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'Friday Night Lights' recap: Austin city limits and a moving mechanical bull-ride

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Wow, what an energy-rush this week’s Friday Night Lights was. I know what many of you meant when you wrote in the Comments section that last week featured an Emmy-worthy performance by Zach Gilford as a grieving son; I agree. But I also thought this week’s romantic scenes between Taylor Kitsch and Minka Kelly were extraordinary; Kitsch in particular gave a tremendously subtle performance.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

How about that incorrigible little minx Julie, blithely ignoring Tami’s orders and traipsing off to Austin with Matt for a music festival featuring acts such as the Heartless Bastards and Hem? (Kudos to the Heartless B’s for putting in a fine cameo.) Julie has been more good-natured around the house lately, but it made sense that she’d pull out a little rebellion along about this time in the series, when she’s feeling the pressure of a fragile relationship with Matt.

Even better was the return home later in the hour, one of the few times Aimee Teagarden was really able to match the kind of emotional power Connie Britton can let with at will. Julie’s wracked sobs and guilt and grief matched Tami’s choked anger and fear and maternal relief.

As for Tim Riggins and Lyla Garrity — this was a terrific way to bring her character back, to reestablish how much she cares for Tim, but also how much she’s out-grown him. (Her line, “What do you want?,” met by his plaintive, “You,” was a total heart-crusher.) And the writers have made Tim a classic anti-hero: he’s now the charismatic rule-breaker who’s discovering that breaking the rules doesn’t get you very far in love, in work, or in life over the long haul. The scenes in which Tim and Lyla were enjoying each other’s company (whether in a bar, as pictured here, or alone in his grotty trailer) were sexy and poignant; very delicately played and moving, I thought. Nonetheless, On the bus you go: Bye-bye, Lyla Garrity/Minka Kelly!

The football this week was convincingly brutal — it’s true to FNL‘s realism that East Dillon lost; pulling out a feel-good victory would have felt like a drama-cheat. But I am getting a bit tired of coach Stan being all fidgety and shooting his mouth off at the wrong time. Comic relief is something FNL doesn’t much need. Then again, I trust the producers that they know what they’re doing with this character, and that Stan’s annoying behavior is going to pay off in some way further into the season.

And about that final scene: Do you think Matt is driving off into the sunset for good? (I know one person who isn’t going to miss him — that obnoxious artist whose subplot wasn’t really working out.)

What did you think of the episode?