Given the way Friday Night Lights ended last week, I was almost hoping for the hackneyed "it was all a dream" plot device for Landry and Tyra. It wasn’t, though, so we’re going to be dealing with the fallout for a while.
I’m still not happy about that, but the die is pretty well cast now. And if the show’s writers want to run with that, I at least hope they take the story to some kind of logical end.
(Barbecue-flavored spoilers for Friday’s episode on their way.)
Let’s start with the good stuff, which, as is almost always the case with this show, was plentiful. And as is almost always the case, the good starts with Coach Eric and Tami Taylor, who are feeling their separation a little more acutely and who each end up with unlikely sounding boards.
Antoine the Arrogant Football Star and Glenn the Fill-In Counselor each posed essentially the same question: What the heck are you doing here when your spouse is there? Didn’t you just have a baby?
To be sure, Antoine was out of line to ask that of Coach, and was clearly just trying to get under Eric’s skin (and succeeded all the more for being right about it). As a result Eric couldn’t resist giving him what for both in the restaurant and, indirectly, at the infractions hearing, where he pleaded with the committee to let him and his fellow coaches turn a "knucklehead" into some semblance of a man.
We’d expect nothing less from Eric Taylor, but in his current environment it probably wasn’t a wise thing to do. He’d already been reduced to errand-boy status in escorting Antoine to the hearing, and his boss was clearly not happy to hear what Eric said at the hearing — not so much about Antoine as about the corrupted culture of big-time college football. "I bet you were one helluva high-school coach" has got to go in the backhanded compliment hall of fame.
Tami, meanwhile, is dealing with what would otherwise be normal baby stuff: Baby Grace is crying too much and has a fever. But because she’s trying to do everything on her own, and still trying to keep a hand in school business, she is just overwhelmed. Glenn the Fill-In Counselor is no help at first, making a crack about her housekeeping and then scolding her for walking the baby all the way to school in stifling heat (he’s probably right about the second one, but still). At least, though, he steps up enough to give Tami a ride home from the hospital, where he gets Tami to admit that the separation from Eric "was my idea. It was a stupid idea."
(And by the way, how great is the chemistry between Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton that their scenes crackle even when they’re on the phone?)
Tami is also dealing with Julie, who refuses to be of any help with Grace and is willfully distancing herself from her mom and everyone else she was close to last year. Sure, she’s being a little brat — but she’s also being a completely realistic 16-year-old, and kudos to Aimee Teegarden for being so emotionally raw. She has really stepped up her game early this year. Her fumbling, it’s-not-you-it’s-me talk with Matt at the team barbecue — and Matt’s response, a derisive "I know" — was wrenchingly true-to-life.
And that, essentially, is my problem with the Landry and Tyra story. In a show that’s remarkable for its grounding in recognizable human behavior, their preposterous situation just doesn’t fit. Adrianne Palicki and Jesse Plemons are acting the heck out of the material they’ve been given, but it’s so out of the realm of the rest of the show that it’s like a clanging gong every time The Incident comes up.
Other thoughts from Friday’s episode:
- I am absolutely loving downtrodden Buddy. His fuming at the new coach and being usurped by the other boosters is fantastic comedy, but it also gets at how deeply invested he and the town are in the Panthers. His spectacle at the barbecue also paved the way for a couple of nice moments between Riggins and Lyla; Tim’s observation about Buddy not being a drunk, just sad, was exactly what Lyla needed to hear at the moment.
- Not sure about the stories for either of the two QBs this week. I think there’s potential for some interesting dynamics between Saracen and his grandmother’s new nurse, but I’m also worried it could take a turn into silly rom-com territory. And though it seems natural for Street to want to explore any option he could to walk again, I’m concerned about the timing. With all the other big stories playing out, it seems like that could have waited a while.
- That said, I loved the little moment where Street told Tami about his dream. Yes, it’s a little odd that Tami would be a savior figure in Jason’s subconscious, but it was also exactly what she needed to hear at the time. The look that crossed her face as she walked away spoke volumes.
What did you think of this week’s FNL? How do you feel about the way the show is dealing with The Incident?