In the second episode of the second season of Friday Night Lights, everything hurts, and honestly? That’s the best way to describe this episode. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.
Oh my god, this show. Trigger Warning: It’s still impossible to talk about Tyra’s story without bringing up rape.
This kid keeps having hope dangled in front of him, and then unceremoniously taken away. After gaining use of his hand again, Jason’s doctor makes sure to tell him that this doesn’t mean he’s going to walk again. His position as assistant coach is still bothering him because he finds McGregor’s techniques to be… disturbing? That’s a good word. So what is he supposed to do? He is in this strange, uncomfortable headspace, his life isn’t providing any sort of realistic direction, and he’s alone. We don’t see him hanging out with anyone outside of work, and aside from that emotionally rough scene with Tami Taylor, he’s completely on his own. And while I will talk more about Tami in a bit, it’s telling that Jason opens up to Tami. Again, she exists as this emotional core for many of the characters, but this is later subverted and played with in her own story. Was that small line about some sort of procedure in Mexico a hint at a later story? Will Jason become desperate enough to seek it out?
Like Jason, Lyla is in a fascinating and confusing space in her life. Her mother is dating again, and that man is very different from her father. LIKE THE POLAR OPPOSITE. While I can’t tell if Lyla likes him, she’s certainly done with her father. She tolerates his visitation, but just barely. So when he shows up drunk to a Dillon Panther party that isn’t at his dealership, he drinks. A lot. More than we’ve ever seen. Lord, he drinks a lot. And while I don’t claim to be Buddy Garrity’s biggest fan, I was kind of shocked to see how this show managed to give us a portrait of a man lost to his own sadness. He’s lost his sponsorship of the team, he’s been rejected by the booster club, his family hates him, and he lives in a lonely apartment by himself. At the same time, Lyla makes an important point: This man made his own bed, and he’s got to lie in it. I don’t have a problem with holding Buddy responsible and viewing his story as one of loneliness. Throughout this, Lyla turns to Tim for help, and they share a few intense gazes at one another. Are the writers hinting at these two possibly trying out a relationship again? I wouldn’t think that’s out of the question at this point, but we’ll have to see how steadfast Lyla is with her new church.
My god, the writers really are driving home the idea of loneliness in Dillon and Austin, and it was right around when Julie broke things off with Matt that I realized this. All seven of the main characters that “Bad Ideas” focuses on are experiencing this sensation to different degrees, and that isolation is taking a toll on them. In the case of Matt, Julie finally admits why she can no longer see him. While I’m thankful for her honesty, I do sympathize with Matt here as well. Julie’s in such a confusing and upsetting point of her life; her father is absent, her mother is struggling to raise a child alone, and Julie feels trapped in a life she doesn’t want. Taking that out on Matt isn’t fair anymore, and neither is kissing another dude just seconds before seeing Matt. So the best she can do is dump him. But where does that leave Matt? He already feels like Smash is getting more attention than he is for the upcoming season, and his grandmother’s dementia has gotten progressively worse. I’m not sure what grade Matt is in at this point of his life, but the details don’t ultimately matter. Matt is maybe sixteen or seventeen, and he has more on his plate that most adults. It’s easy for me to empathize with him because at sixteen, I lived on my own, worked to support myself, and had to deal with the “real” world while most of my peers still lived with their parents and didn’t have to worry about things like being homeless, paying rent, or affording the cost of public schooling.
So I’m actually hopeful about Carlotta being around. Sure, it is jarring to Matt and Grandma Saracen that she’s so forceful about what their household needs, but the fact is that these people do lack structure at all. Matt has never had anyone consistently helping him out, and when he’s most alone, she shows up to bring order to that house. I’m hoping that she’ll help take some of the stress out of his life, you know?
I am frightened by what Eric has gotten himself into. For the first time in the season, we get a glimpse into what his life is like at TMU. His job as the quarterback coach has only guaranteed him the position. As we learn from his conversation with Tami early in the episode and from his time with Antwone, it’s clear that Eric doesn’t fit in with these people. He mentions the inner circle of coaches, and now we see them, delegating what’s essentially a babysitting job to him. He has to escort an egotistical and thankless player who is up for a year-long suspension for taking gifts to his hearing, and it really shows us how bad the culture around college ball is. It’s even more egregious than anything Coach Taylor dealt with at Dillon. It doesn’t help that Antwone brutally accuses Coach of bad parenting. It strikes a chord in Eric because… well, he is leaving his wife alone to raise a newborn child! There’s some truth to what Antwone says, no matter how callous and inappropriate it is. At the same time, the writers don’t ignore the fact that Antwone is an entitled asshole who isn’t appreciating what he’s got. It’s because of Coach Taylor’s rant that Antwone realizes he needs to tone down his behavior in front of the hearing folks.
