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Not since The 24 Seasons 1-4 Bauer Power Marathon of Spring ’05 That Almost Caused Me To Lose All Touch With Reality has one television show consistently made me vomit in joy and utter happiness, but I’m happy to say that the dry spell has now ended. That illustrious award is now firmly lodged in the supple, skilled hands of Friday Night Lights. This week’s episode further annihilated my soul to the point of extinction, while at the same time nearly caused a laughter-related choking catastrophe. Seriously, what else can do that, other than perhaps any given episode of The Joy of Painting starring the irrepressible Bob Ross?But enough about my total lack of a life. We’ve got some pretty kids with problems to discuss! When we last left our favorite Texans, Matt and Julie proved to be the cutest kids on the planet, the Taylors proved to be utterly hilarious, Lyla proved to be the single weepiest girl in North America, Smash proved to be full of steroids and bitterness, and Tim proved that he can brood his way through an entire episode without uttering one word.
We begin this week with a very aged-looking Lyla wetting a paper towel…in order to wash off the “slut” and “whore” that a mysterious someone has written in lipstick all over her locker (hint: it was me!). She runs out to the field for cheerleading practice, where she is reprimanded for being late by her perky but stern coach because there is a big competition this weekend. The other girls lift Lyla up (this is called a liberty, I think she says? I don’t know cheerleading) but she soon falls, amidst evil remarks and cackles of glee. Coach Not-Taylor asks what the hell is wrong with her, but seriously lady, do you have ears? These girls aren’t exactly using echolocation to communicate, they’re saying all this mean stuff right under your nose. Pay attention.
Over in the school, Matt and Julie are talking about how to deal with her father. She calls him a “sick, twisted individual”, which I don’t entirely disagree with. She schemes her way into another date, despite Matt’s stuttering protests, which have started to border on Rainman-like. He manages to sputter out an apology for the awkward kiss he gave her at the end of the Gatling game, since he was just so swept up in the emotion and the moment and the suppressed horniness that it just popped out. She allays his fears by quickly pecking him on the lips and walking away. Aaand instant cavities all around.
Let’s wash out all this sweetness with some crushing misery, shall we? Jason finally gets released from the rehab hospital and returns home. And it’s all there: the handicapped symbol on the license plate, the van complete with motorized ramp, the pained expressions everywhere, the lump in my throat. And hey! He has parents! I assume they just took a quick trip to Florida or something for the past few episodes. Can’t let that timeshare go to waste! After some chitchat, they leave to let him get settled into his new office-turned-bedroom. (Side note: his mom says they “have some barbeque in the fridge”, but I hear this as “have Sparky in the fridge”, leading me to momentarily believe that the show has taken a cruel, pet-eating turn.) Jason glooms around and slams yet another picture of happier times with Lyla into a drawer with a satisfying thud. Jason LOVES destroying memories. And there are a lot of them to destroy, which makes me wonder if these two had maybe hired a photographer to follow them around and document their undying love just in case they would one day need to emphatically demolish the evidence.
I don’t like how in the credits the names don’t sync up with the pictures we see. We get a “Scott Porter” with Lyla pictured cheering, and an “Aimee Teegarden” with a brooding Tim Riggins. It’s just weird, is all.
Moving on. To the obligatory sports radio exposition! This time we’re listening with the Taylors in the car, and I for one wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Julie informs them that she’s going out with Matt on Saturday, which Coach immediately shoots down, as he and Matt and the whole team will be at the “cheerleading…thing…I don’t know, I didn’t read the whole email.” I LOVE this man. Julie calls both her parents insane and demands her own car, which causes the Taylor ‘Rental Units to explode into uproarious laughter. I swear, someone should bottle this family up and sell it as a scented candle called “Awesomeberry”.
Over on Street Street, Jason is having some parental issues of his own. His mother is informing him that a lawyer will be coming to visit tomorrow night to assess their case. Apparently they’re suing the school. Great. This can only work out for the best. Jason and his father don’t really approve, but they agree to at least hear the guy out. As Mom and Dad prepare to leave for work, they suddenly start worrying about leaving Jason home alone. Oh, NOW with the separation anxiety? You didn’t seem to care while you were summering in Bermuda or wherever you were. It’s not like he was lonely or needed loved ones around in his time of need or anything. Sheesh. These people. He insists he’s fine and they go, with more fist bumps aplenty. (By the way, it was really bothering me how Jason and his mom appear to be the same age, so I looked it up and by gum, in real life they’re only 8 years apart. Chew on that!)
