‘Friday Night Lights’: Uh-oh, Things Are Looking Up

What's his age again? Photo: Courtesy of NBC
Episode Title
Jumping the Gun
Season
2
Episode
11

This week ended with three variations on domestic bliss — Smash and his mom bonded over his choice of college, the Taylors resolved their various conflicts and settled in for a good ol’ family movie night, and Riggins and his girlfriend-stealing, ne’er-do-well brother reconciled over a couple of brews. However, as we well know, nothing portends collapse, darkness, heartbreak, and misery on Friday Night Lights more than a veneer of happiness.

Riggins, for starters, is completely screwed. Up to the very end of this episode, he had taken on the role of Saint Tim. Unfairly cast out of Eden (i.e., the Taylor home) for the mere appearance of impropriety with Julie, Tim ended up homeless again, sleeping in the locker room, where he was discovered by Coach and cast out again. By all right, Riggins should have been mad as hell. But no! He went back to his brother’s home, a bottle-strewn wreck, and when Julie came to the door to apologize for not having the strength to admit to her father that she had been completely wasted and that Riggins had actually come to her rescue, the incredibly magnanimous Riggins said no problem, that it would blow over. What the hell? It’s bad enough that Riggins looks ten years older than your average teenager. Shouldn’t he at least act like one?

Just as we’re getting our minds around Saint Tim, bad old Riggins reemerged when he went with his brother to collect his stuff from the crazy meth-dealer’s house where he used to live and discovered big wads of cash — more than enough to buy his brother out of his mortgage woes. Desperate as he is, his brother thought better of taking the money, but Riggins evidently left his halo at home. Major trouble, in the form of a gun-toting lunatic, is sure to show up on the Riggins doorstep in the next episode.

Meanwhile, Smash ended up committing to the U, a.k.a. Texas Methodist University, scaling back his unrealistic dreams of going to a bigger school where he might not have gotten much playing time and probably lost himself in a sea of cheerleaders and fast cars. His mom, who’d been hectored by recruiters in the grocery story, was real proud of him for coming to his senses. But since this ties up the major dilemma for Smash this season, and there are still many episodes to go (provided they get that damn strike resolved), we’re guessing that some horrible injury awaits him. Since FNL has already played the paralysis card, it’ll probably only be a torn ACL, but enough of a hurting to cast his football future into doubt. We're also guessing that his status-conscious girlfriend will abandon him in his time of need.

Finally, Coach Taylor had another roller coaster week. Trying to play nice, he asked the mean-ass Larabee coach — whose name is apparently Dickies, not Dickus, as we incorrectly heard last week — out for a beer and was snubbed. Dickies’s jerkiness was clearly a defense mechanism for some inner world of hurt, and it finally came pouring out. In the big showdown between the two teams, Dickies lost his head, burst from the sideline, and knocked Riggins to the ground just as he was breaking free for a game-winning touchdown. The whole stadium went quiet, everybody in shock. In the coaches office afterward, Taylor confronted his nemesis about this insane breach of the rules and Dickies told him his wife has only three months to live and “I don’t have a game plan for that.” In a show that masterfully walks the line of indulgent melodrama while rarely overstepping it, this was pretty damn ridiculous. What, are we supposed to feel his pain now too? He'll always be Dickus to us. —Hugo Lindgren