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Friday Night Lights Recap: Episode 14, "Leave No One Behind"

Friday Night Lights Rundown: Episode 14, "Leave No One Behind"

I haven't exactly been shy about the fact that Friday Night Lights occasionally makes me cry, but the waterworks reached a new level after watching Friday's episode. Part of that was the episode itself, but part of it was the context: This was the next-to-last episode the show finished before the writers' strike started, and even if the strike ends soon, there's no telling if the show will go back into production. (It's probably safe to say things don't look good.) As a result, this episode felt very much like the end to me. Did anyone else need a tissue and a hug? We can talk about it if you


This was exactly the kind of episode I talk about when I tell people why FNL is great. It's wasn't about football; we still didn't even see a game. But every moment tied back to what we know about the Panthers, this collection of lives all tied together by the pursuit of a championship ring.

Take Matt. The show's first season did such a wonderful job of showing the weight Matt has to carry every day as a star quarterback, an only son, and a caretaker. That mostly went away this season — until last night. I think I finally understand why Matt wanted to be with Carlotta: She shielded him from some of that responsibility. And yet, as he said in that wonderful, wonderful scene when Coach literally threw him in a cold shower: Everyone leaves him eventually. Coach left, his dad left, his girlfriend left, even the ever-loyal Landry's been otherwise occupied.

Matt was probably bound to crack eventually, and picking Tim "stole from a meth dealer" Riggins as a role model was the most dramatic way to do so. I loved all the little things this episode taught us about Riggins, too: that he stalks Lyla at lunch every day, that he always takes off Wednesdays, that he's made friends with enough bartenders and bouncers that he has a whole range of illicit activities at his fingertips. And yet, he pines after a born-again Christian. Oh, the contradictions of Tim Riggins.

Smash's downward spiral continued, too, with TMU revoking his scholarship because of his "questionable character." As a point of fact, someone of Smash's stature probably isn't done playing football; tons of pro players have way spottier backgrounds than his. But I can believe that in that moment, he thought he was done. It was hard to watch him take the TMU memorabilia down from his walls, and harder still to watch his speech to his team and his silent, lonely breakdown in the locker room later.

As for the rest of the cast:

  • Julie finally had a reason for her brattiness, getting stood up at the DMV while her mom celebrated victory with the Bad News Bears of volleyball. Good thing Tami came up with a quick fix — and how sad was it watching her hold Gracie while Julie drove away? She's had a lot of letting go to do lately.
  • Landry's the man! He has the affections of Jean, the tiny little cutie who bonds with him over Mystery Science Theater, and then he has Tyra, the knockout beauty. There was a moment there, when Landry said wasn't embarrassed by him, that I thought he might actually say no to Tyra. Instead, he's left behind the perfect girl (for him) for the perfect girl (fantasy edition).
  • Speaking of Landry, how great was he saying he didn't want Matt to become an "at-risk youth," followed by Matt's hungover "Ohmigod, stop talking"?
  • In some ways, I'm afraid to watch next week's FNL; what if it's the last one we ever see? Share your thoughts on that, and on this episode, in the comments below.

