Friday night's episode felt a bit like a coda to the week before. I praised "After the Fall" for containing so many spellbinding elements of great television, and "In the Skin of a Lion" felt comparable in some ways, but more like the shadow of the great thing than the thing itself. Each episode of "FNL" this season (and granted, there have only been three so far) has ended with a very small resolution (last week, the team reuniting - this week, the team getting jerseys and finishing their first game).
In this, Season Four has geared itself up to be a journey of subtlety, where little things mean a lot. Almost all of the narrative arcs look to be season-long developments: from Matt's movement towards being a real artist to Landry's growing friendship with Jess. As for the East Dillon Lions - they are clearly a project that will take more than thirteen episodes to fix.
Eric Taylor, bastion of all that is Good and Right, had a few missteps this week. He brashly burned the team uniforms (rather understandably) last week without securing funding, and had to raise the money mostly from his own pocket. His cool lie to Tami about the missing check was shocking - the Taylors don't like to one another! Of course Eric, like Buddy Garrity in this episode, could no longer live with his deceit (even though it took Buddy 12 years to come to that realization), and came clean, bearing the brunt of Tami's shock and hurt at his lie, but as is the Taylor way, eventual forgiveness.
As for Buddy and boosters, such an amicable agreement may not be forthcoming. It seems most of Joe McCoy's minions are more interested in Might than Right, which is sure to eventually lead to a downfall (I hope). Buddy is one of the greatest characters on "FNL" because of his alternating bouts candor and cadishness. He clearly has a moral code of some kind, even though he seems to work loopholes in it as it suits him. But when a fellow former Panther referred to Tami Taylor as "a bitch," even off-handily, Buddy had enough. Just like last week when Luke Cafferty thanked Mrs. Coach for ruining his life, so too did Buddy immediately revert to how he was raised: to respond with respect and decency. It's a sad day when those principles are on the losing side.
Speaking of down-home values, I really loved the muted exchanges between Tami and Julie regarding Julie's (apparently) wavering faith. I honestly don't know what the politics of "FNL" are - as far as I can remember, it's not much discussed. But I felt this exchange was fair to both sides of the argument - Julie claimed the church was full of judging hypocrites, and Tami countered, "hypocrites are everywhere, honey." She went on to say that she felt church was all about community and family. Ultimately, she didn't force Julie to make a choice about her beliefs; rather, she asked Julie attend for her (Tami's) benefit, and that ultimately she hoped Julie would "have faith in something that will hold you when I'm not here to hold you any more." No matter how you fall on the subject, everyone can appreciate the beauty and simplicity of that sentiment.
Finally, I mustn't overlook the little bit of football action we got this week (there's never much these days, especially in the last two seasons): Clearly Coach made the right choice to put Luke on defense, as that's the weaker of his two sets. Here, Luke can shine as a star, whereas on offense he would be in more direct competition with Vince. Still, Vince, jealous of Luke's abilities, refused to throw an easy block for him to get a touchdown after an interception (why was Vince on the field?) - a terrible decision given that the team was losing 27-0 at the time. And as the fourth quarter dwindled down and Landry's rag-tag special teams unit went to kick the field goal, I was expecting them to do it ... yet I very much like how they pulled the rug out from under us by having Vince grab the fumble and take it in for a score. Go Lions!
Next Week: Luke and Vince have a battle for team leader supremacy that seems to be steeped in race relations, and Matt's dad may not come home from Iraq.
Musings and Miscellanea:
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