Serial Watcher – Friday Night Lights – Episode 1-20

Before we get into this week’s episode, “Mud Bowl”, I ask that you please click this link:
http://www.eonline.com/polls/full_page_poll.jsp?pollID=6084
and vote for Friday Night Lights. Granted, Kristin writes that most signs indicate that the show will be renewed, but we can’t leave these things to fate or chance. Vote for FNL in order to put pressure on NBC to renew the show next season. FNL deserves this.

And this week’s episode was another reason why. Usually the show is quiet, calm and doesn’t go the “action” way, but this week they showed they can do “big time” drama like any other show. The last 10 minutes of this episode were probably the most intense this show has seen so far and it was crafted and edited together beautifully.

I’ve written before about the strength of the characters on FNL and this week was a great example of that. On any other show, the writers would have been tempted to make people like Tyra, Smash, Buddy or Tim very one dimensional. Tyra would be nothing but the town slut, Smash the classic self centered athlete, Tim the douche who sleeps with his crippled friend’s girl and Buddy the slimy businessman. While these traits are a part of those people’s characters, they’re not defined by them. It would be really easy to make each and every one of those characters “bad” and easy to hate. But the writers know that real people aren’t like that. They may asses, they make mistakes, but they’re more complex and can’t be defined by just one action or trait.

Take Smash, for example. On any other show, he’d have dumped Waverly as soon as he found out she’s bipolar and off her meds. She’s a cute girl, but someone like him can’t be bothered to take care of her, especially during the playoffs. But Smash isn’t like that. He does lover and he has no problem saying that. And even if she seems to push him away, he’ll try to take care of her. Or take Tim. He tries to do the right thing for his new girlfriend, even when he isn’t asked. Is that a one dimensional character? Same with Tyra, who tries to be a better person. In fact, Tyra, Tim and Matt Saracen have a lot in common, as they all share the same lack of strong parental authorities, but each of them became a different person because of that that’s how good the writers are.

I already mentioned that this week’s episode was action packed. The main action was the semifinal game. The Panthers had to relocate due to a chemical spill near the school. After debating the issue, coach Tayloe comes up with a radical idea and with the help of the team turns a cow pasture into a football field and that’s where the game is played. And what a game it is. Rain starts pouring early one and the entire field becomes muddy to the point that the referee thinks about calling it off, until the players let him know they want to go on.
While this happens, Tyra’s out on a study date with Landry. Yes, she’s hanging out with him when he becomes her math tutor. However, his car won’t start and when Tyra decides to leave the diner, some creep drags her to his truck and tries to rape her.

These two scenes the game and the attempted rape, are intercut together to make an amazing 10 minutes block. The dark and rainy parking lot and the dark muddy football field, Tyra’s fight with the rapist and the Panther’s battle with the Vikings it all made for TV that you couldn’t take your eyes off.

Luckily, both scenes had a good ending. Tyra managed to use her wit and quick thinking to get away from the rapist and Matt was able to pull of the play Jason taught him and win the game in the last minute. The Panthers make it to the finals as Landry finally arrives to keep Tyra company.

But that wasn’t all. Coach Tayloe saw Jason coach Matt Jason also did the right thing in the settlement hearing of his law suit. As the game ended, Taylor approached Jason and told him told think about coaching. Smash also makes a connection between Waverly and his mom, in an effort to help Waverly.

Some might say that the happy ending to this episode is a bit cliché and tacky. But it’s not. Tyra may have escaped the rapist, but she’s deeply traumatized. Jason might have a new path, but he still has his problems with Lyla. While the Panthers did won, they have a hard time coming. So it’s not al rosy. The good comes with the bad, there’s a different sides to every story.

There aren’t many episodes left in this season of Friday Night Lights. NBC still hasn’t renewed it. I urge you to please go to the link I posted at the top of this column and vote for the show. It would be a real shame if one of the two best new shows of the season would be taken from our screens so soon. Friday Night Lights deserves to stay on the air.

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