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I feel like I should make some mention of the Super Bowl in this week’s recap of Friday Night Lights, but I’m failing to see any sort of connection. Friday Night Lights contains no football, and the Super Bowl contains no Tim Riggins. But you know what does? Snakes on a Plane. Seriously, he’s the one having sex in the restroom. I tried for about a half hour to find a decent (and non-nudity) screencap, but failed. So you may enjoy my own interpretation instead.
Matt and Lorraine are breakfasting it up. He makes her some eggs and even cuts her toast the way that Carlotta used to do it, as Grandma points out. The mere mention of his Guatemalan princess’s name launches Matt right into a production of Stutterpalooza, complete with mopey, lovelorn eyes and dropped kitchenware.
Coach is quizzing Julie on her upcoming driver’s test. “Don’t roll your eyes at me,” he barks, “you’re going to need those eyes for the road!” Aha. Thanks for the tip, Coach. Tami, who for some reason is determined to not let her husband take part in any aspect of her daughters’ lives, declares that she will be the one taking Julie to the test. Coach yells, “Fine! I’ll be in the bathroom!” I like to think that all Taylor conflicts end this way. “Honey, could you pass the potatoes?” “Fine! I’ll be in the bathroom!”
Matt is driving around in his shitbox when Slammin’ Sammy delivers the news that Smash has been suspended for the rest of the regular season. And as if things couldn’t get any worse, the car starts huffing and sputtering. In other words, it’s pulling a Saracen. Matt pulls over and proceeds to beat the everliving crap out of the poor car, which then restarts and drives off to Guatemala. Ouch.
Over in the room adjacent to the locker room (the conference room? The gameday classroom? The Jason Street Memorial Lecture Hall For Kids Who Can’t Football Good?), the team is giving Smash a hard time about getting suspended. Way to not support his pummeling of aspiring British ballet dancers, GUYS. Coach gives them a rousing pep talk that includes the word “adversity” in every way that it can be used, and – I’m sorry, who is this thirty-five-year-old guy? It looks like the janitor put on a hat and is trying to pass himself off as a Panther.
Art class time! Pass the doobies! The art teacher, let’s call her Miss Stick-Up-The-Ass, demands a critique from a very distressed Matt, but he is just not in the mood for pencil drawings of flowers in a vase. Shocking, I know. She keeps pushing him until it is very clear that he’s just not feeling the flowers today, which he illustrates by calling her a bitch. And out comes the snark! From little Matty Saracen! She asks him to repeat himself, so he does. “My critique is that we’re drawing a bunch of sad, stupid pictures of a bunch of sad, stupid flowers,” he grumbles. “And I said bitch.” Ha! Joyful = Me. She IS a bitch. Matt is correct.
Landry, rocking a bitchin’ toothpick, catches up with Matt in the hall, only to watch flabbergastedly as Matt storms right out of the school.
Garth, I’m sorry, Jean, corners Tyra in the hallway to ask if she still has a thing for Landry. The height difference is highly amusing. Tyra, caught off guard with all of this sudden forthrightness, tells her that they’re just friends. Well, good, says Garth, because she likes him. A LOT. Whoa. Tyra tells her to go for it, then runs off to volleyball practice with the face of someone who has just been accosted by a rabid, bespectacled shih tzu.
Out on the field, Coach is irked by both the mysterious absence of Saracen, and the sudden leg injury of Lance/Landry. Apparently he fell over a curb. Ha, that is so perfect. Smash is leading the team in warm-ups, but Coach pulls him out because while he appreciates him suiting up and everything, they really need to practice without him there. And I don’t know if it’s the lighting or what, but Smash is looking, well, pretty.
JeanGarth assaults Landry out in the parking lot after practice to tell him about her discovery of the abundance of Mystery Science Theater 3000 shorts on Youtube. Okay, forget every bad thing I’ve ever said about this girl. She’s solid. Anyone who can appreciate the magic of Mr. B Natural is fine by me. Landry, equally delighted, starts planning their Satellite of Love weekend, while Tyra glowers from her car. What’s wrong, Tyra? Not a fan of the ‘bots?
So Tyra runs over to the Taylors’ for dinner yet again, and afterwards has another heart-to-heart with good old Mrs. T. A jealous Julie watches their conversation, which consists of advice on what to do about the Landry situation. Tami tells a story from her own high school days, which aggravates Julie even more. After declining a homework session with Julie, Tyra leaves amongst a heaping of praises from Tami. She says goodbye to everyone, including Coach, who responds with an “Okay.” Haha. He’s such a dad.
The next day, Coach and Tami discuss the possibility of going on vacation. Might I recommend Mexico? I hear they offer an impressive array of shark injections. Coach dismisses the idea, as it’s the same one they’ve been contemplating for sixteen years now. This sounds suspiciously like one of those classic FNL seemingly-innocuous-moments that you don’t really give a second thought to, but then next week it’s in the recap at the beginning of the episode and then by the end they’re on a flight to Alaska. Just saying. Tami tells Coach that she has really loved coaching the volleyball team, since it’s nice to have teenage girls actually listening to her for a change. Coach, ever the watchful parent, informs his dear wife that Julie has become envious. Tami is in disbelief, but, again, not as much as little Gracie!
