Mark Watches ‘Friday Night Lights’: S03E04 – Hello, Goodbye

In the fourth episode of the third season of Friday Night Lights, I cry a lot. That’s all you need to know. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.

DEHYDRATION THROUGH TEARS: My Memoirs.

Tyra

Ugh, this is so complicated and messy. I really adore Tyra as a character, but sometimes, you just have to make sure that doesn’t get in the way of admitting when a character does something shitty. In this case, the writers do criticize Tyra’s actions in the script itself by having Landry confront her in person. It was just a bad decision for her to lie to him about what he was doing, and the timing was awful, and everything is sad. Tyra even admits that she probably could have made things clearer to Landry after they broke up. Ultimately, though, she didn’t, and Landry also put too much hope in the idea of a relationship with Tyra. Still, it’s Tyra’s fault that Landry is upset, and it sucks, because I’d love for them to be friends. 🙁

Cash makes me feel real weird, y’all. I don’t know that I like him. Yet, I should say. I get a weird vibe from him, but I have zero evidence for any of my suspicions. Maybe he’s addicted to painkillers? There’s that scene with the “cowboy candy” line, and I don’t think it’s a disposable detail.

I DON’T KNOW.

Matt

You know, it’s just plain exhausting to watch all of Matt’s scenes this season (and most of season two), and it’s his mother who is able to spell it out for us: Matt is all alone. All the characters in this show are dealing with a million problems and terrible things at once (except Jason Street, who disappeared from the show??? Is he on an island with Mandy, Waverly, Santiago, and Chris?), but Matt routinely has no one to turn to. To be fair, Julie appears to be supporting Matt more than she has in the recent past, but he’s still expected to go to school, get good grades, play football, perform well at that, and take care of his grandmother and all the responsibilities that come along with that. It’s why the idea of having his mother help out is so appealing. Matt knows that he needs help, but… holy shit, this is so awkward! In the first half of “Hello, Goodbye,” we don’t know the details about why Matt’s mother left in the first place. All we know is that everything is uncomfortable and Grandma Saracen doesn’t like this woman. At all. She despises her! So… she left? A long time ago? For a reason?

I liked that Matt was conscious of how much this affected Grandma Saracen, so much so that he apologized to her for asking his mother to take her to the doctor’s office. But then she reveals that this all had to do with something his father did? And Grandma Saracen could have helped? With what? Beyond this, the whole situation is just uncomfortable for Matt, and he ultimately rejects her attempts to be a part of his life. And that’s a fair thing for him to do, you know? She shows up uninvited, and she makes his life weird. He has so much else to deal with! Sure, it’s a super awkward scene, but I think the writers and the actors handle it brilliantly.

The same goes for the scene near the end of “Hello, Goodbye” where Matt meets with his mother again. We get a few more hints about why she left the family. She was too young; Matt’s father did something to her. Possibly abused her? I don’t know. Anyway, the importance of this scene was that Matt asked for help. He admits that he’s alone (in his own way), and he gives his mother a probationary period of sorts. As strange as this all is, it’s a glimmer of hope for Matt, and one that I’m gracious he accepts. After all the stuff with J.D. in this episode, I really just want one good thing to happen with Matt. JUST ONE OF THEM.

Tami

I JUST… I JUST LOVE TAMI TAYLOR SO MUCH. I know firsthand how difficult it is to fight against people with money and influence, so this was a frustrating thing to watch play out. While Katie McCoy probably meant well when she gave Tami advice on how to deal with the superintendent, I think she’s too used to her own class position giving her the benefit of the doubt. It’s not in Tami’s nature to do what she does here, and it’s a big reason why it backfires. (Also, the superintendent sucks. A lot. That whole line about Tami being too angry? No, thank you.)

It was awful to see her so upset after that confrontation, too. It’s hard to realize you can’t win, and that’s especially the case for someone like Tami Taylor. She doesn’t give up, and she knows she is right. But this is more about choosing her battles. In the end, she doesn’t fight Buddy Garrity and his friends. I think the fact that Eric gave her his emotional support helped a lot with this. Instead, she does THE BEST THING EVER: She ropes Buddy into hosting a charity by dropping it into her speech. Bless her. Because y’all, I am so done with Buddy Garrity this season.

Coach Taylor/Smash

Something good finally happened.

But before Coach Taylor and Smash get there, Eric struggles with an agonizing decision. Does he bow to pressure and play J.D. McCoy, or does he stick with Matt Saracen? He ends up vocalizing his problem to his wife (over scotch!), and I was happy to see how much he cared for both players. He didn’t demonize J.D. for what his father had done, and it sounded like he genuinely wanted to give the kid the chance he deserves. At the same time, he’s aware of the emotional impact he’ll have on Matt, and that is what makes Coach Taylor so good at his job. I understand that it’s his duty to help his team win, and that’s his first priority. But that doesn’t mean he should ignore his conscience, either. Ultimately, he chooses to play both quarterbacks in the next game. It’s a huge risk, of course, but it actually feels like the most diplomatic option, too. He’ll get to see if J.D. can perform under pressure while relieving some of the pressure on him from various people in town. At the same time, I’m going to continue worrying how Matt will be affected by this. I don’t imagine he’ll feel better if J.D. proves himself on the field.

It’s clear we’ll deal with that in an upcoming episode. While the bulk of the first two-thirds of this episode doesn’t have Smash in it at all, it’s clear that the emotional high of “Hello, Goodbye” is in Smash’s exit from the main storyline. I really got the sense that if we see him again, it’ll be a side story, not a huge, season-long plot. The title of this episode is another clue towards that, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see much of him at Texas A&M.

It’s been such a painful and frustrating journey for that kid, and I was terrified that when Mitch told Eric and Smash that they had to reschedule, Smash was going to give up outright. Who could blame him? The later it got, the more impossible it would be to join the team, let alone get a walk-in. So I’m glad that Coach Taylor was there to stick up for Smash. It’s a sign of what a good person he is and why he makes a great coach. He defends the people he believes in, and if it wasn’t for him, Smash probably wouldn’t have gotten the tryout at all.

AND THEN THE PHONE RINGS, AND THEN MY HEART HURTS, AND THEN IT WAS JUST A COINCIDENCE AND NOT TEXAS A&M, AND THEN IT REALLY WAS TEXAS A&M AND I’M CRYING AND OH MY GOD I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS SO MUCH AND I AM SO HAPPY.

I can’t deal with this. Oh gods, the look on Coach Taylor’s face when Smash tells him the news and then thanks him? It’s too much. But it’s the final images of Smash goofing around on the Dillon Panthers field that does me in. That’s it. He’s done. He is no longer in high school. He won’t ever play on that field again. He’s moving on to a new life and new experiences. That’s why I think this was the show’s way of saying goodbye to him. Which crushes me, you know? He’s one of my favorite characters, and I’d love to see him in every episode. Because of reasons. If this really is the end, it’s a fitting one, and I’m happy. And full of tears. Both those things!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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