Smash blatantly hits on a random girl in the school parking lot. Just as he starts to crank the Charm-o-meter up to eleven, he recognizes her as Waverly, a girl he used to know back in the day. Which was a Wednesday, by the way. He is uncharacteristically thrown off his game by this new development, and stammers for a minute as her father (a pastor, apparently) pulls up and she gets in the car. After some small talk, they drive away, leaving Smash flummoxed and breathless. And I can’t blame him, she’s a cutie. I would totally iron her shirt (my grandma did that once for a boy I liked).
In the locker room, Smash has already changed out of his fabulous pink polo shirt and is now bragging to anyone within earshot. The conversation meanders over to Matt, who helplessly watches as the player I have christened “Corky” proposes a bet that Matt can bang Julie before Smash can bang Waverly. Or as Smash puts it, “gets the v-chip out of her”. So far this show has been leading the pack with the awesome vagina slang. Someone should mention that come Emmy time. Anyway, Matt tells Smash to shut up, mostly because Coach has entered the room and whispered something to Corky, and we don’t get to hear but we all know it’s probably the stuff that nightmares are made of. He points a threatening finger at Matt. Strike one.
The cheerleaders are practicing. Bitchy girl #14 sneers something about not being able to “hold the cradle”, and sure enough Lyla comes tumbling down into a hilarious pile of girls. She finally, finally, snaps and starts a small catfight that lasts about two seconds before Coach Iron Fist puts an end to it all. She (the coach) loudly commands that the team get their shit together, and asks Lyla if she’s with them. Lyla says yes, clearly not meaning it. Is it just me or is Lyla literally aging before our very eyes? She now looks well into her late twenties.
Jason, clearly bored, leaves the house to find the next-door neighbors playing football (of course) in the front yard. The mother comes over to hug him, and the son oh dear god what happened to that kid’s face. He looks like the love child of Mr. Ed and…I don’t know, a box of giant teeth. Seriously, I can’t even focus on this scene. Those chompers are UUUGE. Listen people, if we can’t make fun of ugly children, the terrorists have already won. As tactful as he is beauteous, the kid asks Jason if he can walk. Jason does not join me in cringing, and good-naturedly says that he can’t walk but he bets he can beat him in a race.
So they take off down the street, Jason in his chair and The Thing on its bike. And the whole time I’m tensed up so tight you could bounce a quarter off me because I fear that at any moment they’ll all be flattened by a semi. Luckily this doesn’t happen, because if it did I doubt I’d be conscious enough to be writing this right now. The kid wins and challenges Jason to another race, but he politely declines, as he doesn’t “sweat like normal people now.” Hear that little noise? Yeah, it’s my heartstrings a-snappin’. After saying goodbye, Jason looks up to see Lyla creepily watching from her car. He approaches her and sneers, “I have nothing to say to you. Don’t come back here.” ICE BURN. Lyla defaults to the distressed look, but come on. You seriously can’t expect us to be on your side after watching the golden boy happily wheelchair race with an ugly child. He’s now attained Mother Teresa status.
Back at Dillon High, there are actual classes being held. Who knew? Smash and Company are currently being treated to the comical teaching stylings of…Janice from Friends! What a weird bending of the television space-time continuum. Smash is talking out of his ass about men spreading seeds and women growing them, when Waverly interrupts to clarify his point – that monogamy is unnatural. But she goes on to argue that civilization is based on suppressing this impulse to fertilize as many eggs as possible, that when we “act contrary to our instincts, that’s when things get interesting.” The camera zooms in on Tim. Oh hello, blatant metaphor. I didn’t hear you come in. Please, have a seat.
Lyla is eating alone in the cafeteria when she is approached by a couple of douchebags who invite her to a party and, presumably, into their pants. Tim scares them off and sits down , much to her dismay. She says it’s different for girls – how guys can sleep around and become cool for doing it, but girls can only ever be labeled as sluts and whores. So for once, Lyla is right about something. Everyone is staring at them, so she tells Tim to leave, since he’s only making things worse by sitting there. And for the love of all things greasy, get a haircut while you’re at it, Tim.
