Mark Watches ‘Friday Night Lights’: S04E03 – In the Skin of a Lion

In the third episode of the fourth season of Friday Night Lights, Eric makes a risky financial choice while his team struggles to stay together. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Friday Night Lights.

Oh gods, this show is going to ruin me. I can already tell that season four is going to be a difficult and challenging experience, but it’s given this show so much life. Bring it on!


Okay, so I had to look up Becky’s name because… look, it’s not like her name was a big mystery on the show or anything, but I couldn’t keep writing about her character and referring to her as “that girl” or “the daughter of the woman Matt is renting a trailer from.” It would have been repetitive and a little bit demeaning. Okay, so BECKY. While I can’t deny that the writers of this show seem to have a thing with having people who are minors develop relationships with adults, at least Tim is clearly trying to steer clear of a potential disaster with Becky. I think? Also, is he still with Lyla? Why are there no mentions of her? Anyway, I am barely interested in this plot, not just because we’ve seen it before, but because everything else is so ridiculously more fascinating to me.


Okay, I still don’t like Richard Sherman, though “In the Skin of a Lion” gives us our first glimpse at the man’s art and at what he’s like beneath that wretched defense mechanism of his. Again, I don’t like him. Have I made this clear??? I am eternally bored by crude artist dudes who think they need to shirk all kindness or respect because it’s for their “art.” This guy is no exception. Seriously, you want someone to drive you 400 miles for free??? THAT IS VERY FAR AND VERY EXPENSIVE, SIR.

The thing is, his life philosophy appears to actually work for him, but I don’t know that it will work for Matt. Matt’s already been a loner for most of his life, so I don’t know how he’d feel about shutting everyone out, you know? Of course, Richard’s words hit Julie the hardest, and I think that scene at the end with Julie and Tami visually suggests that she’s still bothered by the idea. I really don’t think Julie is holding Matt back, but it is the same fear she expressed at the end of season three. It can’t feel good to have a third party confirm your worst fear, you know? Oh god, Julie, I feel so bad for you. 🙁


I’m worried that this is only going to get worse in the upcoming episodes, but I’m fascinated by the way the writers show us both sides of the coin. Vince and Luke both want to play, and they both want to be the center of attention in their own way. You can see how much Vince wishes to lay claim to the Lions, and he refers to them as his team. Understandably so! He’s got just as much as Luke riding on the success of the team. At the same time, he’s furious that he does get attention from Coach Taylor, but not in the way that he wants. You know, I don’t think Eric has communicated what he says at the game in the end – that he picks on Vince because he knows Vince is good – very well to Vince, at least not in the same way he communicates to Luke. So why wouldn’t Vince see this as a race issue? A white player is placed on the team, and now Coach is asking him to be the leader, and he’s getting all the positive attention. Yeah, Vince isn’t exactly playing the best he can, but he’s also distracted.

Luke, on the other hand, desires the Coach’s attention, but seemingly gets none of it. It takes him opening up to Tim, who passes the message along to Eric, for Luke to get the Coach to come to him. Even then, Eric makes it clear that this isn’t going to be an easy road. Still, I appreciated that the writers gave Luke the sympathy he deserved. The kid just wants to play football and get out of Dillon on a scholarship. (Though I liked that Coach reminded him in an earlier scene that it wasn’t Tami’s fault that he was at East Dillon.) I believe Coach’s promise, too. That’s what he does for kids. But is he going to offer the same sort of protection and care for Vince?


Granted, Landry doesn’t have much time in this episode, but I did want to take a moment to talk about JESS. WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL JESS. Holy shit, can she be a main cast member? That would be great. I want more of Jess and her face and her adorable nature and her intelligence and everything about her needs more screentime. Thanks.


He did it. HE DID THE THING. Oh my god, HE QUIT THE BOOSTERS. HE ISN’T SUPPORTING THE PANTHERS ANYMORE. Yes, it’s important that I point out that it was Eric who got him to realize what he was complicit in, but still. I can’t believe it, but there was yet another moment on Friday Night Lights where my heart swelled for Buddy Garrity. Let this go down in the history books, y’all.


You know, I was talking about this show to a friend of mine who’d never seen and knew nothing about it, and I figured out the way to sell it to her: I told her that the show makes people responsible for their actions. I said that in most episodes, someone will do something horrible or terrifying or upsetting, and the writing itself doesn’t find a way to moral acrobats around it to justify the character’s actions within the narrative in a way that’s meant just to cause drama. Yes, this is a dramatic show, but it rarely has felt like the people in the writer’s room were pulling nonsense out of nowhere in order to give the narrative some more pop. Eric makes a really bad decision here, one that risks the Taylor’s financials in a serious way, and he does so without consulting Tami. Even worse, when he does tell her, he tries to reverse the blame and place it on his wife. YEAH YOU SHOULD NOT DO THAT AT ALL, DUDE.

However, I don’t want to ignore that this whole plot, which takes up most of “In the Skin of a Lion,” is written to show us that Eric is in a horrible, horrible place. Yes, his reaction to this is not ideal. Hell, it’s far from ideal, but he’s also stuck between a rock and a hard place. The principal of East Dillon reveals that Coach’s appointment as head of the football team is largely the result of a joke. Which is so fucked up and demeaning that I can barely think about it without wanting to shoot Joe McCoy into space. This is what this man has to deal with. Under these degrading circumstances, he’s supposed to pull together a football team. Can you imagine helping the Dillon Panthers go to state, and then, just two years later, be subjected to this? So I have a lot of sympathy for what Eric has to do. At the very least, he’s gotten his team through a game and they scored. But he’s got a rough journey ahead of him. How can he get his team to get along? Is Buddy going to start helping him? Will East Dillon help with funding? WHO KNOWS?

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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