Most of my ignorant acquaintances tend to be surprised when I tell them that Friday Night Lights airs on Wednesdays. Well, proverbial stupid people, do you only eat sundaes on Sundays? Do you only listen to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on Saturdays? Do you only go to T.G.I. Friday’s on Fridays? The answer is no. No one goes to T.G.I. Friday’s. My point is, I’m hungry.
Hey look! A recap!An evil sun pokes through the evil clouds of the early morning while my favorite radio sports guy exposits that the Panthers’ future for the season depends on the upcoming game between Buckley and the heavily favored Arnett-Meade. If Buckley wins, the Panthers will make it to the playoffs. If not, I guess the series gets cancelled or something. Over at practice, Coach shouts a lot about how everything is out of their control and they’ll just have to hope for the best. Or in his words: “What happens haaaappens! Ain’t no spell or bag of juju gonna change that!” Juju? Methinks Coach is a closet Grey’s fan!
The sun grimly rises on what will undoubtedly be yet another heartrending day in Dillon, the unhappiest place on earth. I feel cold. So cold.
Smash is out with a bunch of buddies and Waverly, the poor girl he’s currently dating. And by dating I mean has kidnapped and is forcing to listen to him ramble on and on about football. She finally gets up and starts walking away, saying that she has a trumpet that needs some polishing. Smash becomes surly and confused, either because she left angrily or because she just made a vaguely sexual reference that he doesn’t understand.
Over at SaracenHappyLand, Grandma spouts some predictions for the game on Friday and Matt humors her by listening. It’s wonderful. He breaks a glass (symbolism? I don’t know) and Dad walks in to help clean it up. He tells Matt that he wants Buckley to win so that he can see his son in the playoffs. Matt’s all like bwwhaaa? And Dad’s all like I’m not going back to Iraq! And they’re both like Let’s shake hands! And I’m all like, eh. It doesn’t matter if he goes or stays, Matt’s life will always be hard because he makes that my-life-is-so-hard face so often it’s now just too perfect to waste on happiness. And the writers know this. I HATE those writers. (Just kidding! Lovies! Keep making this show!)
Coach is driving, and also driving his wife nuts obsessing over the game on Friday. Maybe you should take your own advice, COACH. Don’t tell me you already forgot about the juju. As they pull up to their house, a portly gentleman cheerfully informs Coach that he has been served by Jason Street’s family. And I have been served by a violent series of CRINGING.
Let me just take this opportunity to say that the theme song from this show, which is essentially two notes played over and over, is fantastic. It keeps popping up in my head at the oddest times like when I’m reading or flossing or attempting to make a beer cheese soup like I did tonight (disaster). I want to get it for my iPod so that when I’m walking down the street I can feel like an emotional teenager whose life is slowly being crushed by any given number of problems that can be driven away in an instant by a good football game. Ah, the power of music.
Later on in bed, Tami still can’t believe that they’re being sued. Coach makes all sorts of excuses for the Streets, saying that you can’t take it personally, but it’s clear that he’s mostly trying to convince himself of this. Because that’s gotta hurt. I feel hurt as well. I don’t want any fighting betwixt my two favorite characters. (I think they’re still my favorites. It changes so often I can’t keep track anymore. I should create a colorful graph of some kind.)
Some gnarly guitars on the soundtrack cue up to let us know that Jason the Badass is out for his ten-mile morning constitutional. He arrives at the general store sweaty as always (no complaints), and tries to make some small talk with “Clint”, a surly old man who blows him off and walks away. Puzzled, Jason conveniently enough glances over at the morning paper, which informs him that his family is suing Coach and that the town now hates him with a ferocious passion. Jason blows up and so does the soundtrack, pounding away as he angrily wheels down the street with a fury the likes of which has only been seen by my local grocery store when they’re out of my favorite cheeseballs.
Hey look! Jason’s gearing up for 24!
Over at Tyra’s house, Guy Who Is Not Her Father opines that the Streets should not, in fact, be suing the Panthers. Ooh, if only Jason could hear this, he’d be steamed. “Bob” teases Tyra about her tight jeans, and informs both her and her mother that they both have a “genetically superior ass”. Charming! When’s the wedding?
Exhibit A: Tyra’s Ass. Go ahead, tap it!
Jason is tearing his parents a new one over the lawsuit. He already hates that everyone pities him and now he hates that everyone hates him. And I hate that he’s upset, and I really hate that he’s hated, but I really really hate those commercials for The Olive Garden. Dad storms out so Mom takes over Consoling Duties. She says that there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for him, and that they need money and not everyone is going to be able to understand. She also apologizes for putting him through this, and tries to rationalize by again repeating that Coach should have put him through tackling practices. Jason sort of agrees. Watch it, kid. We do not speak ill of the Coach in this household.
