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Friday Night Lights Season 1, Episodes 11-16 Review

6 Feb

Nevermind

EPISODE 11, “Nevermind”

Matt Saracen: Here’s a kid with a father who, by physically distancing himself from his family, emotionally distances himself from their problems. It’s something I’ve seen before, and I understand the situation Matt’s in. He’s shouldering all these responsibilities, having to be the man of the house when in reality, he’s missing an essential part of childhood…having a father. He’s also smart enough to see what’s going on here, and although a small part ofhim will always want to forgive his dad–this ties in interestingly with Jason’s feelings about Lyla in this episode–he’s been pushed to the edge.

Elsewhere, I really enjoy the Tim-Landry interactions in this episode, which deal with the reverential status that comes with being a football player. It makes perfect sense why Landry would be the one to break through with Riggins, and the storyline also, through Of Mice and Men, seems to act as a nod to Jason and Lyla’s relationship.

EPISODE 12, “What To Do While You’re Waiting”

This episode is all about lack of control and being forced into doing things that we may not like: Matt’s dad trying to be who Matt wants him to be, Coach and Jason’s family’s conflict over the lawsuit (I appreciate the show handling this with nuance and portraying both sides of things, not just, say, making the Street parents out to be the bad guys), Tyra caught in the circuitous nature of her family, and Smash trying to be someone else for Waverly.

EPISODE 13, “Little Girl I Wanna Marry You”

I love how this show portrays family. It’s not overly cheesy, nor does it shun the parents or the kids. It just is. For example, Corrina and Smash’s relationship is one of my favorites I’ve seen on TV, and when everything hits the fan about her son’s steroid use, what follows is a series of beautifully acted scenes by Mekel and Charles. While everything seems to “happen” in this episode, it all circles around to support the ideas of responsibility; we seem to get a lot of our characters calling each other out here. Oh, and Jason and Lyla get engaged; it isn’t really a very rational decision, in my opinion, but I do love his conversations earlier with Herc.

EPISODE 14, “Upping the Ante”

I didn’t feel this episode as much, mostly due to the repetitive nature of some of the plots. Still, there’s some great work done here, especially by Taylor Kitsch in a storyline very similar to Matt and his dad’s; these characters have to deal with ideas of adulthood, and that’s evident in Jason’s storyline, in Smash’s, in Tim’s. In addition, we get a fantastic Coach-Smash bonding scene in which they play football with the little kids. Oh, Coach.

EPISODE 15, “Blinders” & EPISODE 16, “Black Eyes and Broken Hearts”

These two episodes go hand in hand due to the Mac McGill storyline, one which deals nicely with the inherent ugliness of reality when it comes to this topic. Yes, Mac’s a racist, and I like how the show outlines just how persistent and just how prevalent racism is in our society, from the bank scene to the various “he said that, but at least he’s not racist!” comments. Smash is just getting his life back together, and I feel like this is another step for him, an important one not only for him, but for his team. The beauty of this all is that FNL also highlights the difficulty of making such a stand. Do you jeopardize your place on the team to do this?

Of course, I think the message at the end of episode 16 is a bit muddled. After an ugly, ugly game, Mac stands up for his players, and here’s where the show loses me a bit. I get that he feels like he needs to take responsibility, because he does, but the show essentially paints a picture here where Mac’s gaining back some respect because he doesn’t back down when faced with such an ugly culture. I just feel like the extremes we go to during the game cheapens the moment a bit, as Mac still did say those things.

One last thing: I like how the show can also bring the humor, too, especially with the Powderpuff game. Everything there is hilarious.

Photo credit: NBC, Friday Night Lights

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