What better way to start off the new year than by not watching another awesome episode of Friday Night Lights? Because according to the ratings that’s what everyone is doing. Or maybe it’s football season and all of its regulars are switching over to actual football instead of the average five minutes of it that this show provides. Either way, I fear that it’s catching the dreaded Veronica Mars Syndrome and in the future could be facing cancellation because America prefers According to Jim over quality television.
Okay, weekly rant done and beer bottle thrown across room. On to the recap.We begin with a Jason Street morning routine montage, which I’m convinced is a ploy designed by the makers of this show to deliberately give me the vapors. While working out he decides that he wants to listen to Nirvana but can’t find his Nevermind CD, so he begins to shout like a child and suffers a mini-meltdown. Mom can’t understand the sudden freakout so Jason not-so-calmly explains, “Because I’m crippled and I want to listen to Nirvana!” Can’t really argue with that. Jason might have an excellent future as a lawyer. Angry and Cobain-less, he decides to wheel all the way over to the record store.
Many sweat-filled minutes later, he finds the CD and hilariously kisses it and holds it up like some sort of grunge trophy. He runs into Lyla and puts on the “I’m going to destroy you with one simple line of snark” face, but instead busts out with accusing her of liking Clay Aiken. She zings back that Clay is already his boyfriend, which he confirms with a charming “Hey, what Clay and I have is special, okay? America loves him and so do I.” He goes on to describe the wedding, which includes Ryan Seacrest and a harp. The adorableness is pouring out of my television screen and onto the floor all over my new carpet, which sucks because I hear that stuff stains. The two former lovebirds engage in some civilized chitchat for once, and when her friends try to get her to leave for class (do the kids these days usually hang out in record stores before school starts?) she ignores them and says that they should go somewhere to talk.
And by talk she of course means have vicious sex. But seeing as how disabled lovin’ is not part of the Texas high school curriculum, neither one is quite sure how to do it, and various gymnastics and awkward positions ensue. Eventually he falls out of the chair and lies on the floor while she takes his pants off. Alas, it’s too late. Little Jason has gone the way of the dodo, and big Jason gets pissed and frustrated and yells some more.
“I’m really enjoying this in-depth conversation.”
Sadly there is no sports radio episode exposition this week, so I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. Matt Saracen is talking to someone on the phone about his grandmother’s Medicare, while she babbles on about his father being out front. He calmly reminds her that he’s in Iraq, but this time the crazy lady knows what she’s talking about, since his father has in fact returned. Matt yells “You’re home!” over and over while hugging him, and it’s all very touching. I defy you to not be touched.
Over in Tami Taylor’s Guidance Office O’Death, Tim Riggins is getting grilled by the queen of awesomeness herself. She accuses him of getting the rally girls to do his homework for him. Tim looks really bored and denies it. GOD, I hate him. Or I would if he weren’t so chiseled. Tami makes him dig out the paper on The Scarlet Letter that he “wrote” last week, on which he got an A-. When she asks him what the book is about it and Tim answers “a girl named Scarlet, obviously,” she gives him an ultimatum: no pass, no play. And I say good for her. I always hated the academic special treatment the athletes got in my high school, and now I have my revenge in the form of a fictional television hardass! Who’s a theater nerd now, bitchaz?!
Jason seeks advice from his friend Herc on how to have sex. I know Herc is supposed to be the quirky, cynical disabled guy who loves to dish out the smackdowns of reality in an obnoxious yet somewhat charming way, but I really can’t stand him. Jason needs better crippled friends. Anyway, Herc says that whatever worked before might not work now, and that while he will eventually be able to “shoot fireworks” it just might not work every time. But don’t feel too bad, he sagely preaches, because there’s more to life than sex. But Jason is a horny teenager, so no, there isn’t.
Tami approaches Landry in the library with Tim in tow, and I get very excited because I can see where this is going. Tami more or less demands that Landry tutor Tim in English then quickly runs away, and I celebrate because we now have the setup for the Comical Subplot of the Week. Landry + Riggins = Hilarity.
Smash Williams, uh…well no Smash just yet. Surely he’ll be in this episode at some point.
Coaching and football and whatnot. Papa Saracen shows up at Matt’s practice, and is thusly introduced to Coach. Coach has nothing but praise for the strapping young quarterback, but his father still seems unconvinced and sneers that he hopes he’ll be able to stay that way under pressure. Which of course means that in about 40 minutes, he won’t. Poor Matt’s face falls. Damn you foreshadowing!
“Hey there, son! Don’t screw up!”