Over at practice, Coach is shouting more exposition. “A little issue has come to my attention: the annual Women’s Booster League Rodeo Fundraiser and Fair. SHUT UP!!” he yells in more or less the same breath, as the whole team starts groaning. Yes, he is forcing them to go instead of watching the big game, because it’s a good cause and he’s a good man, dammit. Diss the rodeo on your own time, BOYS.
Matt’s father can’t seem to find a job, so Matt shows up at Buddy Garrity’s car dealership to see what he can do. Buddy is just pleased as punch that Matt’s not moving away to Oklahoma, so he’s all too happy to give his father a job as a salesman. Oh, this should go well. Matt, extremely grateful, mumbles a string of thanks, while Buddy beams and asks him if he likes to hunt. Don’t fall for it Matt! He’ll eat you!
Buddy Garrity’s new hit album Fall Blowout on sale now!
Coach shows up at Mr. Street’s hobby…store…? It has board games and china and all sorts of doodads and knickknackery so I’ll just assume he works on the set of Antiques Roadshow. Anyway, Mitch gets somewhat embarrassed and apologizes for the lawsuit, but Coach keeps insisting that he knows it wasn’t their idea. Plus the additional pain isn’t even going to be worth it since they barely have a case. Mitch cautiously disagrees and cites the fact that he’s completely out of money and he doesn’t know what else to do. Try losing your child’s legs and future and every cent you’ve ever earned, he says. And then the kicker: “Hell, I don’t want to sue anyone. It’s killing me to do this. But since I’m already dead…it doesn’t matter anyway, does it.” UGH. My HEART hurts. (Could be the beer cheese soup.)
Jeez Mitch, I know you’re a checkers fan, but this seems a bit excessive.
Matt and his father arrive at Garrity Motors for his first day of work. Poor Henry is mumbling (the speech pattern of choice for all Saracens) that he doesn’t know anything about cars, but Matt is too jazzed to care. Buddy greets them and whisks Henry off to the wonderful world of side impact airbags and APR financing. Matt watches like a mom on the first day of school, stupidly grinning at no one in particular and clearly very pleased with himself for facilitating this soon-to-be disaster.
Smash chases after Waverly, asking how her tuba is. Smash can really be a jerk sometimes. Is it so hard to remember what instrument she plays? It’s like the only thing she does. She reminds him that it’s a trumpet and refuses to apologize for leaving the table the other day because no one was talking to her. He retorts that hey, he was sitting right next to her! Ah, good one, Smash. I love how this show’s writers speak fluent Teenager. Smash then lays down the rules. “Number one, don’t nobody walk out on The Smash.” Oh, Smash. You’re a DELIGHT. She’s none too thrilled about the return of the third person, and admits that she doesn’t think they have anything in common. Smash insists that there’s more to him than football (by claiming that he and Matt are friends who regularly discuss stem cell research and global warming) and eventually invites her to the rodeo on a double date with Matt and Julie. Waverly agrees to give “The Waverlash” another try. She’s so cute. She deserves better.
“Smash. I’m standing RIGHT HERE.”
Julie is angrily banging on Matt’s door because she had been waiting for him at the library for an hour and he never showed. Matt finally answers and spews forth a string of apologies amidst a muttering grandma and a whistling tea kettle and a slew of chaos. So he’s stressed. Got it. Julie looks slightly freaked but offers to help out, and Matt informs her of the double date and that they have to pretend that Smash is a real person and cares about things other than football. Well, I know one thing he cares about. STEROIDS. Yeah, I went there.
Julie doubles as a mime in the off-season.
All is not well in Tyraville. Her mother and Bob start a fight that escalates rather quickly and ends in a smack from Bob. WELL. Tyra morphs into The Hulk, grabs a fireplace weapon of some kind, and mercilessly starts beating Bob with it, screaming at the top of her lungs for him to get out. And let me tell you something. This fight is SO TERRIFYING I very nearly picked up the phone to dial 911. It genuinely gave me goosebumps. Anyway, Bob glares at Tyra, and she literally just bares her teeth at him for a good five seconds until he leaves. BADASS. I immediately become a giant Tyra fan. She now has my approval to start a future romance with Jason. See, she just had to earn my respect.
