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'Friday Night Lights' recap: 'The Right Hand of the Father'

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With the glimpse of the “Buddy’s Bar and Grill” sign in the opening credits, it’s been clear that Buddy Garrity has changed occupations, he’s moved on from selling cars. But some things remain the same: Buddy’s personal life is a wreck: His ex-wife called from 1,500 miles away to say that “Buddy, Jr.” (stinks to be him) is acting out, possibly taking drugs. Poor Buddy — he can’t even drink his own beer in peace.

Speaking of troubled fathers, Vince’s came home from prison this week. Well, “home” was a matter of contention: Having just settled in with his now-clean-living mother, Vince did not cotton to the idea of this man moving in with them in their small but tidy apartment. In the hour’s most moving moment, Vince took out his frustration with another father-figure, Coach Eric. In response to Coach’s comment that Vince has to “strive to be better,” Vince anguished cry, “He never taught me how to be better!” was heart-rending. Eric had the right comeback: “I said strive, not be — that’s what character is, in the trying.”

This was a tough Friday Night Lights for Vince all around. He was startled to see that Jess had been made the Lions’ “equipment manager” (Tami’s odd idea of female empowerment, over the objection of husband Eric, who made the perhaps politically-incorrect but as it turned out probably accurate comment that “girls in [boys’] locker rooms are bad ideas” — plus, she has to wash the guys’ dirty laundry; ick). “I don’t know about this,” said Vince diplomatically; I share your skepticism, young man.

Tami was sidetracked from the girl we’d been led to believe was going to be her biggest school headache, Epic, and instead this week had to focus on red-headed Mara, who was seen in a drunken stupor in a YouTube-like Internet video. The girl was also caught by Tami making out with some dolt in a school supply closet. The dialogue between Tami and Mara was pretty one-sided and unfulfilling as drama, I’m sorry to point out.

Similarly, the free-floating Julie-in-college story line seems headed for one cliche after another. She’s allowed herself, in her freshman insecurity, to get involved with that smirky (and now we learn married) teaching assistant. “I don’t feel like I am [married],” he whimpered to Julie. “She’s been gone for six months on sabbatical.” Julie’s having sex with a married man who gave her a C- on her paper: Where’s the up-side for her? This guy needs a visit from Eric, and a good pummeling.

In the end, Buddy called his ex and ordered her to send Buddy, Jr., back to his daddy, much to the mother’s relief. And Vince’s father told him how proud he was of Vince — “You’re the man for real” — and moved out of the apartment, a wise, dignified gesture.

This was an uneven episode with a number of strikingly good scenes as only FNL can do them. (All the Vince material was terrific — kudos to Michael B. Jordan’s acting.) And I don’t know about you, but I thought the hour peaked early, with the unexpected verbiage of sweet little Gracie Belle, who burbled, “Think about it, Daddy!”

Think about it, indeed. What did you think of this week’s Friday Night Lights, whose episode was titled “The Right Hand of the Father”? (Rather a strain, that, since the Biblical reference to Jesus never quite manifested itself… )

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