FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: After the Fall - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote


May 20, 2010 by  

This episode began under the most dire of circumstances. Coach Eric Taylor had thrown in the towel, ending East Dillon’s first game of the season via forfeit. Principal Tami Taylor was caught squarely between an angry mob of parents and the arrogant boosters running her athletic department. Tim Riggins arrived home seeking the comforts of his hometown, but was left without a roof over his head or an identity to cling to.

The dividing line between Friday Night Lights and the rest of prime time television becomes crystal clear when times are toughest. In Dillon, heroes do not cry out for attention or perform miracles to make themselves whole. They pull up their sleeves, get their hands dirty, and work to earn the respect of their neighbors. Want to know who is a good guy or a bad guy on FNL? The answer is common courtesy. Follow the “pleases,” “thank you’s,” and “yes, ma’am’s,” and you will find the folks worth rooting for.

Eric Taylor is an imperfect man with imperfect methods. In order to turn boys into men, he often breaks them down to their core, so that they are able to fend for themselves. When his biggest distractions were alumni gatherings and ghosts of championships past, Coach Taylor’s players rarely questioned his actions. In East Dillon, however, those same young men have a tough time understanding why their leader had asked for mercy on their behalf. How could they be asked to sacrifice their blood, sweat, and tears, only to be emasculated in front of their friends and family?

Making things right required a healthy dose of humility and a genuine outpouring of respect. When Coach Taylor began to seek out his players, the message had not sunk in. A stubborn man by nature, it took run-ins with both Landry Clarke and Vince Howard to put things in perspective. Though his intentions were to protect the young men who followed him into battle, Taylor had lost their loyalty by disrespecting them.

Kyle Chandler would get my Emmy vote just for two lines that he uttered in this episode. First, when he implored Vince, “Don’t quit on me.” Second, when his players gave him a second chance and showed for a 10pm practice, and their coach said, “I have got shame and I apologize to you.” Those piercing lines bring chills to me as I type this. If it were not for the limitations of my TV, I would have thrown any jersey I own into that fire!

The conflict over Luke Cafferty’s eligibility, and his subsequent transfer to East Dillon, was a creative vehicle to highlight the growing dissension between Principal Tami Taylor and Joe McCoy. In a small town with few elites, the shadow of a rich booster with a QB prodigy for a son looms large. Tami and Joe’s icy exchange over Luke’s transfer unearthed Tami’s own misgivings about the extent of her authority. Could a well-regarded principal, committed to the young people walking her school’s hallways, lose her livelihood because of one student-athlete? Connie Britton made sure the audience knew that Tami believed the answer was “Yes.” By playing Tami in such an honest and open way, Britton brings us in. Tami’s worries extend beyond the screen, and her defeats can sting. Consequently, we also get to celebrate her victories, especially when they are at Joe McCoy’s expense. The cheshire grin on Tami’s face after leaving the booster meeting, after defeating her opponent on his turf, was infectious. Principal Tami Taylor cannot help but love her husband, her daughters, and her students. In turn, we cannot help but root for her.

Quick notes about the other major storylines in this episode:

*The new Landry Clarke is an early highlight of Season Four. After years of playing second fiddle to Matt Saracen and lapdog to Tyra Collette, Landry is thriving as his own man. Standing up to Eric Taylor was a bold step. Flirting with Jess Merriweather was even bolder. Landry and Jess have a beguiling chemistry, and that is not lost on her father. Based on Ray’s facial expressions, the idea of his daughter knowing a guy named “Landry” will not sink in overnight.

*Tim Riggins parlayed the notches on his bedpost into an actual bed, reaching an agreement to rent a trailer from last week’s one night stand. Becky seems very excited that “the guy who used to be Tim Riggins” will be a stone’s throw from her front door. The next step for Tim & Becky would be easy to predict on most shows. Thankfully for you, Jason Katims never fails to pleasantly surprise his audience.

*Matt Saracen’s unconventional mentor, Richard Sherman, is a strange character. Given his choices in fashion and lifestyle habits, Mr. Sherman looks more like a suspect on “Cops” than an artist capable of inspiring Matt to greater heights. Be patient with these two.

As always, the most important part of this discussion belongs to you. I hope you are enjoying the season, and continue to chime in with your thoughts.

What were your favorite moments from this episode? Did Coach Taylor approach the aftermath of the forfeit correctly? Is the show dealing with issues of race and class in a responsible way? Will Tim Riggins be able to stay out of trouble living in that trailer?


4 Responses to “FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: After the Fall”

  1. Marie on May 20th, 2010 11:59 am

    Great review, Erik. I finally just watched this episode yesterday (Wed.), so the scenes are fresh in my mind, and I think you hit all the highlights. As Tami left the boosters meeting, I was actually clapping my hands for her, alone on my sofa.

    Oh — just one thing to add, about Luke Cafferty: the fact that he apologized to Tami right after he’d lied to her, and then when he was the first one to show up to the nighttime practice on Saturday — I was very impressed with this character, and I hope they develop him more. When Tami first told him she knew the truth, he was begging her to let him stay, but by Saturday, he seemed to accept the situation and want to make the best of it, and to join Coach Taylor and the others in making a new start.

    Yes, I love me some Friday Night Lights!! I’m so glad the new NBC season has started!! Thanks for the great recap. 🙂

  2. Cathy on May 20th, 2010 1:05 pm

    The scene with Luke and Tami broke my heart. She gave him that awful news and then he apologized to her and thanked her through his tears? Love this kid already.

  3. Erik on May 23rd, 2010 12:10 am

    Marie: Great personal blog. I’ve been tempted to post my things to do lists online for the longest time, figuring I would make better progress if the world could check up on me 🙂

    Luke’s scene with Tami was exactly what I had in mind while drafting the section about common courtesy. Young athletes are drawn to big dreams and fueled by peer pressure, so Luke’s denials were not the actions of a morally bankrupt kid. He is just a kid. Cafferty is a big part of Season Four, so stay tuned for more Luke-related goodness.

  4. Erik on May 23rd, 2010 12:14 am

    Cathy: Luke is a good kid. Being a Panther is all he ever dreamed of, and he saw it as his ticket out of Dillon. (More about that in this week’s recap, which will be posted on Monday) Teenagers get a bum rap sometimes, especially with regard to their respect for authority. We forgive Luke for messing up, because we believe he will do his best going forward.