Mark Watches ‘Friday Night Lights’: S01E14 – Upping the Ante

In the fourteenth episode of the first season of Friday Night Lights, I have run out of ways to tell you how much this show is destroying me. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.

How am I supposed to do this? How will I ever last through the entirety of this show?

Jason vs The Garritys

Well, I’m back to disliking Buddy Garrity. My god, the man is so obtuse about what he’s saying, and it enrages me! You are a goddamn adult, Buddy, and as much as you think you know about the world, that still doesn’t give you the right to insult someone like that. He’s so self-centered! I really don’t think he’s all that worried about Lyla; I think he’s more frightened about his own appearance and reputation. (That being said, it’s just as terrifying to interpret his words as his literal belief, which would mean that he thinks he’s right. Oh god, that’s probably the case, goddamn it.)

Jason’s outburst in response to Buddy isn’t the problem, though. I understand it, and I don’t have any issues with it. But he forgets that Lyla is a part of this, too, and blurting out their wedding plans was definitely a bad idea. While I’m not sure if Lyla is entirely on board with marriage, I think it’s important that Jason listen to her. I get that he feels certain about marrying her, but if he’s truly serious about it, then he has to learn that everything from this point on is a partnership. I recognize the extreme irony in me giving marriage advice (HAAAAYYYYYY), but I really don’t want these two to fuck this up. Lyla needs the space to figure out if she’s okay with this, and Jason needs to appreciate her issues with them rushing into marriage before they’re even out of high school.

I will say that I am very pleased that Coach Taylor offered up some necessary advice, though. Oh, and had a good laugh about Buddy Garrity because fuck that guy. Ugh, the two are still civil with one another despite the chaos that is certain to come from the suit against Coach Taylor. I LOVE THIS. It’s interesting that Buddy says that Jason respects Coach Taylor because it’s the one thing he gets spot-on in the whole episode. So I’m happy that they get to joke at the expense of Buddy Garrity because fuck that guy.


AND THEN EVERYTHING IS GODDAMN SAD. I feel sympathetic to Matt up to a point. Part of the massive disaster that is “Upping the Ante” for him is that he’s involved in a culture he really doesn’t want to be a part of up to a point. I do believe he genuinely cares about Julie and that he wants to spend time with her. Initially, he’s a victim of circumstance. He happened to be at the restaurant when the radio show was being filmed, and Riggins did grab him and shove him into a car despite his pleas otherwise. But this excuse only really works in this context. Did he have to go to the party and and get his photo taken with the rally girls for their fundraiser? Couldn’t he have done so in a way that didn’t make it apparent that he was enjoying the attention? And look, there’s nothing wrong with wanting/craving attention in and of itself! Matt’s rarely been in the spotlight for most of his life, and you can tell he is finally starting to feel good about who he is. I wouldn’t want to take that away from him, but at what expense must this happen? Matt, here’s a free tip: When someone is doing something for you out of the goodness of their heart and they follow it up by openly admitting that they are being understanding of you, you don’t immediately ask them to do even more for you.

It’s through this, though, that Julie makes an unexpected friend: Tyra. WHICH I AM TENTATIVELY ALL FOR IN THEORY. I like the idea that both these women have been ignored and scorned by the massive football machine at Dillon, so they bond and hang out because who needs boys. We’re pretty gross, I can assure you of that. And I like that Tyra helps normalize sex work in a small way by not making a big deal out of her sister being a stripper. And that she takes Julie under her wing to give her guidance that she probably needed when she was Julie’s age. The stealing? I can do without that. Getting Matt’s grandma drunk and talking about boys? It’s everything I have ever wanted in life.

Unfortunately, it looks like the Matt/Julie train has run its course, at least for the time being. Man, I really liked them! But I like Julie being respected a whole lot more than her being in a relationship with someone who so openly lies to her face. Matt, you fucked up.


