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Friday Night Lights “East of Dillon”/ “After the Fall” Review (4×01/4×02)

17 Jul

400 Coach East Dillon

Everything looks different! It’s East Dillon and West Dillon as we open the fourth season of Friday Night Lights, and although there are a number of major contrivances–it really seems as if East Dillon springs up from nowhere–it’s clear that the show’s going to use this new status quo to explore different characters, different schools, and various racial and class tensions. Season 1 placed Coach Taylor into a new and sometimes hostile environment, but season 4 places him in a situation in which he has no foundation to build upon. The pieces aren’t in place; he has to find them and put them together.

We can see his frustration taking control when he rants in the locker room in the premiere, but the problem here is that the team has no reason to trust him yet, both as a person and as a coach. If this were West Dillon, every single player would be glued in place following that rant, perhaps even more motivated to win for the team and win for the coach. Over at East Dillon, things are different; now, he has to gain that trust, something made all the more difficult by his decision to forfeit the game at the end of the first episode. It’s easy to see where he’s coming from–he’s always been about the pride and well-being of his players, first and foremost as human beings–but there’s also a different kind of pride present among his players, the pride that comes with toughing it out and fighting until the end, the pride that Coach has to deal with in “After the Fall”.

Yet, if the premiere is all about the difficulties of a new way of life, the second episode offers glimmers of hope. At the end, the team shows up, burning their jerseys as a gesture of beginning anew. One aspect of Matt’s artwork doesn’t make Sherman want to puke. Mrs. Coach is able to stick it to Joe McCoy by not allowing him to take back Luke Cafferty. Tim decides to help out Coach with the Lions. They’re small victories, but they’re victories nonetheless.

Now, about Tim Riggins and JD McCoy. I group them together because they’re characters whose shifts come across as a bit rushed and disappointing at first; however, after a little thought, I’m finding I buy those shifts. In fact, you could say that neither of them actually changes; Riggins ends up falling back into old patterns once his support system is gone, and this makes complete sense because his relationship with Lyla didn’t eliminate his issues. It’s not as simple as that; rather, those issues were simply pushed aside while he was with her. As for JD McCoy, was there really any other way he’d turn out? His “support system” consists of an overbearing father and a football-crazy town, and he’s held up as the “Man of the School”.

Finally, let’s get to the new characters, people like Jess, Luke, Vince, and Becky. I’ll definitely delve into Vince and Jess as the season progresses–Michael B. Jordan’s fantastic, by the way–but I’d like to focus on Luke and Becky in this review. There’s a scene in “After the Fall” in which Mrs. Coach goes to practice to inform Luke about the transfer to East Dillon, and it’s one of my favorite introductions to a character I’ve seen. Matt Lauria does a hell of a job conveying the range of emotions the character goes through in that moment, and this scene shows us that he, simply put, is a good kid; I absolutely love how he apologizes to her after she tells him he can go.

As for Becky, I find her very endearing. There’s one piece of dialogue (she’s talking to Riggins) I wrote down because it hints at what’s to come this season, as well as a deeper aspect of her character: “I do need a ride to school, which would be awesome, because my mom’s not here. I don’t know what she’s doing, she’s MIA for some reason, and I had to find my dog this morning because little squirt got out again and my hair was doing this weird flip thing…”  Note how she follows up her statement about her mom with stuff about her hair and her dog; it seems as if she’s trying to make light of the situation with her mom, but is also hoping that someone will take notice and care.

It’s these little things that make this such a fantastic show. All in all, what a start to season 4.

GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Everything about the final scene in the premiere is beautiful: the music, Mrs. Coach standing in the bleachers as Coach walks into the locker room, the way it’s shot.

-One of the great things about Coach is that he knows when he’s made a mistake, and his apologies are genuine. He may get frustrated, but at the end of it all, he’s such a good guy. We see this with both the team in general and with Vince (after he goes to visit his mom).

-Stop throwing those books out the window, Tim.

-Oh, Mrs. Coach. When she called the toss and went the opposite route Joe McCoy wanted her to go, as well as when she walked into the meeting and went on about Cafferty and forfeiting Championship rings and whatnot, I was cheering. Love her so much.

-Final two seasons of FNL. *Sob*

Photo credit: NBC, DirecTV, Friday Night Lights

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One Response to “Friday Night Lights “East of Dillon”/ “After the Fall” Review (4×01/4×02)”

  1. amnesiadream75 July 17, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    Michael B. Jordan, you say? I’m in.

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