Friday Night Lights Season 2 Review

23 Mar


Season 2 of Friday Night Lights begins with a fractured family, with Coach Taylor at TMU and with Mrs. Coach and Julie remaining in Dillon. In a way, this is reflective of the entire show this season: the pieces of the puzzle are present, but they never quite fit into place, never gelling in the way that the brilliant first season does. There’s a hell of a lot of potential, but much of it is squandered in favor of melodrama or storylines that have no place in this show.

The season could’ve been an interesting exploration of the ramifications of success, could’ve been a compelling story about adaptation and continuing to grow up, but it wasn’t. Of course, instead of judging the show based on what it wasn’t, I’ll judge it based on what it was. What season 2 is is inconsistent. Wildly so.

The big development is obviously Landry and Tyra developing an honest, genuine relationship without the need of an unnecessary dramatic catalyst covering up a murder, which is something so out of place in FNL that it cheapens the emotional impact of the fallout. Jesse Plemons and Adrianne Palicki are really fantastic, and I like how we start to see them have to mature more quickly, but the way we get there leaves a bad taste in your mouth; it’s essentially just blatant wish fulfillment. There’s also no need to have this be the way we’re introduced to Landry’s dad, who, by the way, is a great character and is nicely portrayed by Glenn Morshower.

That’s not even the most groan-worthy plot. We have Matt Saracen hooking up with Carlotta, an arc that feels, once again, out of place and inconsistent with the Matt we know. This isn’t a natural evolution so much as a plot device, and it’s disappointing to see such a great character reduced to fill something like this; what makes this even more disappointing is the fact that his breakdown in the shower in front of Coach is such a brilliant scene, a reminder of what could’ve been. It’s so, so entertaining watching him hang out with Riggins–whose storyline is a bit meandering, what with the whole crime turn, but at least a little fun–but when Matt starts getting self-destructive, it turns heart-breaking in an instant. One of the great things about season 1 was the way Coach filled a father figure role in his life, but now, Matt hits a new low without him. In fact, all those Coach scenes later on in the season remind us of just how important he is to these people, whether he’s having a heart-to-heart with Jason about having a kid or being a great coach and taking Smash to see Whitmore.

There are definitely great moments throughout the season; I mean, it’s FNL. Mrs. Coach and Tyra teaming up, everything having to do with Corrina, etc., but there are too few of them. For, as much as the season seems to be about finding a purpose in life, it’s the show that’s the one wandering around, looking for a way out of the hole it dug for itself.

-Santiago who?
-That whole “Smash beating up some kid in the theater” is not a well handled racial storyline at all
-Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler still sell the hell out of all their scenes.
-The writer’s strike cut this one short, so it definitely ends awkwardly.
-The season is very unfocused; the football season certainly helped frame the storylines of season 1.
-I still think of this season as a long dream sequence, or as a 15-episode journey through Riggins and Saracen’s fun times away from school, with Corrina and Mrs. Coach having heartfelt conversations off to the side and Coach giving grand speeches to his players.

Photo credit: NBC, Friday Night Lights

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