In the sixth episode of the second season of Friday Night Lights, OH MY GOD, THE THING HAPPENED! NO, HOLY SHIT, THE THING HAPPENED AND IT’S THE THING, AND I KNOW THERE ARE OTHER THINGS THAT OCCURRED HERE, BUT THE THING!!! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.
We’ll talk about the thing at the end, I promise.
My god, this episode’s title – “How Did I Get Here” – is freakishly applicable to practically every character here. Coach Taylor has his moment, too, when he finds out his first paycheck back as coach of the Dillon Panthers is dramatically less than what it was before he left for Austin. It’s a jarring and frightening moment for him on multiple levels, the obvious being that he has to be able to support his family. Yes, Tami’s returning to work, too, but what this shows is us a reality that a lot of us are familiar with. Sometimes, both parents need to work full time in order to make things work. My parents did. I know single parents who had to work two and three jobs to make ends meet, and it’s the reality of the lower class. While the Taylor’s house looks fairly nice and large from the inside, I’ve never got the sense that they were very middle class, at least in terms of American economic classes. We’ve seen them struggle with finances more than a few times. I understand Coach Taylor’s rage, then, because he just quit the job of a lifetime to come back home to his newborn daughter, and money cannot be yet another thing for him to worry about.
At the same time, I loved that this plot was used to explore the bureaucracy present in the high school setting. The solution to Eric’s problem is complicated and messy. In a way, it is partially his fault, since he gave Buddy the go-ahead to oust McGregor. Because of that, the booster club is short a lot of money. Granted, Eric must deal with the brunt of this, and that’s not really fair. Buddy isn’t suffering from this at all. Hell, his dealership seems to be doing as well as ever! This is made even worse when Coach Taylor – ahem, Athletic Director Taylor – finds out his new position is not going to be easy. At all. Oh god, HOW GREAT IS THE WOMEN’S SOCCER COACH? CAN WE PLEASE SEE HER AGAIN? I don’t like seeing Eric get screwed over, but it was kind of delightful to see this woman hand the entire football department one sick burn after another.
And while I’ll touch on Santiago more in his own section, it was nice to see Coach Taylor give the kid a chance. There’s a really neat redemptive story in Santiago, and so far, I’m glad that Coach Taylor is a positive part in it.
Coach Taylor ultimately is a positive force for Jason, too, even if that means Jason ends up quitting the Dillon Panthers. My god, Jason’s story hits home for me in a way that is eerie to experience. I have often talked about growing up in a close-minded football town, so believe me, when Jason started opening up to Lyla about feeling stuck, I just wanted to reach through the screen and yell I FEEL U BRO. I FEEL U. I felt stuck in Riverside, and my fear was that if I didn’t get into a good school, I’d never leave that awful place. Even after I got accepted into every school I applied to (HELL YEAH), even after I chose Cal State Long Beach, I still spent that entire summer before college terrified that it wasn’t going to happen, that some mysterious force would swoop in and steal it all away from me. This is probably irrational in hindsight, but at the time, this was such a real sensation for me.
I’m glad, then, that this show brought Jason back to Dillon without ignoring what got him to go down to Mexico in the first place. As Jason puts it to Coach Taylor, he needs to find a way to live his life in his current form, not in the glory days of his past. I really love that he first expresses this to Lyla, admitting that she’s the only person in this cast who has actually found a way to better her life in Dillon. That was a sweet, touching scene, y’all. But what the hell is Jason going to do? We never got a hint in this episode, so I’m totally lost. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HAVE IN STORE FOR JASON STREET?
Well, this is going to get more and more awkward, isn’t it? I was a little shocked by Julie’s unannounced apology to Matt, though I did appreciate that she took the time to genuinely explain why she was sorry for what she did. (But at his work? Surely you could have timed that better, Julie!) I don’t think she expected Matt to immediately drop everything and declare his love for her, but I got the sense that she hoped to rekindle things with him. Matt, however, was more interested in talking with Lauren, who I definitely like! However, I hope Matt isn’t jumping into this just to avoid dealing with Julie, because he sure is quick to advance things with Lauren, specifically outside a party where he knew Julie would attend. Not that I’m sure he made out with Lauren just to spite Julie! I don’t really see Matt orchestrating something that cruel. Regardless, this has all become a real big mess, hasn’t it? I like Julie and Matt a great deal, so I don’t like seeing either one of them upset. At least Julie has Tyra, you know? Oh god, these babies.
We don’t get much of Lyla in this episode aside from her asking Tim to help Santiago and Jason getting advice from her. Instead, her role gives us a sense of her stability in the narrative, something most of the other characters don’t have. She’s the one responsible for getting Santiago in front of Coach Taylor. LET US NOT FORGET THIS, especially since it doesn’t benefit her at all. (Or at least in any way that I can see.)
