This week’s Friday Night Lights comes with a Dramatic Language Warning. Which can mean only one of two things: a) some dramatic language will aid in the dramatization of some sort of drama, in this, a television drama series, or b) the censors have forgotten the meaning of the word. I mean, I have, after typing it so many times. Either way, I’m ready for some excitement.
We begin this week with our boy Smash getting himself in over his head. Nothing new here. He’s holding a press conferenece on the porch of his house, surrounded by the other black players and a horde of nosy reporters. As the press, well, presses him about the Mac McGill scandel, he fumbles a little when it comes to whether or not the black players are given an equal amount of opportunities on the field. Actually, um, they are. But it’s about the ATTITUDE, man! Just fire Mac, is the point he’s trying to make. What, does he have to draw a picture for you?
Cut to Coach’s Den of Football Planning and Scheming. Another assistant coach, hopefully of the non-racist variety, is taking all the black players off of the…planning…board…thing. They’re in trouble. Coach decides that the future of this team lies in the skilled and polished hands of…the JV team? I don’t remember much about high school sports but I do know what JV stands for – You Suck. In Latin.
On the field, Coach gets a taste of what he’s gotten himself into. The freshmen have never even seen a football, apparently. Coach guns after some poor kid named Tyler, whose name Coach repeats a full SIX times. Then he asks him what his name is. Oh, no. Coach has been kicked by a wayward horse again. No, wait, he’s just making a point about how Tyler can remember random information but not the rules of football. Well, I could have told you that. Look at that kid, there’s nothing behind those eyes except the vague desire to go moan about all of this in his Livejournal. Meanwhile, Tim is getting just as frustrated, screaming and flipping out all over the smelly JVs. Coach pulls him aside and demands to see Tim the Leader, who I believe has yet to make an appearance on this show. Unless he’s leading with his…little Tim. He calls the three kids over and they turn into a pack of overly eager little squirrels, spouting “You got it, Coach!” and “I’m with you Riggins!” Tim and Coach are equally disgusted.
In lieu of the weekly Expositional Radio Sports Show, we instead get a peeved Coach glaring at a snippet of the nightly news featuring Smash’s press conference. Julie’s making plans on the phone, and as soon as she hangs up Tami jumps on her like McSteamy on an intern. Julie casually says that it was Tyra, and Tami turns on her “The Guidance Counselor is IN” neon sign, using such fantastic language as “we have some concerns about this new relationship” and “I’m surprised that’s someone you’ve chosen to spend so much time with.” Ahh, Tami. Chosen. You’re fanastic.
And here we have Tami, channeling the spirit of Paul Abdul
Julie predictably protests, and after some more squabbling Coach pipes up with “What about Lois?” Yes, Julie, what ABOUT Lois? That nice semi-lesbian friend you used to have? Well, she’s dead to us now. Julie sarcastically suggests that since they want to control her life so much, they should homeschool her. I’m praying that this happens, because a day at Taylor Academy might just be the best thing I’ve ever seen. Coach launches into some sort of speech about different kinds of persons, and it’s way too complicated to even recap, you just have to hear it because it makes little to no sense. Julie tells him that he is embodying the very definition of prejudice, and maybe if he weren’t so prejudiced he’s still have his whole team. Dammit, Julie, there is very little you could ever do to make me hate you but you do NOT disrespect Coach like that. Go to your room!
Over in Tami’s real guidance office, Jason is blabbering on and on about the quad rugby tryouts, justifying them to Tami and himself and each and every one of her potted plants. She’s concerned that missing finals will make it very hard for him to get back on track. Jason remains optimistic, as always, saying that he can handle it and if not, he can always take the GED. She says he’s putting all his eggs into the quad rugby basket, and he joyfully agrees. Oh, Jason. It doesn’t matter whether you make it or not. Your life is destined to be full of nothing but misery because you are from Dillon, the unhappiest place on earth.
Matt has once again committed the fatal error of taking advice from Landry, who insists that nothing says “I’m sorry” like a mix CD. They approach Tyra in the cafeteria, asking for the whereabouts of Julie, but she’s on to them. She’s horrified at the mix CD idea, as is Landry all of a sudden, leaving poor Matt to wallow in his own inadequacies. Landry introduces himself to Tyra, which is amazing because can you imagine the kind of couple these two would make? I sure can’t, so I’m really hoping the writers will do it for me. She suggests to Matt that he spend some money on an apology, prompting Landry to say that that’s what HE’S been telling him all along! I can’t wait ’til this kid is president.
