It seems like everyone's talking about how Friday Night Lights just isn't as good this season, with the murder plot and the Mexico trip and Coach being away. I've had my complaints, too. But I loved the latest episode (with one exception — but I'll get to that in a minute). And the amazing thing was, the story that I liked the most was the one I was prepared to truly hate. To see what I'm talking about, just
The story of Riggins and Street in Mexico went from hopeful to hilarious to completely heartbreaking in about five minutes flat. Jason really, deeply believes this risky surgery will make him walk. And Riggins, who just wanted to get some drinks and chicks, is realizing he needs to be the responsible one. Jason's joyful, delusional karaoke revealed his desperation, and Riggins is wise enough — who would have thought? — to know his friend is in trouble.
The other major development this week was the return of Coach Taylor. I don't think the path the writers took was the most interesting option — what if Buddy's plot hadn't worked? — but all in all, it's good to have Coach back. I'm surprised we didn't see more town reaction to the decision (this is a man they were calling Judas not long ago), and I'm wondering if the team will be happy or resentful. But what really shocked me — and this was my major problem with the episode — was that we never saw Coach and Tami talk about the decision. Moments between the two of them are the heart of this show, and that was a huge one to just gloss over.
Oh, and the body's out of the river — but that doesn't seem to spell the end of that story. Interesting detail that the man was wanted for rape in other states; that made it all the more frustrating that Landry and Tyra didn't just call the police in the first place. I admit, I'm loving the way Tyra is driving the cover-up. She comes from a very different place than Landry; I mean, she drove her mom's boyfriend away with a fire poker. How different must her experience with law enforcement be than Landry's, who grew up with a cop for a father?
Some other thoughts:
- Julie did a 180 on the subject of the Swede in this episode — and while Tami's speech had a lot to do with it, I think it was more that the Swede completely forgot Julie was coming over. He's the center of her universe; she now knows she barely factors into his.
- I'm of two minds on Lyla and the ex-con. On the one hand, I'm worried they're leading her into an annoying and ultimately doomed relationship. On the other hand, I think this story shows how new Lyla's faith still is. She was only baptized a few weeks ago; she hasn't had to answer the hard questions yet.
- The scenes of Julie and her parents driving struck me as so real. Who didn't have a huge fight with their parents while also trying to steer a car on the freeway for the first time? It was like driver's ed all over again.
I do wish the show would rein in some of these subplots and get back to the little moments of small-town life that made it such a standout a year ago. (I mean, I can't un-see that promo with Jason falling over the side of the boat.) How are you feeling about the state of FNL?
Photos courtesy of NBC