NBC sure has had a weird roller coaster season. Studio 60, the self-proclaimed best television drama ever conceived by man, premiered and immediately nose-dived (nose-dove?). Heroes, on the other hand, was a little more quietly promoted, yet ended up being the breakout hit of the fall. 30 Rock, which I really want to find funny but somehow just can’t, was also touted as being awesome and then went on to disappoint. And then we have Friday Night Lights - still largely unknown to lot of people I think, which is unfortunate because other than Heroes it’s probably the best drama that NBC has at the moment (at least until The Donald returns, bringing drama of a more classy and luxurious nature).
Tuesday’s episode was no exception. Just when I think I’ve recovered from last week’s RENDING OF MY SOUL, it just goes and does it all over again. Between this and Battlestar we’re all lucky enough to be able to get out of bed in the morning. Anyway, last week Jason found out about Lyla *cough bitch cough* cheating on him with Tim Riggins, whom he then awesomely punched in the face. Disabled my ASS. Also, Smash started taking steroids, the Riggins brothers duked it out, and Matt Saracen asked Julie Taylor out on a date, causing the Taylor ‘Rental Units to adorably freak the fuck out.We open this week with a raucous gospel choir singing their little hearts out. Not unlike the way I begin my mornings, actually. We get a mini-montage switching back and forth between Lyla baking cupcakes and Smash injecting himself while waiting in the car for church to start. Steroids, cupcakes, steroids, cupcakes. Roidcakes! Cut to Lyla praying in a chapel. Cut to Smash in church. After making damn sure Jesus can hear all this, the Reverend asks the congregation to pray for Smash, who has a big game coming up on Friday (see title of show). Smash acts all embarrassed, which to the churchgoers and his family seems like humility, but to us, the knowing audience, reeks of SHAME.
Speaking of shame, Lyla is now approaching Jason’s room at the rehab facility with great trepidation. And rightfully so. Because at the moment he’s tearing down all his pictures of the once happy couple, and this is just made all the more sad because he can’t really do it very well, what with not having control of his fingers and all. Gah. My soul hurts. Anyway, weepy Lyla apologizes repeatedly, but Jason just tells her to get out. But not before asking how much sex they had. Oh, Lyla. You’re better off just moving to Alaska to seduce a bear than to try and cry your way out of this one. He yells a little more and she slinks off, crushed, leaving the perky bag of cupcakes out in the hall on the floor. What? WHY? Why would you leave a delicious treat for your crippled boyfriend in a place that makes it difficult for him to retrieve? I’m surprised she didn’t also grease it with baby oil and surround it with a moat full of piranhas.
“What the FUCK.”
But now it’s time for the obligatory montage of idle football chatter from local radio stations to provide us with the exposition for this week’s episode. The big game this Friday is against Gatling, whose star player is Junior Silverio, Smash’s old friend. Smash is home, polishing his cleats and listening to said radio. This game is a big deal for him, because Gatling is where he grew up, and when his father died his mother pulled the whole family out of there and moved them to Dillon, a less ghetto-rific town.
Tami and Eric talk about the Matt Saracen Dating Crisis of ’06. Tami insists that it’s not going away and that they’re going to have to deal with it. Eric, still in denial about his daughter owning a vagina, is not pleased.
Tim sits outside the school, stewing in his Shamemobile. The boys are in the locker room, suiting up for practice. One of them, I don’t know his name but he looks like maybe a Corky so we’ll go with that, asks Matt if he knows anything about the whole Lyla-Tim thing. He doesn’t. Then, speak of the devil, Tim enters and the air thickens with a palpable mix of awkwardness and anger. Delicioso.
Tim’s one and only fan.
Tyra approaches Lyla at school for what I can only assume will either be a nasty catfight or a lighthearted discussion about how their names almost rhyme. Hopefully the catfight. Tyra asks why Jason hit Tim, and Lyla mumbles something about it probably being a misunderstanding. Ah, is that what the kids are calling it these days? Tyra has heard the rumors, but Lyla denies that they’re true, whatever they are. She cheerily scampers off. Ugh. Lyla is like that split second of cold water in the shower that very nearly ruins your day.
The mayor is complaining to the Taylors about the lousy accommodations they’re getting stuck with in Gatling. She’s simply horrified by the whole nasty situation and insists that Tami join Buddy Garrity in striking up a new deal. Tami is not a fan of this plan, but at this point she really has no say in the matter, as the mayor is really scary and could go Chernobyl at any moment.
NO WIRE HANGERS!!
A large sign screams “Scalp the Eagles!” over at Dillon High. Aren’t eagles already “bald”? This sign makes no sense. Oh what am I saying, it was made by high-schoolers, of course it doesn’t. Julie’s friend grills her about going out with Matt, since he’s a football player and they all suck. Julie insists that he’s different, but Cynical Unsupportive Future Lesbian Friend disagrees.