Tyra, in her two minutes of screen time this week, grabs Tim in the hall and reiterates the fact that he’s not making things better by being seen with Lyla. He tells her to stay out of it, and a lightbulb almost visibly goes on over Tyra’s head as she says, “You’re in love with her.” Tim, of the more flickering fluorescent lightbulb variety, slowly processes this and looks away.
Down at the ole yeehaw car dealership, Buddy Garrity the Selling Machine is knocked off his game by some local yokel in a cowboy hat. He has come to inform Buddy that his daughter Brittany has been putting some nasty things about Lyla up on the internets, and that he wanted to apologize in person for her high bitchitude. Cut to Buddy at home on the computer in the wild game room, clearly upset by what he sees. On the computer, not on the wall. Because those are some pretty gnarly dead animal heads.
It’s card game night at the Taylor House! Don’t forget the Doritos! Eric and Tami, amidst a discussion of Lylagate and a fervid game of War, are interrupted by the doorbell. It’s Matt Saracen! Commence countdown to awkward altercation…now. Julie arrives to rescue Matt before Coach can devour him whole, and proceeds to drag him off to the living room to watch some television. Tami and her husband exchange worried glances, perhaps because Matt is probably not skilled enough in the game of Go Fish to be dating a Taylor.
Back on Street Street, the lawyer is drilling Jason about the kinds of football practices he used to do. He wants to know if Coach Taylor ever personally instructed him on how to make a tackle, and Jason finally picks up on the fact that he’s trying to implicate Coach. He understandably freaks out, shouting that he himself made the tackle and that he will never say that it was Coach’s fault in any way. The lawyer firmly says that he’s only asking for the truth. Ugh, I do not like where this is heading.
The Taylors have moved their card game to the bedroom. And I don’t mean that in a dirty way, they’re actually still playing. Coach just thinks it’s wrong for Matt to just show up without warning, and Tami agrees. After some frantic pacing around, he finally snaps and bursts out into the living room to check up on the kids. They’re on the couch watching some product placement (The Office), and for the love of all things holy they’re sitting under a BLANKET! Resisting the urge to perhaps call the police, Coach sternly tells Julie it’s a school night, which ruffles Matt up enough for him to get up and leave, limply shaking Julie’s hand as he goes. Julie angrily storms off to her room. Tami stares at her dumbass husband, who holds up the offending object of seduction to insist, “They had a blanket.” Her response? “You’re an idiot.” Damn. These two just recap themselves.
Lyla is online looking at “The Official Lyla Garrity Slam Page”. Wow, it’s official and everything. Buddy comes in to check on her, and clearly wants to ask about the whole thing but somehow can’t. How do you talk to your daughter about her internet hate site? Perhaps this will be addressed in a future “The More You Know” spot. He leaves and Lyla cries a single tear, as opposed to the usual ocean.
Pep Rally! Coach grabs the mike and yells that while the football team is hunting for “a big W” this weekend, the cheerleaders are pursuing one as well at their own competition. And to symbolize the boys’ support, a select few members of the football team enter the gym in full-out cheerleader drag, with wigs and makeup and short skirts and the whole works. And dammit, my personal favorite has to be Tim Riggins in pigtails. Why does this show make it so impossible to unconditionally hate someone? Not surprisingly, the entire school goes apeshit as the boys do a little pom-pom routine and Smash lifts up his skirt. And we even get a brief Landry sighting, who appears to be quite turned on by all of this.
Lyla, who sadly missed the entire circus, is reading yet another hate note at her locker. I hope she’s saving them for a future scrapbook. Tami collects her and they head over to the guidance office. Lyla confesses that she’s quitting the cheerleading team, that ever since she was five she’s been preparing to become a Panthers cheerleader but now she just doesn’t want it anymore. She can’t keep pretending that she truly cares about any of it. And this is good writing and all but Minka Kelly is just not a very good actress and she’s veering dangerously close to soap opera land here so we’ll just move on and never speak of this scene again.