Dr. Landry diagnoses Mr. Saracen as being “war crazy”. He and Julie try to make Matt feel better, but Matt’s okay as long as he knows that his father is going to be able to straighten everything out with his grandmother and get her some in-home care. Oh, Matt. This is going to be a horrible episode for you. But Landry’s got a sure-fire cure for the blues – his new band Crucifictorious is playing Friday night after the game! Seriously, someone take this kid and turn him into a talking doll for next year’s holiday season. He’d be hotter than Tickle Me Elmo.
Lyla materializes at Jason’s bedroom door to announce that she has come to possess a video tape full of “dirty, dirty, dirty quad porn”. They begin to watch it, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same instructional video they show in Murderball. Which is what Jason had appeared to be watching before Lyla walked in so he should have just kept watching it. Whatever. Anyway, Jason gets too weirded out, while Lyla annoyingly insists that they keep trying. But of course it all ends with another patented Jason Snark To Destroy a Thousand Hearts: “If you want to get laid that bad, call Tim Riggins.” This elicits an audible “oooooh” from me, the kind that you shot at every kid in elementary school who got called to the principal’s office.
Landry is having a glorious dripping-with-sarcasm conversation with Tim about their journey together into the bowels of American literature. Tim needs to read and write a book report about Of Mice and Men - no problem, short book, about a hundred pages, could read it in a weekend. When Tim blows him off, Landry puts on a puppy dog face and gushes “Oh my God, you can’t read, can you? Is that it, you’re one of the kids who slipped through the cracks?” Landry should get a gig co-hosting Survivor with Jeff Probst. Imagine the insults those two could hurl with their powers combined. It would be fantastic.
Over in the Saracen House of Awkwardness, Matt is making dinner for his family. Grandma is compulsively tapping her fork against her plate, causing Dad to ask why she’s so nervous. Maybe she just wants more food, DAD. Matt insists that she’s like this all the time, which is why she needs a nurse. The conversation then veers over to Iraq. Dad is of the camp that believes that they should stay until the job is done, whereas Matt says that “some people” think that they should get out of there. Friday Night Lights, tackling the issues.
We then cut to Smash’s…non-existent scene. Is he still on this show?
Coach Taylor returns home to find his poor little wife taking out the garbage by herself. Heaven forfend! He tries to wrassle it away from her and it falls over. They have a terse conversation about Tim Riggins’ schooling versus his football career. Coach subtly tries to convince her to pass him anyway, just for the next couple games. But Tami stands her ground, she won’t let these boys grow up “ignorant, mean, and dumb” just because they’ve been led to believe that football is more important. Coach stammers a little more but can’t really argue because she’s absolutely right, and is luckily interrupted by a Very Important Phone Call. The assistant coach over at UT wants to know if he’s interested in being the quarterback coach for next season. Huzzah! The Taylors rejoice with mirth and merriment.
Landry catches up with Riggins to find out that he has not in fact read the damn book. Dude, it’s Of Mice and Men. You could bang that thing out in like, an hour. Shit, rent the movie if reading so exceeds your IQ capacity. Landry jokingly offers to read it to him out loud. Cut to the weight room, where Landry is in fact reading it to him out loud. And let me tell you something, Levar Burton he’s not.
Take a look, it’s in a book, it’s Reading Rainbow!
Matt returns home from school to greet his father, who’s up on a ladder cleaning out the gutters. But oh ho, there’s no time for small talk, since Grandma is currently attempting to burn the house down. They both run inside to find the poor woman surrounded by smoke and crying, so Dad helpfully screams and demands to know what the hell is wrong with her. Matt soothingly calms her down and racks up several more Grandchild of the Year Awards, while Evil Father storms out of the house. Presumably to go kill a litter of puppies.
From there we cut to some sort of social worker, who tells the Saracens that Medicare will not cover a live-in nurse without a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Matt’s all for that, but his father wants to put her in a home, however that won’t work either because she is Matt’s legal guardian. Finally the social worker comes up with a perfect, if not obvious plan – Daddy comes home for good and everyone’s happy. Well, metaphorically speaking. In actuality it would be miserable. Dad immediately vetoes this plan and despite Matt’s desperate protests won’t listen to another word and storms out yet again. Presumably to burn down an orphanage.
Landry and Tim are sitting up in the bleachers as Landry rattles off the last few sentences of the book. See? He read it to him in what appears to be one day. Tim is quite possibly the laziest student in Texas. Moving on to the oral report, Landry explains how to do a plot summary and how he has to connect the themes in the book to his own life. Tim continues to blow him off and poor Landry is dumbfounded as to how this kid can’t even complete a single thought and maybe even struggles with basic motor skills. He goes on to paint the picture of two best friends whose dreams get crushed, hoping that Tim will pick up the connection, but Tim chooses to ignore him and continues to sulk. Landry understandably storms off. Presumably to rebuild an orphanage.
