Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Are you asking me on a date?": Friday Night Lights

There was a while there that I thought Friday Night Lights would completely redeem the "Landry kills a man" subplot. I've been sort of grudgingly fascinated by the way Landry has let the actions he took eat away at him the last two or three weeks, and I've also loved the way Glenn Morshower played Landry's father as an almost sad man who loves his son but doesn't quite understand him. The tension between the two struck me as the sort of honest tension that would exist between a small-town father and son in a situation where the son seemed poised to go on to much greater things and the father couldn't quite put his finger on why that bothered him so much.

So when all of this built to that scene in the garage where Chad confronted his son with everything he had found out and Landry tearfully confessed to what had happened, I thought perhaps it would make the whole storyline worth it. I still didn't LIKE the storyline, and I still thought it felt completely unrealistic and out-of-nowhere (and I still thought the writers had to force it to happen at all), but I liked the way the show had ultimately dealt with the aftermath of the event. It put Landry in the middle of a situation he couldn't completely control and saw what he would do, and a lot of what Landry did (after the unfortunate "he and Tyra are in love" subplot) rang true to the character. Even better was Morshower's work as Chad, trying to figure out his son and why this strange girl had an interest in him and then trying to keep the end from coming. So the garage scene was great. Aces, really. Everything the show had promised it might do with this storyline and then some.

And then the two drove somewhere, and it was great and fraught with tension and WAS LANDRY GOING TO CONFESS?! and WHAT WOULD THEY DO?! and. . .

They set a car on fire.

OK. Look. I get that people make stupid decisions in the heat of the moment, but this is a LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER who is presumably AWARE that a car of the make and model that the police are looking for turning up as a burned-out husk MIGHT, oh, I don't know, raise some eyebrows, especially as the DMV would have to know it was existed and whom it was licensed to. I liked the idea that Chad would put his whole career on the line for his son, his whole LIFE, really, but at some point, you just have to say "Oh come ON!" (Another thing I liked was Chad's decision to ask for God's forgiveness later, which strikes me as true to the way a lot of religious people live their lives -- they put themselves and their families first and know that God will forgive them later.)

Shame, too, because the rest of this episode was pretty awesome, all things considered.

Jason Street, in particular, finally got a storyline that seemed worthy of the character's rather tragic weight. The show has been dangling the rather fascinating notion that the wheelchair isn't what Street feels imprisoned by anymore for a few weeks now, and it finally made that concrete this week with his little speech to Lyla and that heartbreaking scene where he watched footage of his former greatness while at his birthday party. To a degree, it's always felt like a contrivance that this kid stuck around Dillon, even if Scott Porter and the writers somehow made the completely false "Jason's a coach now!" plot play. I don't know if the character has a future as a part of this show, but it's an interesting chance to see who he is when he's not surrounded by Dillon and is actively engaged in finding a new life for himself.

I also liked that Riggins was finally making an effort to get back on the team (though, again, how is he still playing if he was left back and. . .oh, never mind), even if he was doing so through the complete personality vacuum of Santiago (a character who seems increasingly useless the more they give him to do). I really liked the scene between Riggins and Smash where Smash sort of came right out with his self-centeredness in regards to getting Riggins to play again.

Meanwhile, Matt and Julie continued their delicate little dance of almost-forgiveness and heartbreak, as Matt finally realized that even if he's completely awkward, he IS the quarterback for the team and he IS pretty good looking and. . .hey, other girls might want to kiss him. I'm just thankful that the first girl he macked on that wasn't Julie wasn't that live-in nurse/plot device. Julie is finally getting back to a place where she's not just whiny (I've loved Aimee Teegarden's performance this season, and I've loved how brave the series is about writing Julie as kind of a whiny idiot, but it does get tiring after a while), but it was good to see her realize some of the stupid stuff she had done when she saw Matt kissing the cheerleader.

The Taylor family had to deal with Jessalyn Gilsig in a plot that didn't interest me nearly as much (and had the token "Green is Universal!" plug), but it wasn't bad by any means, and I always like to see the Taylors hang out and do their Taylor-y things.

So that's two pretty good episodes in a row. I think we're back on track here, just so long as no more cars get set on fire. Yeesh.


Carrie said...

Yep, great episode aside from the car fire. The scenes that stood out to me were Street's conversation with the Coach at his party and Tim, Smash and Saracen's impromptu game with Santiago. The Coach/Street conversation because that relationship is so deep and interesting and it made me cry like a little baby, and the impromptu football game because that felt so fun and real and full of life and was so true to the characters and what this show is all about.

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