"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Friday Night Lights: Last Days of Summer

Oh, Friday Night Lights, it's good to have you back. This episode had a lot of what makes "FNL" so brilliant — but it also had one major moment that took the show down a new, and pretty controversial, path.

The show picks up roughly nine months after State, and a lot has changed in Dillon. For one thing, all the high schoolers seem to be wearing a lot less clothing. For another, Coach is off in Austin at TMU, while the Panthers struggle with a new coach and Tami prepares for life with a new baby.

That baby makes its appearance pretty early on, when Tami goes into labor while visiting Julie at the pool. On the one hand, I thought it was a bit much to have Tami's water break at the pool while Julie was lifeguarding; on the other hand, is there anything that could be more hugely humiliating? As part of her coping, Julie embarks on some serious sabotage of her relationship with Matt, flirting with some older lifeguard nicknamed The Swede.

Lyla, meanwhile, has become born again. There's no explanation, just a scene of her being baptized in a river. But if it leads to more moments like the one at her family dinner where she prays for everyone to have "the strength to remember that mothers of three should not be wearing skinny jeans," I'm cool with that.

The biggest moment in the episode belonged to Landry and Tyra — and it's got to be the most divisive thing the show has ever done. The man who tried to rape Tyra comes back and attacks her again in a convenience store parking lot; Landry goes after him with a pipe, whacking him across the back of the head and killing him. The two then load his body into Tyra's truck and appear to dump it in the river. It sounds very I Know What You Did Last Summer.

But I was taken by how moving and restrained it was. (Frankly, I preferred it to the scene where Buddy attacked Pam's new boyfriend in the dealership parking lot.) Tyra and Landry are terrified; Landry has set himself up to be Tyra's knight in shining armor; they have a chance not to live in fear anymore. Now, dumping the body is a different matter, and I'm worried about how "FNL" is going to play out the consequences of that decision. Obviously the two of them are in shock, but I still think it's a leap for them to find the river and throw the guy in it.

A few other thoughts:
  • The relationship between Matt and Landry is still one of my favorite parts of the show; Landry's "What Would Riggins Do?" deserves its own bumper sticker.
  • I'm not getting much from the new Panthers coach yet, probably because I figure that Coach Taylor will be back soon enough. Still, I was surprised at just how much he berated the players — and I sort of loved the way he threw Buddy Garrity out of practice.
  • My favorite act of rebellion from Julie: "I'm not wearing shoes, dad."
  • The scene with Coach giving all the Panthers their championship rings? Tears.

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