Friday Night Lights

This week’s Friday Night Lights , which was entitled “The Son,” had moments of the usual terrific FNL boisterousness, but for the most part was a solemn affair with beautifully crafted details. The episode found Matt dealing with the aftermath of the news of his father’s death. The soldier, deployed overseas, was given a military funeral, but not before some finely emotional scenes. These ranged from Matt having to come to terms with his anger at his dad (Matt has long felt as though his father left him to take care of his grandmother, and to otherwise fend for himself), to making arrangements for the funeral.

The latter scene could have been dull and mawkish, but not when Tami was at Matt’s side at the funeral home. Recognizing a vulture when she saw one, Tami lit into the funeral director and negotiated a better deal for the Saracin family. Once again, Tami proves utterly selfless and ferocious in protecting those for whom she has strong feelings.

At the funeral itself, Matt overcame his personal anger to deliver a brief eulogy that rang true to his character: not excessively eloquent, but moving nonetheless. And who was to be spotted at the funeral? Lila Garrity! Hello, Minka Kelly, making one of your few appearances this season!

In football news, East Dillon is still fractious — lots of squabbling between Vince and Luke on the field — but they’re doing better, cohering somewhat as a team. Off the field, Luke had to put up with a paintball-shooting J.D. McCoy; boy, has this kid turned into his father’s son. That is, a complete jerk. (Sons were, after all the theme of the night.) Luke’s nickname (close your eyes if you’re easily offended) — “J.D. McDick” — is sure to stick.

This would have had the feeling of a mopping-up episode (that is, taking care of plot strands that had been left dangling from the previous one), were it not for one mighty man: Tim Riggins.

It was Riggins who provided the night’s non-son-related moments, and they were in some ways the most refreshing things about the hour. Try as he might to avoid getting involved with Becky, he was still drawn into her drama — her quest to win the “Miss Young Texas Pageant.” This could have been the lamest of subplots, but Riggins’ priceless reactions to all the beauty-pageant excessivenesses keeps this stuff very Friday Night Lights and not I Am A Refugee From A CW Show material.

This, plus Riggins was the one to pull Matt out of his grief, at least for a few brief moments. Nicknaming Saracin “Cobra,” Riggins put a small grin on Matt’s face.

The hour had to circle back to the son burying his father, however. Again, a dramatic risk was taken here. When Matt, Riggins, and their pals more or less broke into the funeral home, with Matt demanding to see his father’s face before the closed-casket funeral was held, this might have been a mere tearjerker. Instead, it gave Matt (and us, for this plotline) a degree of true closure.

Friday Night Lights is airing on DIRECTV’s 101 Network Wednesday nights at 9 p.m.