In the fourteenth episode of the second season of Friday Night Lights, I SWEAR TO MITHROS, IF THIS SHOW MAKES ME CRY ANYMORE THAN IT ALREADY HAS, I WILL BE PERMANENTLY DEHYDRATED. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.
I AM SO NOT PREPARED FOR THIS FINALE. Damn it!
It’s always weird for me to experience plots that deal with a person having to cope between choosing suitors like this. Twilight, The Hunger Games, or any narrative that features this weird threeway romance thing is… it’s something I can’t ever connect. Because I see it and all I can think is that historically, I can barely get anyone to pay attention to me. You have to choose between two gorgeous guys vying for your affection? I’ll go back to refreshing an Internet forum for four hours straight. You can have your multiple hot guys. Granted, I am finally in a serious relationship, so I’m not trying to ignore that, but I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 24! That was my first relationship! And there’s nothing wrong with that at all, but prior to that, I did feel like something was wrong with me. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t keep a guy around me.
But that’s not the point! It is not time for WOE IS ME whining. I’m just explaining why there’s always going to be a part of me that just feels MEH about any plotline like the one we get here. At the same time, I do appreciate how well Friday Night Lights portrays the confusion of being a teenager. We see that in Matt, Julie, Landry, and Tyra in this episode, though it manifests itself in vastly different ways. Free from the stress and terror of the murder that Landry committed, both Landry and Tyra try to settle back into their normal lives with some success. And while Landry finds friendship in comfort in Jean, who already wins because she loves Mystery Science Theater 3000, Tyra finds that all the things she felt for Landry might actually be real, that they might not just be based solely on jealousy. She floats the idea by Tami and her own mother, and it’s hard to say whether either woman actually helped her make a decision. Still, both women admit that sometimes it’s nice to feel desired, and I can’t deny that.
What worries me is that Jean is left in the dust throughout all this. She’s awesome! And it sucks that she’s the one who has to lose while Landry figures out how he feels. Plus, I don’t want either of these characters to rush through a relationship, as excited as they might be. I mean, I did like the idea of Tyra and Landry being together, but I also want to be cautious about that, you know?
It’s not often that this show depicts Tami Taylor as being flat-out wrong, but here it is: She was wrong, and she hurt Julie. I could tell instantly during that dinner sequence that Julie was clamoring for attention, so when Eric suggested Julie’s envy to Tami, all I could do was groan at how Tami was missing the mark. Which is fascinating to watch, honestly! Tami is usually so good at reading emotional cues, and she misses every single one of them because she’s so wrapped in the joy of coaching volleyball. (That’s also really fun to watch, by the way.) I’m glad, then, that this show follows such a pleasing pattern when it comes to these characters: Someone messes up. Their apology is genuine. And they do what they can to make up for it. Again, I really do think Friday Night Lights is about people trying their best to be good, even if they mess up along the way.
My god, I can’t believe that as much as I have written about Jason Street being the aimless character this season, there was Matt Saracen, dealing with loss and abandonment issues right in front of me. If what he does in this episode feels sudden, his outbreak to Coach Taylor at the end of “Leave No One Behind” is a forceful reminder of what this kid has been through in the last year. He’s back to taking care of his grandmother all by himself, he’s lonely, he can’t relate to anyone around him, and his hope for winning state seems dismal at best. Matt is, simply put, overstimulated and overwhelmed, and he chooses to give up. It’s why he latches on to Tim Riggins. In his mind, Tim is the level-headed one among his peers. That’s an issue of perception, though, because we know Tim’s not so well-adjusted as he’d like to make others think he is.
I actually thought that the whole scene in the strip club was going to lead to him and Tim being arrested. There’s that whole line where the random guy asks why they’re getting so much attention, and I figured that was a perfect segue to someone figuring out there were underage kids in the club. Instead, Matt is horrified to learn that his grandmother is in the hospital after hitting her head. I was confused why Coach Taylor showed up, but then I remembered that Matt’s car also broke down. Jesus, can Matt catch a break? EVER?
And I know the whole shower sequence might seem ridiculous, but I loved it? And it broke my heart? And even logistically, it kind of made sense because Matt was super drunk, and there’s that whole weird idea that we need to throw drunk people into cold showers to help them be not drunk, which I think is based on approximately zero scientific thoughts, but we still do it anyway. Anyway, in that very moment, when Matt is the most vulnerable we’ve ever seen him, Coach Taylor finally understands what it is that’s been unraveling his quarterback. So what is Coach Taylor going to do? How can he help Matt? How can Matt find a reason to keep pushing on?
We are talking full-on bawling when I say that I cried during all three of Smash’s intensely emotional scenes in this episode. I’d also like to point out something here that is uncomfortable, but y’all better internalize it because it’s the truth: Racism ruins lives. The racist, sexist shit that those white boys said to Noannie and to Smash had repercussions that they will never, ever have to face. Now, because Smash defended his sister with violence, he is suspended for three games, and he had his scholarship to TMU revoked. “Questionable character,” y’all. See what they’re doing? See how TMU is quietly affirming the very stereotype I told y’all about? It made me so made I wanted to throw up. It broke my heart to see Corrina break into tears, and it filled me with a little hope to hear her say she believed in her son. But nothing crushed me more than the humble, inspirational speech that Smash gave to his fellow teammates before they set out to try to give him at least one last game at Dillon High, only to find out that Smash is barely holding it together. Much respect to Gauis Charles for being able to portray such a raw and real moment with so much emotional devastation.
This hurts. Forever.
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