    Photos courtesy of NBC

Liss1 Liss1 9 years
Clear eyes, thats great! Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!
Entertainment Entertainment 9 years
I also just heard there may be an SOS campaign in the works using Clear Eyes eyedrops. Stay tuned -- I'll pass on info when I have it!
Liss1 Liss1 9 years
Thanks for the info ktc71 :)
smellen smellen 9 years
OMG, thanks for posting that info, ktc71! I was just thinking of writing in, glad you got us the 411. I love this show. I started watching midway thru the 1st season, and I got the 1st season DVDs for xmas, and will start watching those eps after this week. Just can't believe it is possibly on the chopping block. Why why why, oh why? The characters in this show are so well developed, and this past episode was really heartwrenching. I loved all those scenes already discussed: the volleyball team, "lance" landry, riggins/QB1, the Coach & Tami -- I could go on & on. Let's use that info above & get some letters/emails written!
briggs313 briggs313 9 years
I hadn't ever thought of them cancelling this show after the strike either! I hope it isn't so! I love me some FNL ... Riggins is my fave, great one liners this episode ... poor matt saracen, i wish julie would stop being a brat and make him happy!
ktc71 ktc71 9 years
I LOVE this show! I got this note from a FNL group I belong to and thought I would post it here. Help save the show..... Friday Night Lights is on the bubble once again. Fans of this amazing show, have your voices heard. Here are a couple of addresses to send feedback and possibly save this show as well as countless jobs in the Austin Texas area. NBC Studios 3000 W. Alameda Ave. Burbank, CA. 91523 Email,
Liss1 Liss1 9 years
I loved this episode the whole thing was excellent! I also get teary eyed almost every epiosde. I had just read about them maybe not renewing it on popcandy, she was saying we should start a save the show, like they did for Jericho and are trying to do for The 4400. I love this show, it is one of the best ones on TV and there is a lot of crap on TV that just keeps going on and on. I will be so upset if they cancel this show. I keep telling people to watch it, it is fantastic. PLEASE DO NOT CANCEL THIS SHOW!!!! :cry:
Linda-McP Linda-McP 9 years
Great recap, Buzz! Did I need tissues and hugs while watching? You bet I did! From Eric's telling Julie not to roll her eyes while he was talking to her to Tami's standing at the curb watching Julie drive away to the team--and Coach--hitting the "P" before taking the field, this was just a great episode, one of the best by far. The scenes with Coach Taylor and Matt were so poignant and Landry was just wonderful; his "at risk youth" comment was such a perfect Landry line. I'm glad both Jean and Tyra see what a great guy he is. If FNL isn't renewed I will be more than sad; it truly is the highlight of my television viewing each week.
Leilanic1 Leilanic1 9 years
they can't cancel this show! it has so much heart and character! i just started watching it this season and i don't want it to end.
mfern64 mfern64 9 years
Oh, Buzz, I hope you are wrong! It never occured to me that it might not come back after the strike. I won't believe it, I won't, I won't, I won't.....
coachluvr33 coachluvr33 9 years
Farmer gets a wife??? I know!!! I am sorry for going off. I just do not understand all of this.
coachluvr33 coachluvr33 9 years
I totally agree with the Veronica Mars comment. That was a GREAT show and it is gone too. What is wrong this world that horrible programming just keeps getting renewed. Are the American people that stupid? I guess so.
coachluvr33 coachluvr33 9 years
This is my favorite show. I just can't believe more people don't watch it, but other crappy shows just stay on forever. I seriously hope this isn't the last season ever of FNL. As for crying, I cry every episode. Every time, I start crying and look at my husband and say, "You know this is my favorite show ever" and he smiles and says "I know honey" and gets me a tissue. That said, I think this show is INCREDIBLE.
er593395 er593395 9 years
Ii love how coach still calls Laundry Lance!!
GirlC GirlC 9 years
Buzz - thanks. I need to catch up - 3 episodes behind. Moving the show to Friday nights was bad for me :)
em113 em113 9 years
i dont know what i'll do if fnl gets cancelled. the only way i got through veronica mars's cancellation was knowing i'd have fnl another year. uggh, i will be devastated. And ben sounds like a real pr!ck
Entertainment Entertainment 9 years
GirlC — actually, the steroids haven't come up at all. It's all about the fight at the movie theater a couple of weeks ago.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
Oh I forgot about Smash! That was so sad...devastating for him...and for him to hold all that emotion back so he could cheer on his tear jerker!
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
If this show gets canceled I might just stop watching TV altogether. Okay, maybe not, but it's a damn shame that one of the best things on TV might get let go. What I don't understand is why the network didn't move it to a better spot during all of the writers' strike reruns? It would have been a perfect time to showcase the series. Anyway, I loved last night's episode! It focused so well on each of the characters that I really love, and left out the ones that I've gotten bored with (::cough::Lyla::cough::). I was sorta wondering when Smash was going to hear from TMU, although I can't see this being the end of his football career. Le sigh, why are shows like FNL in danger when "Farmer Wants a Wife" somehow got the green light?
GirlC GirlC 9 years
I haven't had a chance to watch but tell me - what was shady about Smash's past - did the steriods come to light?
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
This was one of my favorite episodes ever, I'm kinda upset that I didn't save it on my DVR so I could watch it again! I loved all the new Riggins insights, the stalking, the mid-week day off he always takes...and I thought it was so cute that he took Matt with him. Those two together are such an unlikely pair but they were really funny! Matt..poor thing. He always does so much and has so much stress put upon him, but you never see him break down. That was the first tear jerker moment for me, the scene in the shower. Loved the Tyra/Landry kiss. Remains to be seen if that was the right choice for Landry though.... If I was Julie I'd be a little pissed off too. Between her mom bringing all those girls over for a party and forgetting to take her to the DMV...she has the right to be pissed. If this show gets cancelled I'll be really upset. I look forward to it all week. :((
fleurfairy fleurfairy 9 years
I'm with you, Buzz! I can't bear to see this show end. I just loved everything about the episode: Coach coming to take passed-out Matt and his grandma home, Riggins' stalking, the kiss between Tyra and Landry at the end, the players hitting the good luck "P" before the game. Wow. I hope they do the show justice next week if this indeed is the last episode. I'm going to start crying!
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