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Friday Night Lights Recap: The Wildcat Package

Friday Night Lights is a show built on the back of football-as-metaphor, constantly reminding us that success comes from hard work and good intentions, that the individual can only thrive as part of a strong community, and that the only people worth paying attention to are those in the glamour positions. But Friday Night Lights’s relationship to football-as-football has always been tangential at best, shaky at worst. “Gut Check,“ while a definite dip in quality from the last few (excellent) episodes, is made considerably worse by sacrificing any shred of gridiron plausibility in pursuit of compelling story.

Look, we’re not sticklers here — we’d rather just accept that Luke plays offense and defense every game than waste precious seconds following around a half-formed, lesser character. And, no doubt, the rampaging ego monster that is Vince certainly deserved to be benched this week. But was Luke really the best choice to replace him? In a make-or-break game? We polled dozens of successful high-school coaches, all of whom said “no way!” (Note: We didn’t actually do this.) Even the most casual of pigskin fans — those that think “tight end” is just a pet name for Tim Riggins in spandex — know that quarterback is the most important position on the field. And it just doesn’t make sense to take a guy already gassed from playing running back and defensive back and ask him to direct the offense! At this point the only backs remaining for Luke to conquer are Lumber, Holla, and Sexy.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! The episode began in miserabilia res: The Lions' undefeated season is over, tossed away like so many Vince interceptions. “All the work of the last eight games is gone to hell,” declares radio man Basil Exposition Slammin’ Sammy. And, just in case we weren’t clear that things are getting dark in East Dillon, the stadium cuts the lights, leaving Jess to pick up the mess left behind by flashlight. It falls to sage Coach Crowley (who we know is smart because of his Coach: “You take all the time you need.”

And just like that, Jess isn’t the only one crying in the locker room — we mean our living room.

Photo: DirectTV/NBC