I’m going to start this recap out with a little warning: I don’t have a lot to say about this episode. I don’t mean it wasn’t a good Friday Night Lights outing. I don’t mean that not a lot happened either. So much happened, in fact, that it feels like we’re getting a whole bunch of plot out of the way in order to experience the (sniff) last two episodes of the season series in much more slowed-down detail. The episode encompasses three to four weeks of time in Dillon, which is a crazy long stretch for this show.
What I’m getting at here is that I don’t want to sit and list everything that happened, because that would be super boring and 50,000 words long, but if this episode is about anything more than plot (and I think it is), it’s about making us realize, after the triumphant ending of last week’s “Don’t Go” episode, that as much as mediocre TV and movies would like us to believe that we go through good times for a while and then we go through bad times, its not true. We go through them both at the same time. We don’t get to choose, this is the week where only good things happen to me, and next week will be one where only bad things do.
As a wise theme song writer wrote, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have …” and I forget what comes next. This idea is great if you’re having a bad day; you always know there will be some sweet mixed in with the bitter. But if you’re experiencing something terrific (like winning playoff games with your football team), it feels like there’s something nagging that doesn’t let you fully embrace the joy of the moment.
The Riggins family, for example, should be celebrating big time. Tim is out of jail, Billy’s coaching a playoff team, and they’re having a “Welcome Home, Tim Riggins” party. But the guest of honor doesn’t look happy at all to be there. He’s moping in the corner, bringing up Becky’s shady job situation, and pissing Luke off by … existing, I guess, and stealing Becky’s focus.
The fans of East Dillon should be happy as can be. Their team is in the playoffs for the first time in decades, and by the end of the episode they’re heading to State (for the first time ever? I think so, but I don’t really know how to fact check this sort of thing). What’s harshing their buzz? Well, budget cuts are getting to be crazy in Dillon and starting next year there’s only going to be one football team in town. Surely it’s going to be the one that’s going to state, right? Right??
Let me just take a step away from the theme of all this to note that this episode is a masterpiece of editing. There are a lot of great examples, but let me note my favorite one: the team is doing a war chant on Billy’s lawn, which transforms into them doing the same chant in the tunnel of the stadium before they start their quarterfinal game. After a pep talk and prayer by Coach, we go right from the team running through the tunnel to Vince describing the game to Regina. It’s a really fantastic piece of filmmaking.
The look in Vince’s eyes as he talks to his mom about the game is wonderfully bright. He’s a kid who loves playing football and is really good at it. And then Ornette comes in to spoil the party. He’s back to dealing in stolen goods, putting his hands on his ex-wife, and doing drugs. It’s a time in his life when Vince should be celebrating, but he has to deal with this nonsense.
And finally we have Tami and Eric. They seem to be traveling on very different paths, and it’s pretty clear they can’t both have what they want. Tami is being recruited by Braemore college in Philadelphia to be their assistant dean of admissions, and she has to miss the semi-finals to go to the interview. The interview goes so well, though, that she is offered the dean of admissions job instead. This is an amazing opportunity for her, but that means Eric moves too, which I’m just guessing wouldn’t make him happy at all. I hope FNL doesn’t cop out and have Eric recruited by some Pennsylvania college. I’d rather see the two of them have to figure/fight it out.
At the end of the episode, after beating Arnett Mead to go to State, the East Dillon Lions are allowed a moment of pure happiness when they return to the cheering crowds awaiting their arrival. You may get a mixture of good and bad every day, but you’re also allowed a few minutes of unrestrained joy once in a while, and we should take advantage of them.
But there’s Coach, looking for Tami, even though he knows she isn’t going to be there.
A few last things:
- Taylor Kitsch is really killing it this season! Tim’s lashing out at everybody because he was the martyr, but everybody’s lives aren’t perfect now, so he feels like his sacrifice is worth nothing. It’s heartbreaking.
- There is no Natalie Watson, but there is a Natalie Randolph, a female h.s. football coach in D.C., for Jess to emulate. I know how to use Google!
- When Billy had the team do the war chant, all I could think was, “Isn’t this how Buddy Jr. got injured? Should they still be doing this?”
- Is this all we’re going to get of Smash in this final season? Footage of (not really) him on tv. Boo.
- This week Tim becomes the 700th person on the show to tell Luke and Becky to use protection this time. This is like in the ‘80s when you couldn’t have a song about sex without some reference to safe sex in it.
- I want to refer to drugs as grown-man-stuff from now on.
- Are they not allowed to spike the ball in HS football? Why couldn’t Vince ever stop the clock.
- I don’t know why there are candles on Tim’s welcome back cake.
All right, East Siders, we only have a few times left to meet like this. Let’s have ourselves a good talk in the forum.