Mark Watches ‘Friday Night Lights’: S03E11 – A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

In the eleventh episode of the third season of Friday Night Lights, I AM SO DONE FOREVER. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.

Well, this season just gets better and better.

Trigger Warning: Due to J.D.’s story, we have to talk about abuse.

Matt

I CAN’T. I CAN’T.

It was hard to watch this. My dad’s Alzheimer’s got so bad that he, too, suffered from a quick onset of dementia, and I had to see the same thing that happened to Grandma Saracen happen to him. It’s difficult to deal with, and in the end, my mother decided to take care of my father for the last month of his life. I don’t know that we seriously considered any sort of care outside of the home, now that I think about it. I think it was mentioned, but my mom was a registered nurse for many, many years, so it wasn’t ever an option that was pursued. Anyway, it’s scary to watch someone’s memory drain away, even if it’s for something as unimportant as slippers.

So what’s Matt supposed to do? His pride obviously gets in the way because he feels like he has to take care of his grandmother all by himself. He won’t even entertain the notion that he isn’t able to do this for her. Well, it’s not just pride. He wants the best for her. He loves having her around. He just plain loves her. So when his mother suggests they take Grandma Saracen’s doctor seriously, he lashes out at her. It’s the easiest way for him to deny the problem is there, to push away an uncomfortable reality so that he doesn’t have to deal with it.

I love the fact that the writers have found a realistic way to integrate Shelby into Matt’s life. It’s so genuine, you know? It wasn’t done in a way that ignored how difficult such a journey would be, and I’m happy that at the end of this, she’s there to help and support Matt. So much of “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” is about the support system the people of Dillon have when things get utterly awful. There is light at the end of every tunnel here, and it’s one of the most redeeming things about this show.

Does this mean that Grandma Saracen is going to move to a new home? I’m already sad just thinking about it.

Tim/Lyla

HOLY CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. If you told me back when I started Friday Night Lights that Tim Riggins would provide the emotional support that Lyla Garrity would need during a time of extreme duress, I would have laughed you off the face of the earth. BUT OUR LITTLE TIM RIGGINS HAS GROWN SO MUCH. As I just mentioned, this episode is about support systems. For Lyla, she’s in one of the darkest periods of her life, terrified at the prospect that her dreams of attending Vanderbilt have been ruined by her father’s actions. (OMG YAY SHE GOT IN YAY!!!!) Even the mere sight of her father is enough to set her off. Which is ENTIRELY UNDERSTANDABLE. His actions in “The Giving Tree” certainly didn’t help. The man is still too concerned about how to rectify his own situation instead of helping Lyla, and I think it’s a big reason why there’s been no progress between the two.

And yet it’s Tim who sees how Lyla has changed in subtle ways. I initially couldn’t gauge why he was acting so strange in the earlier part of the episode, where she was playing Mario Kart with Billy. But then he was disturbed by her refusal to attend classes and her general demeanor. I love that he’s ultimately not condescending to her about how she feels, but instead aims to lift her up. to tell her that she is the worth the effort, and that his job is to make her feel better. Yeah, I feel pretty good saying that Tim is a FANTASTIC boyfriend. AMEN.

Tyra

Coming off of “The Giving Tree,” I worried about how Tyra and Landry would act with one another, but this was a fantastic depiction of how friendship should work for these two characters. No one is leading the other on, and it’s a mutual reciprocation of help and humor. It’s what was always missing from their friendship once things got too complicated. Ugh, plus, they are so CUTE here, and it makes me want the best for them, but I know it’s not this easy. Hell, that’s part of the reason Tyra is so emotional by the end of “A Hard Rain’s Going To Fall.” We’ve seen how Tyra fails to fit in with the world of Dillon, Texas, and this is another manifestation of that. Why can’t she desire the same kind of love as other people? Why can’t she just be satisfied with staying home? Why is she so concerned about going to college?

Bless Angela Collette. Bless her for what she tells Tyra. It’s such a beautiful and uplifting scene, one that parallels what Tim tells Lyla and what Shelby does for Matt. Sometimes, we just need to be told that the people who love us have our back. In this case, Tyra’s mother gives Tyra support by highlighting how vibrant and unique Tyra is, and it’s just THE LOVELIEST THING EVER.

This show, I swear.

The Taylors/The McCoys

I’ll get to the thing soon enough, I promise.

Re-destricting, y’all. It just feels wrong. Not the idea, though, but how Buddy Garrity and the boosters are having their way with it. IT FEELS WRONG. Obviously, they’re putting football as the main priority for the split, and they don’t care how that’s going to affect families who actually go to Dillon High and might get sent to East Dillon because of their jigsaw-puzzle process. But I really think this episode drove home how complicated this was. We know that Tami has been pushing for more money for the school for the past few months, and this re-districting might provide that for Dillon. But what if it splits the Panthers? Oh god, I don’t even want to think about how that would affect the show. Who would have to go to the new school? Wait, no, I’m not even going to entertain this idea just yet. There’s no indication that it’ll carry over beyond this season, and given what happens with J.D., I feel like it’ll take a backseat to everything else.

I don’t think that the McCoy’s plot in “A Hard Rain’s Going To Fall” was one I was particularly savvy about. Like, I hesitate to say that I was actually prepared for once. I mean, I did predict that Joe McCoy was an abusive piece of shit, but that’s only because I’m able to recognize those patterns in other people. I saw it in Joe, and I knew it was only a matter of time before he lost it.

And yet, that didn’t matter. I still wasn’t prepared for such a violent, horrifying display from that man. I knew he was treating his son poorly. He couldn’t be pleased; he called Madison’s parents; he’s ridiculously misogynistic about women in general; he refused to be happy about J.D. winning the game anyway. You know that man resented the fact that J.D. ignored his advice and won against the Mustangs by taking Coach Taylor’s advice. Again, we saw Coach Taylor give J.D. positive reinforcement, and guess what? It fucking worked.

Still, I’m sort of at a loss to come up with anything to say about what Joe did. I’ll just stick with it being downright sickening. I instead want to focus on what an incredible job the Taylors do for these people. They take Katie and J.D. into their home. They refuse to blame them for what Joe did. Oh my god, THIS IS SO FUCKING IMPORTANT. Both Taylors actively tell the McCoys that they cannot blame themselves for what happened. My gods, it’s so heartbreaking to watch this, especially when you see how broken both characters look. (I must praise Janine Turner and Jeremy Sumpter, who both give their best performances of the season here. Incredible work, y’all!)

Just… how? How is this going to be dealt with? Coach Taylor is going to have to try and keep Joe away from his son, but I don’t see Joe just backing down without a fight. He’s a stubborn, violent, and terrifying guy. It’s only going to get worse, isn’t it? Of course it is, but I’m still not prepared for it. 🙁

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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