In the first episode of the second season of Friday Night Lights, I did not know that a series premiere could do this to me, and I just watched the second season premiere of The West Wing. HELP. If you’re still interested, then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.
A lot can happen in eight months.
This season starts with a lot of risks, and it’s a jarring experience. But it’s one I appreciate because it’s clear this won’t be the same as season one. It’s satisfying in that respect because the writers are clearly dealing with the ramifications of what they’ve created in the previous season. They don’t ignore the pressures the Dillon panthers are under after winning state; they don’t sugarcoat the difficulty that the Taylors face now that Eric is at TMU; they don’t skip over Lyla’s or Tyra’s mental state at the end of the finale. Odds bobs, my heart is not going to be able to handle this season.
Trigger warning for rape/assault, as we cannot talk about Tyra/Landry’s story without bringing these issues up
Eight months. Eight months. That means Coach Taylor has largely been gone for the entirety of Tami’s pregnancy, and the very thought is the beginning of what’s a relentless sense of heartbreak that I feel for Tami Taylor. What works about this family is that they are there for one another, willing to talk to one another and be honest. Well, after budding heads initially, yes. But we see how this family behaves once this is taken away from them, and, frankly speaking, everything is a mess. Until Eric has a heart-to-heart with Julie at the end of “Last Days of Summer,” these people simply don’t talk to one another. Tami dearly misses her husband, and Julie misses having her father around. My god, Tami must have been so alone during her pregnancy. It’s probably one of the reasons why she has such an intense breakdown here. Can Tami Taylor not cry ever again? I watched this episode at the gym, and I was so thankful for being all sweaty because it hid the tears well. AGAIN. Why do I keep watching emotionally devastating things while on the treadmill? UGH, I WISH THERE WAS A WARNING SYSTEM THAT I COULD TURN ON JUST FOR THIS SITUATION.
Anyway, it’s clear that the entire dynamic of the Taylors’ life together is massively different. Even Coach Taylor’s relationship with other Dillon folks isn’t the same. I’m sure Matt partially blames Coach for what’s happening to Julie. On top of that, I wouldn’t be surprised if other people harbored negative feelings for him either. Look who replaced him! Oh my god, I didn’t think you could possibly create a character more instantly despicable than Buddy Garrity, but there he is. I don’t like Coach McGregor. Obviously, I’m not supposed to, but we had football coaches at my school who’d force people to do downright unhealthy things during Hell Week that got them in trouble. BECAUSE MAYBE FORCING PEOPLE INTO HEAVY UNIFORMS WHEN IT’S 107 DEGREES OUTSIDE MIGHT LEAD TO THEM SUFFERING FROM HEAT EXHAUSTION. Oh my god, I am not even lying. The heat was so bad in my hometown that our Cross Country coach was kind enough to always schedule summer practices in the evening so that we wouldn’t die. Good fucking lord. I don’t like Coach McGregor. I DON’T LIKE HIM.
That’s not the actual point. I digress! This episode very openly spells things out for us: everything has changed for Coach Taylor. And what role is he supposed to play? His bosses just called him back early right after his daughter was born. If they’re unwilling to give him the time he needs to be with his new daughter, are they going to get worse over time? Are they aware of the sacrifices this man made to be their coach? At the same time, Eric wasn’t forced to take this job, so I don’t want to absolve him of responsibility. He has not cleared things up with his wife, and I don’t know how he expects her to raise a newborn by herself. Julie is clearly preoccupied, so I’m guessing that Tami will be alone in this. God, I can’t even imagine how much pressure she must be under. I literally can’t! My life is stressful enough just taking care of myself, and I’m nearly thirty. If you added the responsibility of caring for a helpless baby, I think my whole body would spontaneously combust. I’m serious! This is why Tami’s story hurts me so much. I may not be able to empathize with what she’s experiencing, but I sure as hell can recognize a woman who misses her husband and is agonized that he’s leaving her behind.
Then we’ve got Julie, who misses her father, too. She misses her father so much that she fears becoming him. In a sense, Julie’s fears are related to what Tyra expressed early in season one. Julie wants more to life than what she thinks is being offered, so this influences her decision to treat Matt terribly. And as much as I do want to understand Julie, she gets the same treatment as her father. Her actions are pretty damn messed up. Openly flirting with someone else in front of man? Flaking out on him? Specifically going after another guy? No. No, Julie. That isn’t to say I wasn’t empathetic of her humiliating rejection. Y’all, I’m a gay man. Do you know how many times I’ve been rejected by a man who sent confusing signals and then ended up having a girlfriend? Yes, I realize that’s a distinctly queer reading of Julie’s story, but it’s so familiar to me! I couldn’t see it any other way! Regardless, I’m glad that she finally got to have a talk with her father, one of those brutally honest ones that helps clear her head. Will it work? I don’t know. There’s no indication if she’ll apologize to Matt or stay with him. I am, however, very pleased that Eric imparts an important message to Julie: No one will love her less if she chooses to leave Matt. That’s what she needed to hear, and I’m glad her father said it to her.
