But this time, I needn't have worried. Yes, the tornado was pretty awful — but it set up a story that put football front and center at last. The rest of the episode outweighed the cheesiness of the setup.
I think I love Friday Night Lights best when Eric Taylor gets to be Coach Taylor, and he was all Coach in this episode. Having a rival at his school was a test of character, and no matter how much Coach told his guys to respect their rivals, things were bound to get messy. (Literally messy, in this case, with shaving cream and food fights and even pee-soaked towels — ew.) Coach tried to set an example, to put his rival in his place while still being civil — but every so often, even Eric Taylor needs to throw someone up against a wall and tell him what's what. Did anyone else literally pump their fist at the TV?
Speaking of close quarters: Riggins living in the Taylors' garage was probably too perfect a setup to last for long, but I love the way it shook up the family and picked on Shelly and Tami's insecurities. Riggins brought their issues to the forefront — Shelly ogling him, Tami accusing her of flirting, Shelly calling Tami on treating her like a child, and so on. Tami telling Shelly it's no wonder she's single is probably the most hurtful thing she could have said; likewise, Shelly spitting back that Gracie's doctor says hello got to the heart of Tami's fears about work and family.
And Julie's part in it was no less brilliant. I'm a little surprised Julie and Riggins ended up at the same party, but hey. How tragic that Riggins stepped up in a big way, slapping Julie's drunken suitor down, just before getting caught hovering over Julie in what appeared to be a compromising situation. Granted, when you're putting Coach's 16-year-old daughter to bed, no amount of "it's not what it looks like" can save you. But Riggins was anything but provocative there; he was downright brotherly.
The tornado's aftermath swept up Tyra and Landry, too — and while I liked their storyline, it also bugged me. Landry has always thought he's tougher than he is, so I wasn't surprised to see him taking on Tyra's suitor. I also wasn't surprised to find Tyra struggling to figure out Landry's place in her life right now; she no longer needs him, and it's true that normally, a guy like him wouldn't be seen with a girl like her. My problem: The murder is practically a non issue now. How would there be gossip about Landry and Tyra being together without any chatter about how, oh, you know, Landry killed a guy, possibly for her? Nothing in this episode seemed like it needed the murder plot to set it up.
Some other thoughts:
Buddy Garrity: Worst salesman ever? His "I love you" pitch to Pam was an honest try, but I think he's going to have to accept that he lost his wife to some tofu-eating hippie.
Best line of the night: Either Lois's "What does he smell like?" or Coach's "I want lasagna."
So Matt and Carlotta are still together. Yawn.