But we’re not done yet. In what is maybe one of the best scene transitions I’ve ever seen, Julie walks into the living room where her parents are watching TV and whispers, “I love you guys. And you guys are the best parents in the world.” Now, there have been a lot of moving moments on this show but this one definitely lands firmly in the top three. It was perfectly delivered and simply beautiful. Naturally, Tami wigs out (do people still use that phrase?) because she thinks something is wrong and yells at Coach, who is just sitting there smirking at his wonderful parenting skills.
“I’m a great father!”
“OH HELL NO.”
Over in the kitchen, Julie explains that she’s upset at how much Matt has to deal with and is worried that it’s all just going to crush him. Coach amusingly reassures her that “he’s like a stinkbug, nothing can crush him.” Ha. You would know, Coach. We’ve seen the murderous look in your eyes. Tami offers to guide him, as a guidance counselor is wont to do.
Tyra consoles her mother, who refuses to get out of bed. She’s upset that Bob may be gone for good, which Tyra tries to convince her is not such a bad thing. But then she notices an empty pill bottle and loses the will to fight. She’s been through all this before and nothing changes. These poor kids. It’s nice that Julie realizes how lucky she is, because all the other Dillon kids really got the short end of the stick when it comes to awesome parents.
Buddy Garrity watches as Henry fails to close a deal. He drags him into his office and gives him a small American flag pin to wear to “remind” customers of his 20 years of service. Henry understandably doesn’t want to use the flag to sell cars, but eventually caves under Buddy’s, well, salesmanship. Of course if it were me I’d probably do whatever Buddy asked me to for fear of him sitting on me.
Lyla, over at Jason’s house, notices that there are sheets on the couch. Jason explains that his parents have been fighting. More parent troubles, eh? This is what we call a THEME. Lyla, who in case you were wondering is still devoid of anything resembling a personality, asks Jason if all this lawsuit business is a good idea. Jason hates the whole situation but is starting to think that maybe his parents are right, maybe he should have had more tackling practice. Lyla says she’ll back him no matter what he decides, she loves him, etc. And I usually love Jason scenes but this one just trainwrecks into sappiness so let’s just move on.
Matt eagerly asks his father how the first day went, but it’s pretty clear that it went mighty shittily. Later, Julie finds him sitting out on the front steps staring into space, praying to the football gods that they make it to the playoffs. She presents him with a frozen casserole from her mother, causing him to jokingly ask if he’s that pathetic. Yeah, Matt, you kind of are. But that’s why we love you. He bares his soul to brave young Julie, how he thought that things were going to be different and that he wishes that his father actually wanted to be around. Julie calmly suggests, like I’m shouting at the screen, that he could try getting angry for once. No, Matt calmly says to both of us, he can’t. “He’s trying. What else can you really ask of anyone?” And a small halo begins to form over the kid’s head because he’s a friggin SAINT. Julie better dig her claws in and never let go.
Matt used to forget which house is his, but not anymore!
Time for some bull wrasslin’! Country music! Popcorn! Ferris wheels! Mullets! Coach is sulking in the car over the lawsuit and the stupid game that they all wish they were watching instead. He’s just upset that he can’t control it. Well that’s too bad, because it’s time for the rodeo. Tami dons a cowboy hat. Aaamazing.
Julie is talking to Waverly about some foreign art film that she went to with Matt, and at the last minute remembers that she’s supposed to be lying so she not-so-smoothly stammers that Smash went with them too. Waverly is skeptical. Smash is watching them and confesses his confusion to Matt. He doesn’t know how to handle this girl because she’s indifferent to his charm. Matt suggests that maybe he should, oh I don’t know, show the SLIGHTEST bit of interest in her life. Smash, ever the gentleman, says, “I don’t want to pay attention to her. I want her to pay attention to me.” You know, I totally feel for Waverly. I really want to like Smash, but whenever he busts out with this egotistical crap I just want to smack his outrageously charming face.
Elsewhere at the festival, Tyra asks her mom if she’s ever thought about moving away from Dillon. Tyra don’t go! I just started to like you! We could have a beautiful future together! They’re interrupted by Bob, who just wants a small word. As he and her mother tersely chat, Tyra slowly drifts away. Presumably to throw herself off a cliff.
Tyra and her new boyfriend
Jason and Lyla arrive as well. She ominously asks if he’s ready for this, which I assume means that she’s talking about the powerful social dramas and conflicts that can unfold only at a local rodeo festival. They soldier on.
