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09 December 2010 @ 01:01 pm
Friday Night Lights  


Swerve: It seems like most of the folks tonight did just that in some sense or another…well, except for Julie, who went straight at that old stone mailbox. Heh, kidding, but from those who are almost always on track and in control (Taylors), headed for the big time (Luke), straightening out their lives with a seemingly brighter future (Howards)...hitting major speed bumps, to those who are the go-to sadsack screw ups (Rigginses)...showing some huge steps growth-wise and everthing in-between. This was quite an episode of not knowing which end is up and which end is down.

Anyway, I loved this episode (as I’ve loved them all this season, so far), but kind of had to type out a bunch of thoughts, just because I haven't really done so in quantity in a while and I kind of want to. And, yes, the fact that it was the most Billy-centric of the season probably has a lot to do with it.

I’ll start with the boys:

Luke: He’s seriously breaking my heart, y’all, but (and I can’t believe that I’m writing this), I think that because of Billy Riggins of all people, he’ll be just fine in the end. Well, of course Coach, too, but right now he feels betrayed by Coach, and Vince (even though nothing that happened was Vince’s fault, of course, but Luke just isn’t in that mindset, quite yet, thinking that his dreams have been smashed because of Vince).

It kills me that he was right in the beginning of the episode, telling his dad not to put the cart in front of the horse in wanting to take a picture of him and his pastor as the now and future TMU alums.

And could he possibly be any cuter than when he was angry and devastated and sad and disappointed and…and…he still thanked Coach, when walking out of the office, after Coach broke the news about TMU not really wanting him. Polite Texan boy, that one.

Heh, I kind of loved that he pissed on the TMU poster, though, and it continues to surprise the Hell out of me, but he’s impossibly adorable when it comes to Becky.

Vince: Hold me. I’m terrified for this boy. It’s funny, because all of the scouts are coming after him, and TMU used Luke to get to him, but…just as I’m sure that Luke will be all right when all is said and done…I’m not so sure about Vince.

It was inevitable that Kennard would be back in the picture at some point, but, ugh! I was so unhappy to see him. I hope against hope that this is not the beginning of the downfall for Vince’s dad, but he did go kind of badass on Kennard, has a gun, and Kennard is not someone you mess with, having plugged the dude, who killed Calvin. Even though the actor all buggy-eyed in the stead of menacing, didn’t do much for me in the scare department, I kept thinking that he’s probably a fine young gentleman in real life, which took me out of his scenes, entirely…he just doesn’t really have a hard-edged look to him, if YKWIM.

In that vein, I just couldn’t enjoy one minute of the dinner scene with Jess’s family. I kept thinking that there was going to be a drive-by at any minute and that scared the bejeezus out of me. I was terrified that one of Jess’s little brothers, or aunt was going to get hit.

Oy! If only Vince had knocked on Coach’s door. It wouldn’t have been pleasant, and it’s the last thing Coach needs right now, but day-em. I can’t help but thinking that he opened a whole can of worms that just won’t end well.

Hastings: “Sir, Kingmaker, sir.” Hee! I just love his bemused stoner look while everything goes on around him. Just sayin’

The Girls:

Jess: As much as I’m not digging the actor who plays Kennard, their interaction at the dumpster was pretty damned frightening. The whole sexual aggressor thing…even as he’s threatening to burn down the rib joint. Just…ick.

I also love how she really seems to be a part of the team now, nonchalantly leaning against the water cooler with her own magazine, when the boys all opened up theirs on the bleachers. It’s nice that she was included in all that.

Becky: I continue to be surprised at how much I’m enjoying the new, more toned-down, Becky this year. It helps that she isn’t spastically mooning over Tim 24-7. I also adore the Mindy/Becky time. The shopping at the trashiest place on earth was pretty funny, her babysitting for Stephen backstage at the Landing Strip, and the way that she obviously has some feelings for Luke, even as she continues to hold the torch for Tim. Though the way she was eyeing the “easy money” at the Strip makes me fear for her future. Especially considering the outfit she picked out for Mindy.

Julie: Julie, Julie, Julie…*sigh* All right, I still don’t love this storyline at all, but man since she’s fled back to Dillon, doesn’t it bring the drama back to the Taylor household? Which is kind of awesome, in and of itself.

When she hit the stone mailbox, was she just trying to avoid going back to school, actually trying to hurt herself…or both?