Matt drops by Coach’s office to talk about the whole Julie debacle. He finally grows some balls and says that he’s not going to stop seeing her just because Coach doesn’t approve. Coach, somewhat taken aback, makes it clear that what he says goes, and repeatedly tells him to leave. He should have just yelled “BLANKET”, since the very word seems to effectively rid any room of horny teenage boys.
Back at the Garrity Shack, Lyla’s mother (also very young) tries to cheer her up by quoting Scripture. Thanks mom!
Casa Williams is in chaos because Waverly and her father are coming over for dinner. Sassy Mama proves that she can cook and hurl zingers all at the same time: “I’ve been making this gumbo since Michael Jackson had a nose like yours.” Hey-o! The guests arrive and over dinner reveal that they have been doing missionary work in Africa for all these years. Hopefully they didn’t run into Kimberob over there, or they might have gotten an earful on how to better achieve a protein-rich diet. The conversation turns to education, and Smash lies about how the SAT classes he’s taking are going very well. Meaning of course that the steroids are working just fine, thank you.
Jason is preparing to pull himself off the chair and into his bed when, in a veritable orgasm of bad timing, Tim Riggins appears at the door. Jason, embarrassed and annoyed, tersely says, “Yes?” and Tim, not getting the clue that maybe he should leave, croaks that Lyla is completely in love with Jason. And now she’s going through hell, people hate her, she’s quitting the cheerleading team, and she’s losing it. Hell, you say? Yeah, Jason wouldn’t know anything about that, would he. Anyway, he doesn’t care, and says that he’s sure Tim can help her out. Damn. Jason always knows how to go straight for the jugular. Tim chooses this inopportune moment to apologize for everything, but Jason is at least mature enough to realize that he can’t deal with this and says “Not right now.” Tim slinks away. Well, there goes another heartstring. There are so few of them left.
Oh, thank God. A Taylor family scene. I need this. They’re all getting ready to leave for school, when Julie announces that she already has a ride with Matt, that she will be going out with him tomorrow before the cheerleading competition, and that Landry has arrived so she has to leave right now. She’s somehow able to get out the front door without a flying tackle from her father, and deftly slides into the front seat of the Landrymobile. The Taylors totally panic, and as Landry erratically drives away Tami even yells, “Watch the curb, whoever you are!” That line alone is enough to send me into hysterics, but it’s nothing compared to the gem that comes next. As he watches his only daughter drive off into full-blown adolescence, Coach loudly declares: “I’m gonna have a talk with that boy. I’m gonna have a Matt Chat, is what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna have a little Matt Chat,” while Tami mumbles under her breath, “I think that’s a truly terrible idea.” And the delivery from both of them is so perfect and hilarious that the Cheetos I’m eating literally almost shoot out my nose. I shit you not.
Cut immediately to Coach’s office for the much anticipated Matt Chat. Unfortunately it’s a little more low-key than it was built up to be (I was expecting something along the lines of the Spanish Inquisition), as Coach just gives Matt a bunch of football tapes for him to study over the weekend. Matt mutters that he’s already made plans with Julie, but Coach feigns innocence and suggests that since he’s the quarterback he might want to prioritize a little. Now, of course I want the Matt and Julie love to bloom into a bouquet of sunshine and rainbows, but Coach trying to prevent it all is so damn entertaining that I just want this to go on forever.
Waverly is desperately trying to shake Smash off her case. But “Smash don’t take no for an answer.” Waverly calls him out on the usage of the third-person voice and labels it as lame, but Smash just smiles that outrageously winning smile and melts her cold little heart almost instantly. He asks her out on a date by promising not to talk about football, and she says she’ll think about it. Which of course will mean yes. Looks like we’ve got ourselves an all-out Cutest Couple Competition in the near future!
We then skip completely over the game, which the Panthers won. This show just may eliminate the football premise yet. A strange little montage begins. Jason watches the end of the game, or possibly the 11 o’clock news, at home. But Tim is also watching. Did he not go? Or is he already home? Parents are picking up their kids from the church, which babysits during games (aww). Then Matt is watching with his grandmother. Yeah, must be the news that they’re all watching. Whatever. Anyway, Jason says “good game” to his television and it’s wicked sad. He turns to his desk to write a letter or something (?) and notices Lyla outside his window, yet again. Enough with the stalking, Lyla. He’s been through enough without having to worry about your creepy old face popping up everywhere.
