Friday Night Lights

This week, we got another excellent episode of Friday Night Lights, even if it was not exactly the one I’d press upon a newbie I want to recruit for the FNL-watching team. You had to be hardcore to relish all the troubles and woes that rendered this one of the more downbeat editions of the series. Me, I pretty much loved it.

Right off the bat, this hour addressed the plot point I had said the producers ignored last week — the theft of drug money by Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) and his brother. The scene of Riggins getting bashed in a parking-lot was mighty scary-effective, and I liked the way it kick-started something that, at first, may not have made narrative sense. Why, you might initially wonder, would Riggins getting the crap beat out of him compel him to suddenly decide he had to declare his love for Lyla (Minka Kelly) right now? I mean “right now” as in, barging into a church service and insisting on talking to Lyla when she was in the throes of both spiritual rapture and the more earthy kind as she gazed upon Smirky Gilmore Girls Guy. (Is his name really “Chris” — by extension, making him Chris the Christian — or did I mis-hear that?)

But when you think about it, it all makes perfect Riggins-sense: Faced with extreme danger, the guy wanted to make sure, if the violence escalated, that at least one person in this world knew of his love for her. It was a profoundly romantic gesture. And the fact that it resulted in a less-profound action — Lyla giving Riggins the money he needed to pay off the meth-head — well, that’s just another reason to admire FNL‘s emotional complexity.

addCredit(“Friday Night Lights: Bill Records”)

The other big plotline was having the cash-strapped Jason Street(Scott Porter) start working as a car salesman in Buddy Garrity’sshowroom. I thought all the petty anger the rest of the staff showedtoward him was totally believable, even if it looks, ultimately, like adead-end job for Jason, who’ll never settle for such a conventional,draining 9-to-5, do you think?

As for the Smash (Gaius Charles) subplot — boy, did I not want tosee him get punished for scrapping with that racist teen from lastweek. I know, I know: Smash shouldn’t have put his little sister in thevulnerable position she was in last week just so he could have asneaky-date with his girlfriend, but Smash has suffered enough, don’tyou think? On the other hand, this was completely in line with FNL‘sunblinking take on small-town racism. I just wish the show hadn’tstooped to that last bit, with the local TV newscasters ambushing Smashfor a reaction, goading the poor guy. It made me squirm a bit: angryblack youth who can’t control his temper.

While I really enjoyed watching Connie Britton’s Tami fiercelycoaching the girls volleyball team and enlisting Tyra (AdriannePalicki, pictured), I had a wee bit of difficulty with believabilityhere. Last week, the Taylor family was in chaos because baby Gracieneeded tending to, yet this week, Tami was able to carve time out ofher heavy schedule to coach the team? I at least wanted to see a quickshot of the now-always-sour Julie (Aimee Teegarden) hoisting that kidaround on her hip after her school-day ended. That teenager needs morediscipline and responsibility in helping her parents, to say nothing ofincreased bonding-time with her sister Gracie. Does that make me soundlike a mean old father? Well, so be it. On the bright side (and I mean”bright” in every sense), we got a glimpse of Landry’s new object ofaffection, Jean (Brea Grant) — cheerful, intelligent (visual cue:eyeglasses!), with white-blonde dreads (loved that tracking shotfollowing the back of her head as she made her way to Landry’s table)and a fondness for the kind of metal music Landry (Jesse Plemons)likes. The scenes in which Tyra had to communicate her mixed feelingsupon seeing this new twosome (jealousy, yet a jealousy she brought uponherself by breaking up with Landry) proved once again what a superbactress Adrianne Palicki is.

What did you think? Are things getting gloomier for you as Friday Night Lights‘ final pre-strike episodes wind down?

Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights
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