How painful was that final scene, with Coach trying to drag her ass out of the house? It was so frustrating and immature (on both parts, actually), but rang oh so true to life. How mortifying to have to go back and face an entire dorm that knows what you did…not after a stupid-choice night at a frat house, or whatever freshmen do all of the time, which is painful enough, but after sleeping with a married TA? Yes, everything will die down eventually, and Tami knows this and knows that the mature thing to do is to go back, head held up about as high as she can force it, and face the consequences, the discomfort, the talk behind her back, etc…until such time as it becomes just another stupid and mortifying glitch on the road to adulthood that’ll someday be in her rearview mirror. Which? Is again, a very hard lesson to sell to an 18-year-old, especially one who’s at a new school with no friends or support system to speak of and living on her own for the very first time.

Ok, and because it had to be said, Buddy seemingly trying to set up Buddy Jr. and Julie? Almost as hilarious as the look on Coach’s face, in listening to Buddy…seemingly trying to set up Buddy Jr. and Julie.

The Women:

Mindy: Oh, Mindy, who knew that you’d become one of my favorites? She and Billy are truly the white-trash Taylors. Great hearts, trying hard to be mentors, but OMG, such lunkheads in execution. I love, love, love her advice to Becky, always. She is so ill-prepared to be a mom (baby at a strip club, much?), telling Becky (and Luke) that they just need to get laid, but she really does try. Her advice on not waiting around for Tim to get out of prison was sound. He is not her boyfriend. Her advice on Becky getting together with a boy her own age was as well (even, again, if the execution…not the greatest). As was her defense of Billy and the phone call.

She had just some of the greatest lines last night:

“Rhinestones make me look trashy.”
“Oh, my God, Becky, because it’s a prison, not a dorm room.”
“You all can screw like bunnies…but use protection and all that mommy talk.”

Tami: I will totally have to transcribe that whole “facing the consequences of your poor choices” speech to Julie for use at an inevitable later date. She was just fantastic this week (as always). She always knows just what to say, up to and including the fact that Julie, as an adult, has to recognize that she’s spun out of control, is acting impulsively and poorly, and really needs to get a grip, deal with her shit, and move forward, lesson learned and choices better made. No hiding, no running off to Europe, no moping around at home. All this, even as she’s heartbroken that this has happened. She’s always the calming voice of reason to Eric as well, even though she’s as disappointed and disheartened as he is. She recognizes that this is their daughter, and no matter how badly she fucked things up, she needs her parents now more than ever. Period.

The Men:

Billy: The white-trashy Eric, to Minds' Tami. He’s growing into his own as both a man and a coach. He’s really doing his best to make amends to Tim, while also showing some real, actual growth as a (somewhat lunkheaded) mentor, to the kids around him.

The phone call with Tim, in which he assured him that he was making all of the payments on the land Tim’s buying, assured him that he sent $$ for his prison canteen fund, and promised to be out there the next day to see what the holdup was on the receipt of said money. I mean, yes, all of this is Billy’s fault in the first place (kind of...I still maintain that Tim was an adult...a messed up, immature adult, who entered into the chop-shop venture of his own free will and also fully came up with the idea of taking the fall for the both of them on his own...to which, yes, Billy was quick to agree...though gut-wretchingly painfully so...but I digress), but water meet bridge and travel thereunder, Billy's doing all he can to make up for it now. It can’t be easy on the mechanic’s salary to make payment on two notes, and also provide for his family and semi-random girl who moved in. But he is somehow doing it, while also not giving up on the unpaid coaching gig, which he sought out specifically to learn how to be a better man. Guh!

The whisky and Tim’s highlight reel on the heels of the phone call were heart-shattering (heh, how many times I have to write the ways my heart always breaks for all of these characters). Recognizing, even in that state, that Luke was bad off and not letting his own depression mask Luke’s condition, or the fact that he had to do something about it. Not letting Luke drive off in that condition…taking him out back for a heart-to-heart, getting Luke to open up about what happened, then actually doing something productive about it.

The inspirational speech about finding the inner kid who used to love playing just for the sport of it, the letting out of tension/anger/frustration…awesome. And it worked. Again, the execution was very non-Taylorish, I mean, all of this inspiration coming from a guy who is simultaneously chipping smoldering briquettes of coal into the part of a back yard containing both trees and a wooden fence with a golf club, giving his “war cry, mo-fo” from the top of an abandoned toilet, which just happens to be sitting in his backyard, and apparently after having given the under-aged high school baller a glass of whisky. Who does that? Oh, yeah, Billy Riggins, or he wouldn’t be Billy Riggins, now would he?