And did anyone else view that coach’s compliment as kind of backhanded? You know, the one about him being a good high school coach? Lord, I don’t like the environment that Coach Taylor is in. Of course, it doesn’t help knowing what’s going on in Dillon while he’s gone. How much longer can he sustain this?
I just don’t understand Connie Britton not being the biggest actress in the history of the universe. I have not seen a performance so genuinely heartbreaking like this since I saw Sarah Michelle Gellar in “Prophecy Girl” or “The Body.” I just don’t understand how Connie Britton does that thing with her face where it doesn’t even seem like she’s portraying anything anymore. She is Tami Taylor in this episode, and it’s the most haunting performance in the whole show. The writers have given Britton some absolutely mind-boggling material to work with, and what we get is the story of a woman who has lost her support system and is struggling to hold everything together entirely on her own. As I said earlier, Tami is the moral center of this show in a lot of ways, and nearly every character has sought her out for advice or support. So what happens when Tami needs help? Who does she turn to? What’s frightening to watch is Tami’s slow realization that she doesn’t have anyone who can help her out. The teacher who has taken over her duties while she’s on maternity leave is just adding stress to her life; her own daughter is distant and constantly unavailable; and Tami herself goes to great lengths to sacrifice her own happiness and mental well-being to support her husband in Austin. She’s selfless for so much of this episode, and it destroys me. She walks in 105-degree heat to talk with the science teacher about counseling! This is a thing that she does!!!
Which is why it’s significant that Jason thanks her. It’s the one bright point of her life amidst day after day of stress, emotional pain, and fear. Even if his story doesn’t involve her actually doing anything, who else has thanked her so genuinely? It’s why she’s so thankful that at the end of the day, Glenn comes through and helps her at the hospital. She even admits to him that this whole thing is a mess, that her idea of staying in Dillon while Eric is in Austin is extremely foolish. But will things change? Will she tell her husband? And is there even a place for Eric back in Dillon anymore?
As uncomfortable as it is to watch, I’m satisfied that the writers are dealing with the emotional ramifications of the death of Tyra’s rapist. Both Tyra and Landry have remarkably vulnerable moments in this episode that demonstrate just the sort of toll this murder has taken on their lives and their conscience. As Landry struggles with the moral weight of what he’s done, he is so intimate about what he says and does in this episode. When he drags Tyra back to the scene of the crime, he expresses remorse. He empathizes with the dead man, wondering if anyone even cares enough to look for him. When Tyra lashes out at Landry’s attempts to process what he’s done, the writers give Landry the chance to stand up for himself. As callous and childish as Landry can be at times, his emotional state doesn’t make him less of a man. If anything, it’s commendable that Landry is thinking about the moral implications of murder, that he’s trying to sort out his feelings about what he’s done.
What’s terribly ironic is that in another version of this, Landry would be getting what he’s wanted. He’s coveted Tyra for so long, and now he has her. But how? At what sort of cost? These two are in a frighteningly painful spot in their lives, and I worry about what this will do to them. At the same time, Tyra trusts Landry enough to be able to speak with him honestly, explaining that she is relieved her rapist is dead. (Which was such a huge thing to hear, y’all, especially since I felt the same thing.) And I don’t think she’s lying when she says that Landry is the best man she’s ever met. If you look at her past relationships and her self-destructive tendencies, no one has treated her as good as Landry. But does that mean they belong together? Should they pursue a relationship beyond a friendship? Honestly, I don’t know at all. This is just the start of something new, and I want to see where it goes. At the very least, I’m glad they both have someone to talk to. Yes, this situation has stuck them together whether they want it or not, but I imagine it would be so much harder to deal with if they were entirely alone. In that sense, Tyra and Landry are the least lonely characters in “Bad Ideas.”
Lord, that still doesn’t make things much better. My heart, y’all.
Mark Links Stuff
– I have been nominated for a Hugo in the Fan Writer category! If you’d like more information or to direct friends/family to vote for me, I have a very informational post about what I do that you can pass along and link folks to!
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