So much is happening already in the new fourth season of Friday Night Lights, I’m going to organize this recap by bullet points. The usual SPOILER ALERT pertains.
• Coach Eric may be struggling to tame his East Dillon Lions, but through some dubiously ethic’d redistricting loophole, he secured the services of a primo West Dillon Panther player Luke Cafferty. I thought it was terrific to have Luke be a humble kid who cried when Tami told him about his unavoidable move, and then a polite go-getter once he arrived at East Dillon: A lesser TV series would have made that character a sullen, bitter, angry lunkhead.
• How much pressure can Tami bear in this school redistricting mess? It was great the way she pulled the rug out from under Joe McCoy (I swear, D.W. Moffett is becoming one of my favorite TV actors) in front of the West Dillon football poobahs. But how can Tami possibly win over the rest of the angry, booing school? For once, it seemed as though Eric was so busy worrying about himself that he wasn’t gasping the enormity of Tami’s troubles when they cuddled on the home sofa. A glass of white wine and a hug from Eric is not gonna comfort her for much longer.
• I like the way Coach went to Vince’s literal home court — his neighborhood basketball court — to cajole him back to football. But how did Vince round up so many guys (including Landry), after all that first-game-forfeit bitterness? Kids today, with their texting and their Twittering!
• Was Landry accidentally hitting that girl’s bike a shameless meet-cute on the part of the writers, or what? No matter: She’s cute, seems interesting, and Landry needs a girlfriend.
• Matt’s new art mentor: Okay, it was brilliant that the guy should prove to be not an airy aesthete daubing at a canvas, but instead a John Chamberlain-type sculptor wrenching art from rusting car fenders. But how much guff is Matt going to put up with (he’s such a sensitive lad), and how is he going to respond to this anti-tutelage? I don’t see Matt picking up a welder’s arc and leaving his art charcoals, do you?
• “Hey, Tim-Riggins-Who-Used-To-Be-A-Panther”: That Becky, she’s a keeper, Tim. Keep a light on in your new (old) trailer!
In general, I’m really happy with the way the series is starting to juggle the two schools’ subplots: Nothing seemed rushed or choppy this week. Well, one thing. Explain the chronology to me: Tami was booed during a pep rally, which would be held before a game, right? But it was Saturday, not Friday (game night), which turned into the same evening Eric had scheduled his 10 p.m. And wouldn’t Tim, who’d agreed to help Coach with his team, have showed up for that crucial practice? Didn’t this seem edited out of sequence?
Beyond this small cavil, I thought this was a highly satisfying entry. Give me a little more Joe McCoy and a dollop more Buddy Garrity, and we’ll have ourselves a helluva season.
Did you watch FNL? It’s airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on DIRECTV’s The 101 Network. What did you think?