Later on, Tyra’s mom meets back up with her daughter to discuss things. She tries to brush the whole situation off as just a little fight, but Tyra’s not up for this bullshit anymore. She says that she loves her more than anything in the world, and that she’s a damn good mother, but she’s “such a loser when it comes to men.” So she gives her an ultimatum: if Bob comes back, she’s moving out. Hey Tyra, could you stop being so awesome? My television is going to explode.
Smash and Waverly are watching an arm wrestling match. I guess this is what they do at rodeo festivals? I must confess I’ve sadly never been to one. Waverly asks him about all of the things that he’s allegedly done with Matt and Julie, but since he can’t lie his way out of a paper bag she ultimately catches him in his web of untruths and is appalled. “It’s your own damn fault. You can’t even see what’s in front of you. I’m Smash!” he blares. STOP IT. YOU’RE AWFUL. He then jumps into the arm wrestling ring amidst many a hoot and holler, leaving Waverly to stew in disgust.
“I’m a moron!”
Tim catches up with Tyra, who informs him of her family problems. Tim, in a rare display of openness and sincerity, says that he is truly sorry for everything that has happened, that he was a complete jerk, and that he wants a second chance. But oh ho! Tyra is a changed woman, and although she wants to say yes it would be quite hypocritical of her to take back the man who burned her while chastising her mother for doing the same thing. She walks away. And though I’m not supposed to like him, Tim is looking fantastic tonight. There’s gotta be something in the Dillon water supply that produces gorgeous teenage boys.
Smash wins the arm wrestling contest and takes the trophy but can’t find Waverly to waverly it in her face. Coach catches a glimpse of Jason, and they both stare at each other for a moment. Dammit Jason, you better go talk to him or else I’ll wheel you over there myself. But in the end he just turns around and leaves. Gah. The rodeo announcer starts to introduce the competitors but interrupts himself to put the microphone up to the television that he’s watching so that the whole crowd can hear what’s happening at the game. Buckley scores and wins! Panthers are going to the playoffs! I fall to the floor in total and utter shock! By the way, I’d like to point out that the amount of actual football shown per episode continues to plummet at an alarming rate. Eventually this show will have nothing to do with sports at all, and the title will merely refer to a hip new brand of cigarettes.
“Prepare the celebratory ham!”
The next day, Buddy Garrity sits in church, thanking God for letting Buckley win and praying that the Panthers will go on to win State. Really. God answers, “Buddy for the love of me, please leave me alone. I’ve got a lot to do up here. I’m already working full time on postponing your massive heart attack for a few more years. Go away.”
Jason finds Coach at the field to tell him that he had nothing to do with the lawsuit, that it was out of his hands, and that he’ll always he his coach. Aw. Then he holds out his claw hand and I so want to see if it will be a fist pump or an actual handshake, but at that moment the camera angle switches to an outrageously long shot, perhaps even a satellite view from space, so I don’t know what happens. It’s a mystery for the ages.
“FINE, I’ll buy another ticket.”
Matt tells his father that it’s okay for him to go back to Iraq. He says he can handle it, that Grandma’s been doing well lately, and that he knows how much it means to him. Dad: “I don’t think I can agree to that.” Matt: “I don’t think I can let you not agree to that.” Perfection.
Tyra’s mom finds her in her room, packing. The whole moving out business was not simply an idle threat. Her mother apologizes and confides that she would never choose a man over her own daughter. Um, what have you been doing up until now? Whatever. They hug. It’s nice.
A genetically superior hug, eh BOB?
Smash apologizes for the little scheme he pulled last night, but there’s something else he has to say. Now I thought he was maybe going to be a decent guy for once, but oh no. He tells Waverley that yes, he likes himself. A lot. He absolutely loves football and being a star and all the attention it gets him, he can’t help it. He likes her but if she can’t accept the way he is, then he’s gotta live with it because he “can’t be nobody but the smash.” I’m gagging. Yes, the third person is here to stay, he says, but he thinks that somewhere deep inside she really likes it. You know, Smash could really use a boost in self-esteem. His confidence levels are dangerously low. Waverley leaves, and it’s unclear as to whether we just watched a break-up or a commercial for the Save the Waverley campaign. Also, Save the Waverley is a great name for a band.
This was a good episode, maybe not as gripping as some of the more recent ones but I think more touching in its subtlety. Matt and Julie are wonderful, while the Coach vs. the Streets thing makes me sick (in a good, compelling way). I now love Tyra and, okay I admit it, Tim as well, so Smash is the only one who has yet to win my heart. And he better do it fast, because I’m running out chances to give him. What did you think? Any burning rodeo festival stories you’d like to share?