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'Friday Night Lights': Should we be worried about the show's new direction?

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Fnl_lFrom EW editor-at-large Ken Tucker:

If you’re reading this, you probably love Friday Night Lights and watched its blessed second-season return last night. All the scenes between Kyle Chandler’s Coach Taylor (pictured) and Connie Britton’s new-mom Tami were terrific, as is the idea of having Minka Kelly’s Lyla dive more deeply into her Evangelical faith, in part to escape the pain of her romantic relationships and her parents’ separation. This was Friday Night Lights at its best, and the show’s much-discussed-by-fans-and-producers decision to de-emphasize the football games didn’t feel forced to me.

But now for the tricky question: As much as you love Lights, did anything about it make you a little nervous, a little unsettled? In the halls of EW, some of us are cautiously worried that last night’s most harrowing subplot —the accidental killing of Tyra’s (Adrianne Palicki) creepy stalker by Landry (Jesse Plemons) — may be sending the series down a path of excessive melodrama that is at odds with all the beautifully subtle drama we love about this show.

On one level, the plot-turn is faithfully following what came before: Last season, we saw Tyra nearly raped by this thug, and we know that Landry — who may look at Tyra like a besotted puppy-dog but can snarl like a junkyard dawg if anyone bothers her — would do anything to protect her. But having Landry kill this guy and dump his body in the river (if, in fact, that’s what he did — lots of artful editing in those scenes…) instead of bringing the body to the hospital and reporting the incident to the local police? (Remember last season, when Tami had Tyra report the stalker’s attack on her to the cops? Wouldn’t that lay the groundwork for, I don’t know, justifiable homicide?)

More broadly speaking: Does this throw Friday Night Lights into a realm of doomed-lovers-fated- by-murder that pushes the show in a direction that can lead to a more hyped-up, less meticulous drama than the one we admire so much? Do you think the producers have ginned up this subplot to lure new viewers who’ll be attracted to a flashier, more florid storyline?  Don’t get me wrong — I am fully committed to Lights for as long as NBC will air it. But I can’t say I’m not a little worried about the best show too many people aren’t watching. I want the team to keep on cheering, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” — not “…can’t lose ratings!” How about you?

addCredit(“Credit: Bill Records”)