I was originally of the mind that egging Luke on to make the phone call to the TMU coach was a really idiotic thing to do (coaches talk, word might get out about a drunk-sounding hothead from East Dillon), but you know? Screw him. The coach deserved it and Luke had every right to get it out of his system that he knew exactly what the score was. Scumbag!

Oh, and while I’m still in the backyard with Billy and Luke (damn, I wish), there was a conspicuous absence of the pool. Did I miss something, or did Billy and Mindy actually fill the old eyesore and deathtrap for a toddler in? If so, good on them!

His firing up of the team in the locker room was also pretty damned good. It started haltingly, then he just picked up speed, and actually made a cognizant inspirational speech, which reached the expected crescendo, right before sending the kids out on the field, all hyped up, as they needed to be. It’s a far cry from his Ronnie Lott inspirational one-liner, which he had to read from a slip of paper pulled from his pocket from the beginning of the season.

Good on you, Billy! It shows how far you’ve come from the kid who left a dump in Coach Taylor’s mailbox a few years ago…and HAHA, the look on Coach’s face, when that particular bit of information was revealed. It’s about time that this character moved forward, instead of sideways and waaay backwards, from Season One.

“Breathe it in, little bird, breathe it in.”

And you know what? Billy's not all talk. If he could almost single-handedly get Tim, who didn't even want to go, wasn't a kid Coach really was focused on college-wise (remember Billy and the dinner, asking what he could do to get Tim into a college, the highlight reel he made to send to the colleges, etc...?), missed interviews and could give a shit into college, I don't doubt that he can get the highly-motivated Luke somewhere decent, especially since he'll have the Coach's full support.

(I kind of wish they'd let Tim have the same sort of coaching experience last year, but I understand that they were losing Kitsch and they wanted to keep Phillips around and the way they played it out...well, it explained the loss of Tim and why Billy's still in the picture despite, no?)

OMG, and I almost forgot my favorite line of all, "Don't turn it off, don't turn it off...the Cowboys will lose, if you turn it off." Such superstitious crap...of which I am a true believer...there were innings in baseball games in which I could not go to the bathroom, or the Orioles would lose...and my dad couldn't watch them in the basement, or again with the losing. Of course, now they lose with or without my (or my dad's) help.

*sigh*

Eric Taylor: Ugh. It’s just so hard to see him feel so out of control, so helpless. He does such a fantastic job with all of the kids who need him so much…and he feels that he failed in raising his own daughter. Or she failed him. It was truly devastating watching him flounder for once…not even able to concentrate on the practice, showing up late for the pre-game. And even be out of control, as when he tried to forcibly stick Julie in the car and send her back to school. It was also a bit of a stab to the heart (see, again!) when he automatically knew that she’d made up the story of the dog, whereas Tami default was that in at least that part of the weekend, Julie was acting in good character.

I love how, true to the Taylors' character, family remains number one, and that’s the thing that gets to him the most. That the TA is married. Julie fooled around with some other woman’s husband. And to make matters worse? She knew that he was married. That’s just…so against the Taylor code that it’s got to be crippling to Eric (and seemingly was).

Also devastating was the scene at the end, where Eric was just gazing at poor, little, innocent (if funny-looking) Gracie, wondering just how he managed to mess up so badly on the first one, and what he’d do different/better with her…unable to even turn around when Julie said that she was sorry to have disappointed him. I mean, they’ll get over this, they’re the Taylors, but this was a major, major blow. Especially, since Eric doesn’t even feel like he knows who Julie is anymore. Julie, y’all! The one with whom he so cutely played ping-pong in the garage in the first season!

I do not like to see an Eric look so lost and out of control. I mean he’s Coach, right?
*major sigh*

Then again, I do like to see Eric sporting those jeans and the cowboy boots. Rawr!

Oh, and I thought that it was fantastic that, even as distracted and devestated as he is by what's going on at home, he actually stood in the doorway with a look of pride as Billy was finishing up his speech and congratulated him for it. Coach is still coach, the moulder of men, even in the worst of times.

OMG, next week cannot come quickly enough! (spoiler below for those who don’t get the previews and don’t want to know)

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STREET! JASON! Why does he look so different than he does in The Good Wife? Somehow puffier here, but no matter. SIX!

Derek is about to meet the force that is Tami Taylor. I…wouldn’t want to be Derek just about now.

