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

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday Night Lights: Let's Get It On

Hey, now that's more like it! In my view, the latest episode of Friday Night Lights was easily the best of the season so far, dispatching one controversial plotline, making new headway with another, and — most of all — getting inside the lives and heads of these characters I've come to love.

Coach Taylor is home, and he's back with the Panthers, and he's ... totally not getting any. Any other series would make the "new dad wants sex, but new mom just wants to sleep" plot line cheesy or gross, but FNL managed to make it sweet, touching, and totally hilarious. I loved Tami kicking Eric out of the bedroom, Mac asking Coach if he was "back in the saddle," the tulips and the candles. And most of all, I loved Tami doing exactly what her husband advised, leaving the baby for the night, going out with her friends, getting tipsy — and then not only denying him, but letting him know she was on to him. That's the Tami and Eric relationship I've been missing, hectoring each other endlessly but loving each other beneath it all.

Speaking of not giving in: Matt showed a little backbone, refusing to cave when Julie came crawling back. I'm glad he knows he knows he deserves better. Also, Landry's "No. No. No. No. No." as they sat in the cafeteria was one of the most authentic Landry lines I've heard in a while.

And it was just one of many great moments in this episode for Landry. Despite still being "that Lance kid," he got to play in his first football game — and he got to be the hero, albeit by getting creamed in the end zone. He gave the locker room speech that — while veering into cliche — still united the team. He finally thought he'd made his dad proud. And just when it was all going great for him, boom — Tyra dumps him in the harshest possible way. While I don't think I'll ever be 100 percent OK with the murder plot, the payoff has been so, so much better than I expected.

Some other thoughts:

I'm still not convinced Coach's struggles with the team are over. Matt and Smash supposedly kissed and made up, but it was only to get themselves back in the game; Matt's line about Coach using the team as a stepping stone to college ball showed that he, at least, still feels deserted and hurt.

Goodbye, experimental surgery plot! That could have given a whole new meaning to "jump the shark" (... in Jason's spine), but instead, the story played out with grace. Even Jason tumbling into the water — a moment I dreaded from the moment I saw the promo — was surprisingly restrained. (His motivations, though, still confuse me: I thought he was trying to swim away from Tim and Lyla so he could get the surgery.) And I'm hoping that's the end of the rumored "threesome" I've seen so much hinting about; Lyla's "I gotta go pray" cracked me up.

In case you, like me, want to immediately go download the song that played at the end of the episode, it's "If I Could" by Blue Merle. The one from the scene where Jason tumbles off the boat is "To Build a Home" by Cinematic Orchestra.

Do you think Landry would be more upset if he knew why Tyra really dumped him? Is Matt's rejection of Julie just setting him up for a love story with the nurse? (Please, no.) And do you think FNL is, er, back in the saddle?

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