Man. Friday Night Lights, tackling the issues. This week’s episode provided us with a healthy dose of racism, a dash of sexism, a pinch of disabledism, and a smattering of Landryism. But no smoke monsters. Sorry, kids.
We start off as we rarely do: with a football game! Usually it takes place towards the end of the episode, when my heart is too broken to care. But they’re being all shady and starting out full force this week, just to keep me on the ball. Pretty sneaky, sis. Football, football, football. The Panthers win 30-10!! And yes, you’re hearing correctly: one of the announcers does yell “What in tarnation?!”After the game we get a rousing but somewhat odd victory speech from Coach. It’s very George W. Bushish in its twangyness. Maybe it just seems weird coming at the beginning of the episode. Anyway, there are some reporters in the locker room and they’re interviewing Assistant Coach Mac McGill. And since that’s a name like that just sort of screams trouble, we know that that’s what there will be. Trouble, that is. The pesky blonde reporter asks if race is a factor in the upcoming game, and Mac says some stupid things that are followed by even stupider things, such as how black kids have natural gifts for running the ball and aren’t suited to be quarterbacks. Commence the Cringe Count! He goes on to say that they’re dangerous, like junkyard dogs. Cringe Count: 2! The damn reporter needles a little more, asking if white kids make better quarterbacks because they’re inherently smarter, and Moron Mac does NOT deny this, insisting that not ALL black people are dumb. Cringe Count: 3! Coach catches wind of this situation and wisely pulls Mac away, but the damage has been done. The excrement’s about to hit the air conditioning.
Ah, Car Ride with Expositional Radio Sports Show. How I’ve missed you. Of course the whole McGill scandal is the topic of the day, and poor Coach just looks miserable. How many situations that are beyond his control must this man face? He’s like Job! Job I say!
The Williams family is listening as well, and for some reason Smash just doesn’t seem to get it. He doesn’t understand why everyone is so offended. Um, maybe it’s because he just called you a junkyard dog, Smash. Do you need me to draw you a picture?
As it turns out, the Williams are on their way to look at a house! To buy! Huzzah! The kids absolutely love it, and Mama doesn’t think that they can afford it but oh what the hell. They’re movin’ on up! Of course, as with all things on this show, this brief moment of happiness will surely be followed by a world of pain. I could be wrong. But I’m probably not.
Next stop on the downhill train is Tami’s guidance office, where Julie and Tyra are being accused of skipping class. Julie whines that it was only P.E., which in my book is a completely valid excuse. It’s like saying, “I’m sorry I missed Torture Class, it won’t happen again!” Tyra apologizes for the both of them, to which Tami replies “Well Tyra, that really sounds like a hollow apology to me, so save it.” She’s so real and in my face! As punishment, Tami declares that in order to make up for the missed classes, they will both have to attend practices for and play in the powderpuff game this week. Both Julie and Tyra look as if they’re going to vomit.
Cut to powderpuff practice and holy crap it’s LANDRY!! Someone finally let him out of his cage! I’m so excited to see him I can barely process what’s going on in the scene but I’ll try anyway. He’s going to be the referee for the game, and the coaches are none other than His Majesty Timothy Riggins and His Lordship Matthew Saracen. Julie recoils upon seeing Matt, the “charity calendar” party wounds still fresh, and correctly notes that this is going to be awkward. A coin is flipped and the boys start picking teams. Matt picks Tyra first. More picking. Tim picks Lyla. More picking. Matt picks Julie third, with a meek little “Julie Taylor? Please?” She begrudgingly gets up, and if looks could kill Matt would be chillin’ with Anna Nicole right now. Too soon?
Jason appears in a school hallway! He’s alone for a minute, then the bell rings and the hallway swells with smelly teenagers. A few of them stop to chat for a minute to welcome him back. And is that…a smile?! A Landry appearance and a happy Jason all at once? Best episode ever!
The elusive Happy Jason
Coach pulls Mac out of his Driver’s Ed class to give him a piece of his mind. He says that Mac needs to issue a public apology. Mac has had enough of these “PC damn sons of bitches” but Coach does not have TIME for this. Hey, it’s true! Mac DOES hate PC (and his peripherals). You know, both Macs are mean little bitches. Anyway, Coach crazily suggests that maybe Mac shouldn’t be making judgments about people’s abilities based on the color of their skin. *The More You Know* Mac continues to shoot his ignorant mouth off but Coach makes it abundantly clear that this is not a request.