Tim is quizzing the JVs in the lunch line. They’re failing miserably. The brunt of his insults fall upon an unfortunately acned boy who looks terrified and miserable and basically has the words “I’M A TEENAGER” written all over him. In zits. Tim tells him that if he blows a play the whole town of Dillon will hate him and he’ll never get laid in his entire life. Which is probably true regardless of whether or not he even picks up a football. One of the other kids tries to answer but they’re all hopeless so Tim decrees that they will not be eating today.
“Uh, my mom thinks I’m cool!”
Over at the Black Football Player Table of Civil Disobedience, a player with very nice eyes is complaining to Smash about this whole plan of his. He needs a scholarship and he can’t afford not to play. Smash won’t budge and promises them it’ll all be worth it. You know what’s not worth it? The Dillon Cafeteria jello selection.
Coach is passing out some schedules to the other coaches in his office. As they leave, Mac pokes in and demands to know why he wasn’t invited. Coach says it was a defensive meeting, which holds water with me, but the most I know about defense is the D + (picture of a fence) sign I see at games. On television. During my fancy tea parties. Mac mumbles something about secret meeetings, causing Coach to snap, “I can have a meeting with whoever I want, whenever I want, whether it fits your comfort zone or not.” Hey, Coach, I’LL fit your comfort zone. (Call me!) Mac keeps complaining, whining that he already apologized (barely), but Coach shouts that it didn’t seem very sincere (very true), and that most of the town thinks he’s a racist (which he is), so his termination papers are sitting right there on the desk (which I hope is made of the finest mahoghany). Looks like Coach is going to have to make a difficult decision. AGAIN.
Matt and Landry are at a jewelry store, attempting to pick out something to win back the heart of fair maiden Julie. Yes! I love Landry’s love coaching sessions! In the uncharted territory that is the Landry Mind, he and Tyra are already a couple and are giving Matt some collective advice about what to buy. Matt mocks him and Landry does that fantastic droll offended bit that we’ve all come to know and love. The lady behind the counter asks if she can help, and for a moment I’m thinking how weird it would be if the plotline took off the way Lost‘s did last night in the jewelry store. Just imagine Landry on the island. He and Hurley would have Dharma Comedy Night all wrapped up. Anyway, the lady shows them a fancy diamond ring, which Landry is all for. But when she tells them it costs almost a grand, Landry points out that diamonds are a bad idea, what with Africa and the blood diamonds and whatnot. That’s Landry for ya, the social conscience of Dillon. Having dealt with enough of their foolishness, the lady helps them pick out a nice $50 necklace with Julie’s birthstone. Aw.
“I prefer more of a mauve.”
Buddy Garrity barges into the coaching offices (I don’t think he ever just plain enters a room, he can only barge), and offers some words of fake sympathy to Mac. He continues to barge his way through and into Coach’s office. He tells him that the Booster Club took a little vote, and that Mac is to be sent the way of President Logan. But our poor conflicted Coach is still on the fence about the whole thing. I wouldn’t argue with him, Coach. The Booster Club is a more powerful force than the Freemasons and the Burger King Kids Club COMBINED.
Coach, catching a little of the Garrity fever, proceeds to barge on into his wife’s office, disrupting a counseling session with some misguided teenage wench. He needs his wife’s services and he needs them NOW, so he more or less kicks the poor thing out. She’s probably anorexic or is maybe considering an abortion, but that can wait. This is a football emergency. Coach says he needs to speak to the guidance counselor, not his wife. Oh, and he keeps saying that “everything hangs in the balance,” because, as we all know, this is a life or death situation. After a quick review of the facts, Tami the GC says he has to fire Mac. Coach doesn’t like this answer so he asks to speak to his wife. His wife points out that it’s pretty clear that the team is more important to him than Mac. He asks to speak to a third sentient being, so Tami suggests his friend, who correctly points out that whether or not Mac is a racist and it was all a mistake, it is unacceptable to be saying those kinds of things in a high school setting. Coach, more confused than ever, storms out, muttering, “The three of you scare me.” I’m not sure who’s the crazier one here, the schizophrenic woman or the man who loves her and demands to speak to her different sides. Don’t put Coach alone in a room with Niki/Jessica, that’s all I’m saying.
(Note: I just watched Grey’s Anatomy, and the little Kyle Chandler cameo at the end made me squeal with joy. Not that I wasn’t already squealing with joy at that moment, but still. Bonus!)
Smash bemoans his own plight to Waverly. Everyone is looking to him for leadership but since he may be jeopardizing other people’s future, he’s wondering if he ever should have walked off that field in the first place. SmashMama watches the two from inside the house, a tricky little expression on her face. Waverly keeps up a healthy stream of praise, and insists that Mac will be fired. Then they make out. Waverly and Smash, not Waverly and Mac. That’s a whole other show, starring Chris Hansen of Dateline NBC.
