Friday Night Lights – “Seeing Other People”

“Seeing Other People”

November 30th, 2007

Look, Friday Night Lights…I know we’ve been going out for a while now, and trust me, there’s been some good times. And, well, we’ll always have the memories. But, whether I would like to admit it or not, I think I might want an open relationship. We’ll still see each other, don’t worry, but I don’t think that I can commit to our relationship.

Things have just been so cold lately, show – there’s just no happiness in the cards, no opportunity for you to emerge from your cold exterior to be a show about triumph or victory or, well, just someone not being stuck with a ferret-owning drug manufacturer. There are still elements of a good show beneath the surface, without a doubt, but you need to lighten up and get on with your life at some point. You don’t seem to have any goals other than self-deprecation, and I need a show that’s a little more forward thinking than that.

But before we start this new phase, I want to exit this tired construct and discuss why “Seeing Other People” just compounded every problem that Friday Night Lights has experienced thus far this season.

I use the above humour, or attempt thereof, to emphasize one of the key themes of the episode: mainly that, in the end, I don’t know why the people of Dillon, Texas can’t be bloody happy. When the season started, the depression made sense: the team was upset about Eric leaving, Tami was upset about Eric leaving, Julie was upset about Eric leaving…it all actually made sense, and provided all of the actors involved with some strong dramatic material.

But I’m tired of seeing Connie Britton break down and realize how much having a baby has complicated her life and her relationship with her husband. I could watch that woman watch grass grow, and yet here I am questioning the show’s decision to just keep her miserable for so bloody long. Eric and Tami had their big romantic resurgence a few episodes back, but that was apparently their only time? They’re right back to dysfunction? When did the default setting of their marriage, and the series, turn to depression?

The storyline was certainly the best part of the episode: Eric is jealous of Tami hanging out with Greg (Not because he’s a guy, but because he used to be the one who could hang out with her), while Tami is freaked out about Julie and Noah’s friendship of sorts and reams Noah for it in an open-doored classroom. There was an odd parallel here: Eric seemed to be equating, indirectly, Tami hanging out with Greg to Julie hanging out with Noah. The dialogue seemed to suggest they were drawing a direct parallel, with similar uses of language, but I think that a husband’s protection of his wife is somewhat different (Read: Less Important) than a mother protecting her daughter, mortification factor notwithstanding. I’m still not sure where the show lies on this front, to be honest, it was a little strange.

The rest of the episode was really just not interesting in the least. Matt Saracen appeared to finally get some at episode end, after breaking up with Lauren and putting his heart on the line with his grandmother’s sexy latina nurse. This storyline has never resonated, and when they keep having Julie have to avoid being near Matt every single episode it just reminds us that this is simply a delay until those two finally reconnect. Zack Gilford is capable of doing some subtle work in these scenes, and I liked his rapport with Smash this episode (Since it was worthless: Smash went to check out a school, had some giant guy get mad at him for mackin’ on his girl, was picked up stranded in his undies by Matt), but the character just has no direction.

Otherwise, we focused on two tormented souls: first, Tim Riggins spent some time hanging out with gross fat guy who makes alcoholic smoothies in his underwear, hunts his own food, and has a drug lab in a trailer in his backyard. Why did we spend so much of the episode with him? So that Tim Riggins could stumble on the drug lab, and then directly go to the field and apologize to his teammates. Did we really need to see fat guy in his underpants to get to this “Duh” resolution? On the flip side of this coin, Landry talks to the brother of Tyra’s rapist, and then gets really sad. Bizarrely, Lyla decides he needs help, and suggests that he tell the truth and put his faith in god…which he did at episode’s end by confessing to the police by walking down an extremely poorly lit hallway.

I think this was a bit of a turning point, for me personally, because I think I spent more time being frustrated by these characters than actually enjoying the episode. All of the early season problems we thought would be resolved by now, or at least altered considerably, have lingered far too long. It just seems like we spent all of this time with everyone being so miserable, and now everyone is still miserable and we still haven’t dealt with the murder subplot. Unless the murder just melts away in the next episode, I don’t know if the show can keep on like this.

Cultural Observations

  • Sending Smash off by himself seemed an odd choice, considering it didn’t really do anything for his character and the Matt/Smash storyline had pretty much been resolved a few episodes back. Rehashing it here just for effect rang false.
  • It’s weird, but I actually think it would have been good to see more of Santiago and Buddy this week – dropping them entirely felt like an odd switch considering it was at least a vaguely happy scenario.
  • So, looks like Jason Street’s search for himself has led to parts unknown, as it’s now been two whole episodes with Scott Porter. It seems an odd decision, in my book, since again his storyline could actually be a little bit happy.
  • I’m still confused why the policewoman would have walked into the class, CLEARLY showing the entire class that Tyra was going to talk to the police. It also seemed like something that maybe, you know, could have waited until she got home. (Man, I long for the days when I wouldn’t be picking this stuff out because of how good the episode was).

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