The whole gang is together, once AGAIN, at a restaurant. But it’s not Applebee’s and it doesn’t look like the Arctic Freeze, so I’m flummoxed. I didn’t know any other restaurants existed in Dillon. Smash is working his Smash magic on Waverley, as they are apparently a full-fledged couple now. And wow, they’re really adorable. I’m not prepared for the amount of cuteness. I almost have the vapors. Meanwhile, at the table of moaning and bitching, Matt is whining to Landry that he can’t believe he picked Julie third. Landry, ever the logical one, suggests that pheromones are the key to winning back fair Julie’s heart. Matt correctly points out that he’s retarded. This caucus of intrigue is interrupted by a news bulletin. It’s Mac issuing the forced public apology, and what a surprise – it’s totally lame. The black kids are calling him on it, whereas Tim and some spiky-haired Abercrombie kid defend him. Waverly notes that if they were at UT, he would have been fired by now. This leads to some more heated arguments, and when Smash tries to tell her it’s no big deal, she storms out.
Tyra and Julie are walking down the hall, also bitching and moaning about the powderpuff game. This thing seems to bring misery to everyone that participates. Why does it exist? They run into Lyla, who tells Tyra that her mom is doing real well at the dealership. And by dealership she of course means the Buddy Garrity House of Pleasure. Tyra gives her some sass, which Lyla happily returns. I don’t know. It’s weird to see Lyla taking part in a normal human interaction. I’m scared. Tyra stalks away, telling Julie that she’s changed her mind and that she’s really going to get into this game. So Lyla will be killed by the end of the episode. Got it. Don’t no one get in the way of Tyra.
Over at the BLACK KIDS’ LOCKERS, Waverly (whose hair seems to have suffered some sort of trauma) is lecturing Smash on the merits of standing up for his own race. Smash still doesn’t see what the big deal is, and Waverly is patiently trying to convince him that despite the fact that this doesn’t involve football, it somehow still matters. But this does not compute in Smash’s brain. Maybe she should try a subliminal approach: “Smash, football (racism) football (is) football (bad).” He insists that with all the drama he’s been racking up lately he can’t get mixed up in this, but she says that sooner or later he’s going to have to face it. Oh, Waverly, you old soul you.
Excuse me, Waverly’s hair? What are you doing?
Biology class. And what do you know, Jason showed up just in time for frog dissection day! What an ironically horrible coincidence! He straps his utensil-holder-thing onto his hand while his poor mousy lab partner looks on, probably terrified that the scalpel is going to end up flying across the table and into her jugular. He can’t cut the frog so much as gently caress it with the tip of the scalpel, and even though she offers to help he keeps trying. He’s plucky, that one. The teacher comes over to put a stop to this madness by saying that Jason can observe, since “it’s all anyone expects.” Fantastic. Cringe Count: 4. But our fearless young upstart says he wants to finish the incision anyway. It should be noted that the teacher has one of those old man thin ponytails. Psff. Biology teachers. Who the hell do they think they are.
Powderpuff practice! How on earth do Tim and Matt have time for this? Playoffs dammit! Tim is ruling his team with an iron fist, alternating between sass and encouragement. Since when does Tim Riggins have a personality? I demand a recount. Over on the other team, Matt is predictably failing miserably as a coach. Tyra is sick of it all and decides to start yelling at Matt, like that will help. This team looks like a bunch of drunken monkeys. Julie is sitting on the ground doing nothing, so Matt, since he’s not really coaching or anything, goes over and sits next to her. He asks her to play quarterback, and after giving him some serious lip she eventually caves and calls him pathetic. If these two break up for real, I give up. I JUST GIVE UP.
Over at the REAL football practice, the boys are doing some sort of piggyback ride drill. When Mac starts yelling “encouragement”, one of the black players utters under his breath “Yes suh master” and Mac goes ballistic. Coach watches from the sidelines. Cringe count: 5.
Time for the weekly Taylor couple conference! I love these. Tami tells Coach that she just had to break up a fight in the hallway. I would have loved to see that. I bet those kids are unconscious. She wants to hold some sort of forum and start a dialogue, so that all those pent up feelings of rage can get out into the open in a healthy atmosphere. Right. Coach agrees with her and promises to tell the team about it. He then glances over into the locker room, where the black kids are all shooting Mac the Look of Death. Your team is BROKEN, Coach. Send that asshat off to rehab. It worked for Isaiah Washington!
