FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: In The Bag - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote


June 22, 2010 by  

The post-Saracen era began this week on FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, as the focus returned to Coach Taylor’s challenge to build a new team.  Many of East Dillon’s players grew up without father figures, including Lions quarterback Vince Howard.  Beyond the lessons of X’s and O’s, these young men have built walls of distrust that their coach must tear down.

More on Eric Taylor’s confrontation with Vince later, with a clip that captures the sharp writing and fearless acting that serves as the foundation of this series…

Fatherhood was the epicenter of this episode, as we watched the daunting responsibility of raising children bring out the best & worst in the men of Dillon, Texas.  A few weeks ago, I theorized that finding the heroes of FNL was as easy as following the traditions of respect and good manners.  It is no surprise that discerning good Dads from bad Dads may also be done by separating truth from fiction.

Tim Riggins knows what poor parenting looks like.  His Dad left Dillon for a life of honky tonk bars and golf course hustles long ago, and Tim is not willing to see Becky suffer with false expectations like he and Billy did.  All season, casual viewers could have easily perceived Tim & Becky’s storyline to be one of mutual attraction or romantic inevitability.

Thanks to the immense talents of Taylor Kitsch and newcomer Madison Burge, Tim Riggins and Becky Sproles have fostered a deeper connection, far more familial than carnal.  They are two people, aesthetically pleasing to the outside world, but stricken with enough self doubt to crush their promising futures.

Lyla Garrity was Riggins’ first love, and she helped him see a future without football and adulation.  However, the protective streak Tim displayed in this scene revealed him as a man who safeguards those close to him.

Kyle Chandler has infused Eric Taylor with a hardened exterior, a tenacious work ethic, and an unrelenting devotion to his wife and children.   Those traits served Coach Taylor well as a rising star in his profession.  The tools he lacked while climbing the ladder of success are  reflected in his dynamic with Vince Howard.

For the first time in FNL’s run, the Coach has been in over his head.  He did not lose teenage friends to drug abuse, poverty, and gunfire.  Despite living a modest lifestyle, the Taylors now understand how blessed their life is.  Helping Vince Howard free himself from a cycle of violence and hopelessness is a challenge bigger than any state championship.

Though Coach Taylor himself appears unsure of WHAT to do to get there, he will not abandon his new star.   Rather than promise Vince scholarships or magazine covers, he offers a different way of life.  This scene is not about a coach counseling one of his players.   It is entirely about a father giving tough love to someone who could be his son.

In the wake of Matt’s departure, it was heartbreaking to watch Julie Taylor brave the winds of change.  Aimee Teegarden had a tough assignment in her scenes this week.  Without Zach Gilford to play off of, Teegarden had to wear the effects of a broken heart in empty space.

Every one of Julie’s onscreen moments rang true.  When I moved away to college, I left my high school sweetheart behind.  Missing a phone call or stumbling upon a mix tape seems innocuous now, but those events were devastating back then.  Teenagers work very hard to earn recognition, be it academic or athletic.  Sometimes, the only way we validate those achievements is through the affections of another.

Julie Taylor dealt with her anguish by jumping into a sea of extracurricular activities.  When the time came for her to shine at Academic Smackdown, the subject matter was too close to bear.  Without Matt, Julie must have wondered, when would someone love her again?

There is more to discuss, including Luke’s budding friendship with Tinker, as well as the questionable choices Billy Riggins is making as a father-to-be.

One topic you will NOT read about in my reviews is the poorly executed karaoke debacle that led to Mrs. Taylor facing an unwanted romantic advance from Glenn.  This was the FNL writers’ second stab at injecting a third party into the Taylors’ marriage, and both have failed miserably.  The less said, the better…

What storylines are keeping you tuned in? How will Julie move on from Matt’s departure? Are Landry & Jess going to continue circling one another, or will they find common ground? I’d love to read your feedback, so chime in!


