The micro themes of Friday's penultimate episode echoed the macro theme of "Friday Night Lights" itself: rising above. Street, Riggins, Smash, Saracen, the Taylors, Lyla, Tyra ... well, pretty much everyone on the show has had to overcome huge mental, physical and/or emotional roadblocks throughout the series, pushing themselves to do their best and be their best. The realness of the struggles and the occasional failures along the way are all part of what gives "FNL" so much of its emotional resonance.
"The Underdogs" had plenty of such moments, the strongest of which was the evolution of Tyra's college entrance essay. How many of us struggled to find our real voice when wrangling those awful things? Once you cut through the bull of what Landry described as "a five-paragraph knitted pillow. It's painful," there's often a bright truth to be found. After Tyra stopped making terribly strained metaphors regarding her work at Applebee's ("Sometimes it gets busy and you have to roll with the punches, just like life") and harnessed the passion behind her real struggles (her mother, her sister, her lost innocence), she wrote something truly beautiful. And if you didn't tear up just a little at her "Two Years Ago" speech, you don't have a heart. "College represents possibility. The possibility that things are going to change. I can't wait." Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!
Speaking of our Dillon Panther's battle cry, let's get into this week's football action.
They came, they saw, they almost conquered. The Dillon Panthers struggled through at least four games* to make it all the way to state. (*In the actual Texas high school football season, teams must play at least 15 games to make it to state.) A breakdown early on in the game from JD McCoy put the Panthers at a 27 point deficit by halftime. JD lost his cool, still shaken from the swooping down of bureaucrats from Child Protective Services to confront his family over his father's abusive antics last week.
At this point I paused and thought, "How will the Panthers overcome this? Five Hail Mary passes?" The writers mixed it up a little bit by bringing out every trick in the Miracle Playbook (except game-ending laterals) in a way that reminded me of that unbelievable 1994 Plano East versus John Tyler game, with a rather similar outcome. For our Panthers we experienced: a punt return for a TD, Riggins running it in, a quarterback sneak (via Saracen), INT, and a reversal (Riggins to Saracen). Alas, in the end the Panthers' nonexistent defense lost the game by two points courtesy a field goal despite the offense's monumentally unbelievable efforts.
If I were to grade this episode, "The Underdogs" would get top marks (despite the forced nature of the Panthers' football magic). In a season that's struck me as uneven (but still great), Friday's offering managed to remind me of my first experience watching the show, and how perfectly it manages to catch the elusive cadence of high school, football, triumph and heartache.
Next Week: Decision time for our Dillon denizens. Matt, Tyra, Riggins and Lyla all consider their futures, and Eric's contract is up for review. Most importantly, the wedding I've been looking forward to all season is finally here: Billy and Mindy, y'all!
Musings and Miscellanea:
- I wonder what the significance was behind Tim leaving his shoes on the field? Is it as obvious as him giving up on football? Tim looked pretty Buddha-like all episode, which I'm not sure was intentional.
- Fantastic little moments: Lyla putting coffee filters around as toilet protectors, and Billy actually pissing in the sink.
- I didn't get to Saracen's woebegone plot, but Lorraine's attitude and selfishness surprised me. Still, her talk with Julie makes me think Matt will get to follow his dream after all.
- I love that Coach still calls Landry "Lance."
- Was Lyla manipulating her father's guilt over Vanderbilt by bringing up her plans to go to San Antonio State and live with Riggins? I honestly couldn't tell if she was seriously happy with it or not. I'm thinking not. Although she would be doing this every day.
- It always irritates me that in TV and movies about sports, big bad opposing teams are always in black uniforms and act like robots. Ah, convention.
(Photo courtesy NBC.com)
What many folks don't realize is the role that universal health coverage plays in reducing…
What? An honest man in the House? If this trend caught on how would we…
Mo gibs muh 'dat.
One step forward, two steps back.
Hey "Here's Your Editorial", what does Dale Earnhardt Junior have to do with this article?