Meanwhile, Landry is giving Matt a fashion lesson over at the Salvation Army store, which is great because Landry handing out advice on how to charm the ladies is more or less the equivalent of Jack Bauer giving tips on how to calmly sit down and open up a “dialogue”. Landry recommends a Members Only jacket because “chicks dig retro”, and more hilarity ensues. Seriously, someone give this kid his own talk show. Better yet, throw him into Project Runway. Just imagine the glorious television that would result from a snippy fight with Jeremy.
“Fashion is what I do. It turns me on.”
Coach takes a breather from crafting a chastity belt for Julie to do some actual coaching. The key to winning this game is to take down Junior Silverio. “It is going to be a war,” barks Coach. There is general helmet smashing and whatnot. It’s surprising how I always find the football parts of this show to be the least interesting. And by “surprising”, I of course mean “not surprising”.
Jason is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future, in the form of a few teammates. Fist bumps all around, then down to business. They’re planning on exacting revenge upon Tim for what they correctly guess to be the big cheating fiasco. Jason doesn’t try to stop them. The camera shakes ominously. I get excited. Shit’s going DOWN.
Matt is convincing Landry to more or less babysit his grandmother while he’s on the big date with Julie. Landry is not on board with this, but we all know he’ll do it anyway because he’s awesome. Coach interrupts this little tea party to ask Matt what the hell is going on with his once cohesive team. Matt feigns innocence at first, then eventually mumbles something about the love triangle of doom. It’s amazing how much mumbling there is on this show. It comprises like 90% of the dialogue.
Back at Casa Williams, the family is sitting down to one of those dinners that is about to erupt into something nasty. You can always tell. Mama says that the Silverio’s have invited them over for a barbeque in Gatling, since they’re still some of their best friends. “They why did you move us away from them?” asks Smash. He wants to know if it was to escape the ghetto, or to escape their father. Mama gets pissed and orders him away from the table. Which is a real shame because this little party looks like it’s totally hopping.
Matt arrives at the Taylor residence to pick up Julie, and Coach instantly makes fun of the Members Only jacket. Awesome. Julie comes out in a very pretty dress that is immediately vetoed by the parents. While Tami goes to help her change, Taylor says, “Why don’t you take your Members Only jacket off and hang it up” and I think it’s a personal goal of his to say Members Only as much as he possibly can before the poor kid either leaves or starts crying, whichever comes first. Somewhere, Landry is cackling menacingly. And it gets even better. Taylor asks Matt if he wants a beer, Matt says “No thanks, I’m driving,” and Taylor deadpans that it was a joke. Comedy gold! This whole scene is delightful and I may or may not have watched it several times.
Matt and Julie show up at a movie theater. Matt proceeds to make an ass out of himself by trying to talk his way into the sold-out movie with the old “But I’m the star quarterback” line. It doesn’t work. Everything becomes awkward for them, and painful for us because we know that Matt’s not really like that but Julie doesn’t know him well enough yet to make that call. Luckily, well not really luckily, this whole clusterfuck is interrupted by a frantic call from Landry, whose babysitting session of Matt’s grandmother has taken a turn for the worse.
Moments later, Matt shows up at his house to find that Grandma has locked herself in the bathroom and won’t come out. He tries to talk some sense into her, but she’s not having any of it. In fact, she asks if he is Joe, her husband, who has been dead for years. Matt, dejected, puts on a fake Joe voice and calms her down, eventually resorting to singing “Mr. Sandman” to lure her out, just like he’s probably done a hundred times before. It works, and she’s thrilled. They dance for a little bit and he tenderly puts her to bed. And just like that, Matt surges ahead in the Race For My Heart. Julie had wandered in at some point to catch most of this, and she and Landry are now awkwardly standing in the kitchen, not really knowing what to do. Eventually she mumbles that Landry can give her a ride home, and Matt, mortified by the whole thing, agrees. She and Landry leave, bringing the worst date in history to a pathetic close. This is such a beautiful and moving scene. Usually I’m all up for hilarious old people hijinks (“Oh no, Grandpa’s attempting to use the toaster, better call the fire brigade”) but this whole thing just makes me wonder if I will EVER FEEL HAPPINESS AGAIN.
“Let’s go to the Olive Garden!”
After a much need commercial break we find Lyla crying in her room. Don’t these kids ever have any homework? Her father tries to get her to come down for breakfast but sees that she is distressed over something. She says she’ll be right down, so he doesn’t press the issue. Perhaps he will later on in the episode. I have a feeling about these things.