Tim, however, has lost all of his stability. I kind of had a creeping sensation at the beginning of this episode that it was strange that Tim had been gone from Dillon for so long. He’d done it before without any lasting ramifications, so I assumed that would be the case here. NOPE. NOPE. Instead, Tim is kicked off the team without any warning whatsoever. Even more mindblowing is the fact that Coach Taylor sticks to his decision. I honestly expected him to tell Tim at the end of this episode that there was now a chance he’d be back on the team, but he doesn’t do this. The best part of this? Smash going to Tim and taking it upon himself to try and inspire Tim to get up off his ass. Oh god, I love the Williams family dearly, and it was nice to see them again. (I still miss Waverly a whole lot, which is frustrating because it appears as if we’ll never see her again. What is with shows taking interesting characters who are women and sending them to the Island of No Return? Boooo.) Plus, it’s fascinating to see Smash act the way he does with Tim. We don’t see him reaching out to others often because he’s so wrapped up in his own world. Granted, getting Tim back on the team benefits himself, and I can’t ignore that. This is Smash’s last year, and it’s important to him that he gets a scholarship as soon as possible.
What this turns into, however, is probably the most unexpected thing we’ve seen from Tim. And I like it. I’m really enjoying how the writers are adding Santiago to the cast. He’s fast, he’s dedicated, and he’s dependable. That doesn’t mean he’s a great football player. But, as Buddy, Lyla, and Tim all recognize, he has the potential to be one. And if Tim really isn’t going to get back on the team, then I find it kind of sweet that he’s going to train the person to replace him. That brings up another question, though. If Tim doesn’t have football anymore, then what the hell is he going to do?
I DON’T EVEN KNOW.
Oh my god, it’s Gina Russo. And Lauren Davis. And Meredith Gordon. And Terri Schuester. Holy shit, Jessalyn Gilsig has been everyone ever. I couldn’t place her at first, and then it was undeniable. God, SHE IS SO GREAT HERE, TOO! I love her role as Tami’s sister, and the writers really do give us that quintessential Friday Night Lights story through her. I’m so goddamn impressed with the material given to Connie Britton, and I imagine the writers just sat around going, “Well, we know Connie Britton can act anything, so what should we do? Let’s do anything we want.” Here, Shelley acts as a foil to the life that Tami has built, and it gradually wears Tami down to a breaking point. There is a brutally heartbreaking moment halfway through this episode where Tami realizes that her sister has suddenly gotten closer to Julie than Tami has in the last year. In that scene, you can see the jealousy and the pain on Tami’s face, (HOW DOES SHE DO THIS, CONNIE BRITTON IS SO AMAZING), since she knows she cannot be what Shelley is to Julie.
Unfortunately, she begins to compare her own life to Shelley’s, and everything hurts. I’m glad, then, that the writers give her a chance to rail against the idea that just because she’s a housewife and a working mom, this makes her life less interesting or “cool.” I’m in such awe of Tami as a mother, so it kills me to see her doubt herself like this. But Tami and Shelley are able to see eye-to-eye after Tami calls her sister out, and I just want everyone to be friends, and I love this show so much.
I get it. I get it now so much. While I will always be critical of any story where the rape/sexual assault of someone revolves around the character growth of someone else in the story (MAIN REASON I HAVE SEVERE ISSUES WITH SEASON 6/7 OF BUFFY), I finally get why the writers have been going in this direction. The shocking murder in “Last Days of Summer” was a mechanism to bring about Landry’s family into the narrative, specifically Landry’s father. The previous episodes showed us that Chad Clarke was a man who honored the job he was in, who respected the law, and who appreciated the honest relationship he had with his son. I will always dislike the fact that he’s so cruel to Tyra, forcing her to break up with Landry and then acting as if this is what women do when Landry brings this up to him. I get that in his mind, he’s doing what he can to protect his son, but this isn’t necessarily fair.
Which is why this episode is so fucking HUGE. We have been shown that Chad adores his son. We have seen that Chad adores his job. And in one moment, when he puts two and two together and confronts Landry, he is forced to choose between the two things he loves. Does he follow his heart and the love he has for his son, or does he follow the laws he’s dedicated his life to? I honestly thought that he was leading Landry to the police station to confess, so you can imagine my utter shock once I realized what he was doing. He was destroying evidence. This man chose to risk his entire career and his freedom to protect his son. HE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW WHY LANDRY KILLED THE MAN. Granted, I think he probably figured out that Landry was trying to protect Tyra, but still.
This is so fucking huge, y’all. Oh my god, WHAT IS THIS SHOW GOING TO DO NEXT? Because by gods, the writers have my attention, and I need more so fucking badly.
Mark Links Stuff
– The Mark Does Stuff Summer Tour is happening soon! Check out the posted dates, suggest new ones, help bring me to YOUR TOWN.
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