Tami answers her door to find a sweaty Jason looking for Coach, who happens to be at a meeting. She invites him inside anyway and asks him if he’s been thinking about coming back to school anytime soon, which I’ve been wondering about myself. He just doesn’t want to get back into the vicious drama of high school at the moment, which I suppose is pretty understandable. They have a little heart-to-heart about Lyla, about how he wishes he could just hate her and forget about it, but he loves her and he just can’t do it. Tami the Wise Buddha suggests that there’s no weakness in forgiveness.
“See now this here lampshade is made from real human skin! How bout that!”
Matt’s getting ready for the big football dinner, and Evil Dad drops the bomb that Aunt Peg in Oklahoma is willing to take him in and that he’s found a home for Arsonist Grandma. Matt gets pretty upset at this and again, storms out. These Saracens need to work on resolving their issues. Or perhaps get themselves a Situation Room.
At the church dinner, shit goes down. Coach lays down the law with Riggins and makes it very clear that his wife, as always, was right and that from now on – no pass, no play. Julie needles Matt about why his father didn’t come, which causes him to get all pissy and snap at her. She slinks away, under the watchful eye of her ever-present mother. Oh, Tami. It would be awesome if every once in a while she’ll just start to rub her hands menacingly while bathed in a red light and say something cryptic like “That’s right, my pretties. Enjoy your bar-be-que . WHILE YOU STILL CAN!!” and then disappear in a puff of smoke.
Finally, the big game. Not surprisingly, Matt is faring terribly under the harsh gaze of his father and even his grandmother is there and holy crap! A Smash Williams sighting! Apparently he’s more or less the only one on the team, and I guess the cheerleaders must have caught the Tim Riggins Apathy Bug because Smash has to get up on a bench and yell to get the crowd going. Guess that’s where he was this whole episode – perfecting his cheer. Evil Dad continues to shout “encouragement” at his frustrated son, until eventually, in the fourth quarter, Matt gets a big chance to pass to Smash for a touchdown but overthrows it and blows the play. Coach pulls a heartbroken Matt out of the game, and Smash goes on to win it all anyway.
“I don’t know where I am!”
Afterwards, in the parking lot, Matt decides to cause a scene. He refuses to get in the car with his father and tells him to go to hell. They get into a “no, MY life is harder!” argument for a few minutes until, as is the Saracen way, they both storm off in opposite directions. Evil Dad drives away and Tami offers her home to Matt for the night. I wonder how Coach is going to feel about that. Better not give the kid any BLANKETS.
Finally, FINALLY, it’s time for the Crucifictorious concert! Woooo! Landry is playing (and by playing I mean incomprehensibly screaming death metal Christian music) to a completely empty house, save for the few unfortunate souls who happened to be at the wrong bar at the very wrong time. Ah, but lo and behold, the slothful Tim has somehow summoned enough energy to put on a shirt and come witness the trainwreck himself. He informs Landry that he got a B- on his oral report, genuinely thanks him for all the help, and apologizes for missing the show. But not to worry Timbo, the second set is just beginning, so Landry makes him stand up front and shows him how to head bang, much to the delight of myself and viewers everywhere.
Lyla sneaks into Jason’s window with a ladder in the middle of the night á la Sam in Clarissa Explains It All, but he wakes up and tells her she could be, “like, a glamorous jewel thief”. Hehe. She says if it’s going to end between them, it can’t end like it did the other night and that she was only trying to be close to him again, to which he replies that he’s really trying. And then the kicker: she says “I love you,” and he says, “I know.” Er, okay Jason. Way to retain your crown as King of Ambiguity.
Matt is over at the Taylors’, and has told them everything about Oklahoma and Grandma and the home and the dead puppies and all. Coach tells him that he’ll do whatever he can to keep him there, heck, Buddy Garrity will eat Evil Dad if he has to. Matt says he hates his father, but Coach firmly tells him not to make that mistake and proceeds to drive him home. Matt enters to find his father tenderly putting Grandma to bed. They share a Meaningful Look. Probably because Dad just poisoned her or strapped a bomb to her dentures or something.
“I hate my father so much I’m going to consume my hoodie right here and now just to see the look on his face.”
So another good one. I hate that Jason and Lyla are getting back together because I think he can do better, but you’d have to be blind to have not seen that coming. But I guess it’s okay because it makes him happy. And that makes me happy. Because I love him and that’s what true love is and one day he will have ten thousand of my babies. Meanwhile, Matt continues to shatter the adorability scale each and every week. I just hope his father gets hit by a meteor because not only is he a jerk but the guy is also a very bad actor and he’s sullying up my TV screen with his suck. But most of all I was blown away by Smash. What a performance, all 0.2 seconds of it.
So what do you think, kids? Happy? Sad? Drunk?