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Friday Night Lights Season 1, Episodes 3-7 Review

10 Dec

L_FridayNightLights_S1_ep3-1A loss in a town like Dillon is pretty much the worst thing that’s ever happened to mankind, isn’t it? After the Panthers drop the second game of the season, Dillon becomes a living Hell, one in which people have the audacity to insult a teenage girl due to the fact that, what, her father ruined their livelihoods or something? There’s a sense of entitlement that permeates the town, whether it be after this game, during the Reyes situation, or when Lucas Mize shows up expecting adoration and a job, and it makes me inclined to slug some of these people. While I can see the motivations behind many of them, it doesn’t excuse their actions.

In fact, I find myself feeling this in most of these episodes. For example, I understand the situation Voodoo’s in–he’s essentially just a pawn, his personal hardships being exploited for others’ gain–but it doesn’t excuse him for his godawful treatment of the rest of his team. I understand why Lyla and Tim would strike up a romance–they each have to deal with a new reality–but it’s frustrating seeing them tiptoe around Jason and utilize self-destructive coping mechanisms.

It also breaks my heart to see Jason strung along like this, unable to fully see past his love for Tim and Lyla. You can tell that everything can explode at any minute, and the three actors convey this perfectly. Of course, that’s not to say everything’s hopeless; it’s nice to see Jason’s interactions with Herc, someone who tells him exactly what he needs to hear, and it’s nice to see Jason opened up to the world of quad rugby. Although he doesn’t necessarily hate being, say, the “mascot” at the homecoming game, he understands that he has to set new goals for himself and that he can actually achieve them. Also, good for you, Jason, for ripping Tim a new one when he finally shows up at the hospital; you needed to get that out, he needed to hear it, and we needed to see it. Such a fantastic scene.

Tyra’s also a person that has to strive for something greater, and that explains the subplot with Connor; she’s drawn to him because he has the same views on Dillon as she does, and she wants to escape. She doesn’t necessarily like him as a person, but rather more as someone unburdened by the label of Dilloner, a blank slate. Of course, it’s bound to end in disappointment, which is why I’m glad she teams up with Billy to throw that party on Homecoming. She’s doing something for herself here, and it’s a different way to escape.

MATTY! Time to talk about him and all his awesomeness. We saw a glimpse of it in the pilot, but these subsequent episodes really get across just how much weight is heaped on this kid’s shoulders. He wants to believe he can juggle all these responsibilities at once, but the truth is, he just can’t do it all the time. Even his own father has low expectations for him, and it’s essentially up to Coach Taylor to just stick up for him. While Matt is actually SO GOOD at dealing with the hardships of his life, sometimes I wish he could just be a kid. In “El Acidente”, he has to deal with the moral dilemma over Reyes’s lie, and it’s fantastic to see him do the right thing; it also serves to strengthen that bond between him and Landry–speaking of, it’s nice to have Landry and Julie’s perspectives on football here, and kudos to them for pointing out exactly what’s wrong with the situation.

Finally, we have Coach and Mrs. Coach, aka The Best Marriage Ever. The Chandler-Britton Power Duo is a marvel to watch; the way they work through their anger is SO DAMN REALISTIC AND CUTE. Although Coach may not be the correct one, Mrs. Coach has a great grasp on his character and the fact that his pride prevents him from admitting a wrong (can ya blame him, though? Coach has to deal with quite a bit of crap, and he wants to be seen as someone who can deal with it all). Still, listen to her, Coach. She’s giving it her all and is working really damn hard, too. There’s a lot of hostility in this town, but there’s also a whole lotta love. We all need to run some wind sprints in the rain sometime.

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Okay, maybe not. But still, that final scene in the third episode is amazing.

-Although there’s a lot of entitlement in the town, that doesn’t mean there isn’t well-deserved punishment. For example, although I feel for Reyes, lying like he does is inexcusable and he SHOULD be kicked off the team.

-That fight under the table in “Who’s Your Daddy” is probably one of my favorite television scenes ever, and the later make-up scene is perfect as well. Their conflicts aren’t over the top or trivial; there’s a nice middle ground the show is striking with this relationship.

-“Maybe I should go over to Matt Saracen’s house, make him some Ovaltine, read him a bedtime story.” Yes, do that.

-Mrs. Coach Appreciation: She’s the best guidance counselor ever.

-Smash is pretty similar to Matt, in that they both feel like they have to do everything for their families; it hurts to see Smash’s obsession over the Grady Hunt list overwhelm him, but it’s a very realistic portrayal.

Credit to NBC and Friday Night Lights for all pictures. I own nothing.

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