In the eleventh episode of the second season of Friday Night Lights, numerous characters face the pressures of sudden decisions. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.
Oh god, I have to be so vague about this episode or else the summary will be one giant spoiler. LET’S DO THIS.
MY HEART WEEPS FOR TIM RIGGINS. I am amazed at this season’s ability to make Tim beautifully sympathetic like this. Not that he wasn’t easy to sympathize with in season one, but this? Tim, your character growth over the course of season two is amazing. Which then makes me wonder where the hell Lyla is??? We haven’t seen her for a couple episodes, and she was instrumental in Tim rethinking his approach to life. Honestly, a lot of people have rubbed off on Tim, and he’s finally doing all these nice things for people with no expectation of reciprocation. Coach Taylor’s final conversation with him is truly indicative of how much Tim has changed: He did what was right for Julie, and he didn’t try to defend himself when he knew it would hurt Julie. That’s why it’s so frustrating that nothing seems to go well for him. He has nowhere to stay, and when he does finally decide to go home, he finds a foreclosure notice on the door. CAN ONE THING GO RIGHT FOR THIS MAN, I SWEAR.
Which brings us to the Very Bad Decision. It is a Very Bad Decision, as designated by my Arbitrary Capitalization. See, this episode (and largely, this whole fucking show) does this thing where these characters truly mean well, and everyone is trying to do good, and they mess up along the way, but they eventually find a way to learn what they’ve done wrong, and there are a lot of really amazing apologies, and can I just give credit to Tami Taylor for like half of them even existing? (This is time for a casual reminder that in scolding Julie, Eric says, “And your mother would want me to say” before doing something he wouldn’t have normally done unless his wife had taught him the importance of affection whilst disciplining. I love you, Tami Taylor.) In “Jumping the Gun,” Billy apologizes to Tim for what he did to him, and it’s so wonderful, and then THEY STEAL THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS FROM GUY, THE TOWN’S METH DEALER. There is a 0% chance that this will end positively for either of these people. I get that you were desperate, but OH MY GOD, WHAT A TERRIBLE FUCKING IDEA. He’s going to notice the money is gone, and he’ll notice that Tim got his stuff, and two and two will be fucking put together, and THIS WILL END IN DISASTER. EVERY TIME.
Oh my god, the Riggins boys are fucked.
You know, I am very much on the side of Eric and Tami when it comes to personal space, as I’ve had roommates in the past who were terrible about respecting property that wasn’t theirs or was agreed to be mutually shared. It’s awful, it creates a riff at home, and it’s stressful. Yet I must admit that I’ll be sad to see Shelley go. Jessalyn Gilsig is such a fantastic character actress, and her role as a foil to Tami has produced some of the better moments this season. While I agree that Eric’s handling of his concerns about Shelley was totally nightmarish, it is better that Shelley find her own place. But YAY CONGRATS, SHELLEY PASSED HER EXAM, COOKIES ALL AROUND. Oh gods, what the hell are they going to do about Grace? Get a sitter? A nanny? Y’all should get Carlotta and get her away from Matt so she can just be awesome with her own storyline. I SUPPORT THIS.
“It’s not our burden, it’s our gift.”
DONE WITH YOU, COACH TAYLOR. DONE WITH YOU.
The Game vs Laribee
I don’t necessarily like Coach Dickes, and he’s mostly an asshole here. An unappreciative asshole, I should say. While I suspected that the scene where he took a call that left him speechless meant something important, I really don’t think this could have prepared me for the game itself. Initially, I thought the set-up that gave us both coaches discussing the final play was a hint that Coach Dickes read Coach Taylor’s playbook, but lord, I was so wrong. I was so, so wrong. When he tackled Riggins, I just started screaming “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD” over and over again. The man has a temper, yes, and you might even be able to say he dislikes Riggins because of his altercation with him earlier, but interfering with the game itself? I love that the writers chose to give that scene utter silence. It is unnerving to hear Coach Dickes shrieking at the top of his lungs while everyone watches on in horror. But it’s also necessary to build that moment, to make sure we understand that this was not simply a man overreacting. Something happened. Something led him to that moment. Was he getting fired? What could have upset him so much?
It really does break my heart that his wife was given three months to live. I don’t have to like Coach Dickes to empathize with him, and I know how gutwrenching it is to get news like that. Jesus, so what does this mean for the Panthers? They were down before Dickes tackled Riggins, and the referees called the game as complete. Does that mean the Panthers lost?
Sweet unholy babies, I was unprepared.
I just want Smash on this show forever, and now I have to start preparing myself for the fact that he’s going to go on to college, and they’ll be less of him around, and can this not happen. 🙁 🙁 🙁
His story here, about the pressure he’s under to give a verbal confirmation as soon as possible to a college, is riveting, some of the best shit this show’s ever done. I love the way that Corrina’s interests are played off of Smash, how the show inherently values her contributions to Smash’s life, and that the ultimate message here is that Smash must respect and honor his mother, no matter what decision he makes. It’s a rough journey to that point, though. I’m a little uncomfortable with how people might perceive Noelle because I find no reason to dislike her. At all. She’s clearly a thoughtful and fiercely intelligent young woman, and her advice is largely wonderful. And I get that Corrina feels threatened and frightened that Smash, who historically has not been good with women he’s attracted to, may take this young woman’s advice solely because he likes her. But I never got the sense that Noelle was being malicious or foolish once with Smash. She seems so genuine! I like her! Oh god, where is she gonna go after this episode? Disappear?
Anyway, I appreciate that the writers showed us how Corrina was affected by all of this, especially with that scene in the grocery store. As many promises as these recruiters make, Corrina knows they aren’t concerned about any real plan that would guarantee Smash a future if that future couldn’t have football. It’s presumptive of them to say that Smash won’t get hurt! Lots of guys do get hurt before they ever go pro, and it’s fucked up of everyone to dismiss Corrina’s concerns. AND WHO IS THERE TO COMFORT AND HELP CORRINA? Goddamn Tami Taylor, that’s who. GOOD FOR YOU, TAMI, for recognizing and uncomfortable situation and helping another woman out. Tami also goes to her husband, who she then compels to sit Smash down and give him some advice he might actually listen to. I admit that it’s problematic that the show basically says, “Well, Smash needs a man to give him the truth,” so I do like that at the end, Coach Taylor insists that Smash honor his mother.
AND THEN TMU GIVES HIM AND OFFER AND HE ACCEPTS, AND THEN HE’S GIVING HIS MOTHER FLOWERS, AND I START BAWLING BECAUSE I AM SO HAPPY FOR THE WILLIAMSES, AND BEING ONE OF THE FIRST PEOPLE IN MY FAMILY TO GO TO COLLEGE, I KNOW WHAT A HUGE DEAL THAT IS AND I’M CRYING BECAUSE OF THIS GODDAMN SHOW AGAIN.
I should just get used to that, shouldn’t I?
Just a reminder: Due to a scheduling error, reviews for Friday Night Lights 2×14 and 2×15 will go up this Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
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