Smash and Waverly are on their mini golf date. This is why I love these kids, because they all go on exactly the kind of dates I went on in high school. Mini golf, bowling, corn mazes – all surefire recipes for fun. Smash tells her he wants to go to UT, but she has doubts that he can get in, academically speaking. He skirts the issue and asks if she’s still thinking about medical school. After a few jokes about playing doctor in church (ew) she admits that she’s not sure that’s what she wants right now. Smash mentions Africa and wonders why she never wants to talk about it. Before he can delve further into her shady past they’re interrupted by a few screaming girls who attack him with hugs, which he happily returns with a side of some random we’re-going-all-the-way-to-state drivel. Luckily this gush-fest is ended by a different kind of gush-fest, as Smash’s nose starts to bleed. Waverly accuses him of not spending money on SAT classes, and he accuses her of never having gone to Africa. Ooh, mini golf drama. Deceit! Romance! Windmills!
Over on the Street Street Corner, Lyla is pleading her case to Jason. She’s crying, she’s so sorry, blah blah blah. But Jason is standing his ground (figuratively). He’s upset for three reasons, which he clearly outlines for her with Powerpoint precision: she cheated on him, she lied about it, and she did it with his best friend. Seriously, how do you argue against that? Game over, Lyla. She screeches that she was there for him when no one else was, and to be fair this is true, since his parents were busy sunning themselves in Tahiti. But hell hath no fury like a Jason scorned. “You want credit for sticking by me? I did not ask for this. And I did not ask for the one person in this world that I loved to break my friggin’ heart.” It’s okay, Jason. My heart is breaking as well. Lyla blabs on about how alone she was, and that it was a mistake, and that he’s all she has in the world. She starts to walk away, but Jason grabs her hand and brings it up to his face. I hold my breath. Finally he says he just can’t, and lets go. YES. The heavens rejoice, and I high-five the television screen.
Saturday afternoon. Coach comes home to a Julie-less house. As it turns out, she has been over at Matt’s all day watching the very football tapes that were meant to drive them apart. Coach is adorably upset at his plan having backfired, but on the other hand is delighted by the fact that, according to Tami, Julie has picked up some football terminology and is now somewhat interested in her father’s sport. Is there any way I can be legally adopted by this family?
Tim shows up at Lyla’s house. Buddy almost rips him a new one, but Lyla pulls a Julie Taylor and sneaks out the front door to talk to him. He tells her to compete in the cheerleading competition, since it’s what she loves and it puts a fire in her that she can’t get anywhere else, and she needs that right now. I assume he’s not talking about a scorching case of herpes, which she decidedly does not need right now. They hug and he walks away into the dripping rain as she stares. EMO.
Finally we arrive at the much-heralded cheerleading competition. A very gay man lectures the cheerleaders on the rules of the fabulous competition. Coach meets Smash in the bathroom, where Smash is again nosebleeding all over the place but blows it off as if it’s nothing. The Taylors eventually find seats near Matt and Julie, who wave to them. Backstage, the Panthers cheerleaders are preparing to enter the field, when suddenly Lyla appears in a burst of sunshine. She gives her name to the gay organizer guy, noting that she is in fact “the whore with the website”. Heh. He allows her to compete, to the delight of some teammates and to the disgust of others, particularly Brittany. But they take the field and Lyla flits around and cheers her little heart out. Shots of the happy audience. Buddy is filming her every move. Tim is watching her like a little lost puppy dog, and Lyla looks over at him. But all is not as it seems. As it turns out, she’s really looking behind him at…Jason! GAH! I rescind my high-five. The episode ends with her fluttering around in slow motion. But at this point no amount of schmaltzy trickeries can warm my heart, which, as mentioned before, has been reduced to a smoldering pile of rubble.
I loved this episode. Everyone was amazing, with the exception of Minka Kelly’s horrific acting disasters. For those of you keeping score at home, the Race For My (Shattered) Heart is still in full swing, with Jason gaining even more ground this week for a truly commanding lead, Coach Taylor not too far behind with a multitude of points for all the hilarity, Matt and Julie scoring some extra touchdowns with THE BLANKET, and Tim earning a single solitary goal with the pigtails. I guess it’s not so much a race, more of a random game of Calvinball. Anyway, what do we think, kids?