Mark Watches ‘Friday Night Lights’: S02E07 – Pantherama!

In the seventh episode of the second season of Friday Night Lights, the annual Pantherama! event affects various characters in surprising ways, while Coach Taylor, Tami, and Buddy all deal with Santiago’s uncertain future. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.

There are a few things here that really resonated with me, but I also think this is the first episode of the show so far that made me feel a bit too weird. LET’S DISCUSS THIS.

Matt/Julie

Y’all, what is with this show and having minors court relationships with adults? I was fascinated with Tim Riggins’s story at the end of season one, but now two more characters are doing the same thing? Oh my god, does this just happen way more than I think it does or something? Even if that’s the case, I think I’m more bothered by how repetitious this feels, especially since the writers already explored this dynamic through Tim. In a way, I might be able to see an interesting parallel between Matt and Julie’s loneliness and how they both seek out comfort from people who give them positive attention. I get that, but then… dude. Adults. Minors. Again. This will only end in disaster! There is no way that Matt can have a relationship with Carlotta. IT CAN’T WORK. And I’m even more creeped out by Noah Barnett, given that he’s in a position of power over Julie. That being said, his friendliness towards her could also just be an innocent behavior that is leading Julie on because he’s unaware of what he’s doing. Granted, I don’t often give the benefit of the doubt in situations like this, so I’m not doing that here. It feels wrong that Mr. Barnett is treating Julie this way, and I think Tami senses the dynamic is off. THIS ISN’T GOING TO END WELL, IS IT? No, of course not. And let’s not forget that Matt is already seeing another girl! UGH, it’s a goddamn mess. I’m willing to see where this goes, but I do think the repetitive theme of infidelity at this point is a bit much for me.

Smash

Oh, Smash. I certainly understand the frantic importance of assuring a future while still in high school. I’ll never forget how stressful it was my senior year when I was sending out college applications day after day. (Fuck those fees, y’all. As a brutally poor student who was living on my own, it was disheartening and frightening to me to be spending money for something that had no guarantee of a return. I needed to spend money on food, and I often chose a college application fee over it because I knew I had to get an acceptance or my future would be a disaster. Even worse, I couldn’t qualify for aid or assistance because colleges always viewed my parents’ financials and would ignore the fact that I was estranged from them. Even after I turned 18, I still couldn’t get assistance. It was awful.) Continuing from the stories we got from season one, the writers finally put Smash in front of recruiters, and I wasn’t surprised by his reaction to them. He knows this is his life in his hands. He knows he needs that athletic scholarship so he can support his family, and he even knows that he’s perfectly fine playing the role of an arrogant athlete. (I seriously believe Smash is way more clever than most people consider him, and I could write a goddamn essay about expectations of intelligence and wit that are applied to people of color but now is not the time.) However, he openly clashes with his mother over this. She represents the opposing side of his future: She wants practicality. She is thinking of the need for a Plan B. And while I understood that she didn’t mean to imply that she expected him to fail, that’s not how Smash interprets this. He wants his mother’s uncritical support, but this very idea tears Ms. Williams apart. Oh god, it hurts. I really love this family and the relationship Smash has with his mother, so it’s painful to watch them fight. Smash’s mother works to hard to make sure her son has the best life possible, and that’s specifically what she’s doing her! Smash lacks the perspective, though, so Ms. Williams turns to Coach Taylor to try and talk some sense into her boy. For a moment, I actually thought it worked! We got to see Coach Taylor do that thing he does where he’s able to be honest and open with one of his players, and it’s always so genuine. But this story did not end as I expected. Smash hugs his mother the next morning, and then very seriously tells her that he’s doing what he thinks is best for himself. My hope is that he’s able to understand what is at stake here, taking his experience in this episode and using it to make good choices. I just care about Smash a lot, and I want the best for him! This also worries me, though, because… oh god, does that mean there might be a day where Smash isn’t on the show? I’M SAD JUST THINKING ABOUT IT.

Tyra/Landry/Tim/Lyla

I was a bit disappointed that after such a huge episode involving Landry and his father, we only got one very brief scene that continued Landry’s story line. That’s it? He tells Tyra what happened? It seems too easy, you know? His dad just destroyed evidence of a murder. THIS IS A BIG DEAL. Perhaps I’m speaking prematurely, and I accept that this is possible, but I wasn’t given much to go on here. Which… oh god, this is going to get worse, isn’t it? This is the calm before the storm. Great. Great.

I don’t have anything deep and thoughtful to say about Lyla and Tyra teaming up to run Pantherama. I am okay with this! I was happy to see them working together and having a good time without arguing once. It’s awesome!

I’m a bit confused about the direction of Tim’s storyline, and it’s something that might make more sense in hindsight. It does feel like there’s something here I’m missing, and his aimless wandering since being kicked off the team might be the answer to this. He’s not living in his own house anymore, and now he’s going to live with this super creepy dude? Tim, what is going on in your life?

Santiago

Seriously, Santiago’s story is what makes “Pantherama!” for me. There are some obvious parallels here between his life and my own, especially since I spent the last two years of high school living independent of my parents. I know how awkward it feels to have to live with an adult you barely know just because you need a place to stay. My god, I know this so well. I know what it’s like to feel grateful for a bed. I still know this. I’m not exactly thrilled to admit this, but I didn’t have a bed in my own apartment until February. Of this year. Y’all, they are so expensive. WHO CAN AFFORD BEDS??? I honestly am perplexed how any person owns anything. Like, when I find out a friend of mine has a car, I have no clue how they aren’t a billion dollars in debt. Gas costs like a trillion dollars an ounce.

Anyway, this isn’t all about me! This is about how all these people do whatever they can to find Santiago a home, to give him some stability, and how I actually felt good about Buddy Garrity for the first time in a long time. He does have an obvious and selfish motivation for helping Santiago, but at the end of “Pantherama!,” I got the sense that he was willing to genuinely try and give Santiago a home where he can feel like he belongs. I’m going to be empathetic to a story like this because it was teachers, counselors, the principal, and the parents of various friends of mine who all helped me get through high school when I ran away from home. So I’m more inclined to appreciate what Buddy does here even if he does just want the Panthers to win.

I’m so excited to see more of Santiago this season, y’all.

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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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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