A newly badassed Matt Saracen peruses the local motorcycle dealership against a soundtrack of rebellious ROCK. Tim, of course, chooses that exact moment to drive up and commence the merciless mocking. He notes that young Matt has skipped yet another day of school, prompting Matt to ask him why he’s not there either. “I always skip Wednesdays,” is the answer. I think it’s amazing how my love for the Riggins continues to grow by leaps and bounds each week. I should really put it into bar graph or a pie chart or something. He invites Matt along for an afternoon of the usual, or, as Tim puts it, the “usue.” Is that how you spell it? Where’s my English-Teenager Dictionary?
The two lovebirds head off to a bar and get some gigantic beers, since the bartender knows Tim and is totally cool with not carding sixteen-year-olds. Matt whines some more about Carlotta, finishes off his beer, then refills his glass, at which point Tim offers him a funnel. HA. His pie chart piece grows even larger. Drunk Matt, who is hilarious, says that he wants to be just like Tim, an even keel. Conveniently arriving to disprove that point are Lyla and Chris. Tim creepily eyes them and describes their daily habits to Matt, who correctly points out that he may or may not be a stalker.
Tim barrels over to introduce himself to Chris and tell him he has great hair. Whoa now. Tim is in no position to be dispensing hair compliments to lesser-coifed mortals. You don’t see the Pope running around telling people how admirably religious they are. Lyla tries to shoo him away but he continues to ramble, eventually offering them some beer and gesturing over at Matt, who greets them with a hearty “Shalom!” After some more drunken babbling, Tim finally leaves, grabbing Matt and shoving him out of the door so that they can go to practice. Mazeltov!
Tami accompanies Julie on a practice driving run. She asks for confirmation from her daughter that she doesn’t want to be on the volleyball team. Julie pretends to be horrified, insisting that volleyball is not her thing and that she better not force her to join. Tami says of course she wouldn’t. Julie, unable to sulk and drive at the same time, almost runs a red light. Then she sulks some more.
Over at practice, an inebriated Matt is prancing around the field and yelling incomprehensibly. After wobbling some more and eventually catching a hike with his FACE, Coach pulls him out and gives him a reaming. As Matt returns to the field, Mac leans over to Coach and asks him if he smelled that. Coach, who clearly did, firmly says that he did not. OooOoOh.
Landry is bugging a hungover Matt about the finer details of his upcoming date with Garth, asking whether they should go see The Wrath of Khan or Jaws. Though I think the bigger problem here is that Landry still thinks it’s 1983. Smash joins them and they all start squabbling yet again, until Matt leaves in a huff. Landry then asks Smash his opinion on the movie choice, but Smash, unable to function normally in the presence of such nerdiness, leaves without saying a word.
Panthers win…another volleyball game! Tami invites all of the girls over for a big ice cream party. A verge-of-tears Julie arrives home and slams all the way to her room. Tami chases her down to find out what the hell is wrong and immediately starts in on how this must be all about the volleyball thing. Julie, for once restraining the screechy yelling, quietly seethes that she was wrong to believe that her mother would meet her at the DMV. She waited there for an hour. Ouch. You can just see a little part of Tami die, right there on her face.
So she drags Julie into the car and down to the DMV, where a disgruntled employee is locking up for the night. She begs for him to let Julie take the test, since she let her daughter down and she really needs to gain back her trust or she will never get it again. Ever. Julie glares from the car, as if confirming this. The guy begrudgingly agrees. Tami hoots and hollers for a while, then asks if he’s a Panthers fan. The guy snaps that he hates football. Haha. Strike one. Julie jumps out of the car, hugs her mother, and goes to shake the grumpy guy’s hand, which he does not extend. Tami and Gracie watch as Julie drives off, and Tami gets a little choked up. Aw! There’s a little bit of that good old-fashioned soul-crushing! I love it. And what Taylor family event wouldn’t be complete without a gem of a face from little Gracie.
Tyra turns to her own mother for advice for once, asking if she ever competed with another girl over a guy. Mom replies that all Collettes are competitive and enjoy the thrill of the chase. Don’t fall for it, Tyra. That’s just a nicer way of saying that you’re all a pack of hopeless sluts.
Speaking of seedy Collettes, Tim and Matt are now over at The Landing Strip, getting drunk again. Tim arranges a lap dance for little Matty, who enjoys it thoroughly until he gets a call from the hospital. Oh, no. Lorraine overdosed on catnip again.
Meanwhile, a distraught Smash shows up in Coach’s office to show him the letter he just got from TMU saying that his scholarship has been revoked. “That’s my future,” Smash yelps, his lip quivering. If I were his mother, I’d be jumping out of the bushes yelling “I told you so!” Then again, I’m not a classy lady like Mama Smash.
