I’d wait around uncomfortably too while the guy counted my money if he brandished a gun at me. But it escapes me why big brother Billy would, once that was taken care of, get all chesty with the dealer and cause a fight and near-shooting. What possible dramatic purpose, aside from a moment of heightened tension, could that serve? And if this means that the dealer is now coming after Billy — man, can’t poor Tim ever catch a freakin’ break?

OK then. Rant over, and onto the things that worked. The Riggins-and-Lyla stuff came across better (although, where does she get three grand?), and was in keeping with the up-and-down nature of their relationship. But Lyla seems genuinely to like her new beau Chris, and though I doubt it deters Tim entirely, she was just about as direct as she could be in telling him to move on. Was it me, though, or does her "No. No … no," response when Chris asks if she still has feelings for Tim betray a little bit of doubt on her part?

In another continuation from last week, the situation with Smash isn’t going away anytime soon. The kid who Smash punched presses assault charges, and both Mrs. Williams and Coach encourage him to take a plea agreement and issue a public apology in front of TV cameras. (And he actually apologized, a rarity in this day of the "I’m sorry you were offended" non-apology. Athletes and other public figures who screw up should watch that scene and take notes as a model of how to do it.)

Given how quickly the affair seemed to resolve, though, you sort of knew it would come back, and I like that the writers took the story to a logical end (even if its means were a tad suspect; that local-news ambush at the Applebee’s didn’t ring true for a second). During the conference with the lawyer, Smash’s mom says to him, "I told you a million times, you’ve got to better than other people," and, she’s right. Every wrong step taken by a prominent person — even if the prominence is on a small scale, such as Smash’s stardom in Dillon — is magnified, and so the burden, rightly or wrongly, falls on him not to take the bait.

That said, his punishment — a three-game suspension from the district — feels about right. Presumably the apology was a condition of accepting a no-contest or guilty plea on a lesser charge, but the charge is still there. Gaius Charles did a great job in that final scene as Smash took in the news and registered what the impact would be on the team, on him and on his dream of playing college and pro ball.

Elsewhere in Dillon:

There’s a new coach
in the Taylor family, after Eric convinces Tami to take over the sad-sack Dillon volleyball team. "Did you not just say you wanted more exercise?" Eric asks, then follows her protestation about the time commitment with "It’s three weeks, period. [Pause] Four at most."

Tami is initially despairing of her 0-7 squad’s prospects, until she notices what a "tall drink of water" Tyra is when she comes over for dinner (and Adrianne Palicki is, as the episode notes, a legit 5-foot-11). While it’s apparent that volleyball action is harder to choreograph than football action, as there are no helmets and pads to obscure the identity of the stunt players, I appreciate how Tyra’s presence didn’t magically make the team great. Yeah, they won their match, but not before almost blowing it, and not without, as one player notes, the other team’s best player being out sick.

Still, the whole thing was pretty well-handled, including Julie’s growing resentment at yet another thing eating up her mom’s time and Tyra’s envisioning  Tim as the ball to help her really put some power behind her kills.

Jason Street is alive and selling cars in Dillon. After getting in a fight with Herc over the condition of the car Herc sold him, Jason (finally back after barely appearing in the past few episodes) accepts a job at Buddy’s dealership, which doesn’t go over too big with the other salespeople. He proves his worth by convincing a wishy-washy customer to buy a truck (and how much was Scott Porter channeling Tom Cruise in that scene?) but even so, he’s not that thrilled. I’m guessing that 19-year-old car salesman is about as far from how Street saw his life unfolding as possible.

The best for last: How cute are Landry and his dreadlocked, metal-listening physics partner Jean? (Say hello to Brea Grant, ladies and gentlemen.) You could just see Landry fall in love a little bit when she started talking about Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse, and their scene during the team party provided the funniest line of the night, from Saracen: "That’s God’s gift to Landry, that’s what that is."

The question now is whether Tyra will make a play for Landry now that she sees someone else is interested. Given the completely bratty way she treated Jean in their couple of scenes together, I’m guessing that’s pretty much a given.

Your thoughts on this week’s Friday Night Lights? Is Jean the Mary Stuart Masterson to Landry’s Eric Stoltz, and can Smash recover from his suspension?

Posted by:Rick Porter