Friday Night Lights – “How Did I Get Here”

“How Did I Get Here”

November 9th, 2007

At some point during tonight’s episode of Friday Night Lights, Jason Street started talking about how it seems no one ever changes in Dylan. Somewhere during the speech, I started to think that Jason Katims and Co. had joined Tim Kring in admitting that the start of their seasons had failed to provide any original character development, ignoring much of what occurred last season. The rest of the episode didn’t really play out that way, as some of the show’s problems still persist, but it did signal a return to these characters regaining a purpose of sorts.

So, remember Matt Saracen’s sexy latina nurse? Well, she’s pretty much disappeared: it makes me wonder whether that storyline, the seeming sexual tension between them, was dropped in favour of getting on with more interesting ones – she’s been at the past few football games, but has had no other scenes of note. This isn’t a bad thing: Matt Saracen and the new girl is a much more interesting development because it actually makes sense for the Quarterback to be the object of affection of relatively innocent young females. This is especially true when Matt Saracen is so gosh darn wholesome. Although, that was some serious macking out in the car, there.

This of course set of a chain reaction with Julie, who was smartly downplayed in the episode – she was simply really trying to get over Matt Saracen, and not doing such a good job of it. Tyra then actually became her friend (Remember when Tyra interacted with storylines others than the one I’m choosing to ignore? She was great there, too!), and there was a nice moment between them. Julie’s comeuppance feels real, and I have stopped despising her: considering what she did to Saracen, that’s some strong characterization.

On the football side of things, we have a lot of lateral movement – Riggins is kicked off the team, Street decides to leave the team, Smash tries to get Riggins’ head back in the game so he can rejoin the team, and last week’s juvenile delinquent Santiago tries to make the team (Please note: Riggins’ end of episode training session still didn’t change the fact that the kid can’t catch a football). These were actually a nice selection of storylines, as it got back to team politics in a natural fashion.

Speaking of politics, the Taylors were caught up in a whole lot of them – first off, Eric discovers that his new position as coach is actually paying 37% less than the year before thanks to MacGregor’s settlement package. This obviously results in some frustration, and Eric’s new role as Athletic director should prove to be yet another one of Buddy’s misrepresented “easy solutions” considering the headaches it will provide. For Tami, a visit from her sister (Jessalyn Gilsig, well cast) brings with it environmental messages, Brazilian “tops” and a chance for Tami to speak to another female about her anxiety. Tami and Eric still didn’t have enough to do, but they remain the rock of this series.

On the whole, it felt like people were starting to take that turn from self-involved ignorance to self-awareness. If that can continue, perhaps the series can hit its stride in the weeks ahead…until the Writer’s Strike takes its toll, of course.

Cultural Observations

  • I believe that Rosie O’Donnell was originally a name thrown around to play the soccer coach, which would have been awful stunt casting – as it was, the “other sports exist too” message was decent, but could be a bit cliched at the same time.
  • I thought the environmental stuff was subtle enough to work, but it also stuck out like a sore thumb if you were looking for it – the entire Green Week initiative has only really provided a brilliant satire on 30 Rock and a couple of moments of comedy on The Office. As for actually green initiatives, I’m not seeing anything.
  • The end of episode session with Santiago was quite good – seeing Smash, Matt and Riggins back on the same side of the show’s conflict was a step in the right direction.
  • I guess I should address Murdergate…this week saw some great acting from Glenn Morshower and Jesse Plemons, but it also sucked all of the life Landry has ever had. Plus, seriously, a cop burns a car? Did they just watch ‘Crash’? Man I disliked that movie. Either way, the storyline was just a black hole of nothingness, and I hate that they destroyed one of the show’s best characters in the process.

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