Tyra accosts Landry as he and Garth exit the movie theater. She pulls him over for a minute and tells him flat out that she still likes him and she wants to give it a shot. Landry tries to insist that Garth actually likes him and isn’t embarrassed about that, but Tyra points out that their relationship started in a weird way (most people grab dinner, they threw a body into the river) and they should really try again. Landry, ever the gentleman, keeps saying that he’s on a date, so he has to go. Tyra finally retreats in embarrassment, runs to her car, and watches as Garth plants a big one on Landry. Ugh. I’m trying real hard to be interested in this, but I’m failing MISERABLY.
Smash is in his room, ripping down all of the TMU paraphernalia. Mama comes in and he tells her that the dream is over and that he is all ears for her big I Told You So. But as I said, Mama is above that. She says that she loves him and she believes in him, and then they choked-uppingly hug. Lots of tears tonight!
Matt gets a ride from Random Stripper to the hospital to meet Grandma, who, as it turned out, hit her head as she was getting out of bed. Someone calls Coach, who arrives some time later to a ticker tape parade thrown by Lorraine. I really love how much she loves Coach, it’s a nice little character thing that she’s kept up since the beginning. It’s great. She shrilly wakes up Matt, who has fallen asleep on the waiting room chairs. When Coach tells her that he’s here to take them both home, she practically explodes with joy. As she dances into the parking lot, Coach pulls Matt over and tells him that he smells like a damn drunk. Matt, still outrageously grouchy, says he knows.
Over at the Saracen House of Misery, Coach puts Lorraine to bed, where she thanks him and cheerily tells him that Matt needs his help. Thanks Grandma! Coach heads back into the kitchen, where Matt snarks that he doesn’t need a fatherly coach talk, so he can just leave. Well. Coach is NOT in the mood for angsty teenagers tonight. He grabs Matt by the neck and wrangles him into the bathroom, where he throws him in the tub and turns on the water. He yells that Matt needs to start making better decisions, stop feeling sorry for himself and stop letting down his family and his teammates. And now…for a little bit of magic. In a stunning turn of events and mumbling, Matt actually screams at Coach to shut up. “You don’t care about me, you left me for a better job!” he cries. “Your daughter left me for a better guy, Carlotta left me for Guatemala, my dad left me for a damn war! Everybody leaves me!” he sobs. He stops for a minute, then says, more quietly, “What’s wrong with me?”
YES. Now THAT is some soul-crushing goodness. I now remember why I adore Matt Saracen. Because he’s friggin’ adorable. Coach, left speechless, eventually mutters that there’s nothing wrong with him. Matt continues to weep as the water runs. Fantastic scene.
Landry (ugh, we go from that awesomeness to this?) is creepily stalking Garth outside a restaurant. He calls her on his phone and she perkily comes out to the car. But she can tell by the look on his face that something’s wrong, and despite pleas for him not to do this, he breaks it off. She starts to cry and storms off, telling him he’s making a huge mistake. Don’t worry, Garth. You’ll party on with someone else.
With the old ball and chain now out of the way, Landry immediately heads over to Tyra’s house with the happy news that he is now free to once again be the object of her mindgames torture. Then they kiss for like a solid five minutes. Whatever. I still don’t care. In fact, I’d really like to see Tyra get back with Tim. Now those were some fun times.
Game time! Turns out this show is based on some sort of football sport. I know, I’ve never heard of it either. Tami hovers and clucks as Julie parks the car in the lot, and we find out that she did indeed pass the test. Impressive, young Julie. I thought that examiner was going to claw your mother’s face off, but you still managed. Well done.
Over in the locker room, the whole team is preparing for the game, including some little foreign-looking Tim Riggins impostor.
Smash drops in and the room goes silent. He wishes them all good luck. Matt jumps up and says that he doesn’t care what the board says, that Smash is a part of this team and Coach should let him play. Coach tries to explain that this is impossible, but Smash interrupts to say the exact same thing, but louder. He says the best thing they can do for him right now is to win. This is followed by a rousing pep talk, a reminder that they are the Panthers and State champs, and an invigorating Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can’t Lose. The team bursts out of the room, slapping the big P on the wall as they leave (written below is “Street”, which I’ve never noticed before and which sends me into yet another fervent clutching of the heartstrings). As they take the field, Smash is left all alone in the locker room, where he starts crying. Great. Heartstrings definitively snapped. Hope you’re happy, SHOW. I’m sending you my medical bills.
Loved this episode!! This was some Season 1 quality awesomeness. Outraged, angsty, drunk Matt was really fun to watch. It was a nice change of pace, but not so crazy that it was completely out of character. He and Tim make a fun pair. And that bathtub scene was fantastic, loved it. The Smash stuff was good too, I’m happy to see Smash as a real human these days instead of the standard EgoBot 3000. That last scene was a little schmaltzy, but I bought it. I also like that Julie has finally become bearable again and that her previously screechy conflicts with Tami have settled back down into the normal range that humans can hear. My only complaint this week (other than usual one of no Jason, except for a scribble on the wall – perhaps next week we’ll get a life-sized cardboard cutout?) is the Landry-Tyra romance, which is tired and now very boring. I miss sassy Tyra and lame-ass Landry. Together they are coma-inducing.
What did everyone else think? Soul-crushing a-plenty?