And now it’s time for Driver’s Ed for Quads, as Herc is showing Jason how to operate a truck with hand cranks and pulleys and levers and magic. Herc asks him how it’s going back at school, which prompts Jason to ask when people are going to start treating him normally again. They have another one of their patented heart-to-hearts, and it suddenly strikes me that Herc is almost an exact replica of Mark Zupan, the main guy from Murderball. He looks almost exactly like him except slightly more hickish, and I’m a little upset at myself that I didn’t catch on to this until right now. I’m supposed to be on top of things, and I let you guys down. I’m sorry. Anyway, the driving lesson goes well until Jason knocks over one of several garbage cans. Which, by the way, have been arranged into some sort of elaborate obstacle course. Who set that up? Herc? How?!
Ah, another sleepy night at the Arctic Freeze. Matt and Smash are behind the counter in their silly hats. Aw. Matt, attempting to bare his soul with nary a stutter, tells Smash that he thinks that what Mac said was wrong. Smash says not to sweat it. The boy just doesn’t get it. Mac insulted you! What does he need to do, leave a pile of flaming feces at your front door? Get mad, kid!
It’s time for the Awesome Taylor Family Scene of the Week. Julie comes home to some less than amused parents. She sighs and rolls her eyes a lot, prompting Coach to smarm “Aww, was powderpuff tiiiring?” MARRY ME. Julie flops down on the couch and Dad starts to lay down the law, as the powderpuff thing is clearly not punishment enough. Once he thinks of something really good, he’ll let her know. Julie, the little firecracker, sasses back that she’ll be in her room until that happens. WELL. That’s enough for COACH: “I don’t want you to be flippant with me!” I’d like Coach to work the word “flippant” into every conversation from now on. That would just be Christmas to me. He goes on to genuinely beg her not to take their trust away. Again, lovely. Always lovely, these people. Julie slumps off to her room, muttering about her quarterback woes. Pause. “Matt Saracen’s got you at quarterback? Wait, honey, come here!” And he prances off after her. Fantastic.
The best screenshot EVER.
Tim saunters into the Arctic Freeze to have a little Smash Chat. He says that they’re all under a lot of pressure, what with playoffs and whatnot, so if Smash could just have a little talk with “his boys” that would be just great thanks. Ah good. Cringe Count: 6. Smash finally gets mildly offended and points out the hypocrisy of the team drunkard asking him to get his shit together, and after some more talk Tim leaves, mumbling about Smash being a lost cause. A neon sign that says “All the way to state!” glows in the background. Subtle.
Tyra shows up at Buddy Garrity’s car dealership after hours. I am sooo ready to ratchet up that Cringe Count one more time because I’m almost positive she’s going to find them doing the nasty in a showroom Subaru. Alas, it’s not meant to be (yet). Mom’s still at her desk, catching up on work. However, Buddy does show up moments later with dinner, and it’s clearly awkward. Tyra leaves, appropriately disgusted. We’ll just save that cringe for next week.
Coach is out in the front yard, going over plays and practicing with his daughter. And the girl has got an ARM. Tami steps out front and watches lovingly. Me too.
It’s powderpuff game day! This should be interesting. Landry is running around like a moron in his referee outfit. There is much squealing and flitting about. And the girls are into it, too. HA. Tim is screaming his greasy-haired head off, while Matt is seemingly no where to be found. Tyra catches a glimpse of Buddy Garrity and her mother talking closely in the stands, which causes her to morph into the HULK and DESTROY Lyla. Lyla staggers to her feet and predictably lashes out, asking if this is about Tim. Tyra counters that this is about her father putting his filthy hands all over her mother. Lyla doesn’t get it, so Tyra points a finger in her face and calls her “a spoiled little snob.” Fight, fight, fight! Aw, she just walks away.
The game continues. Landry makes a call that Coach does not agree with, and he starts yelling uncontrollably, much to the dismay of an embarrassed Tami. Landry demands that Coach get off of his line, so Coach gets all up in his face and Landry gives him a warning and it’s hilarious. I’ve been waiting forever for these two to be thrown into a scene together, and now that it’s here, I just don’t know what to say.
It’s too beautiful for words.
It’s tied with 12 seconds left. Matt tries to give some inspirational words to his team, but since he’s a total failure here Julie mercifully interrupts with an idea for the last play. She goes with it and scores a touchdown and they win! Landry does the ‘it’s good’ signal and gets all up in Tim’s FACE! And I just got a nosebleed, so I’ll be right back!
Enjoy this whilst I barricade the flow of blood!
