Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday Night Lights recap: Two recaps for the price of one!

OK, admittedly I've been quite bad about keeping up on my "Friday Night Lights" recaps. Mainly it's because I've been busy, but I'm also not that motivated to keep up with them, because I'm not sure anyone's reading them.
So, before I do a two-for-one recap of both last week's episode, "In the Bag" and this week's "Toilet Bowl," let me enter a quick plea -- if you like these recaps, please share comments below. It will help me stay motivated into keeping up on this. If I don't get any comments, I  will probably just stop doing the recaps.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on "In the Bag" and "Toilet Bowl." In the interest of time, they both consist solely of bullet points.

In the Bag
* Though this episode deals squarely with two Lions-related issues -- Vince's relationship with Eric and Luke's struggle to balance his home responsibilities with football -- there's no actual football being played here. That's OK. There's enough emotion and angst to fill up two episodes, even without football. We have Tim reliving his own daddy issues through Becky's relationship with her dad; Billy struggling to provide for his family; Julie dealing with Matt's sudden departure (and the fact that he's apparently checked in with everyone but her); Tami getting mouth-raped by Glen; the struggles of both Vince and Luke, etc.
* The evolution of the Vince/Eric relationship is one of the season's more interesting storylines. Here, Coach struggles with being freaked out by the idea that Vince might have a gun, but also wanting to win the boy's trust. Should he have let the police search Vince's locker? To pick up on Tami's question, would he have allowed the same thing to happen to Landry (of course, we all know Landry prefers bludgeoning people to shooting them, but still)? I don't know. I think Coach's reaction stemmed from the fact that he was unprepared to even face such a choice. Ultimately, I feel he does the right thing by confronting Vince. Even his decision to destroy the gun is understandable -- once he's won Vince's trust, can he really betray it by handing the gun over to police?
* On to the issue of Luke. First thing's first -- every time I see Luke's leg get crushed in that fence, I wince. It just looks brutal, and Matt Lauria's yelp of anguish is convincingly wrenching. Anyway, Luke's story is an interesting contrast to Vince's. Though they're from different backgrounds, they both take part in football for the same reason -- to escape a life that's crushing their spirits. Vince doesn't want to be another victim of the violence that's claimed his friends. Luke doesn't want to live his father's life, living or dying by whether the cattle are fenced in well.
* This episode also provides some nice moments for Tinker, a real sleeper character in this season. Though not afforded the screen time of Vince, Luke, Becky or even Jess, Tinker is a delight. I loved him laughing at the reporter's question about Stan's guarantee of a win in the "Stay" episode, and I loved him here, stealing Luke's fries, and honorably showing up to help build the fence. He's just a nice, decent kid.
* Tim Riggins has become such an appealing character over the years, it's easy to forget how angry he is. That's why the scene where he beats the hell out of Becky's dad is kind of shocking. We remember that this isn't just about his affection for Becky, but his own fury over his absent jerk of a dad. It's awful, yet it's tough to feel sorry for Becky's dad. What a jerk, playing with that poor girl's feelings.
* Of course, Riggins is back to his charming self by episode's end, retrieving Becky's dog and having that adorable little conversation with the pup.
* Yes, Landry, I am aware of the irony of the phrase "academic smackdown."
* My main thought on re-watching this episode is the same as when I saw it the first time -- I feel MASSIVELY cheated that we never saw Tami sing karaoke. How awesome would that have been?
* Still, lack of getting her groove on aside, this was another great showcase for Connie Britton. How great was her embarrassed, yet completely sympathetic reaction to Glen's drunken smooch? And how awesome was she comforting her sobbing daughter? Britton's lack of an Emmy is a downright sin.
Toilet Bowl
* Despite its title, and the climactic football game that gives the Lions their first win, "Toilet Bowl" is essentially a Tami-Julie episode. Their voyage to Boston College is the episode's heart, and Britton and Aimee Teegarden, as always, are great here. As Tami tries to get Julie to snap out of her Matt-induced funk and Julie resists (throwing a few snarky barbs at her mom in the process), these two prove why they're the best mom-daughter duo on TV. Bonus: Julie's interview scene was wonderfully inspiring, providing her with a true moment of strength and triumph, as she talked about how her town shaped her into a unique person. It's hard not to feel proud for her.
* Sidenote: I love how Julie is mortified by Tami's participation in the English class, even though they're not sitting together, and college students are typically so absorbed in their own drama that likely none of them noticed that Tami and Julie are together. But, of course Julie would assume that everyone knows the crazy lady in the back is her mom, and that they are all secretly laughing at her.
* Gracie, could you put some pants on? I feel like it's a little weird that we have to ask twice.
* Love Buddy as radio commentator. That's all.
* Every scene with Vince's mom breaks my heart. Even here, where she's relatively straight, her eerie cheerfulness and shaking hands area constant reminders that she isn't well. So, here's the question -- is Jess's decision to attend the Howard family dinner postpone her date with Landry merely due to her reluctance to upset an obviously fragile woman? Or is it because she still likes Vince?
* Tim's big confrontation with Billy about the chop shop suffers a bit because Taylor Kitsch, for all his natural charm and presence, isn't great at big dramatic speeches. Here, he comes off a bit whiny. He's much better in the later scene, when Tim quietly decides to join the chop shop operation, knowing he's betraying his ambitions of becoming a better person. Kitsch can't speechify, but few actors are as good at delivering meaningful glances.
* The Tim-Becky relationship continues to be sweet and funny, particularly when Becky coaches Tim on interview techniques using her pageant tricks. Even their kiss comes off as totally innocent and sweet instead of creepy -- mainly because they're both lonely and Tim is still gentlemanly enough to stop Becky before things get out of hand.
* Poor Luke. How far is this thing with the painkillers going to go? How long can he mask his pain and continue playing?


Anonymous said...

Loved yor recap. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Loved your recap. Thanks.