Coach is watching football while Tami goes to answer the door. I just realized that almost every week the Taylors get a mystery visitor. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that woman answer the door more times than I can shake a stick at. And I can shake a mean stick. This week’s installment features Mac the Humble. He and Coach knock back a few, Mac starts rambling on about his father, Coach is like I don’t really care, and finally Mac stumbles around to the point. He admits that he screwed up, and even confesses that he’s bitter about the fact that a man ten years younger than he is got the job that should have been his. Ouch. But he loves the team and would do anything for it, so he hands in his resignation. Hey, Coach! Problem solved!
“So we’re agreed. Cingular IS raising the bar.”
By the way, what the HELL is the deal with that Domino’s commercial? The one where everyone has giant noses and eyes and mouths? I didn’t think anything could solidify my hatred for them more than their terrible, terrible pizza but this is just TERRIFYING.
Coach’s three wives all think that the resignation has made the situation a whole lot easier. But Coach, the damn fine man that he is, doesn’t believe that it’s right. At the ensuing press conference, he declares that Mac will remain on the coaching staff. But he’ll have to wear a sandwich board that says “I’m a racist and I’m ugly”. Okay, I made that up, but wouldn’t it be fun?
Tim and Smash hold a small pedeconference as they walk to class. Smash reaffirms that the black players will not be attending the game. Tim finally swallows his pride and admits that they need their leader back. Smash tells him if they need a leader, he should look in the mirror, and when Tim scoffs, Smash counters with “Didn’t you hear anything Mac McGill said, Rig? You’re white, you were born a leader.” I sure could use a race relations forum right now. Tami? Little help?
Hey, a Jason scene! I fear this plotline will soon be placed on the endangered species list. He’s packing for his trip to Austin, assuring Lyla that it’ll only be for two weeks. Oh great, so we’ll be seeing even less of him. Be careful show, I begin to feel lightheaded when my weekly Jason quota is not met. She wants to drive him but quad rugby does not allow for girlfriends, it says so right there in the quad rules. Herc drives up and honks annoyingly, as he does everything, and drives away literally as Jason and Lyla are kissing goodbye, insisting that “We gotta make like Tom and cruise!” What a douche.
The very definition of scuzzy.
Tyra and Julie are driving around before seeing a movie, when Tyra amusingly requests that they stop at the “Women With Low Self-Esteem Palace” to pick up some money her sister owes her. Hehe. That Tyra, she’s a witty one. Cut to said palace, better known as The Landing Strip. It’s a pun! Actually, it’s more of a homonym. Yeah, I enjoy grammar. Julie is awkwardly standing around backstage, observing tramps in the natural environment. Matt chooses this moment to call, and after some cruel teenage girl discussion about how long to let the phone ring, she picks up. He wants to meet her, so she tells him where she is. Landry overhears, and realizes that he’s won the jackpot. Naked woman and Tyra all in one place? Somebody call National Geographic, this boy’s gonna blow!
SmashMama barges (the theme of tonight’s episode) into her son’s room to set shit straight. She tells him enough is enough, and that he WILL be playing in the game on Friday. But what about all of Smash’s principles? You know, the ones he never had but suddenly acquired once the pretty girl told him to? Smash says he can’t back down now, he’s too far in. WELL. Mama snarls, “You’ve got a brilliant future ahead of you, and I’m not going to sit here and watch you throw it away, trying to teach a lesson to a bunch of fools.” She says the best way to get back at Mac McGill is by getting back on that field. Have I mentioned lately that Mama is AWESOME?
The Williams Family: A Reflection
Landry is at it again, giving Matt a few pointers about how to act in a strip club: “Look them in the eyes, not in the rack.” If Landry takes his own advice, I’ll eat my hat. They meet the girls backstage, where Landry offers to buy Tyra a drink, which she immediately shoots down. And holy crap, the boy is wearing a Crucifictorious shirt. I MUST HAVE IT. After some more hilariity, such as a request for single dollar bills and the purchase of $2 nachos, Landry wanders out to the actual stripping portion of the place. Matt and Julie start to talk but agree to do this elsewhere, and when Tyra collects them to leave she realizes that Landry isn’t with them. She’s right to be concerned. Landry should never be left alone without adult supervision. Sure enough, at that very moment he’s being seduced by a foul temptress, and then promptly gets arrested by a Morris-from-24-lookalike. And just like that, the whole underage crew is hauled down to juvie.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Landry!
Cut to the four of them sitting in a holding cell. As horrible as this is for all of them, the whole scene is also pretty damn delightful. Landry, Matt, and Tyra are released to their parents (Matt to Landry’s, who have vouched for him), and as they leave Landry thanks the cop for his expediency. Vote Landry Clarke in 2032! Little Julie is left all alone. Why? Because her parents are sitting in the car out in the parking lot, waiting for the other kids to leave so that she can have a moment by herself to think about what she’s done. Well, that’s Tami’s plan anyway, Coach just whimpers, “All the other parents got to pick up their perps, why can’t we pick up ours?” This man makes my face hurt from smiling.