Okay, all better, nothing to worry about folks. Feel free to send flowers. And money. Back to the show. Jason and Herc arrive at a bar to find a whole mess of wheelchair buddies shooting pool, including our old stumpy friend Corey. What’s the occasion, you ask? Why, they’re all there to inform Jason that he has been invited to the National Quad Rugby Team’s training camp in Austin for two weeks. At the end of those two weeks, the coaches evaluate and choose the new members for the team, which will then take off to tour in Beijing. “That’s China,” Corey explains. How did it just so happen that all of these guys were at the rehab facility that Jason was in, at the exact same time he was recovering, and they’re all on the National Team? Why were they even in the rehab place to begin with, if they’re already past that? Did they just fly in as soon as the kid’s neck snapped? It’s probably best not to ask questions. They have…connections. Anyway, Jason is totally speechless. Aw, more happiness for Jason. This can only mean one thing: he’ll be miserable by the end of the episode. Such is the Dillon curse.
Speaking of which, Mama Williams is at the bank, being told that her application for a loan has been denied. She questions whether it has anything to do with the fact that she’s a single parent or the fact that she’s, say it with me kids, black. Cringe Count: 7. Smash demands to speak to the supervisor, but the uppity snippy bank lady says she can only leave a message. Smash only gets angrier and begins to yell, but wise Mama stops him before he can become the “junkyard dog” and give these people the satisfaction. And her chin is waddling, so you know she means business. She says thank you to the bank bitches and drags him out. Classy lady, that Mama.
Jason is at home on the computer, looking at pictures of quad rugby players. And there’s the aforementioned Mark Zupan. Or is it Herc? I CAN’T TELL. Lyla walks in and he happily greets his QB1. Why wasn’t he at the game? Uncool, dude. If you’re going to propose to the girl you should go to her powderpuff games. It’s in the proposal contract that I just now made up. She asks if she is in fact a spoiled snob. Jason laughs but says, yes, a little. Anyway, there’s no time for her problems right now because “IgotinvitedtonationalsandI’mgoingtotrainingcampandifImakeitI’mgoingtoChina!” Lyla is surprised, because what about their plans? What about school? “School was a mistake,” explains Jason. UGH. Cringe Count: 8. A mistake? After one biology class? Dude, you picked the absolute worst time to come back to school. Had you sat in on an English class you would have been totally fine. But no, you wanted to slice the frog. Damn you, science! He says he doesn’t want to go through the trouble of fitting in, so he’ll just get his GED and move on with his life. Lyla is appropriately horrified, as am I.
“How will you hear my whining if you’re all the way over in China?”
But for now it’s on to Tami’s Race Relations Forum. There is a poor turnout, to say the least. One black kid gets up to say that at the end of the day, they all just want to be with their own. Landry puts in his two cents and says something about science and DNA. He is ignored. Finally a voice of reason in Waverly pipes up, and is promptly interrupted by Abercrombie. This escalates and eventually leads to an all-out brawl. Smash watches from the shadows.
He sneaks away to find Mac watching some plays on tape. He tries to talk to him about the whole situation, but Mac says it’s none of his business. He very rudely says he’s fed up with Smash’s whining, and that if he keeps it up he’ll be warming the bench on Friday. Cringe Count: 9. Smash says he can’t do that, but oh ho! Mac says “I can do that.” Pause and sinister glance. “And I will.” OOOOHH.
Tami arrives home and collapses onto the couch. She tells her husband about the forum fiasco and, showing a rare vulnerability, laments the futility of it all. Coach does the wonderful husband thing and comforts her lovingly. “You’re my wife, and I am damn proud of you.” Give this man a medal, an award, a World’s Best Husband coffee mug, anything!
Smash is in his room listening to some sort of Christian rap. He becomes Inspired.
Later on, he and Waverly usher all the black football players into the church. Waverly ominously hands him a set of keys and for a moment I think he’s going to lock them all in the church. Come on, Smash, Seven Minutes In Heaven is not the answer to racism. Instead he joins them inside and closes the door. What the hell is going on?
We’re about to find out. At practice the next day, the team lines up and prepares to run sprints. When Mac blows the whistle, most of the team takes off but the black players stand still. Mac the asshat yells at them and blows the whistle again. Smash takes off his helmet and the rest of the players follow suit. They stare down Mac as he continues to scream at them. Finally, they walk off the field, with Smash leading the charge. Cringe Count: 1000. Oh, Coach. Your team is broken and so is my heart.
The Rockettes, ladies and gentlemen!
I really liked this episode. It moved a little more than the past couple weeks’, and it may have been the heavy subject matter but I think it was pretty solid. Cringe counts off the CHARTS. And that ending was pretty damn powerful. But so was Landry’s skill as a referee. That kid’s got a real future. Thoughts? Comments? Are you being flippant with me?
Oh, and one more time:
My new wallpaper