Friday Night Lights has now reached the point where its new characters have earned equal footing with fan favorites such as Tim Riggins and Landry. And it’s about time, since we’re more than half-way through the season.
This week’s episode began, however, with two of the show’s most familiar and welcome faces. FNL took us on a college road trip with Julie and Tami, and if their squabbling didn’t result in a murder (can anyone ever look at a college-tour TV episode and not think of the one in The Sopranos‘ first season?), it returned Julie to the screechy, self-absorbed brat we know and love. And I mean that as praise and as someone who knows first-hand how a child’s daily moods (in Julie’s case, still morose over her Matt break-up) can completely kill a day meant to introduce that child to the beauties of a college campus and four future years of higher education, partying free of parents, and hundreds of chances to forget the guy you’re stressing over now. I sort of figured Julie would pull it together at the last minute to ace her Boston College interview, even as I hoped FNL wouldn’t resort to such an easy plot twist. But I chalk that up to the season’s cramped plot quarters: so many stories to serve, too few mood-transitions to make.
More drama crucial to future plots that may or may not pay off occurred at Riggins Rigs. While Tim now has his dreamy squint-eyes set on those 25 acres of farm-land he wants to purchase (more space to throw empty beer cans around?), he discovered that bro Billy was using his spare time to use the Rigs space as a chop shop for Calvin, That Furious Guy Who Quit The Lions Early On, who’ll pay him big illegal bucks to break down stolen cars for parts. This is a subplot that I just don’t find rewarding for the long-term. What’s the best that can happen? Billy makes a lotta dough to support his new wife and kid? No: more like, Billy ends up either in jail or in a fight he’s sure to loose with Calvin.
Oh, well, at least we had “the Toilet Bowl,” the derisive name given to a match-up between the Lions and a supposedly lousy team, the Timberwolves. The game proved unexpectedly exciting (even Calvin was in the stands cheering!), and all the slimy mud and Landry’s crucial field-goal kick made this one of the series’ better football scenes. Or maybe I felt that way because I don’t watch real football games. I welcome any illuminating commentary on the portrayal of the game from you, whether you agree or disagree, readers.
Speaking of Landry, that kid has got to move the ball a little closer to the emotional goal line when it comes to romancing Jess. I do like the way this relationship is being teased out (especially glad to see the return of Landry’s rock band and the cleverly deadpan Devin), but I want to see what’s going to happen between Landry and Jess’ dad (Steve Harris, you are being under-served) and between Landry and Vince, who has a past, and maybe a future, with the lovely Jess.
The fact that I’m so anxious for this plot to deepen is a good sign, though. It just confirms once again that Friday Night Lights continues to play to its strengths: simmering tensions and raucous competition.
Did you watch?