In the Taylormobile, Tami asks Julie how the movie was. Julie says that they never got to the movie, and I’m surprised Tami doesn’t just lose control of the wheel right then and there, but Julie quickly adds that it wasn’t because they were parked somewhere. She explains about the whole Grandma thing, and admits that it wasn’t so bad after all because she finally got to see the real Matt Saracen. You know what, little Kim Bauer? You’re alllll right.
Matt is yelling at Landry for making him wear the friggin’ jacket, to which Landry hilariously zings “Well Matt, there’s no reason to blame the couture.” See Matt? All you needed was to MAKE IT WORK. He goes on to say that Julie totally dug the singing, as she told him on the ride home that Matt seemed sweet and vulnerable. He suggests that Matt drop the macho quarterback thing and just be himself. Landry, you’re so wise. You’re like the resident Buddha of the Dillon High AV Club. After all, he says, the sweet and sensitive thing might just be what gets Matt “into Julie Taylor’s funhouse”. OH NO YOU DI’IN’T LANDRY! I didn’t think anything could top Dr. Bailey’s vajayjay but, well, here we are.
Annnndre, take me to Red Looobsterrrr.
Buddy Garrity is meeting with Tami, going on and on about how to get better accommodations in Gatling. She wisely suggests that they take a more diplomatic approach, rather than do whatever Buddy’s planning, which most likely involves some sort of firebombing. He says she’s probably right, then segues into asking whether she knows about what’s wrong with Lyla. Tami does know, but she tells him not to fix whatever it is, and to just be there for his daughter and let her know that he loves her. Which is good advice, because he may be the only one left who does.
Smash is lifting weights while his sister spots him. He complains about the fact that they’re not really allowed to talk about their father. After all, he taught little Smash how to throw a football. She passive-aggressives that she has slightly unhappier memories. This Hallmark moment is cut short when Smash starts to hyperventilate or get dizzy or whatever it is that happens when you take steroids.
The nerdiest doctor in Texas examines him, asking if he’s been under any stress lately. Helloo? Do you live in this town? Smash tells him about the big game on Friday, and Dr. Poindexter suggests that he just get some rest. I guess that crazy idea of “running a few tests” is just not in season this year. He even tries to be cool and says “Take it to ‘em!” before leaving. Well, if by “it” you mean “steroids” and by “‘em” you mean “his muscles” then he’s already way ahead of you. But Sheila is on to her brother’s antics. “Does your face always break out too?” she asks, referring to perhaps his ONE pimple. Somebody call Jessica Simpson! We need some ProActiv Acne Solutions STAT!
“Now if you kids will excuse me, I’ve got to get back to my Warcraft date.”
Remember Tim Riggins? He pulls his truck into the driveway and nervously gapes as several large boys ominously emerge from the bushes with baseball bats. Unless they’re there to ask him to join their sandlot league, this probably isn’t going to end well for little Timmy. They proceed to beat the everliving shit out of his truck while he cowers angrily. And I’d just like to say that I think this whole thing just isn’t right. The poor truck didn’t do anything wrong.
Coach Taylor visits Jason for their weekly gab session. They chat about this and that, the upcoming Gatling game, and Jason’s murderball scrimmage last week that Taylor mysteriously skipped out on. Jason asks if he’s heard anything else, and Taylor admits to finding out about the whole affair/love triangle/plot to destroy this poor kid’s life. He lets him know that he doesn’t have to go through this alone, that he’s there for him. Jason thanks him sincerely. God. I just want these two wrapped up in a bow and left under my Christmas tree.
Santa, take note.
Tim is vacuuming shards of glass out of his car. Tyra shows up to slap him across the face, shrieking “Anyone but her!” I wonder if, between Jason punching him and the team destroying his car and Tyra bitch-slapping him, Tim has ever stopped to think hey, maybe I’m kind of a jerk. If he has, I haven’t seen it. Billy creepily watches Tyra drive away and snarks to Tim that he hopes Lyla was worth it. Tim fails to say “She wasn’t! I’m sorry for everything!” and instead defaults back to the blank stare.
Tami and Buddy are having lunch with the Gatling people. Tami is fawning over Gatling’s AMAZING barbeque food, and everyone has a good laugh. Buddy destroys all of this by demanding that the team be put in their own wing in a five star hotel. Subtle. Uppity Gatling guy says that’s just not possible, but he’s clearly not prepared for the sneak ninja attack that’s about to happen. Tami deftly flicks on her Awesome Switch and ever-so-sweetly points out that the entire town of Dillon is going to be coming to this game, and that with all the business they’re bringing, the hotel would probably be happy to bring down the rates. Uppity Gatling guys says “Are you sure you don’t coach football?” and they all laugh and the problem is solved. Football? This woman should be running the UN!
