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'Friday Night Lights' recap: Separations and betrayals

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Fridaynightlights_l

Fridaynightlights_lFriday Night Lights was all about separations this week. Let us list ’em, shall we?
• Tami and Eric (Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler) had a difficult time putting baby Gracie in daycare.
• Matt’s live-in nurse/love, Carlotta (Daniella Alonso), said she had to scram back to Guatemala: “My family needs me,” she said. No explanation.
• Smash (Gaius Charles) and his family had dinner with his girlfriend, Noelle (Jana Kramer) and her family. Racial tension arose when her parents said they wished Smash would stop dating their daughter, and those tensions further separated the couple after Smash got into a fight with a racist white boy while on a movie date.
• Ex-con Santiago (Benny Ciaramello), who’s been living with Buddy Garrity (Brad Leland), felt an emotional pull away from his new middle-class, football-dominated existence when a pal fresh out of the slammer tried to pull him back into his old life.
• And Lyla (Minka Kelly) has found a new hobby — hosting a Christian call-in radio show with a new character (Gilmore Girls’ Matt Czuchry), a charmer who looks as though he’s going to keep her from dealing with any lingering affection she has for our man of constant sorrow, Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch), just as Tim was about to pledge his sincere love to her.

This episode was all over the place, quality-wise, and you know I’m writing this from the place of Friday Night Lights Is The Show We Love To Love, right?

To begin with my last item: That radio show is called, “I Was A TeenageChristian”? Really? Okay, maybe that’s actually a clever writer’s ideaof what an Evangelical radio show aimed at adolescents would be calledif its producers themselveswere trying to be clever. And I’ll try to put aside my personal loathing ofCzuchry’s repulsively arrogant Logan Huntzberger character on Gilmore Girls, the rich twit who led Rory Gilmore into more bad subplots than any other Gilmore character. I’m putting that aside, I say. But did the Friday Night Lightsfolks have to have Lyla and Whatever They’re Calling Logan On This Showkiss in the very first episode in which we see them together? EvenKitsch’s terrific acting as Riggins couldn’t save the cornballinevitability of having his character walk in, flowers in hand, just asLyla and her new, pious beau were sharing their first kiss.

Next subplot: As for Santiago, well, all I can say is, that characterwasn’t really developing into anyone we cared about, was he? So seeinghim torn between his old and new friends was a dramatic cliché thatcouldn’t be avoided, I suppose.

Now then: Smash and his interracial romance? I thought this wasactually pretty interesting. Smash’s mom, Corinna (Liz Mikel), actuallyagreed with the racist parents about her son not dating their daughterfor two reasons — she never liked that girl in the first place, and nowshe was so outraged by their blatant racism, that agreeing with thecreeps that Smash and Noelle just weren’t meant to be together feltinevitable and right. It was a subtle reaction to what could have beenanother dramatic cliché.

When it came to Matt (Zach Gilford) and Carlotta, this is where theepisode really let me down. It didn’t add up: Carlotta is obviouslyvery fond of Matt, so why did we get no explanation beyond “my familyneeds me” regarding her abrupt departure? And why was no one worried aboutwho was going to take care of his mentally fragile grandmother? The bestMatt-moment wasn’t with those women, anyway — it was that brief butgolden scene with his ol’ buddy Landry (Jesse Plemons), when Landrybusted Matt’s chops over him falling for “the hot maid.” “She’s anurse!” Matt spluttered. Well-played, Sir Landry!

Finally, Britton and Chandler managed to make the stress and squabbleover Gracie’s daycare dilemma touching, funny, and sexy, as usual.Loved all their glances, their solemn chats, and their final, throwawaylines about fumbling with the gate at the daycare center. These twocan make the most ordinary situations immensely enjoyable.

And I’ll give the show the benefit of the doubt: Riggins was allowed tomake prank calls to Lyla’s radio show (hey, there was long-lost JasonStreet in the background — welcome back, dude!) and go after her withflowers because I assume next week he’ll have to deal with his biggerproblem, remember? Oh, yeah: he and his brother stole thousands of dollars last week from a violent meth dealer! Hey,maybe Tim can help out Matt with his grandma-care problem — just have hermove in with him and teach her to sit behind the front door with ashotgun when he’s off at football practice. 

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