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Friday Night Lights Season 5, Episodes 6-9 Review

19 Sep

Friday Night Lights

EPISODE 6–“SWERVE”

Julie’s storyline this season has been pretty disappointing, and the route the show takes to get to this episode is full of swerves (heh); as we see here, it finally comes crashing (I’ll be here all week) down, forcing her parents to face the reality of the situation: their daughter made some bad decisions and is now attempting to run away from her problems by literally running into some bricks.

It’s difficult to watch the Taylors slowly come to grips with the fact that their daughter is genuinely struggling, and two moments in this episode are especially devastating: Coach’s “I don’t know that girl in there” and Julie’s “I’m sorry I disappointed you” being met with silence. Here’s her father staring at Gracie Belle, someone without the added baggage yet, someone who simply isn’t a teenager, and you know that as much as he loves Julie, a part of him wishes things with his family were as easy as football is for him.

The other story of the episode involves Vince and Kennard, and while it isn’t a particularly interesting sequence of scenes, we do see Ornette’s darker side come out when he beats up Kennard. It’s representative of his character, someone who genuinely wants to get better and help his son, but will always have that dark side to him; we see that idea play out over the next few episodes, and his mindset about recruiting and college and whatnot eventually begins to corrupt Vince and bring him into conflict with Coach.

EPISODE 7–“PERFECT RECORD”

Hi, Jason Street! It’s really nice to see him back and doing well, and I love the conversation he and Coach have over lunch; we can tell how much history they have and how much respect they have for each other, and it’s only fitting that before the series ends, we see him one more time. Aside from that, the episode looks at what results when someone puts up the Lions players’ criminal records online. Not only does it rattle the team, but it also rattles Coach, and it’s telling that he tells them to “punish” when we know that’s against his philosophy. It all descends into shouting matches amongst a team that looks nothing like the one we saw in “Kingdom”.

EPISODE 8–“FRACTURE”

And now, everything’s starting to become unraveled, and the way the Lions played as a team earlier is not the way they’re playing now. “Fracture” refers to what’s happening to the team, and it’s interesting how as Vince and his father begin to repair their own fractured relationship, the QB’s relationship with Coach–a surrogate father to many–is splintering. It’s the allure of fame and fortune, but also family dynamics. Elsewhere, we expect to see Epyck come from a broken–fractured, if you will–home, but it’s more of the fact that she herself is broken and needs help outside of a good living situation; I’m happy about the foster home reveal because all too often, we get bad foster parents on TV. The Epyck-Tami storyline is far from what, say, a Jess-Tami storyline would be, but it’s still fun to see Mrs. Coach work her magic.

EPISODE 9–“GUT CHECK”

Matty! I’m happy to have Zach Gilford back on the show, and it’s great that he calls Julie out. He recognizes that she’s trying to escape and explicitly tells her that she shouldn’t be tying herself to him, but he also lets her know that this relationship still matters to him. It’s much more enjoyable watching him and Julie than Derek and Julie, but again, wasted opportunities are ever present in my mind, and not only does it seem like Julie’s using Matt as a crutch, but it also seems like the show is as well. Saracen, I still love you, don’t worry.

In other news, Vince is benched, Jess and Vince break up, and Regina and her son get a wonderful scene together afterward. The scene in which Coach walks into the locker room to see Jess crying is nicely done, and Coach’s “I have two daughters” is a simple, yet powerful, line.

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Two words: Billy Riggins. His character’s really come a long way from that taking-dumps-in-mailboxes guy early on, and he’s now one of the most endearing presences in the show. His mentoring of Luke is hilarious, especially the war cries from atop toilets and his “My baby’s crying” after an intense workout/motivation session. Also, Samoan war dance, anyone?

-Mindy has a really great way of getting Luke and Becky together: telling them to have sex.

-Mindy revealing she’s pregnant to Billy is another great scene. It shows us why they’re so good together: they have different mindsets here, but those mindsets complement each other nicely. They can’t afford another baby, though, can they?

-Get out of here, Derek Bishop. Get a tail light smashed in for good measure.

-Epyck with Gracie Belle is cute. She’s good with kids, but she doesn’t have herself figured out yet.

-Buddy Jr.’s injury plot is actually due to the actor’s real life injury.

-I’ll be taking the final four one episode at a time.

Photo credit: NBC, DirecTV, Friday Night Lights

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