The 2007 Taylor family Christmas card
Back at home, Tami grounds her daughter. No surprises there. A “fine, whatever” from Julie. This prompts a massive mother-daughter fight, which escalates until Tami’s voice can only be heard by whales. She asks her husband for some insight into this situation, and he does try to say something but Tami interrupts him to continue screaming. Julie accuses her mother of looking down on her from her ivory tower, which leads Tami to forbid her from hanging out with Tyra anymore. Julie storms off, Tami storms off, and Coach is left to ponder the blessings of female adolescence.
Oh, right. Football. The team is loading onto the bus for the game, when who should show up but Smash and the rest of the black kids. He walks up to Coach and asks if there’s any more room on that bus. A lone Coach eyebrow shoots up to the stratosphere, as he nods assent and the boys board the bus, which I’m pretty sure actually does NOT have enough room for them. No matter. Smash informs Mac that this doesn’t change a thing. And then they’re off!
Dunston Valley isn’t the quaint little village its name implies. Or maybe it is, but all we see of it is its brutal football field. The DV players talk some smack, Coach gives a little pep talk, and the game begins. Football, football, football. Smash takes a couple hard hits from the other team, and it seems that, as Tami would say, “it’s racial.” With four minutes left in the first half, the score is tied at 14-14. More football happens. The referees make a few horrible calls against the Panthers, which Coach is none too happy about. In one play, a DV player grabs Smash’s face mask and pulls him down, and even I yell out loud to my television, “FACE MASK!!” This coming from a person that watches the Super Bowl for the commercials (which sucked this year). I love the Panthers that much.
Mandisa’s back and she wants a sandwich!
Coach is infuriated. Things are getting intense. In the third quarter, Smash scores yet another touchdown, bringing the score up to 24-14 (I think). But there’s no time to celebrate, as a random DV player runs up and obliterates Smash in the end zone. Smash gets up and lightly shoves the kid away, but then the kid calls him “a lazy-ass tar baby” and that about does it. Tim overhears and tackles the hell out of that little DV fucker, causing the both teams to pile onto the field in an all-out brawl.
Cut to the Dillon locker room, where the team is sitting in silence. Coach and the DV coach are pacing back and forth on the field when a man who identifies himself as being from the Athletic Board calls the game. Dillon wins! The DV coach flips out while Coach quietly sneaks off to the locker room.
“This is not who we are. This is not what we represent.” Coach yells for a little while. Tim quietly asks if they’re out of the playoffs, and Coach bitterly tells them that since they were ahead after three full quarters, they win, but “this is no damn time for celebration!” He tells them to grab their gear and get on the bus without changing. I don’t know about you, but there are a hell of a lot of places in the world my nose would rather be than a high school football team’s after-game bus, even if they are the Panthers.
On the ride home, a cop car pulls the bus over. Oh no. Coach and Mac debus to talk to the officer, who says that he’s looking for Smash. Witnesses say he threw the first punch, which as we all know is a heaping load of bull. He wants to bring Smash in for questioning, and despite Coach’s protests, the cop persists, saying that he’ll go in there and drag him out himself if he has to. This is goddamn riveting television, people. Mac suddenly pipes up, asking if the cop has a warrant. No warrant, no bus. Would this actually hold water in real life? Whatever, I don’t care. The cop meagerly says he can go get one, but ultimately backs down. “We’ll get you next year, Coach.” And my hands unclench and the blood returns to my knuckles .
The team arrives home to a cheering crowd gathered at the school. (By the way, the team left in a bus numbered 23 and returned with a 20. Maybe they drove through the Great Texas Wormhole.) Smash walks up to Mac and asks him what happened with the cops. Mac: “They made a mistake. Just like I did.” An unspoken truce takes place and they part ways, as Smash goes over to hug his mom. And that’s the end of that story arc, folks!
It’s official. Next time I get a puppy dog, I’m naming it Smash.
Matt pulls Julie aside and gives her the necklace, stuttering, “We’ve kinda been going out for a while, but we never made it official. Will you be my girlfriend?” And I can’t remember anything that happened after that because I melted. I think they smiled and kissed and hugged. It’s a Valentine’s Day miracle!
I highly enjoyed this episode, despite the noticeable absense of one Jason Street. The quadruple arrest was fantastic, and the whole racism thing was wrapped up quite nicely, I must admit. The police part at the end was terrifying. Never do that to me again, FNL. Oh, continue to break my heart in other ways, of course. Just don’t get the law involved. Thoughts? Comments? Ever been hauled out of a strip club?