Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Night Lights: The replacements

Spoilers for "Friday Night Lights" episode two coming up just as soon as I kill, stuff and mount a 10-point buck...

So let's see, where do we stand? Rapist, still dead and floating down the river. Coach, still in Austin with the TMU job. Tami, still overwhelmed and crying. Julie, still chasing after The Swede. Buddy, still on the outs with both his family and the new coach. Street, still crippled (and, possibly, still wanting to listen to Nirvana).

Show, still brilliant at times, maddening at others.

I don't want discussion to be dominated every week by talk of the killing and cover-up, but I can't not start there this time. The premiere left the door open, however slightly, to the notion that Tyra and Landry didn't go through with it, that they called the authorities -- hell, even that Landry did a bad job of taking a pulse. Sadly, no. Dead and dumped.

And for what? What benefit does this possibly bring the show compared to what's being lost -- in terms of Landry as a character and in terms of the series as a whole? Katims said the goal was to push Landry and Tyra closer together, that "their relationship would never become as intimate as it does if not for this event."

So, essentially, the writers came up with this storyline that no one can defend (even the people who aren't out on the ledge with me are saying things like "I don't like it but I trust the writers" or "I'm not ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater") so they could get Landry laid.

Okay, so that's cruder and maybe more reductive than the love confession scene at the episode's end deserves. Jesse Plemons played the hell out of that moment -- and, as Katims also said, another reason for this story was to give Plemons a dramatic showcase after he wowed everyone late last year -- and out of Landry's overall anguish over what he did (and what he then failed to do by giving into Tyra's panicked demands to keep the cops out of this), but I hate that the writers had to contrive this character-redefining, series-altering development to accomplish a goal that could have easily been met under different circumstances.

Okay, so you want to have Tyra and Landry hook up, right? Why does Landry have to kill the guy to accomplish that? And why does he then have to participate in a cover-up on top of that? And, more to the point, why does Tyra have to be turned into a damsel in distress (as opposed to the hellcat who chased her mom's boyfriend with a fireplace poker and saved her own damn self the last time the rapist came at her) to accomplish this? Why can't she come to recognize the awesomeness of Landry without such a melodramatic, ridiculous plot twist?

The only value whatsoever that I see in any of this has nothing to do with the dramatic reality of the show itself, but in NBC's ability to craft a more exciting promo. I get that this is a business, and that if "Friday Night Lights" can't hit a certain number, it's not going to be around very long. But this seems like Katims and company going for the nuclear option right away, when something much less drastic could have been turned into a loud commercial by the NBC promo wizards.

I know last week I said that the killing almost bothered me more than the cover-up because I couldn't see Landry being credibly funny again for a long time -- a fear borne out by the clumsy reintroduction of his one-liners like the one about Tyra writing a how-to book or Julie keeping a part of Saracen's anatomy in her panty drawer -- but at this point I'd almost be willing to let that go if it meant Landry had reported it and the story might be over sooner. I still think it does too much damage to Landry and is a betrayal of Tyra, but you get your killing, your brooding, your declarations of love, and we can move on to the next thing. Instead, the body's just out there somewhere -- possibly with Landry's engraved watch -- and this story's just going to keep going and going.

God. I promised myself I wasn't going to get so worked up two weeks in a row about that one story element, especially since I had a number of other concerns about episode two.

Start with the continuation of the TMU storyline. Individual parts of it are superb, I'll readily admit. I liked seeing Eric struggle with being low man on the totem pole and dealing with far more pampered college stars like Antoine (who may as well have been named Big Smash or Ax or Crush or something), as well as the way the TMU coach's line about Eric being a great high school coach played at once as a compliment and a condescending put-down. And I continue to love every minute Connie Britton's on screen; Mrs. Coach made this particular bed, and now she can't get any sleep in it.

But the TMU plot's a narrative dead end. We know that sooner or later an excuse will have to be made for Eric to come back to Dillon -- probably as a result of Buddy's ongoing resentment towards MacGregor (more on that later) -- and it feels like an artificial attempt to create friction and pretend like the status quo's really been altered. ("House" is doing something similar this fall, but with two key differences that make it work: the series can continue on long-term without the original status quo being restored exactly as it was; and in the meantime, it's really funny.)

I felt like "State" left things just ambiguous enough about what Eric would want to do -- especially with that slow-clap at the end -- that the writers could have easily come back this season with him having changed his mind and stayed in Dillon, and it wouldn't have felt like a cheat. Instead, they're sticking with the ramification of that story, and while it's providing some interesting material within the Taylor family, it's taking the show's central character out of its central world. It's not nearly as big a problem as the killing, but it's a direction the show might have been better off not taking.

