Mark Watches ‘Friday Night Lights’: S05E11 – The March

In the eleventh episode of the fifth season of Friday Night Lights, the Lions move closer to state; Tami is surprised with an unbelievable offer; Vince squares off with his father; and Tim has difficultly adjusting to life in Dillon. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.

GOOD GOD, THIS SHOW. THIS SHOW!!!

Tim Riggins

EVERYTHING HURTS SO MUCH. My god, did you forget that Taylor Kitsch could act like this? Then let “The March” remind you. The writers do not plop Tim back into Dillon without addressing the severe sense of loss and anger that he feels. This is the case from the first scenes that he’s in. He drifts, amiss and apathetic, through the party thrown in his honor. (Intentional or not, I thought this was a very clever visual reference to Matt’s scenes in “The Son.”) He refuses to talk to Becky. He acts wholly uninterested and disengaged at Buddy’s bar. In one sense, I figured I knew what was going on. Post-prison life was weird. Adjusting would be difficult! I expected that, and then everything got incredibly awkward.

No, awkward is not the right word. This is a disaster, and it’s made all the more confusing by how complicated this is. Fighting with Billy? I could deal with that. But Tim’s outbreak at The Landing Strip has consequences that aren’t going to affect Tim by himself. See, I understand his rage at seeing Becky there, and I think it’s perfectly fine that someone finally made it clear that it was inappropriate that a seventeen-year-old was working there in that capacity. Given how willing men are to sexualize younger women, it’s a horrifying dynamic to see displayed so blatantly, you know? At the same time, I empathized with Becky. She needed that job. Y’all, I’ve been on my own since I was 16. I know the desperation that comes with being in high school and having absolutely no financial support besides the money you earn from working. That’s the life that I lived! And I worked some horrible, degrading jobs just to make sure I could pay rent, buy lunch every day, and try to cover other expenses that popped up. And you know what? I failed at some of that. Sometimes, I didn’t have lunch or dinner because I couldn’t afford it and because my pride kept me from asking for help. So I don’t think it’s all that surprising that I’m going to identify with Becky here.

Still, Tim’s anger and rage isn’t based solely in his concern for Becky. No, this is far more complicated than that. It isn’t until he fights Billy that the truth comes out: Tim resents Billy. He hates that Billy gets his life, and Tim will never get the one he wanted. My god, of course this was one of the reasons behind his behavior! He was being constantly reminded that Billy got his family, that Billy and Mindy were taking care of his friend, that his old teammates and coaches were off having lives. (Which included Smash Williams NO DON’T MENTION HIS NAME, THAT ISN’T FAIR TO ME.) So he hurts his brother, physically and emotionally, he pushes Mindy and Becky away, and he returns to the trailer in Becky’s front yard. It’s the only place left where he feels some sense of his old self, I imagine. At the very least, he’s not around the people who remind him that he’s changed, that he’s different, and that he’ll never have the life that he wanted.

I HAVE A LOT OF TIM RIGGINS FEELINGS.

Tami

This episode is incredibly upsetting for a lot of reasons, and then Tami’s story is right in the middle of it, and it seems upsetting after her interview appears to go south, due to the Dean of Admissions being A REAL AWFUL GUY. I mean, I guess I also wanted things to go well so that Tami could rub it in Eric’s face. Their conversation in the car on the way to the airport sealed the deal: SHE MUST RUB IT IN HIS FACE. (I feel like I should state that I love how the writers and actors portray the bickering of a married couple who ultimately love one another. Instead of turning it into another dramatic part of the plot, it’s more about character building than anything else.)

BUT THEN THAT DINNER SCENE. AND I’M CRYING. I’M STILL CRYING. NO. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD I AM SO HAPPY FOR TAMI. I AM SO HAPPY FOR HER.

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THE TAYLORS WOULD EVER PULL IT OFF, BUT LET ME EXPERIENCE THIS JOY WHILE IT LASTS.

Vince

As hard as this is to watch, I enjoy that the writers are further exploring Vince’s relationship with Regina. What happens in “The March” is a direct result of their journey together in season four. After all they’ve been through, it’s still Vince’s instinct to protect his mother, so he gets furious when Ornette brings beer into the house. I’m not the kind of sober person who can’t be around alcohol or other substances, but I know many who are, and it’s a big deal. You respect that when you are asked to respect it, even if you don’t understand why.

What I think we see here is Ornette’s descent into egoism. Both Vince and Ornette have struggled with their sense of duty and how that intersects with their masculinity, but a big part of “Don’t Go” focused on Vince letting go of some of his more selfish interests so that he could benefit his team as a whole. Unfortunately, Ornette isn’t so quick to give up such things. He feels personally slighted that Vince has rejected his help instead of thinking about why Vince would do this. And it’s just so sad to see this decline because I like Ornette, I loved that he became a part of the family again, but he can’t just let this go.

Notice that the jackets he gets for Regina and Vince are more about his own satisfaction than theirs. Even when Vince discovers that he’s been peddling drugs again, he shows no shame. It’s all about him. And it tears me apart, at least to a point. Yeah, putting his hands on Regina like that? NO. NO. YOU DO NOT DO THAT. DO NOT HURT REGINA. I’m so glad that Vince was there, though, and I’m so happy that this show has chosen to portray the relationship we see here. When Regina ask Vince if she can go to a meeting after the experience, you can tell Vince is slightly heartbroken, but he hides behind enthusiastic support for his mother. Because HE CARES. And he cares so much, and it destroys me. When he saw his mother in that crowd of people in Carroll Park, I nearly fell out of my chair. THE TEARS JUST DON’T STOP COMING.

Coach Taylor/Playoffs

I find it brilliant that the playoffs were reduced to a single episode. Normally, Friday Night Lights is paced rather slowly, taking in only a few days at a time. Here, though, an entire month passes, and it doesn’t feel wrong. It works! That’s amazing to me, y’all. I think it does wonders for building the dramatic tension for the finale. (I will remain in denial forever once I finish this show, I swear.) It allows the writers to show us the unstoppable Lions force while allowing more time for the numerous plot threads to be wrapped up in these last two episodes.

It’s just nice to see Coach and the rest of the team to be on fire. Which is why it was so frustrating that amidst all of this, Principal Levi drops the worst news: the district is cutting East Dillon’s budget so drastically that they appear to owe money. As someone who went to a not-so-great district, I am deeply familiar with this sort of situation. It’s devastating, especially when other schools in the same district get so much more. (Forever mad at La Sierra High. Fuck y’all and your nice shit.) However, as distressing as the budget cuts might have been, it’s the way they’re being executed that’s justā€¦ well, fucked up.

They’re combining the Dillon teams.

To us, of course, this is literal oppression. From a money standpoint, I can see how it might make sense to the school district, but I’m still on the side of NO. WHAT ARE YOU DOING. How the hell do you do this to a coach who not only is taking your team to state, but just publicly turned down an offer for more money and a better job out of state? And yet? Coach Taylor presses on. The decision is going to be made the next week (which I’m guessing will be a bye week or an off-week), and that can’t concern him right now. Because STATE! STATE. OH MY GOD, THEY MADE IT. THEY MADE IT TO STATE. OH NO, I AM CRYING AGAIN. I CRIED SO MANY TIMES DURING “THE MARCH.” IT’S NOT FAIR.

No, only two left. NO.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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