In the eighteenth episode of the first season of Friday Night Lights, I’m not even sure how this wasn’t the most popular show in the history of the universe. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.
All right, time to get into the perpetual heartbreak that is “Extended Families.”
First, let me state that this episode magnificently manages to give us four separate stories that deal with how people form and maintain their families, related or not. ALL FOUR PLOTS ARE INTERCONNECTED. My god, that’s so incredible.
So, let’s start with Riggins. “Extended Families” introduces us to Bo, played by one of the most infectious little kids in the world. My god, where did they find this actor? He’s unreal! He perfectly encapsulates childish wonder and joy, and he’s contrasted endlessly with Tim’s muted personality. He starts out annoying Tim, but slowly, Tim is drawn to this boy’s enthusiasm. After being invited to dinner by Bo, we see how Bo’s mother is doing her best to survive in Dillon after what sounded like a difficult breakup in Knoxville. I think I’m comfortable stating that the show is suggesting that Tim might be interested in Bo’s mother, but at the very least, he doesn’t take advantage of the situation. At least not yet, that is. Instead, we see how Bo’s reverence of Tim approaches something fatherly, as if Bo is purposely trying to get Tim and his mom together. But even if that isn’t the case, Bo is happy. He is exuberant in his happiness!!! It’s adorable. Through this, Tim decides to do something nice for Bo’s mother by fixing her rain gutter. Which is fascinating in terms of Tim’s characterization. He’s coming off of some serious disillusionment and unhappiness himself in “I Think We Should Have Sex.” Despite this, he’s able to find some hope in Bo, and I think that’s incredible. Even if it’s just superficially, he’s become a part of Bo’s family.
The second moment this episode nearly made me burst into tears is in the final moments of “Extended Families.” I’m fascinated by the relationship between Waverly and Smash, something I certainly wish there was more of. This show has done a fantastic job of showing us the faults and charms of both characters, and it’s been a real treat to see them grow closer while understanding each other. So I was set on edge when her father pulls Smash outside his house to ask him to keep an eye on Waverly, to let him know if she’s acting different. The entire pool sequence, which I found particularly touching, was now re-contextualized. Yeah, Waverly was acting different, but I had attributed that to her expanding feelings for Smash. She had come to respect him and his growth a lot. But… why??? Why would he say that about his daughter? WHY DID YOU SUDDENLY PUT THIS PRESSURE ON A TEENAGER?
Her monologue recital at the diner was both emotionally satisfying and COMPLETELY TERRIFYING. Because suddenly, I couldn’t deny that she was acting differently. Why? The changes weren’t necessarily dramatic. Waverly has always been an outspoken gal who wears her heart on her sleeve, but something was… off??? The worst part is that I thought it was fucked up to even think that, but her father had put those thoughts in my head. He had me second-guessing her behavior when I might have otherwise done nothing at all but appreciate her love for poets of color. AND I DIDN’T LIKE THIS. I wanted to enjoy their relationship, but even I could see the doubt on Smash’s face. He was questioning her, too.
I felt better after she came clean to Smash about going off of her mood-regulating prescription. She was honest about it; she explained to Smash why she chose to do so; and she used football as a way to describe why it made her so happy. And Smash accepted her for it! He didn’t berate her, he didn’t try to convince her that he knew better about her body. Instead, he smiles, laughs, and allows her to be affectionate and happy. Those little actions – this kind of behavior – is a sign of how Smash is becoming more mature.
This was all before that final scene, which sent my heart racing when Waverly didn’t greet Smash after he knocked on the door. That image of her cowering in the kitchen, covered in a sweat of fear, her eyes rolling back in her head…. oh my god. It’s so much worse than we thought. I’m happy that Smash is there to comfort her, but I’m terrified that Waverly has a difficult road ahead of her. At the very least, the show isn’t demonizing her for what she’s experiencing, and I’m thankful for that.
Oh, Waverly. MY HEART.
As Lyla’s family begins to rapidly fall apart, it’s not lost on me that she goes to Jason, her future family, to check up on him. Let me first state that I will forever love Lyla for how she does her best to comfort her younger siblings. Y’all, I just have so many feelings for Lyla. Well, that’s the case for nearly every character on the show, but look at Lyla. When she goes to Austin, she realizes that Jason has already begun forming a new family, one she doesn’t understand, one who has their own traditions and inside jokes, and she’s not a part of it. It’s why she’s so crass in lashing out to Suzie and Herc. She figures that she can hurt these people for making her feel so alone. I have often been the outsider (and still am in a lot of ways), so despite that I don’t condone how she treats Suzie and Herc, I understand exactly why she’s so hostile. She even spells it out for Jason: Jason is changing, and he’s doing so without her. This is particularly upsetting to Lyla because of what’s happening in Dillon. Her own family has changed in the span of twenty-four hours, so she’s in a terribly vulnerable place.
I know that Jason and Lyla are perhaps the most soap opera-like of all the couples on the show, but the drama between them is based on real concerns and issues. I don’t know if the two of them will outlast their problems, but I think their honesty with one another is the best way they can combat their problems.
The Taylors are often positioned as the moral center of this story, and while that is the case in “Extended Families,” we also see how that’s twisted with Tami Taylor and Tyra. After Buddy’s fight with his wife, he invites himself over to the Taylors’ home to live with them. It’s precisely why this man is a presumptive, entitled loser, y’all, and why I am so done with Buddy Garrity. I mean, he’d done plenty of despicable things before this, but it’s his faith in his own fucking ego that has just undone me. He makes himself at home in someone else’s house, spies on the very people who were kind enough to take him in, and then he spells it all out for us: He cares more about his reputation and football than for his own family.
Fuck Buddy Garrity.
But let’s talk about other things! I mean, it’s not lost on me that Buddy goes to the Taylors for help. We’ve seen time and time again how many of the people in this show go to Coach Taylor or Tami at one time or another. They’re dependable, moral people who often do good for other folks even when they don’t have the time or energy for such things. This is manifested in Tami’s decision to help Angela and Tyra after Angela hurts herself from falling onto a table. However, the writers are willing to show us that even with the best of intentions, Tami can hurt someone. I think it was necessary of Tyra to confess her distaste for Tami’s demonization of her because it showed us that even Tami messes up. We all know that Julie’s growth has been influenced by Tyra, so I don’t think Tami’s concern is the least bit unwarranted. But can you imagine how you’d feel to find out that someone banned their daughter from hanging out with you? Tyra is right to point out that it’s easy to blame Julie’s problems on the “bad” people, as if the lives of Tyra and Angela can be categorized as “bad,” while the Taylors are “good.” It really does posit that Tami’s family are the morally superior ones, even if Tami didn’t mean to imply that. The Collettes have their own unique problems that they’re dealing with, ones that the Taylors don’t have to face.
I’m glad Tami apologized, and it really speaks to the title of this episode. In a sense, the Taylors became an extended family for both the Garritys and the Collettes because of what Buddy had done. So I am totally thrilled and frightened by that last plot twist. If Coach Taylor accepts the TMU position, then what happens to his family? Do they go to Austin with him? Will Buddy even let him? Oh god, this show just continues to get more and more intense, y’all. I SWEAR.
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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