FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Stay - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote


June 15, 2010 by  

First crushes are sweet. They write silly notes in your yearbook about how corny your jokes are, not realizing it took three days for you to work up the courage to ask for their penmanship. First kisses are important for answering trivia questions down the road. Twelve years old, just before the lunch bell rang, behind the school sign. First loves, however, occupy a category all to themselves.

First loves allow you to see yourself through the kindness of their eyes, plan the loftiest of futures without hesitation or cynicism, and cry the heaviest tears you will ever shed. They are a refuge from the storms of teenage melodrama and family discord. When your future is wide open, uncompromised by tough struggles and bad experiences, it is easy to believe that your heart can and will always belong to that unique person.

This week’s Friday Night Lights showcased two young couples struggling to answer a fundamental question. How do you say goodbye to the first person, outside of your immediate family, who loved you unconditionally? The words are too painful to say out loud. Taking the first steps in a new direction feels like a path to ruin. Sometimes, the only way to let go is to close your eyes and put your foot on the gas.

Matt Saracen & Julie Taylor have been a fixture of this show since Season One. As the boy AND girl next door in Dillon, they serve as a proxy for the high school couples you knew who actually stayed together. Matt never embraced his “QB1” status as the defacto leader of Panther Nation, and Julie was not drawn to him in order to rebel against her Dad. We watched them come together through old-fashioned chivalry, torn apart by circumstance, then reunited with the purest of intentions.

Zach Gilford & Aimee Teegarden are a magical onscreen couple, though their real-life age difference fostered a relationship more akin to siblings. I am always amused to read Zach & Aimee describe their off screen friendship, because the chemistry they have built as Matt & Julie is among TV’s most adoring and heartfelt.

The Austin Music Festival was their road trip to closure, and it was sad to see both characters come to grips with that truth as the story unfolded. From the romantic picnic on the hood of Matt’s car to the tear-jerking slow dance at their three star getaway, every beat of their journey rang true. They did not want to let each other go, and the cameras told that story with every subtle caress and knowing smile.

Though Zach Gilford is richly deserving of the critical acclaim that has greeted his work in Season Four, it would not have been possible without Aimee Teegarden’s fearless commitment to making Julie an authentic teenager. She fights with her parents over mundane chores and curfew times. She loves her boyfriend so much that it is legitimately painful for her to consider a life without him. Matt represents a window to being an adult for Julie, and Ms. Teegarden has bravely constructed a character that is imperfect and often unlikable. When Matt said, “See you later,” and Julie recognized it as a question, rather than a comment, the consequences were immediate. Tears began to flow, both in the Taylor household and in viewers’ living rooms.

Across town, Tim Riggins & Lyla Garrity also faced the crossroads of their disparate futures. Their relationship was forged from a mutual betrayal, when they found comfort in one another’s arms after Jason Street’s tragic accident in FNL’s very first episode. Tim & Lyla may have followed in the tradition of Pacey & Joey as unlikely, but magnetic TV couples, but they also became a symbol of what the current season is about. Lyla began her journey as the charismatic cheerleading captain, betrothed to a QB1 who relished in the role of local hero. Riggins was just a local then, destined to be a beer-stained footnote in Dillon’s history books.

Though their mutual admiration society grew into a formidable love connection, Tim & Lyla were casualties of time and place. No matter how substantial Tim’s true value, he was not built to sit in a classroom and labor over term papers. Despite a deep connection to her Texas roots, as evidenced by an enthusiastic turn on the mechanical bull, Lyla cannot turn back from her collegiate destiny to keep the books for Riggins’ Rigs. They will always feel most comfortable in the other’s gaze, but they have to grow up separately.

Taylor Kitsch & Minka Kelly have proven to be far more than eye candy on FNL. Kitsch appears destined for “It” status in Hollywood, while Kelly already acquitted herself nicely in a guest role on NBC’s Parenthood. Though I will continue to follow their careers, this goodbye will always be a milestone in their young careers.

Next week, the East Dillon Lions return to center stage, as Coach Taylor names a Quarterback. Not to be outdone, Landry Clarke steps up in the battle to win Jess’ heart.


6 Responses to “FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Stay”

  1. Give Me My Remote Reviews 4.06 Stay | Friday Night Lights Fan on June 15th, 2010 8:43 pm

    […] read the rest of this review go to: var addthis_pub = ''; var addthis_language = 'en';var addthis_options = 'email, favorites, digg, […]

  2. Kath (GMMR) on June 15th, 2010 10:19 pm

    Wow, nothing like make me tear up all over again. Loved that you had to say about the nature of your first love. So very true.

  3. Patty on June 15th, 2010 11:17 pm

    Yeah, Erik. Thanks. Now where’s the tissue?

  4. Randi on June 16th, 2010 12:51 am

    Wow, that seriously made me cry. Erik, that was beautiful and poignant. I’m already emotional thanks to wedding planning, way to make it worse…but so much better! I freaking LOVE Friday Night Lights. This show better get an Emmy by the end.

  5. Erik on June 16th, 2010 3:05 pm

    Other than a profound “thank you” for the kind words, I don’t know what else to say. Jason Katims and the entire FNL team have put together a magical formula for touching the heart. So much so, that I’m worried my “recaps” are turning into essays to share with a therapist 🙂

    “Real” writers would probably take me down a peg for sharing so many autobiographical details. Then again, that’s the beauty of blogging, right? We make our own rules, critics be damned!

  6. Kath (GMMR) on June 16th, 2010 9:56 pm

    In the face of all the real writers, may I please add….F#$K YAY!

    Erik, I think the best reviews are those in which we extract and discuss the shared experience of viewing. You’re posts always go beyond what’s happening on the screen and discuss the motivations behind the writers/characters etc. Don’t you dare change a thing…I’ll Donald Trump your ass.