Monday, May 17, 2010

'Friday Night Lights:' What Happened After the Forfeit

Have I said how much I love Friday Night Lights?

The second episode of the fourth season, “After the Fall,” was a beautiful bookend to the premiere, where Coach Taylor’s brand new, ragtag, no-resources East Dillon Lions football team had to be rebuilt yet again, less than a month after he’d cobbled it together in the first place, all because he’d made the gutsy move to forfeit their first game when they were down 45-0 at the half and the team was physically in shambles.

Eric Taylor spent the bulk of this episode going around town and apologizing to everybody for making a call he knew in his heart was the right one and trying to coax the team members to show up to the field. After facing off against a defiant, delightfully awkward Landry in the cafeteria and a stone faced Vince on the basketball court, Eric was surprised to later find Vince in his office and appealed to Vince to help pull the rest of the team back together and meet with the coaches for a special Saturday night practice. All the players actually showed up -- imagine the drama we would've seen had they NOT -- and they all purged the demons from the first game in a fire in the middle of the football field, encouraged by Coach Taylor to start anew by pitching their ripped football jerseys into the flames, an idea spawned by a strange guy Eric ran into at a gas station, but one which left the team without jerseys. But that's another story for another episode.

The other big story of the episode was the revelation that a star running back for the Panthers didn’t really live in West Dillon territory and that he should be attending East Dillon and playing for Coach Taylor's Lions team. This news had to be delivered by West Dillon Principal Tami Taylor to Luke Cafferty, after which she was “jokingly” threatened with lynching by Joe McCoy, who also threatened to harm Coach Taylor's reputation, and then Tami found herself nastily jeered at a high school pep rally by the student body while Joe McCoy laughed. Being placed in the middle of this controversy, between her husband and her school, is a sticky place for Principal Taylor will almost certainly cause tension in the Taylor household.

And how very depressing is it to watch the story of Tim Riggins, or "the guy who used to be Tim Riggins,” who used to be a star, a VIP in Dillon, but who’s now just a garden variety college drop-out (attended college classes only briefly) has-been who was rendered homeless and sleeping in his truck? This is one aspect of the Texas high school football star saga that I’d always hoped this show would address, the fact that, in this fictional town (and many real towns), one’s high school football career is, all too frequently, the pinnacle of these young men's lives. Everything else is downhill and the rest of life seems like a disappointment by comparison.

What do you think of this season thus far?

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