We’re treated to a nice sweeping shot of the giant caravan of buses, cars, and oh so many pickup trucks that are heading over to Gatling. Lyla is sitting alone on the bus with a very large buffer zone between her and the other cheerleaders, like she has some sort of disease. And who knows, she just might. There’s a random shot of a guy with a Jesus picture on the dashboard. Nice. On the other bus, Taylor gazes through the windows at the apparent ghetto that is Gatling, then glances back at Smash, who is pensively looking around too.
Jesus take the wheel
Jason’s working out in his room when in walks…Tyra? Man, these crazy kids are just really determined to muck up their personal lives beyond all recognition, aren’t they. She says they’re the only two people left in town so she thought she’d drop by. With some alcohol. Jason is quite happy about all of this. I am not.
The Williams family shows up at the Silverio’s barbeque. Smash pals around with his old friend Junior, who tells Smash about one of their friends who is now doing ten years for armed robbery. “Seems like you and me are the only guys from the hood who got a decent shot,” he says. Smash reflects. Over at a nearby table, Mama Williams is talking to someone about how happy she is to have left Gatling. In fact, sometimes she doesn’t even miss her husband and they’re all probably better off now with him dead. Smash overhears this and completely flips out…by walking away angrily.
Jason and Tyra are playing a game of Quarters and are both cracking up over the fact that he can’t do it. See, spinal cord injuries CAN be funny! He finally gets one and they celebrate by drunkenly making fun of their respective cheating lovers. Jason does an inebriated Tim and Tyra does an annoying chipper Lyla. Then they do that thing that people only do on TV, where they laugh hilariously and then stop suddenly and act real sad. “Think you’ll ever forgive him?” Jason asks. “Think you’ll ever forgive her?” Tyra shoots back. Jason avoids the question by making a toast. Come on, Jason. Anyone but Tyra. And anyone but Lyla, too. In fact, you’re too good for anyone. I guess I won’t be happy until one day I’m home watching the show and suddenly I see myself miraculously show up on the screen to lovingly fall into his waiting arms, and THEN I will say, “I approve of this.”
Mama Williams catches Smash returning to the hotel after missing bed-check. He apologizes for not being there, and she makes him sit. She asks him what he remembers about the night of his dad’s accident, and he says that he was coming home alone from work late and a lady ran a red light. She corrects him, saying that he was not coming home from work and he was not alone. Ooh. But she wants Smash to know that she loved his father, and that his father loved him and would be proud of him. Probably wouldn’t be proud of the steroids though, SMASH. Cut to Smash in a cemetery, standing over his father’s grave and crying. Is there no end to the misery?!
If only he were alive to see your bepimpled face in action.
Actually, there is. It’s game time! Everyone is pumped. A little too pumped, in fact, as Junior Silverio’s smack talk leads to an all-out brawl. And the game hasn’t even started yet. The teams are pulled apart and Taylor gives his little pep talk. “Play smart!” he yells. Good idea. Smash starts screaming about how this is his house, and he’s come to take it back.
We cut immediately to…the fourth quarter? What the hell just happened? Apparently nothing, because the teams are deadlocked at 0-0. How convenient. Gatling eventually scores a safety, while Tim takes a hard hit and is taken out of the game. In the stands behind Lyla, a bunch of bratty girls start to hurl insults and ultimately a bottle of water at her. Buddy watches, confused, as Lyla leaves the field. Mama Garrity gets up, but Buddy says “This one’s me,” and follows his daughter. Oh, no. This better not be a setup for a scene in which I start to like you two.
But of course it is. He finds Lyla under the stands, sobbing as usual. He asks what’s wrong. “I lost Jason”, she weeps. Ah, memories. I lost a Jason in high school too. She confesses that she was unfaithful. Daddy says we all make mistakes and we learn from them and grow up. She’s surprised that he came to find her, since he’s never missed a game before. “It’s just a game. You’re my daughter.” Dammit, Garritys! You’ve unearthed my only weakness, the touching father-daughter moment. You know that song “Butterfly Kisses”? Buckets of tears.
“Look, would a Polish sausage plug your cry hole?”
Taylor puts Tim back in the game, even though his arm is on the verge of falling off. This re-earns him the respect of his teammates, and everyone of course pulls together and Smash scores a touchdown to win the game. Amidst a rousing gospel chorus hymn (full circle, folks), Julie runs down to the field to meet Matt, who just can’t help but kiss her. The resulting awwws from us, the viewers, can be heard from SPACE. Smash hugs his mother and his sister, who gives him a Look. She knows too much. Now he’ll have to kill her.
Cuter than a puppy kissing a kitten sitting in a basket full of baby chicks held by Elmo.
In all, another solid episode. The Race For My Heart continues to surge, with Jason in a strong lead but with Matt gaining some significant ground with the whole grandma thing and the kiss at the end. In fact, I think we’re gonna have to give him the win for this week. Truly an upset. What did everyone else think? Good stuff? Are your souls as destroyed as mine is?