By the standards of a show that is justifiably called the best on television, episode number four had all the complexity of a light-beer commercial. What happened? Good grief, what didn’t happen? For starters, we must express thanks for the writers’ Southern Strategy — a.k.a., Riggins and Jason’s trip to Mexico in search of booze (the former) and usable legs (the latter) — has come to an end, and nobody died or disgraced themselves in a way that they can’t recover from. But they came damn close. Riggins, in his infinite wisdom, chose a “booze cruise” on which to tell Jason, with Lyla standing by to furrow her gorgeous brow at key moments, that he shouldn’t have the surgery because it isn’t going to work and he could quite possibly wind up dead. After a dramatic and unsuccessful confrontation on the boat, Riggins and Lyla leave Jason to stew in his own anger, and what does he do? He tips himself overboard.
For a minute there, we profess to having been stunned — wow, Jason just killed himself. That’s going to be hard on everybody. But what dummies we are. Of course, Jason is going to realize the true value of life as he’s sucking down sea water, and of course, as the indie-rock ballad goes into epic, violin mode, he’s going to fight his way back to the surface on the strength of his wheelchair-rugby arms and his newfound will to live, and of course, he’s going to spy the safety of a beach in the near distance, and of course, a wave is going to come along behind him and propel him toward the sand. Hallelujah, God is great! We wonder who’s going to be joining Lyla at church in the coming episodes.
Moments later, in another miracle, Riggins and Lyla drive up in a truck — weren’t they just on a boat? — and it is confirmed: Jason now wants to live. Plus, he’s sorry for being a jerk and trying to kill himself like that. Now how about some tequila! At the end of the episode, the three of them are all blotto and making out with each other. Well, not the boys, but you get the idea. Then Lyla, still unable to shake the mantle as the most boring character on the show, breaks the steamin’ hot mood by saying, “I gotta go pray.”
We kid you not.
Okay, that was the worst of it, and we admit that we enjoyed it, the extreme cheese factor notwithstanding. It was hard, also, not to get caught up in the travails of our other young lovers. Landry, after delivering the most hackneyed half-time pep talk of all time — “We can either win together or lose alone” — is put into the game for the first time ever, and he ends up the hero. But as on earth, what goes up on Friday Night Lights must come down, so Tyra chooses that same night, just as he’s soaking up the adulation of everybody who used to consider him a loser, to dump his ass. She doesn’t want to. She loves him with all the power of wind and the heat of fire. But Landry’s dad had come by and told her to stay away from his boy, and you don’t mess with the law. But did she have to be so vile about it? “Take a look in the mirror,” she says to Landry, who is, in fact, not the prettiest sight. “I don’t know what I was thinking about with you.” Yikes! We guess she’s trying to seal the breakup by being a megabitch, but still, what kind of person could even get words like that out of her mouth?
Finally, lovable Julie tries to win back Matt, and Matt, torn about whether accepting her invitation to the Decemberists show makes him “a chump,” confirms his major uncoolness by asking the opinion of, yes, Tami, a.k.a. Julie’s mom. C’mon, dude, you’re the goddamn starting quarterback, show some nut! And why the hell would you want to see the Decemberists anyway? Eventually, Matt declines the invitation, leaving Julie in yet another pool of her own tears. Oh, and speaking of Tami, she and Coach are having sex again — or as the dudes down there put it, Coach is back in the saddle! So all the young hotties are in heartbreak hell, but the Taylors, provisional mom and pop to everyone in town, are getting it on. —Hugo Lindgren