I continue to be untroubled by what Julie's doing with The Swede -- it feels very teenage girl authentic -- but the introduction of Carlotta the Magical Latina live-in nurse seems like yet another bad direction. I hope to be proven wrong here, but I'm assuming this is going to lead to her and Saracen hooking up in a story that's going to make me long for the subtle nuances and emotional heft of Rigggins and the MILF.

Still, the other trouble spots are of a much more minor variety, akin to some of season one's speedbumps (the MILF, Smash on 'roids). It's that big matzoh ball with Tyra and Landry that's still hanging out there and still worrying me.

Some other thoughts on an episode ironically titled "Bad Ideas":
  • Lord, Brad Leland is great as Buddy, isn't he? He and Connie Britton are the only carryovers from the movie's cast, and while it's been obvious from day one why Peter Berg wanted to keep Britton around, Leland spent a lot of season one as just one large piece of the tapestry of Dillon, adding to the verisimilitude but not gettin much to do beyond that. But he's been more than up to the expanded role, and his drunken meltdown at the kick-off party was my favorite part of the episode not involving Coach or Mrs. Coach.
  • As a reminder that this show is often at its best at the little moments, I give you Eric calling Tami and being forced to endure a "conversation" with baby Gracie because Tami can't hear him asking her to get back on the phone. When our daughter was a baby, my wife and I both used to annoy each other with that particular stunt; I think it's one of those things that's hardwired into the DNA of new parents (and Eric and Tami may as well be new parents, given how long it's been since Julie was born).
  • After spending much of the first season borrowing liberally from the documentary "Murderball" for the Street stories, it seemed only fair to have that movie's star, Mark Zupan, cameo as the guy who suggests that Jason check out experimental treatments in Mexico. Zupan's appearance, coupled with the news that Street had regained some small mobility in his hands, led my buddy Fienberg to point out that, under the rules of quad rugby -- in which players are assigned a set of points ranging from 0.5 (least mobile) to 3.5 (most mobile), and that the four players on the court at any one time can't exceed 8 points (to provide equal opportunity to people with various levels of impairment) -- Street gaining added use of his hands would actually make him a less valuable player, since it would prevent his team from having as many skill players on the court at once, even though Street would probably only be a marginally better player. (He kicked butt without even being able to properly open his hands, after all.) This then led to a long digression in which Dan and I tried to apply sabremetrics to the world of quad rugby and tried to come up with an equivalent to VORP, but this then proceeded down several avenues probably best not repeated here. Suffice it to say, we probably put more thought into the entire concept than was healthy for anyone.
What did everybody else think?


Unknown said...

i didn't really have that big of a problem with landry's one-liners. i actually thought the awkwardness is what they were going for, with landry still trying to be landry in spite of what's going behind the scenes. maybe that's exactly what he was like last season too; hiding his "dark side" or whatever behind the jokey, best bud facade. plus i thought the landry/tyra scenes were handled super well. not just the final scene, which you talked about, but the school parking lot scene, where landry's speech to tyra about how he's not the hero she's trying to make him out to be took his character back somewhat to his see-through-all-the-bs self that we expect from him. i could be the craziest person in the world, but i kinda like where this is going.

Bobman said...

I share most of your concerns, Alan. I'm also REALLY worried about where teh Street story line will go if he takes the advice of finding a doctor in Mexico. That seems like a stretch for someone his age, even though he's obviously desperate, and just a little hack. With everything else going on it's just another thing that's a bit too much of a stretch.

The only other thing I can add is that Adrianne Palicki really stepped up her acting in this episode. I thought her scene at the end with Landry was really well-acted; she almost had ME crying.

It's amazing how many great cast memebers they have in this show; even though they're all overshadowed by Britton and Chandler, I think we almost take it for granted how great the rest of them are.

rhamilton said...

Honestly this feels strangely like the second season of the OC. I mean, I don't want to go overboard on that, just in one specific way - for some reason the writers feel like it's a good idea to create a new character to with each of the old characters - Connie gets the Science Teacher, Julie gets the Swede, Matt gets the plot of Spanglish, apparently, Coach gets his own little city to be frustrated in.

This is an even stranger choice than it was on the OC (Seth, Ryan, Summer, Marissa getting Alex, Lindsay, Zach, and DJ respectively) because the cast of substantive actors on this show was already so huge.

Maybe it's the product of another similarity to the OC: running through infinite plots in the first season. While I agree with earlier comments that they had good reason to "throw out all the stops" in season 1, it seems like they should know that this is not the way to come back from it.

As for the elephant itself, I actually started to warm up to it just the slightest bit with that "be a man" scene, which I really did thing was a nice little payoff for Landry, even if it isn't worth what it cost.

But I really wish that kiss didn't happen. I just find the implications of him "saving" her from a rapist at the end of one episode and then getting his reward exactly one episode later. And in general these have been two of the least slimy characters, and I don't want to have to feel icky about them.

