“We’re getting there.”
This is why I love this show so much. “Kingdom” is an episode ripe with entertainment, laughs, thrills, and small, beautiful moments, and it’s an example of Friday Night Lights‘s ability to not only portray the heartbreak and disappointment ever present in our lives, but also the pure joy that can result from connection and doing something we love.
That something is playing football, and this week, the Loins head off to Kingdom to face the South King Rangers, the team they forfeited to back in season four. This East Dillon team has come a hell of a long way during that span, and all these players go into Kingdom confident, ready to have fun, and ready to win. Julie Taylor also seems to have found something to be happy about away from home, and she and Derek “I’m depriving a great character of an interesting storyline” Bishop enjoy some time getting lost before it all comes crashing down at the end; Alison, Derek’s wife, attempts to create the most soap opera-esque scene possible by bursting into Julie’s dorm, slapping her in the face, and calling her a slut about six hundred times. Listen, writers, I would be so much more interested in seeing why Habitat for Humanity didn’t work out for Julie rather than have it be mentioned in one measly line.
Enough of that, though. Julie falls at the end of the episode, but the Loins certainly don’t. Whereas an episode like “Mud Bowl” climaxes at the game, “Kingdom” isn’t so much about the game as it is about what comes before and after. It’s not very often that a television show devotes so much time to boys being boys–to people just talking about regular things–and that’s disappointing, because sometimes the best, most human moments arise from moments like the one on the balcony. Tinker tells everyone about what he misses from back home, Luke brings up Maybelline and Tinker differentiates between pork and pig, Hastings talks about his past in Kingdom, and finally, Tinker realizes the candy and porn in his room aren’t free. And unbeknownst to the guys, Coach is listening. He’s listening to his players, brought together by football but living on through more than just football.
After the game, three parties are intercut with each other, from Tami and Lauren to the coaches to the team, and it’s a fantastic writing choice to place these three scenes of bonding right next to each other. We see the guys being drunken idiots and branding themselves, but it’s an endearing moment nonetheless because they seem even closer than the Panthers ever did (plus, Buddy Jr.’s pickup line is hilarious). We see Coach being a tad bit hypocritical by admitting he cheated during the card game after criticizing the team for partaking in something similar to win the game, but as Kyle Chandler once succinctly put it, he’s an “honest hypocrite”. Also, we love Coach.
And finally, we see Coach in the same position on the bus as he was under the balcony: eyes closed, cap pulled over his eyes. The group of people behind him will rap and play and talk and drink, and he’ll soak it all in.
It’s the East Dillon Lions. Ah, that’s better.
– “YOU WILL RUN WITH HATE IN YOUR HEARTS!” Billy “AAA is for women” Riggins, I adore you. This episode is, for me, probably the funniest episode the show’s produced; it might have some competition from “Best Laid Plans”, but I’m going with “Kingdom”.
-I love everything about that hotel staff, from the “I’m happy you won your soccer game, but can you keep it down?” to Coach asking for chocolate chip in place of macadamia and a regular key instead of a swiping key.
-Rolin Jones has written “The Son”, “Laboring”, and now “Kingdom”. That’s a damn good track record.
– “I’ve been drinking.” “Honey, WE’VE been drinking.” “…What are y’all wearing?” Okay, this man: I love him so much.
-Kyle Chandler on cooking bacon:
“The bacon thing. That came from the Taylor household. It wasn’t a set, it was a real house. So every time we went there to shoot, I’d go in early and cook everyone bacon. Then we started inserting bacon in the scenes anytime we could. Usually, if you see me in the kitchen, I’m cooking bacon, but it’s not for the actors, it’s for the whole crew. The house always smelled like bacon.”
Photo credit: NBC, DirectTV, Friday Night Lights