Mark Watches ‘Friday Night Lights’: S03E09 – Game of the Week

In the ninth episode of the third season of Friday Night Lights, Mindy and Lyla strike a surprising friendship; Tim makes a poor decision upon leaving Jason in New York; Grandma Saracen and Matt’s mother clash; and the Taylors deal with new stresses. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.

Help me, I’m obsessed with Friday Night Lights.

Matt/Shelby/Grandma Saracen

Okay, there are times when I feel like I missed some small detail, but have we not really learned exactly what Shelby did to make Grandma Saracen hate her so much? We know she left the relationship early on, that Matt’s dad was “difficult,” and that Grandma Saracen thinks Shelby “ruined” her son. But otherwise, we’ve never learned anything specific, have we? I feel like the writers should give us something, though I admit that I could have just forgotten it at this point.

Regardless, I wouldn’t say that this affects the story all that much. Truthfully, the writers needed to address the uncomfortable topic of Matt’s future, especially as many of the other characters are thinking of their own futures. The reality is that Matt will have to make a difficult decision at some point in his life. His grandmother depends on him, so going to college isn’t going to be easy. Shelby wants the best for her son, and it just makes sense to her that she take care of Grandma Saracen while Matt pursues education or playing at a collegiate level. Or both! However, Grandma Saracen refuses this option completely, and her utter hatred of Shelby has never been more vicious. It’s a delicate, awkward situation because there’s no easy answer for anyone. Matt should be able to go to college, but Grandma Saracen doesn’t want to be abandoned. So how do they work this out? I don’t know how to solve this! And “Game of the Week” doesn’t give us an answer, either, though it hints at the possibility that Grandma Saracen and Shelby could get along at least for the sake of Matt. They do this to attend his game once they see he’s playing as wide receiver. So, can they get along further? Will the explore and manage their issues with one another so that Matt might pursue college? I don’t know, but I hope there’s a positive future in store.

OH, RIGHT, AND MATT’S REALLY GOOD AS A WIDE RECEIVER. Well, not initially, that is, because he doesn’t know how to get tackled. But he practices, over and over, and he devotes himself to trying, and lord, I love stories like that. SO YOU SHOULD READ PROTECTOR OF THE SMALL WITH ME IF YOU LIKE THIS IDEA.


The Lyla/Mindy Misandry Party is always going to be one of the most memorable scenes on this show. The writers purposely set this up episodes ago by showing us how the Collettes rejected Lyla initially, but then Mindy finds common ground in Lyla: hating the Riggins brothers for being undependable. It’s not lost on me that Tim’s struggle with his future comes right after leaving his best friend on the East Coast. Tim doesn’t want to engage with the idea of moving on. He’s used to football, drinking, and Dillon, Texas. And I’d even say that he’s a little heartbroken after leaving Jason behind. Come on, he totally is.

It’s fair that Lyla gets her own space to process Tim’s behavior and the writers don’t shame her for that. Tim’s defense mechanism is almost always detached humor, so it offends Lyla that he defaults to this when she’s trying her hardest to get him into college. Who wouldn’t feel hurt after having their efforts laughed at? That’s why it’s so easy for her to bond with Mindy. Mindy knows exactly how she feels. It’s also why she’s so disappointed at first when Mindy ditches her for Billy. But I don’t think the situation is that simple. Couples fight. People in love have massive disagreements about how to live with one another, and in Mindy’s case, she didn’t want to give up her job as a stripper. That’s her right! By dumping Billy, he came to see that she was serious about this desire, and in the end, she made Billy respect her for that. Well, at least for the time being. Lyla does the same thing to Tim by kicking him out of her car, and it causes him to examine his own behavior.

So, naturally, I’m incredibly excited that TIM IS GOING TO COLLEGE!!!! OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD. I mean, I’m sure Lyla and Tim will deal with the future if it involves Tim going to one college while she’s at Vanderbilt, but for now, I’m pretty damn stoked at how this turned out.

The Taylors/Tyra

God, I love the Taylors so much. I’ll get to Tyra’s story in a second, but I wanted to talk about how sweet Eric was in “Game of the Week.” Amidst playing Arnett Mead in the playoffs, which was unbelievably stressful for Eric, he still planned a romantic birthday outing for his wife after the game. He chose to celebrate her instead of a possible win. UGH, BE STILL, MY HEART.

Of course, it’s a bit sad that they don’t get to celebrate Tami’s birthday, but Tami’s relationship with Tyra is important for the series. I knew I had a reason to be suspicious of Cash, but this is not what I anticipated. It’s so much worse. And given that Tyra was nearly raped near the end of season one, those scenes in the hotel room were unbearable, y’all. Honestly, this all just breaks my heart. Tyra wanted happiness. I’m not interested in telling her that she made bad choices, that she should have stayed at school, because ultimately, Cash is the one who fucked up here. He pushed her down into that seat. He left her alone in that bar with all those creepy men. He was the one who tried to restrain her in the hotel room. It’s obvious that he has severe issues with anger and the need to “possess” women, and I am not going to blame Tyra one bit for that.

I just want good things for Tyra. It makes me sad. And I’m concerned about Tami’s reaction to this whole thing, because she was awfully quiet while they waited for Eric to come out of that Sonic. Please don’t say, “I told you so” to Tyra. It won’t help at all. Regardless, I wonder how Landry is going to play into this. It’s not lost on me that when Tyra was first freaked out by Cash, she called Landry for comfort. Is she going to seek him out again? And what does that mean for them as friends?

Oh god, Tyra, my heart.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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