Mark Watches ‘Friday Night Lights’: S02E04 – Backfire

In the fourth episode of the second season of Friday Night Lights, oh my god, everything is a mess. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.

Good god, this is painful at times, and yet, it’s so fucking good.

Jason/Tim

Holy shit, they actually went to Mexico. Jason is serious about this! I don’t know why I doubted him, but part of me thought that maybe Tim would come to his senses and convince Jason to go back to Dillon. And he does do this to an extent, but what’s so disturbing about this plot is how dedicated Jason is to a flimsy hope of recovery. Honestly, it just makes me sad. Jason gets one red flag after another. Seriously! Watching this, I caught how many moments there were where Jason could have changed his mind. The mistake with the scheduling was the first one. Instead of realizing that perhaps this wasn’t the best decision, he rudely lashes out at the secretary. Instead of realizing that Tim is trying to get him to have some fun while in Mexico, he chooses to sit around for a week in his hotel room. A WEEK! HOW CAN YOU DO THAT WHILST IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY?

During his first consultation, though, is when Tim truly started to realize that something was deeply wrong. As he listens to the doctor flippantly dismiss his concerns about the procedure of injecting shark embryonic stem cells into Jason’s spine, he knows that this doesn’t feel right. It especially doesn’t feel right given that Jason is so gung-ho about it. However, it’s during the karaoke sequence that Tim comes to believe that Jason is going to hurt himself. Badly. And god, that scene starts out full of so much joy!!! It’s great seeing the boys have fun, and then Jason starts drunkenly rambling about his surgery, and then EVERYTHING IS AWFUL. It’s clear that Jason has too high of a hope for the procedure. He thinks he’ll be able to walk the next day. Jason, holy shit, that’s not going to happen. At best, Jason will be sorely disappointed in the fact that he just wasted $10,000. At worst? He could die. He could die. And that’s what fuels Tim’s desperate call to Lyla. He doesn’t know what to do anymore, and he doesn’t know how to convince Jason that he needs to reconsider this surgery. The episode ends before we find out if Lyla is going to go to Mexico, but I think she will. She cares too much about him.

Lyla

I’m fascinated by Lyla’s story in this season so far. As we see her explore her identity as a proselytizing Christian, she responds to criticism in a way that’s downright surprising. Her visits to juvenile hall are awkward and forced, but she’s trying to be genuine. So when an inmate calls her out for not actually being genuine or convincing, she doesn’t interpret this as a personal insult. Instead, she adapts. She offers Santiago a ride. And yeah, it’s partially a selfish thing to do, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t helping Santiago. That’s what I respect about her, even if I don’t agree with what she’s preaching to other people. When Santiago rightly pointed out that most evangelical Christian types would run the other way from those at the bottom of the barrel in society, Lyla changed how she would have normally treated this man.

That’s not to say that Lyla’s mom doesn’t have a right to protect her kids and her home. On the one hand, I totally understand that she doesn’t know Santiago. She isn’t comfortable with a stranger who just got out of juvenile hall painting her garage. Ultimately, that is her choice. The writers, however, show us how Lyla can find a way to help another person, and she involves her father in this, too. Who actually helps out as well! So he deserves some credit, too. Only some, though, because he nearly ruined everything. Which I’ll get to!

Tyra & Landry

JESUS, THE PIT IN MY STOMACH GREW EXPONENTIALLY WHEN LANDRY’S FATHER SAID THEY FOUND A BODY IN THE WATER. No. No! Oh, this can’t be good. They’re going to find Landry’s watch, aren’t they?

So while I spent a great deal of time FREAKING THE FUCK OUT about Landry’s future, I realized that this entire murder plot was a clever way to finally bring Landry to the forefront of this show. I get to see his family now! I believe this was the first time Landry’s mother made an appearance, too. The potential for using Landry’s dad in this story is fantastic, too, and it makes me wonder if we’ve seen the last of this for the time being. While Tyra gets some closure on this after the police inform her that her potential rapist has died, things aren’t as simple for Landry. He still has to live with the fact that he murdered someone, and it’s clearly not sitting well on his conscience. He’s constantly paranoid. He lives in fear of being discovered. He just doesn’t look well. My guess? He’s going to tell someone, and I think it’s going to be Matt.

The Taylors

Eric is back home in Dillon, and he’s the coach of the Panthers, and that means I am hoping this solves some problems because GOOD LORD, I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANY LONGER. What isn’t going wrong with this family? It’s difficult to watch the central family in this show fall apart because you’re supposed to be my constant. Instead, Julie consistently lashes out at her mother. Tami is routinely exhausted and overwhelmed. So when Eric gets the go-ahead to quit his job at TMU, he thinks everything will finally go smoothly for once.

NOPE. NOPE. Turns out that Coach McGregor is fighting the fact that he’s being fired. Thanks, Buddy Garrity, for taking care of that one! This disaster just leads into another: Coach Taylor may not have a job at Dillon. After he just quit TMU. And can’t coach at the college level FOR TWO YEARS. Damn it, Buddy Garrity, what have you done?

And then we’ve got Julie’s constant fighting with her mother. She’s largely insensitive of what her mother is going through, and you can see that manifest when she tries to demand that Tami take her driving. Ugh, Julie, can you not. Even when Tami tries to reach out to her and explain how older men view younger women as sexual objects, Julie is hearing none of it. She’s just rude in response. Again. It’s not until she visits the Swede’s house with this conversation in mind that she realizes she doesn’t belong there. The guy forgot that he was supposed to hang out with her; he invites a bunch of friends along for a night out; his room is littered with the signs of drug and alcohol use. At heart, Julie is the daughter her mother believes her to be, and she recognized in that moment that she could not be in the Swede’s place. He doesn’t truly care about her at all. So I’m hoping this is the last we’ll see of him. GOOD RIDDANCE.

I also want to close this out by saying that the writers do something very clever and thoughtful at the end of “Backfire.” I don’t like Coach McGregor at all, and we’ve seen how poor he is at unifying his team or securing a victory. He’s stubborn, rude, and cruel. And then, in that scene where he confronts Coach Taylor while he is on his way out of town, the writers remind us that McGregor is more than a villain. He is a husband and father, too, and Coach Taylor was complicit in getting the man fired, even if it was only a little bit. It’s an uncomfortable realization, but it’s the truth, you know? I think it’s the best-written part of the whole episode. That being said, I would not be happy to see McGregor ever again. No, thank you.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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