Friday Night Lights Episode 4-4 Review

Well, well, well…

Traditionally, I like to tackle these recaps in somewhat chronological order. But for the fourth episode of Friday Night Lights‘  off-the-charts great fourth season, we will absolutely have to start at the end.

There we were, conveniently set up for a nice little reconciliation between Matt and Julie. Matt, having wised up on his hunting trip with Tim, was ready to eat some crow regarding his less than positive attitude about Julie’s impending departure from Dillon. It’s at this point that a lesser TV drama would have served us exactly what we expected, a nice little mea culpa scene on the door stoop.

But then those military men showed up at the Saracen house. And then the tear-streaked cherubic face of one Julie Taylor told Matt all he needed to know. Matt’s dad has been killed in Iraq. My goodness. If you were watching this exchange with a lumpless throat or goosebump-less arms, I would have strong evidence that suggests you are not exactly human. I would also suspect that this will set the wheels in motion for whatever brilliant send-off the powers that be have in store for Zach Guilford, as it has been made public that this will be his last season as a series regular. And if the farewell for Smash last season was any indication, that’s a goodbye that I’m looking forward to with reluctant anticipation.

Overall, the latest episode gave us a bit of a break from the on the field action of the series, with only a few practice scenes to tide us over. In the past, this has been a wise move for the series every now and again, just so we don’t get too burned out on the formula of seeing a “big game” at the end of every episode. The games obviously lose their impact from a dramatic standpoint if you’re seeing one week in and week out . Anyhow, the practice scenes existed mainly to foster a heated rivalry between Vince and Luke, which came to a head over the issue of Luke’s missing wallet.

After some stubbornness from both parties, the incident reached a fever pitch when Luke and his West Dillon buddies jumped Lance in the street. Two arrests and one Coach Taylor bailout later, the two boys were left to their own devices and walk home in the middle of the night. It turns out Vince had taken Luke’s wallet, but by the time he returned it, the lesson was clear to both them and us. Taylor forced the boys to work it out themselves because the team simply cannot succeed if its two best players are not on the same page. Further emboldening the lesson was the fact that J.D. McCoy and rest of the Panthers bolted when the fuzz showed up.

Funds are still an issue for Eric, who is feeling the heat from the principal to start winning some games before the plug gets pulled on the whole program. Eric thought a homecoming pep rally with East Dillon Lion alumni would be the best way to gather some support and drum up some team spirit. Dinner with the alums was not going swimmingly, as the whole haves/have nots issues of Dillon were out in full force at the Taylor dinner table. That is, until Buddy Garrity swooped in to do what he does best, kiss booster ass.

So the alums were on board, and Coach just needed a place hold the event. Thus we were treated to the second Steve Harris appearance of the season. The brilliant character actor (and fellow Chicagoan) made a blink and you’ll miss it appearance in episode two, and I was really hoping that we were in store for more. As Jess’s dad, the owner of an East Dillon eatery seemed to have left his football days behind him, giving Coach the brush-off. He became convinced after an impassioned plea from Jess, who amy or may not be into Landry.

My favorite divergent plot of the night was absolutely Julie and Devin’s adventure to the gay bar outside of Dillon. I’ve been increasingly impressed with Stephanie Hunt’s portrayal of Devin, she’s always able to make the very most of the limited screen time she’s given and be very memorable amongst this impressive ensemble. This was no different as I bought her whole shy, vulnerable, nervous vibe when she was asking for Julie’s company. This led us the the second-biggest gut punch plot twist of the evening, Stan Traub at the gay bar. This was the great breed of twist that, while unexpected, makes total sense when you look back at the facts you’ve been given. Call it The Usual Suspects effect. Further puzzling was Stan’s reaction when Julie attempted to ease his qualms at the pep rally. Did he really not think that she saw him? Or is he approaching unheard of levels of denial? Stay tuned.

As always, I’ve exhausted my word count before we even are through all this FNL goodness. I’m guessing you loved Tim playing beauty pageant mom with Becky as much as I did, not to mention the positively bromantic Matt/Tim bonding in the woods exchange. Or how about the increasingly chaotic shit storm that is the life of Tami Taylor. Between being reamed out on the radio, getting her car vandalized and drawing the ire of the townsfolk as though she were Frankenstein’s monster, how does she still find time to prepare a banner dinner for Eric and the potential boosters?The answer is because she is a miracle. and so is this show. Sound off below.