And Vince’s dad is giving me some real bad Gloria James vibes. He’s…uh…just I don’t see this ending well. For the sake of his family and his kid, he’s going to try to do what’s best, but he’s going to end up screwing it up for all of them if he takes a gift or does something else stupid that makes Vince ineligible. I truly believe that he loves Vince and has his best interests at heart, but the lure of easy money…it’s hard to turn down. Especially considering he apparently is still rocking a black-and-white remoteless television from the 1970s.

Oy! If they don't give Vince a nice end-of-season sendoff, I'll be heart...wait for it...broken!

Okay, so I know that hardly anyone watches when it's broadcast on DirecTV's schedule, but if you have and would comment, I'd greatly appreciate hearing everyone else's thoughts. I fricking love this show! Boo that both it and Terriers are quits!!!!
 
 
 
elzedelzed on December 10th, 2010 12:56 am (UTC)
I have to go to bed but I will come back and comment at greater length (or possibly even post something).

In the meantime, can I just say I totally thought of you all the way through this fab Billy centric episode? ANd ITA - the Rigginses are the white trash Taylors, bless them! Mindy being a mom to Becky is just priceless.

And Coach Taylor may know how to mold men, but he has no clue how to deal with young women, bless him. Julie annoyed the hell out of me this episode, to the extent that I couldn't feel sorry for her anymore. Jeez, girl, grow up!

ANd I'm like you = Vince better get a good send-off this season (and I was expecting his dad to get shot in the back when there was a camera angle from just outside the window, and like you feared for some collateral damage all the way through that scene!)

Anyhoo - great stuff. And next week looks v promising.

cianconnellcianconnell on December 10th, 2010 01:19 am (UTC)
And Coach Taylor may know how to mold men, but he has no clue how to deal with young women, bless him.

You are entirely right. If it had been pretty much any problem that a boy growing into manhood had screwed the pooch on, he'd have known how to handle it. He would have still been disappointed and probably devastated, but...in all of his years of coaching, he's probably seen any and everything...from a male perspective.

Julie's rarely fucked up. I mean, she slept with her first real boyfriend, had a semi-inappropriate, but ultimately harmless relationship with a teacher in high school (repeating old behavior much, Jules?), and dated really bad choices (again with the repeating of old behavior), but this was in a league of its own, as far as her going off the rails. And...he's just at a loss and doesn't even know where to start to fix it at all.

His sitting in Gracie's room and just...knowing that he's got to do this all over again with a tot, who's as yet completely unspoiled...ugh!

I'm looking forward to yer comments!
dorabelledorabelle on December 11th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)
Somehow, I knew this would be a favorite episode for you (Billy!). Just some quick thoughts.

Re: Coach and Julie. I'm very interested in the fact that what stuck in his craw the most is that Derek is married, and Julie knew it. He wants to kick them both in the ass, his daughter for being a "homewrecker" and Derek for being, well, weak. But he really can't have it both ways, can he? Because the grey reality is that it takes two people to get into this situation, both of them lying, denying, and wanting to be in the moment without a thought for the consequences. I follow the TV Blog on Slate.com, and they've brought up a good point: the Taylor's marriage is being tested this season, but by proxy. It's an extremely clever narrative trick that I hope will continue to develop.

Re: Billy and Minds. Oh, you are spot on that they've actually become the white-trash Taylors (and I think I mean that in a good way!) Luke, already drunk, shows up at the Riggins' house to see Becky? Billy takes him in, gives him more liquor, and then gives him a stirring pep talk while driving hot coals into the back fence? Awesome. And Mindy, well, Mindy is pretty much a force of nature, isn't she? I wonder what will happen if/when Becky tells her about the true extent of her and Luke's previous "relationship".

Re: Vince and Ornette. *Sob* Sorry, I just got a little something something in my eye. Maybe I'm coming down with a cold. *ahem* Anyway, as weird as it seems, I hope that the violence in this case works. Coach may have wanted to go down to [University] and kick Derek's ass, but Ornette actually did that, as a response to the threat to his son. And I think the difference lies in the nature of the threats, which brings up the class thing again. By that I mean, Julie was humiliated. Her options are to suck it up, transfer schools to stay at home, or go to Europe. Vince doesn't have those options. He's got: let my girlfriend's restaurant be burned to the ground, somehow get $5K, or ask my dad for help, and be fully aware of what that help might entail for the one who gives it.

Ay! awesome episode! And your lengthy commentary brought me back to LJ! I haven't been here in a long time.