Spoilers for the "Friday Night Lights" episode "Let's Get It On" coming up just as soon as I get in the pool for some upper body exercises...
For the last few weeks, I've tried to hold my tongue (or typing finger, or whatever) with regards to the murder storyline. Kinda hard to do that this week, not just because it was so prominent, but because of how it affected -- or failed to affect -- the other Landry storyline.
Simply put, I have a hard time reconciling the football-playing Landry with the rapist-murdering Landry. The two subplots seemed to be taking place on different shows, or at least with a different central character. Until the final scene at the victory party, nothing that Landry did or said in one storyline in any way influenced or was influenced by what was going on in the other. The guy giving the allegedly stirring halftime speech in the locker room didn’t seem like the same guy being forced to lie to his dad about the murder he committed, just as the guy counseling Tyra to stay calm about the investigation didn’t seem like the same guy mocking Saracen for even thinking about getting back with Julie. They look like the same guy, but they exist on two different planes of reality, only occasionally touching one another.
Beyond that, I’m having a hard time buying into any part of the Landry, football hero story, even if it gave Kyle Chandler repeated opportunities to say “Lance” with as much contempt as he could muster. The Landry of season one had nothing but contempt for the football team, barely tolerating its existence only because of his buddy Matt. Maybe I go with him trying out as a misguided attempt to impress Tyra and/or his dad, but we needed more set-up than we got by having the season begin with pre-season practice already underway. And even if I accept Landry’s willingness to go out for the team, it becomes harder and harder to accept that a defending state champion Texas football factory like Dillon would have room for an inexperienced outcast like Landry to make the varsity as a junior, then that he might be able to catch Coach’s eye with a single play in the middle of an intentionally goofy scrimmage, and then that he would have been indulged by the real players during his halftime speech. (Which, by the way, was pretty cliché-filled and not that inspiring.) Yes, some guys griped when he opened his mouth and Coach forced everybody to listen, but Landry’s a tackling dummy at worst, QB-1’s manservant at best, in this hierarchy. I appreciate that he didn’t turn into Jeremy Shockey once he finally got onto the field, that his two big moments in the game were a hustle play and then being the victim of a pass interference penalty, but there were way too many plausibility problems up to that point.
The thing is, I think the football story could have worked if so much of Landry’s time as a character wasn’t being taken up with this silly, overwrought murder plot. Take all the script pages spent on the cover-up and reassign them to Landry’s motivations for going out for the team, the other player’s reactions to him, Saracen’s reaction to having his unpopular sidekick cross into his football world, etc., and this could have been a great storyline. The writers wouldn’t have even needed to tweak Landry’s speech to Tyra from episode two about being a man all that much; done properly, and played with the conviction and power that Jesse Plemons and Adrianne Palicki are bringing to a subplot that doesn’t deserve it, I think everyone absolutely would have bought Tyra falling for Landry the football player just as easily as her doing it with Landry the avenging angel.
And yet the non-Landry portions of the episode were terrific. The show seems to finally be finding its season two footing, but there’s this millstone of a storyline that keeps tripping it up.
Start with Saracen finally growing a pair and telling off anyone and everyone within earshot. Last week’s episode too quickly glossed over the resentment that the Dillon players would no doubt feel about Coach having abandoned them and then returned only after MacGregor was allowed to make a mess of things. Somebody needed to make their displeasure known to Eric, and Saracen -- who matured in so many ways last season and yet was still the stammering pushover at the start of this one -- was just the guy to do it. I hope that one outburst isn’t the end of any post-TMU discomfort between Eric and the team, though I have a feeling it is. I also liked the complete awkwardness of him asking Tami for advice on how to deal with her daughter, and Tami rightly pointing this out to him. In an episode in which Connie Britton had a lot of funny moments – including pretty much every second of the storyline with Eric trying to get lucky and Tami seeing through his every move -- her attempt to get the hell out of the Alamo Freeze before that boy could say another word may have been my favorite.
The Mexico trip came to an interesting end. That Street wasn’t going to have the surgery seemed a given, but the final scene in the bar where Lyla was affectionate with Street, then Riggins, in full view of each guy -- and with neither of them seeming that troubled by it -- demonstrated a moral and sexual complexity that I didn’t think the show would be willing to approach. I actually thought, for the 5 seconds before Lyla had a retreat-to-Jesus moment, that a threesome was in the offing, and I wonder where all this is going once they get north of the border next week.
What did everybody else think?