6 Responses to “FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: In The Bag”

  1. Wally on June 22nd, 2010 4:23 am

    The unwanted romantic advance was definitely a stumble, as was the kareoke scene before it and the awkward make up after. The funny thing is, this is one of the few misteps I’ve I’ve seen the writers make, so I am more than willing to forgive it. This is some of the best writing and acting I have ever seen on tv, and watching this series is like more like looking through the windows at people’s lives than watching television….

  2. Kath (GMMR) on June 22nd, 2010 7:53 am

    I remember reading that before the show even began both Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton went to the writers and said they refused to play a storyline in which either of them stray or cheat. So going into that scene I wasn’t worried, but I thought it was lacking the subtly that FNL is known for. We all knew what was coming, and I thought it odd that they played it off like Tammy was in the dark about Glenn’s advances. She’s a smart woman…she would have known what’s going on.

    Really loving the Tim/Becky storyline. I just wish that Becky would start seeing Tim as the brother-figure he’s trying to put out there and stop trying to hit on him. Then again, I’m not sure if I can blame her. If Tim Riggins was living in the trailer behind my house, well….

    While I appreciate the always storytelling of FNL, I’m not 100% down with the whole ‘inner-city’ aspect. I just want them to stay far away from anything that resembles an after school special. I did like what you said about Coach being in over his head. Agreed. This s a guy that is used to having the answers and it was interesting to see him so flummoxed.

    Bravo to Aimee Teegarden for some of her most subtle moments yet.

    Now back to Tim Riggins…

  3. Patty on June 22nd, 2010 2:41 pm

    I am not down with the “urban” part of town. I hope that the writers feel they have to go to this extreme to show that the coach is not always just a coach to the player but a father figure too. I hope.

    Same with Tim. He has grown so much as a character these past years and I am glad that even though he doesn’t always make the best choices, when it comes down to right/wrong he goes with the right. I don’t think he would have done that in S1.

    As for Billy? I don’t even know where that is going. Except somewhere bad.

    I am now a huge fan of Aimee Teegarden. Julie is so real it’s heartbreaking.

  4. Erik on June 22nd, 2010 11:14 pm

    Wally: I’m glad that you also give FNL’s writers the benefit of the doubt. For all the hour long dramas that struggle to make 1/3 of their story arcs interesting, Jason Katims & Co. have an amazing batting average over 4 seasons.

    Thanks for joining the fun! What stories have you enjoyed most this season? There are a long list of favorites in Dillon, and I’d like to know more about yours.

  5. Erik on June 24th, 2010 4:39 pm

    Kath: Great point about Tami’s poor read of Glenn, especially when her intuition serves as one of her best characteristics. I would hope this storyline came from a network note, because it flew in the face of the gritty realism that FNL shows for family and social dynamics.

    There is something to the “Riggins as Protector” theme that an English major could explain better than me. In the show’s first two seasons, Tim still basked in the glory of all things Panther-related, even as his genuine affection for Lyla developed. He was written as a James Dean type, Running Back without a cause. If Becky would accept Tim’s friendship at face value, their scenes could be uniquely charming. We’ll see…

    I loved your “after school special” analogy for Coach’s dealings with East Dillon, and I take your points at face value. Each season has brought new challenges to the Taylors, and the socioeconomic impact of redistricting put the issue front and center. I still prefer Eric as an underdog, but I accept the notion that the biggest changes he can effect in East Dillon will come through victories on the gridiron.

  6. Erik on June 24th, 2010 4:44 pm

    Patty: I believe that this season was designed as a showcase for Taylor Kitsch. As the show’s most recognizable and bankable young star, the writers and producers have given him ample room to flex his acting muscles. There are more amazing moments ahead for #33. Stay tuned…

    The combination of Riggins 2.0, Matt’s goodbye, and the remarkable marriage of Eric & Tami Taylor should be rewarded with Emmy nominations. Sadly, the show may never get its just due.

    This week’s episode will shed light on Billy’s new business venture, and its impact on Riggins’ Rigs.