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Friday Night Lights Recap: Episode 12, "Underdogs"

Friday Night Lights Rundown: Episode 12, "Underdogs"

Will the Dillon Panthers ever get to go to State under happy circumstances? The team heads off to the biggest football game of this year on this week's Friday Night Lights, but much like last time, there are dark clouds hanging over the whole experience. Last time it was Coach's decision to leave for TMU; this time it's JD's anger in the aftermath of his father's outburst. Ready to chat about it? Just


So close — and yet, so far from being state champs. The Panthers' arc in "Underdogs" is pretty similar to what happened in the first season's "State," but with a couple of big changes — most notably, of course, that they lose. Riggins doesn't leave with a win. JD doesn't get his first ring. Like in the FNL movie (and the real-life story it's based on), the team falls just short. And while I certainly would have cried had the Panthers won State, it couldn't compare to the way I reacted to the loss — to the red eyes and sad smiles of the team's friends and family in the locker room, to Tami and Coach's wearied reunion. To Tim walking into the stadium in dead silence, looking up again at the scoreboard that shows the loss, and leaving his cleats on the field.

Unlike in State, there's a very clear reason for the team's turnaround, and that's the quarterback switch. JD gets benched and Matt put back in. Experience matters here — but so, of course, does not being so angry at your coach that you can't see straight. Coach and Tami have to call the cops on Joe McCoy; they obviously don't want to, especially so long after the incident, but they're both getting pressure to follow protocol. And while it's a big shift to have JD go from saying he never wants to see his father again to being furious with Coach for calling the cops, something he says makes it make sense: "Are you going to take him away from me or something?" JD may worry he's not loved unless he's great, but he's still a freshman, and he still needs his dad. Coach's relationship with JD is wrecked; so, presumably, is his relationship with Joe. And Katie and Tami's friendship is over, too; no matter how much Tami tries to explain, Katie wants nothing to do with her.

With the football season ending, the college search is a big part of this episode: Matt wants to apply to art school in Chicago; Grandma can't imagine Matt would go so far away for a pursuit so silly (though asking Julie if Matt ever talked about being an artist makes it seem like she might be coming around). Lyla defiantly tells Buddy that she's now going to move in with Tim and go to San Antonio State. And Tyra! Landry pushes Tyra to write a college essay that's more raw than whatever she was saying about Applebee's, and instead of writing a sob story — no dad, lost virginity at 13, etc. — she's inspired by the one event that made her realize life can suck for everyone: Jason Street getting paralyzed. The scene where Tyra reads her essay over the shots of everyone else getting ready for the game — there are no words, only tears.

Some other thoughts:

  • Another moment that made me cry: Tim and Matt playing Frisbee in front of the statehouse. "Last game, Seven."
  • Coach still doesn't know Landry's name, but he gives that Lance kid a job on special teams anyway.
  • And what a good episode for Landry, overall: He gets the spot on the team, the big tackle in the big game, and the girl!
  • Love Lyla's morning in the Riggins house, papering the toilet seat with coffee filters.
  • Also love the callback to season one, when Landry, the whole Collette family, and Grandma Saracen end up carpooling to the big game.
  • I wish I could have seen the DirecTV cut of "Underdogs" — it was a lot to pack into 43 minutes!

So: No state championship, no happy ending. What will be set up for seasons four and five?

Photos courtesy of NBC

RCLdesigngirl RCLdesigngirl 8 years
Best. Episode. Ever.
ktc71 ktc71 8 years
Miss Shapes....I'm with you. It so great rewatching the episodes now knowing that they will be back next season. Such a relief!!
Miss-Shapes Miss-Shapes 8 years
Tyra’s college essay was killer – such a great way to tie together this whole 3 season long, incredible journey we’ve been on with these characters. My heart was in my throat throughout the 50 minutes (yes, you HAVE to watch the unedited DirecTV eps). To now rewatch these eps knowing that it won’t be the last… that gives me more joy than I could ever express coherently :)
care0531 care0531 8 years
I am so sad this season is coming to an end. I had a really hard time seeing what is to come next week- I watched the preview 5 times. I know JD's dad comes after the Taylors for reporting him and then something happens with Tyra because you see her running and crying. Is she just scared- is something happening? I think we will still see Riggins and Lila- San Antonio isn't that far from Austin so it could be even closer to Dillion.
dm8bri dm8bri 8 years
I'm so glad to know I'm not the only person cry and hugging myself while watching a TV show about Texas football. It GETS ME EVERY TIME!!!!!! I'll sit down to watch and say to myself, "ok, this time, I'm not going to cry." Never fails to fail. I thought the episode was sad in a lot of ways but them not winning was much more realistic to the story. I'm going to miss Riggins SO MUCH - I hope they find a way for him to stay in the new seasons. Maybe the fact that he and Lyla will be rooming together will keep the plotlines flowing?
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I totally teared up when Tim went out to the empty field to leave his cleats after the game. I love him as a bad boy, but his sensitive side is pretty hot too :) Liss - I totally loved the part where Lyla was papering the toilet seat! I moved in with three (not too clean) guy roommates a few years ago, and for the first week or so all I did was scrub off the accumulated man dirt. Ewww.
lwimbush lwimbush 8 years
This show could not get any better. I think I would have been even more emotional had I not know that there will be a next season. Imagine watching this episode under the impression that this is one of the final episodes? Ugh. Heartbreaking. Does anyone know where I can watch the Direct TV versions of this show or which version will be on the DVDs?
Liss1 Liss1 8 years
This was a great episode. I was sitting there routing for them like it was a real football game! It was so dissapointing when they lost but they played a good game. I can't wait to see the season finale and see what Joe McCoy tries to do to Coach Taylor and his family. The part with Lyla and the coffee filters cracked me up but at the same time i thought she lives there now, why doesn't she clean the bathroom?
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Great recap, as always, Buzz.! Reading it makes me tear up all over again. "The scene where Tyra reads her essay over the shots of everyone else getting ready for the game — there are no words, only tears." Oh how right you are. This will live as one of my all time favorite FNL moments. Can this show get any better? So thankful that we have two more seasons of what has to be one of the best shows ever on network TV.
ktc71 ktc71 8 years
Such a great episode! My tears were flowing!! :)
fleurfairy fleurfairy 8 years
Another episode to make me cry. I loved this episode because it took place where I went to college - UT. It was so wonderful to see the Panthers out there on our field with the Longhorn symbols and the enormous jumbotron. Made me get a lump in my throat - especially when Tim went out there alone to leave his cleats. I loved the scene in front of the Capitol with Tim and Matt playing frisbee. And Tyra's speech was so moving. About the McCoy's, I think JD is just so conflicted. Sure, he hates his Dad, but it's still his Dad and he is only 15 years old. Katie though needs to grow a backbone. She's an adult and needs to remove her child from that abusive environment. I don't know if there's anything Joe can do to redeem himself in my eyes. But it was perfectly correct for Tami to call CPS. Didn't most of Applebees witness this all going down? Or at least more people than the Taylors. So they had to call.
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