‘Friday Night Lights’: Ah, the Dark Side

But she looks so harmless! Photo: Courtesy of NBC
Episode Title
Leave No One Behind
Season
2
Episode
14

For the second week in a row, the final score was:

Girls' Volleyball 1
Boys' Football 0

That’s right: As part of their campaign to prove that Friday Night Lights is not a football show, the writers have gone back to the Tyra-in-tight-shorts well. Which is not something we’re inclined to complain about, per se. It’s just when the volleyball games take the place of football games that something starts to seem out of whack. Will it be worth saving the show if they have to turn it into some variant of Baywatch (i.e., hot girls exerting themselves in skimpy attire)?

Plus, volleyball, as sexy as it can be, is limited in dramatic potential, especially when we don’t know any of the players other than Tyra. Last week, she led the team to victory with a series of vicious smashes. This week, she led the team to victory with a series of courageous blocks. As far as we can tell, that just about exhausts all the possible game-winning scenarios in volleyball. Next week, to keep this volleyball crap alive, Tyra will have to, like, pull a Riggins and show up for the big game drunk.

In any case, guys, it’s about time for some football. Okay?

When she wasn’t strutting around on the volleyball court, Tyra was out doing her other thing, which is breaking hearts. This time, it wasn’t Landry’s, although it will be again soon. Instead, she bulldozed poor little Geek Girl who had the temerity to love Landry for who he is. Incensed that Landry could get over her so easily, Tyra went to her mom for advice and learned that simply winning boys away from other girls could make you feel good about yourself, never mind whether you wanted the boy in the first place. Ah, the dark side.

Tyra’s first move was to confront Landry just as he and Geek Girl were coming out of a movie theater. Landry showed a bit of spine and rebuffed her. But it was obvious that he wouldn’t be able to hold out for long against her Tyra’s overpowering sexual charms, and given time to reflect on them, he threw Geek Girl over and went back to Tyra. Surely, Landry will get his heart handed to him again, because that’s his role on the show and because that is the way of the world. Later in life, the odd-looking smart guys with the good personalities get the hot girls, but this does not happen in high school.

Speaking of broken hearts, Matt’s is also in a million and one pieces, now that Carlotta has gone home to Guatemala. He deals with his pain by calling his art teacher a bitch, playing hooky, and hitting the strip bars with Riggins — and also showing up to practice wasted off his ass. This obviously does not go down well with Coach, who later must take Matt’s grandma home from the hospital because Matt’s too messed up to care for her. This leads to Coach throwing Matt into the bathtub and turning on the shower, whereupon Matt starts blubbering about how “everyone leaves me, what’s wrong with me?” and Coach stops his tirade and returns to being the Good Father, which is why we love him.

Meanwhile, Smash’s heart was broken, too — not by a girl but by TMU’s decision to revoke his scholarship for bad behavior. He gave the team an inspirational speech before the big game, begging them to win so they could make the playoffs and extend his career. It was powerful stuff, and we got all riled up for some ass-kicking football. But no, there would be none! The episode ended right there, with the Panthers charging out of the locker room, leaving Smash alone and in tears. We presume they won, but we’ll have to find out next week. —Hugo Lindgren