Spoilers for "Friday Night Lights" just as soon as I put an incredible piece of art on the wall of my house...
Okay, so when I wrote my In Praise of "Friday Night Lights" column last week, it was with a little bit of reluctance, because while I liked much of last week's episode (particularly the Coach/Julie stuff), it didn't represent to me the series at its absolute best, and I usually like to write those kind of flattery-filled reviews to run on a night where newcomers can really see what I'm talking about. But I had an empty space in my schedule last week and knew I would be swamped in "Sopranos"-dom this week, so last week it ran.
This episode, though -- this was the one I was really writing about at the time, because this one was overflowing with so much of what makes "Friday Night Lights" great. I don't know that I'd go so far as is as Dan Fienberg in calling it the best episode since the pilot, if only because of a little thing I like to call The Talk from "I Think We Should Have Sex," but on the sports side of the ledger, this was as good as this show gets.
What did I love about it? I loved Coach's growing contempt for the commercialization of the playoff game, and for the Brant coach ("Does your brother run the clock up there? Is that part of the deal?"), and I loved how he took advantage of the chemical spill to take the team, the town and the game back to their roots. (I also love the irony, intentional or not, of him telling Buddy that this would be "football without all the crap" as he was in the process of moving things to a cow pasture that would no doubt be full of crap.)
I loved the use of "Read My Mind" (by far the best track from The Killers' sometimes overwrought "Sam's Town" album) on the soundtrack, and I loved the Woodstock-meets-state-fair-meets-Thunderdome atmosphere the show created around the Mud Bowl. I loved that Landry didn't get to run through the rain to declare his love for Tyra, RomCom-style, and I love that she had to save herself from the rapist. (Given last week's "Back to the Future" viewing by Riggins and company, I was half-expecting some kind of George McFly/Biff scene where Landry focused his chi into his fist until it become unto a thing of iron, or something like that.)
Mostly, though, I loved the football game. The producers can't do this sort of thing every week, both from a logistics point of view and because it would eventually be a turn-off to the fans who had to be talked into watching "that football show," but when they set their mind to it, boy howdy they give good Underdog Sports Movie. All the Mud Bowl was lacking was a scene where Riggins' father randomly showed up to lead the crowd in a chant of "LET THEM PLAY! LET THEM PLAY!" Just as Dan did when he saw it, I literally pointed my hands straight at the ceiling and called out "TOUCHDOWN!" when Saracen scored on that roll out play.
Before I open it up to comments, I leave you with this quote: "Blood, sweat and tears, it all stays right here on this field right now! This is our dirt, this is our mud, this is ours, baby!"
What did everybody else think?