Unknown said...

It was a good episode, but the only comment I can make now is that it's hilarious that you threw a Demolition reference into your review. At least, I'm guessing that's what it was.

Daniel said...

Dawg, it's a coincidence that the episode is called "Bad Ideas" and also features bad creative ideas. It's only iconic under Alanis Rules.

And I can't believe you wussed out on VORC.


Anonymous said...

You nailed it Alan. The Latina helper is sure to give us a furture cringe worthy moment between herself and Matt. The Landry and Tyra storyline is atrocious. And after speaking to my folks they were complainig about it, and they are in their early 60s and FNL is the only television drama they folow regularly. The storyline definately takes away from the show being one of the few programs that people of all ages could enjoy and relate to.

I also feel that last season the show was at its' best when their was a mix of the drama and football action. So hopefully next week will be the opening game for the panthers. There was still good moments, like Buddy at the party and Mrs. Taylor. And the previews for next week looked excellent.

Chris Littmann said...

I'm really torn about Landry and Tyra sleeping together -- and judging from the teaser where she slides her pants back on, it sure looks that way.

On the one hand, you could look at it as another bit of loosening on the grip of reality, but on the other hand, is it really that big of a stretch to say in all the stress and drama of the moment when someone has just KILLED someone for you, that it wouldn't happen?

Thought it was cool to work in Mark Zupan, if only because the first time I saw Herc last season, I did a double-take and thought "Oh no way! They're using Mark Zupan!"

I'm really enjoying the show. Say what you will about the death plot, but Jason Katims was right: Jesse Plemmons is one hell of an actor.

This cast as a group is able to say a lot while saying very little at times, and Plemmons is no different.

Chris Littmann said...

And also, I definitely laughed out loud when Landry said "Do you think all humans are capable of evil?" to his rally girl.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And I can't believe you wussed out on VORC.

You wanna be the one to spell it out, Dan?

By the way, I completely neglected to mention my issues with the Landry joining the Panthers subplot. I don't know how plausible it is that a nerdy junior with no previous football experience (at least, not in a long, long time) could make the varsity of a defending Texas state champion, even as a tackling dummy, but the Landry-as-killer element so overwhelms the concept of this story that I kept wondering how Landry could even function, let alone want to get his bell rung a few dozen times a day, while coping with the guilt of all this.

They should have done one story or the other -- and you know which one I would have chosen -- but not both.

Though Glenn Morshower really is a dead ringer for Jesse Plemons, isn't he?

genevieveyorke said...

i have to agree with bobman. as much as the tyra/landry subplot terrifies me, that scene at the end did reassure me a little bit. it does make sense that tyra would be happier with him dead.

it's too bad that minka kelly isn't as good an actress as adrianne palicki. when it comes to lyla, i'm not even religious and i'm kind of insulted by the extent to which lyla's religious convictions are blatantly posited an effect of the turmoil in the rest of her life. did they HAVE to make her that stereotypical militant christian? couldn't they have made her more moderate?

i love riggins's character as always, (this probably has to do with the fact that i have ovaries), but the way the writers use him kind of frustrates me. when he's the star of his own storylines i don't mind, but when he shows up or is mentioned in other characters' storylines, it feels like he's being used as a plot device, especially when those other characters are lyla and tyra. so far this season, riggins has not had his own storylines, he's just there to remind lyla that she has a hot hunk of manflesh available if she has any crises of faith.

i am okay with the julie storyline as well. i just wish she could act a little better/ were less whiny.

also - let's note that not only is coach taylor pushed to the sidelines, so to speak, but matt saracen is as well. these were the two central characters from last season, and they've hardly done anything this season.

i'm also afraid of where the saracen/nurse and mrs. taylor/ science teacher storylines might be headed. i hope the writers avoid the cliched romances that could be at the end of those roads.

also, smash had like two sentences to say in this episode. he's a good character and he's played by a good actor, and he's too good not to use.

Daniel said...

Your readers are clever, Alan. They can figure out VORC.

I'm not sure if we can't necessarily assume Landry made Varsity, but as I said over on my own blog rant about FNL last week, Landry couldn't crack a Pop Warner roster in Dillon. Remember the kiddie game Coach and Smash played in last Thanksgiving? Football is a religion in this town. We hear it over and over again. That Landry would even have a place on the roster is comical. Couldn't he have been the mascot? Or the radio announcer? Or the water boy? I know those things wouldn't have made Agent Pierce proud of him, but they might have kept the show from jeopardizing its plausibility forever...

Go Sox.


Unknown said...

