In the eighth episode of the fifth season of Friday Night Lights, I CAN’T. TOO MANY EMOTIONS. TOO MANY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to cry a lot during Friday Night Lights.
SO MANY TEARS and oh my god, I will love this show until the end of time.
So, while I think it’s weird that Epyck just plain doesn’t show up in an episode, I am so thankful for the complicated and emotional story that we get for her in “Fracture.” There are so many ways that the writers could have just destroyed Epyck’s characterization, but instead, we get a better idea of why she is the way she is, and how Tami’s influence on her might actually change her life for the better. As we’ve seen in the past, Friday Night Lights does its best as a show to give us complete characters, to sympathize with nearly everyone, to convey the idea that people come from such varied backgrounds that are often misunderstood by popular culture. I think that Epyck was probably a victim of that just from her appearance in this season so far, so I’m thankful that there’s so much more of her background revealed her.
At the center of this is Epyck’s desire for attention, which I hope y’all understand that I don’t mean in a negative way. When people grow up without love and affection, they often crave it in ways that manifest in confusing manners. I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE. Epyck often lashes out violently, and it’s hinted that this might be because she knows she’ll get to see Tami again.
I suppose that means I need to address the big reveal regarding Epyck. Tami is led to believe that the foster home where Epyck lives is a terrible place where she has to fight for attention and food, and Epyck certainly makes it easy to believe that. She’s constantly eating Tami’s food, and her fighting at school is indicative of a troubled home life. But it’s the scene in Tami’s car that’s the biggest sign that something deeply wrong is happening at home. Yeah, I must confess that even I believed what Epyck said. So when it was revealed that she was lying about it, that her foster mother is actually a loving, caring parent, I was shocked and even betrayed. But mostly? I was worried that Epyck’s characterization would suffer from this.
However, Epyck’s foster mom tells Tami that Epyck’s life hasn’t been easy, and I think that’s the key to understanding why Epyck behaves as she does to Tami. I honestly don’t think she was lying about her feelings for Tami. I think that’s the one part of what she said that was the honest truth. It explains why she’d act up at school and why she’d lie about her foster home. Both things keep Tami in her life, and I think that’s because Epyck might actually believe that Tami can help her. It’s a stretch, sure, but I’m saying this based on the sincerity of her admission in Tami’s car and that little smirk she gives off when Tami is at the restaurant confronting her. Epyck swears that she can’t change who she is, and yet here’s this woman who so fully believes in her and her future. I think Tami might be the first person who has ever shown this precise type of interest in her.
Well, I could be wrong, because I was definitely wrong about my perception of something else. I’ll get to that later. Right now, I want to talk about
Becky + Mindy + the other strippers from the Landing Strip = UTTER. PERFECTION. I’m so happy that Mindy has taken Becky under her wing because THERE IS SUCH GENUINE CARE AND LOVE HERE. Plus, I love the idea of people who are generally looked down upon in society helping Becky in a competition where everything is so high brow and professional. Y’all, that look of disgust on Becky’s face when that older woman tells her to be wary of the company she keeps GIVES ME LIFE. Becky knows that Mindy and her friends supported her when no one else did, so who cares if they’re perceived as being low class? BOOO TO ALL OF YOU.
But it’s important to acknowledge that these women, many of whom haven’t even known Becky that long, come to her aid when she breaks down over her confusion for Luke. I appreciate that the writers show that Becky struggles with her decision to have an abortion without demonizing her for that choice. As I said, it’s the very women who are looked down upon themselves who lift Becky up, supporting her with kind words and encouraging advice. They don’t judge Becky one bit, and I fucking love it. And it’s also nice that they give her the inspiration to start over with Luke. She needed to figure out a way to navigate her confusing attraction to him, given what her history was with Luke. And I think she found a way.
Becky for Miss America, I swear. And Mindy, too.
Let’s just talk about how wrong I was, because yeah, that scene in “Perfect Record” where Tami ran into Derek wasn’t wasted. I just didn’t have the full story, and now that I’ve seen “Fracture,” THINGS MAKE SO MUCH MORE SENSE. It happens! I admit my wrongness!