Let me start off by pointing out a really pivotal moment. As Tami is lecturing her husband on what he’s doing wrong again, she very plainly lays out the case for why Coach Taylor’s approach will definitely backfire in the end. As usual, she is 100% right, and then she has that moment where she hands Eric a package of toilet paper and very matter-of-factly gives him a look that communicates one thing quite clearly: You know I am right like I always am. My god, I love Tami Taylor so much.

And look, I’m a gay man who appears at a gym often. (I refrain from saying “goes to the gym” because I almost never go of my own accord; I always accompany my boyfriend so he can help me out and teach me things because putting me in a gym is like giving me a LEGO set without instructions. It is an endless disaster.) I’ve known many guys who decided to go on steroids and, for whatever reason, chose to go cold turkey. There’s not much of it in “Upping the Ante,” but I saw the same horrific journey they went through. The constant sweatiness, the fatigue and exhaustion, and the desperation. But Tami is right that Smash is reacting the way he is because of the way Coach has been treating him. He knows he’s disappointed Coach, and as horrible as Coach makes things for him, he knows he can’t complain. He comes very close to doing so, but he ultimately keeps his thoughts to himself.

This is why that whole scene where Coach goes to Smash’s house is just THE BEST THING EVER. Not only does it show us that Coach consistently listens to his wife’s brilliant advice, but he’s able to put aside the touch macho act to tell Smash that he’s guilty of taking football too seriously. So he plays an impromptu game with the local neighborhood kids that shatters my heart because it’s so sincere and cute and how am I supposed to deal with this goddamn show, y’all.


And then… god. WHY. WHY MUST THIS SHOW CONSISTENTLY RUIN ME??? It is hitting everything emotional and psychologically damaging button I have ever had, and I haven’t even finished this season yet. After a speeding ticket requires Tim to get a signature from a legal guardian or risk losing his car, he realizes he has to go find his father. WHICH BILLY IS NOT HAPPY WITH. Understandably so! The writers are still being vague about what their father did all those years ago, though if you’ve seen LOST, you totally know what he did. (Oh my god, Brett Cullen has been in everything, hasn’t he?) But Billy’s worried that Tim has romanticized the memory of their father, that he’ll give money, alcohol, and time to a man who doesn’t care about them.

All this being said? I was shocked and endlessly pleased with what the writers chose to do with Tim’s story. Initially, we get hints that Billy was right, that their father has all these awful tendencies, and that he’s just looking to take advantage of Tim. But as the two spend a full day (and the next) with one another, we see something else take place: the two begin to bond. And it’s a honest growth, too. I suppose it’s partially nostalgic, as they spend time reflecting on the past, but I don’t think that’s all I took from this.

However, thinks aren’t as perfect as they seem, and that HEARTBREAKING golf sequence was enough to make me want to turn into a puddle and melt away. I was hoping that perhaps Tim’s father hadn’t realized how careless he was, but HE DID IT ON PURPOSE. Oh my god, whatever he did was awful enough for him to feel like he didn’t need to come back to see his own son in a game. It’s disappointing on a visceral level, y’all, and you can just see the disappointment in every step Tim takes away from that range. Which is why it’s so important that at the last minute, Tim’s father does show up. We don’t get to see what happens during the game that night, but I’m okay with where this episode ended. It’s yet another sign that this show isn’t about football. It’s about the people who play it, the culture that surrounds, and the desire of this community to try and do one another right.


Mark Links Stuff

– I have been nominated for a Hugo in the Fan Writer category! If you’d like more information or to direct friends/family to vote for me, I have a very informational post about what I do that you can pass along and link folks to!
I have announced what the next books I am reading on Mark Reads will be, as well as updated y’all on the events, cons, tour dates, GOING TO EUROPE OH MY GOD, and general shenaniganry going on in my life. I have a similar post up on Mark Watches, detailing the next two shows I’m doing as well as the return of Double Features, and I finally explain what happened with my Vimeo account. Check these posts out!
- Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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