Oh my god. Well, it’s obvious that the events of the past year have sent Lyla on this path, and oh boy, this is going to get interesting. I can only speculate as to why Lyla has decided to get baptized and become a rather proselytizing Christian, and I’ll do that loosely, as I don’t want to be gross about this. Her decision is rooted in her own infidelity, as well as her father’s, and we see how she lashes out at every display of sexuality that she comes upon. She rebukes Tim. (To be fair, I would, too, so it’s not like her behavior was unwarranted.) She despises her father. She very aggressively criticizes her mother for her clothing and the man she’s now dating. Is she doing this to feel better about what she’s done? To control the chaos around her? To make herself feel morally superior? At this point, I really don’t know. I think I’ll wait to see more.
While Landry can be pretty gross at times, I’m fascinated by the way this show writes people exploring sex, sexuality, and relationships at a young age because it’s so much like what I saw in all my friends. I have to preface this with me stating that I had a very irregular experience with sex and dating because I was in the closet in high school, so my only opinion on this comes from what I observed here. And lord, did I know so many Landrys when I was in high school. I was associated with and friends with most of the nerds by default since I was in mostly AP or Honors courses. Watching some of those guys navigate the world of dating was not all that different than watching Landry try to do the same thing. (Can we take a moment to acknowledge that when asked how to approach being physical with Tyra, Matt said, “Well, does she wanna be touched?” A+ RESPONSE, MATT. A+ RESPONSE.) It’s awkward, overthought, and kind of entertaining?
But it was also nice to see Tyra trust Landry more than she ever has before. I admit that even I can’t tell if she’s interested in Landry romantically or if she just enjoys his company purely in a platonic sense. She certainly turns to him for help. You don’t call just anyone to take care of scary sounds in your background! Whatever’s happening, it seemed like these characters were in a good place.
And then the stalking started. Oh my god, the things my heart did once it was clear what was happening at the pool… no. No. No. I was terrified in such a visceral way for so many reasons. I’ve been stalked. I’ve been raped. I’ve been stalked by my rapist. Oh my god, Tyra, everything hurts, and I nearly tuned out watching that scene at the convenience store? If you go back and watch it (if you can, obviously, as I would understand if anyone was unable to do so), you can see the car pass in the background. I noticed it, and I felt my stomach drop out. It’s such a horrible feeling, and then what that rapist asshole says is even worse. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??? “How was the movie?” OH MY GOD, YOU WERE WATCHING HER AT HER HOUSE. HELP. NO. MAKE IT STOP.
It’s interesting to me that all I could think of while that asshole touched Tyra and acted like he was worth a second of her time was that I wanted it to stop. It wasn’t that it was unrealistic or anything. I just didn’t want to see it anymore, to experience another millisecond of the terror, to see this asshole on my screen anymore. And then Landry is chasing after him and Tyra is begging him to stop and… oh my god. I couldn’t believe it. Y’all, please remember that I was at the gym when I saw this, and I just yelped when Landry hit that guy in the back of the head with the pipe.
And then I was relieved.
I was relieved because another rapist, even if he was fictional, was dead, and he wasn’t going to be able to hurt Tyra or another woman ever again. And it was such a striking thing to realize so quickly, you know? It just happened, like a switch went off in my brain. I decided to share that with you because I’m kind of thankful that there wasn’t a video commission for this episode because I’m not sure I could have done it. I guess I’m always aware that I’m video, but it’s during scenes like the end of “Last Days of Summer” that I feel more exposed than ever, and it makes me self-conscious. In this case, even though I was technically in public, I didn’t feel the pressure that video-making usually brings along with it, and I had this really bizarre moment of calm clarity.
Of course, then the writers bring the logistics of this situation up almost immediately, and all my anxiety is flared up again. Landry just killed a man. Landry just killed a man. Granted, it was someone who once tried to rape Tyra and who was probably going to do it again, but Landry is just a teenager, and he took someone’s life. The writers and the actors do their best to convey the panicked horror of Tyra and Landry, and I think they do a hell of a job. My god, what are they going to do? Are they going to get away with this? Y’all, I can’t even begin to think about the horrifying ramifications of this.
I GUESS THIS IS HOW YOU START SEASON 2. h e l p m e.
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!!!
– Video commissions are open, and you can commission a Mark Reads/Watches video for just $25!