You know what else I was wrong about? What the most awkward scene in Friday Night Lights is. It’s not the one in Derek’s office. It’s every fucking scene in this episode. In particular, that moment where Julie opens the door and Derek is there? That’s the first of many scenes where I just curled up and shrank from the screen because no no no no. What are you doing, Derek? WHAT MAKES YOU THINK IT IS AT ALL APPROPRIATE FOR YOU TO SHOW UP TO JULIE’S HOUSE? And you know, if we hadn’t already seen Derek’s penchant for misusing his position for his own need, I might have believed him when he said that he was just trying to get Julie back to school. But no, I didn’t trust him at all.
Showing up at Tami’s school, though? Yeah, I AM SO DONE WITH YOU, DEREK. DONE. What the fuck, you are so creepy. And I get that Julie did need to put this behind her, and I appreciate that the writers aren’t letting her off the hook for what she’s done. She’s still held responsible for her actions, but at the same time, I think they also placed a lot more weight on the fact that Derek’s behavior was incredibly, incredibly more inappropriate. I think nothing exhibited that more than when he and Julie sat down to work out their issues. Notice how Derek makes Julie’s return to school about himself. Notice how he still frames his and Julie’s relationship as one that is true and genuine. Yeah, I don’t fucking believe he has Julie’s best interests at all. Because in one breath, he says that he is going out to some lone cabin of his family’s out in Tennessee so that he won’t have distractions from his dissertation, AND THEN IN THE NEXT BREATH HE IS INVITING JULIE TO THE CABIN. Bah, no. NO NO NO NO.
I should have given Julie more credit, because then I wouldn’t have fallen for the misdirect so hard. Except I’m just trying to soften the blow, aren’t I? HOW COULD YOU HAVE GUESSED THAT? HOW COULD I HAVE KNOWN? Oh my god, IT’S MATT SARACEN AND MY HEART CANNOT HANDLE ANYTHING EVER AGAIN.
Just… IT’S SO HARD TO WATCH. It’s like a train crash happening in slow motion, and it’s deeply, deeply unfair. The thing is, we know why Vince has developed such an all-encompassing ego. He had to survive! He spent years supporting his mother by hustling on the streets, and the life he used to live required the kind of ego he’s got. Fuck, I knew that what he and his father were doing with the college recruiters would head down this path, but it’s just so ugly to watch. I want to be happy for Vince, and of course, I teared up listening to that Oklahoma Tech coach speaking so highly of Vince because I want the best for him. And I can’t deny that it is a wonderful thing to see Vince bond with his father so easily these days. I don’t want to take that away from him!
But Jess tries to warn her boyfriend about what’s inevitably going to happen. She mentions his self-centered behavior after watching his interview, but he and Ornette shrug it off. Lo and behold, the next day in the locker room, Vince is teased about his interview because he’s not acknowledging the rest of team. Instead of recognizing that his behavior is alienating, he just ignores it, and EVERYTHING GETS WORSE AND WORSE. Oh my god, Jess called EVERYTHING. She knew the players would hate him, she knew that it was wrong for him to skip practice to go to Oklahoma Tech, she knew that Vince lying about it was proof it was wrong, and VINCE: LISTEN TO JESS MERRIWEATHER.
But he doesn’t. And he doesn’t listen to Coach Taylor. Granted, I don’t think Eric does the best job trying to describe to Vince why he shouldn’t be going after colleges so early in his career. And Eric has his own ego to deal with, too, but he knows from experience that things can happen in your senior year. He knows that colleges back out of offers and give players the shaft even after they’ve made verbal agreements. However, in hindsight, I realize there probably was no stopping Vince. The momentum of his choice was ceaseless at this point. So the vicious fighting we see at the end of this episode? It was kind of inevitable. (And despite that it didn’t get that much time onscreen, so was the fight between Billy and Coach Crowley.)
I know it goes without saying, but these dudes are going to HAVE to get it together. Drop your egos! Focus! STOP FIGHTING. Can y’all just find a grove of puppies and hug it out? PLEASE? Please.
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