What, you’re asking yourself, does “Wipeout” have to do with the “Perfect Record” episode of Friday night Lights? All in good time, my loyal readers (both of you). Just settle in for a long treatise on the relation between that song by the Surfaris and the East Dillon Lions and their impending–
All right, fine. I’m calling this recap “Wipeout,” because whenever that Lionhater.com website came up in the episode, the laugh before “Busted” always sounded like the laugh before “Wipeout” in the song of the same name. There’s no big metaphor, just that little audio clue.
Or maybe there is a metaphor after all. The song is about surfing, right? (the name “Surfaris” sort of suggests that) Maybe we should see this episode, which on first glance is full of triumph, as the moment when the wave is beginning to overshadow a surfer and then crash into him, taking him off his winning perch. Let me explain.
It’s Rivalry Week in Dillon, which is happening a lot earlier in the season than it did last year, if memory serves, and the Lions are fired up. Even the East Dillon boosters are fired up, ready to protect the field so that no jackass Dillon Panthers do doughnuts on the muddy field again. Everybody is ready to beat the Panthers, but the Panthers’ counteroffensive is not on the field, it’s on the web. Namely, Lionhater.com. (Quick plug: Look for my, I’m certain, hilarious and bleak recaps of the new CW series “H8R” this fall. It’s the show that pretends it’s about hating celebrities, when it’s really about loving them.)
The Lionhater.com website posting the juvie records of the team is an exceptionally gross move for the Panthers boosters. Tearing up the field was bad, firing the coach was worse, but this … well, this is illegal first of all, but it’s also, as Vince puts it, permanent. This will always be out there. As much as this is about turning the Panthers into the full-on villains they were becoming last year, I think it’s also continuing the thread that was started in “Kingdom,” namely that this is a very different team than Coach Taylor is used to, and treating them like the Panthers of old may not be the wisest idea.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not attributing anything to the Lions based on their past, but FNL is smartly showing us how expectations of a team can change the way they play (and how their playing is viewed). When the game finally comes around, well, it’s no game at all, but the Lions are vicious in their tackles and their taunts. There’s clearly a feeling of, “What’s the point in not acting as terrible as you think we already are?” It’s not the greatest strategy in the world, but I can totally understand the frustrations of the players. If you were taunted by people wearing old-timey prisoner uniforms in the crowd, I doubt your first thought would be, “I’m sure they’ll be won over by my graceful athleticism.”
Much to Coach’s dismay, it’s this kind of taunting that leads Vince to trust Ornette (it’s slightly shorter than typing “Vince’s dad”) much more than he trusts his Coach. What administering that beat-down last week did for Ornette was, to quote several hacky sportswriters, give him his swagger back. He’s moved back in, he runs the family again, and, most importantly, he is fully in charge of Vince’s career. Here’s what I love about Cress Williams’ performance: I fully believe that he loves Vince and he wants what’s absolutely best for him. That’s what’s kind of wonderful and tragic about it. He’s got the best intentions, but he’s a misguided character, not willing to understand that as tough and savvy as he is, there are other people in the world who are better at guiding a young football player into college.
Make no mistake though, he’s not stupid and the colleges aren’t blameless. The boosters know they shouldn’t be giving Vince any equipment, but they go through Ornette, putting stars in his eyes and playing on the love and hopes he has for his son. They are letting Ornette know that he is the father of a star and that everybody else is, as he put it, “bitchass parents.” You want to see how good Cress Williams is? Listen to his reading of, “Your quarterback,” when Coach asks for Vince to rejoin practice. Jason Street is absolutely right when he says, “You got a problem there, right?”
Did I forget to mention that Jason Street is back? He is, he’s totally back! Well, for this episode anyway. He’s a big-time sports agent now, and he’s married too. (Coach jokes about giving him advice not to get married, but that’s nonsense. His marriage is maybe the best advertisement for matrimony on TV.) Plus, he’s been getting phone calls about Coach Taylor going to a college. Since it’s the last season for FNL, I’ve got a feeling we’re looking at where the Coach & Tami are headed on the last episode. Coach even gets a call from Shane State, which is in a part of Florida I never visited, even though I lived there for about ten years.
In contrast to someone who used to live in Dillon whom we’re glad to have back, Julie is still moping around the house, even more childish than ever. Her plans for one of the days: “Answer some emails.” Wow. I have a feeling that will take her a half-hour tops. She sullenly helps with the BBQ at the Taylor home, sullenly cleans up the table, sullenly complains about the lack of tofu scramble (I stood up for seitan previously, but I will say no good words about tofu scramble). To sum up: she’s sullen. And she needs to snap out of it. Maybe the news about Tami meeting Derek, in the most subtle and subdued acting of the episode, will kick her ass into gear.
Last plot point (this was a plot-heavy episode): Luke Cafferty joins the Billy Riggins School of Football & Dating. Only one of these goes well. Guess which one? By episode end, Luke & Becky are back together, but only because Luke understood that if he took Billy’s advice, well, that way lies aging strippers.
The Lions are still undefeated, their quarterback and their coach are getting recruited by colleges, and they just defeated their crosstown rivals. Plus, Luke and Becky are back together. How could anything be bad about this? Well, if they just look behind them, I have a feeling they’ll see a very big wave coming.
Phew, this is a long recap. Just a few more tidbits:
- What happened to JD McCoy as Panthers QB? Did he move last year and I’m just forgetting?
- I wonder if Lionshater.com got as many hits as the drunk girl video did.
- If you’re going to the Taylor house, bring “More Milk!!!” and paper towels. Thank you, freeze frame of their refrigerator.
- Hastings Ruckle’s mugshot looks like he was arrested when he was eight years old (and possibly in the Great Depression).
- As a football fan, you can’t imagine how angry I was when Vince threw that long pass. Hate. Showboating. So. Much!
That’s it for me. Join me in the comment section below to talk about what you thought of this epsisode, or how much you like the Fat Boys’ version of “Wipeout.”