We really could’ve used a thrilling game at the end of this one, a shot of adrenalin to help us recover from all that sobbing. But alas, this was another football-lite episode. And to be truthful, we shed no actual tears. But that’s only because Friday Night Lights doesn’t give a grown man a chance to cry. They present a wrenching scene, your heart swells to the point of bursting, and then, whamo, they’re on to Riggins swilling his 22nd beer of the episode or a hot new cheerleader getting all into Matt. The show causes emotional whiplash.
These near-tears scenes are damn intense, though — the first one came on when Landry’s dad, the sheriff, confronted his son about the fibers found on the dead man. They came from a model of car that, of course, Landry drives, and since the wily ol’ sheriff had basically sniffed out Landry’s involvement in the murder some time ago, well, we knew it was coming to this. It was a great scene, due in large part to the two actors, who are as gifted as any on the show. When Landry starts to lose it, and his dad says, “Time to trust me,” it was a big father moment for us all.
Then madness ensued. The wily ol’ sheriff told Landry to follow him in his car, and off they went to … douse Landry’s wheels in gasoline and let the sucker burn.
Now, now, Sheriff, we’re no experts. We learned everything we know about criminal law from watching television, after all. And we do understand disposing of incriminating evidence is not a terrible idea, provided you can safely do it. But, sir, you’re the sheriff. Don’t you suppose that if the helpful FBI guy said to you, “One of the cars with matching fibers is registered to you,” he’d be more or less okay with it if you said, ‘Well, we can obviously cross that one off the list”? As opposed to, “Yes, I did have that car, but it mysteriously burned up just the other day” or whatever other excuse you’ll have to manufacture?
Anyway, this story line still has a ways to go, and the sheriff is going to be in major shit before it’s done. That watch that Landry lost when he was dumping the body is still out there, for one. (We haven’t forgotten about it, but then again, maybe the writers have.)
The other teary scene came when Jason, who had recently re-upped as an assistant football coach, decides that football is not going to be the place where he finds meaning in life and resigns. He gives Coach a box of highlight reels for a younger player to learn from, and after eloquent expressions of mutual admiration, Coach responds that he’s going to hold on to the box for Jason. Because surely, Jason must return to football — because that’s what everybody in town lives for. You’re nothing if you don’t. Even Landry, the anti-football rebel last season, is now on the team and talking about what an honor it is to strap one on in the company of all these heroic men.
For now, it seems inevitable that Jason will joins Lyla on the God squad. He’s expressed reluctance to her about this, but if you’re taking a break from football in Dillon, there are only two places you can go — God or the bottle — and he’s already been through the latter. So God it will be.
There’s a lot more to talk about — Matt and Julie deciding to be friends (good luck on that one, guys) and Tami’s mischievous younger sister arriving in town to stir up the Taylor household — but let us close with Riggins, who returns from Mexico to find, surprise, surprise, that he isn’t welcomed back onto the team with hugs and kisses. Appealing directly to Coach, he gets the total stiff arm. At the end of the program, we see Riggins tutoring Santiago, the juvie kid who is now Lyla’s reclamation project, in the finer points of football, like how to knock people on their ass. Riggins will be back on the team eventually, if only because he’s definitely not joining the God squad, and the scenes of him cracking open beers have kinda lost their edge. So we’re rooting for a clean and sober Riggins to stop all his moping around and find redemption on the football field. —Hugo Lindgren