While I agree that Lyla's definitely gone hardcore Christian very quickly, it makes sense that she jumped in this quickly. Her life didn't just change over time -- everything changed for her the minute Jason went down with the injury, and it seems like she was ill-prepared to handle life on her own, and her parents were ill-prepared to prepare her. I think she pretty much has to jump in a militant fashion. She wants a complete distraction. It's obviously not working, as her past is still too close to her, and it's not realistic to assume that anyone can break all ties from everything so quickly.

But she's trying, and I love that. I do hope that they don't have her denounce her faith. There are rarely any good Christian characters on television, and if any show can handle religion well, it's this one.

Anonymous said...

Honestly? I love this season. I know it's not a popular opinion, but the murder is actually working for me. I love seeing Jesse Plemons do drama, I love how it's bringing his character together with Tyra, I just love all of it.

Perhaps my love of the show has blinded me? I'm not sure, really. All I know is, the FNL writers have almost made a game out of tackling and dismantling popular teen drama cliches - most, if not all, of these plots could be found on One Tree Hill. However, they would be clunky, badly acted and just dumb. On FNL, because of the acting and writing, everything is golden, and I'm really enjoying watching it play out.

Essentially, for me it boils down to - I do trust the writers but I also like the darker places they're going. I wish we were getting a bit more Jason and Smash, though. But I'm sure that will come with time.

I love Brad Leland. Honestly, he has made Buddy Garrity such a complex and interesting character. Every single person on this show deserves an Emmy, but he and Connie Britton most of all.

Chris Littmann said...

Oh, sorry, but I forgot this in my two previous posts, two other things I wanted to mention:

1. Is Smash being set up to be the Boobie Miles of the group? Can they really take the gusto from the team's best player TWO season's in a row?

2. I've got an FNL blog going on (Alan, if it's not OK to share this link, feel free to zap my post.)

I wrote an online story for us about the Season 2 debut, and it seemed to evoke a reaction, so I started an FNL blog for us.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually a little surprised that you weren't a bit reassured by this episode, Alan. I talk about this in greater detail over on my own blog post about this episode, but I think the Tyra/Landry subplot has been useful for more than just bringing those two crazy kids together. For one, the intimacy they achieves is charged with confusion and muddled emotions; having Tyra slip into Landry's bedroom is an adolescent's fantasy realized, but it's certainly not in the context he might have imagined. But more than that, we're seeing just what kind of young man Landry is. From that first scene on the bridge, where he speculates (with genuine empathy) that the victim has no one who cares enough to look for him, to that fantastic confrontation with Tyra outside the stadium, I think we're seeing a noble, tragic figure in development here. And Plemons is playing it beautifully.

Jason said...

I'm also a member of the minority who's not terribly distraught with the Tyra-Landry storyline. Jesse and Ariannne are doing phenomenal dramatic work, and it's not as if we're dealing with an insufferable combo like Mischa Barton and Ben McKenzie here. This is compelling stuff.

And with everything that is just fantastic with the show -- Britton is an absolute Tour de Force, Chandler had some great moments, and it impossible to not lovpe what Leland's doing -- I refuse to let a relatively minor development (a few scenes that total maybe 4-5 minutes) overshadow that. And, hosestly, I don't think it does. Was going in that direction a mistake? Probably. Can I get over it and love everything else there is to love about this gem of a show? For sure.

One last thing -- Alan, I would just love to know how you can write that something "feels very teenage girl authentic." Is there somthing you're not telling us?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

As worried as I am about the Landry/Tyra plot, and as fearful as I am about the speed it's progressing (I found myself shaking my head and waving my hands at the screen as the kiss was about to happen), there are a number of other elements that are seriously worrying. The forced 'experimental' stem cell research bit made my jaw drop at its awful intrusion, Lyla is a broken character, Riggins's hedonism is desperately overplayed etc. etc.

But really the number one complaint is how transparent the dialogue has become. Everybody states their feelings bluntly now (observe Julie's speech to her father in the car last episode, and then her speech to Matt this week), and it ruins the closed-mouthed, close-chested small-town feel last year did so well to establish and maintain. I feel like I am watching actors read cue cards just offscreen now, rather than real people struggling to express themselves.

NBC have fucked this show, and I am desperately afraid for it right now.

Anonymous said...

I just wish they'd go back to showing more football and less weirdness. There's no way Landry would make any football team, especially a state champion, so that part just doesn't ring true for me. I also hated the suggestion that Street could go to Mexico for some experimental treatment. If he goes and is cured, that will really turn a lot of people off because it is so unrealistic. The Latina health aide is also a storyline that I hope doesn't go where I think it's going. And whatever happened to Smash? He's barely even on this show anymore.

Anonymous said...

Alan: While I agree with you that it changes who Landry is and so much about him, I think this fits in why I like FNL so much.

The show has been one of the most "real" shows on TV. I heard an interview with Peter Berg and the way he described how they shot made it even more real. He said they shot without blocking or spots, with multiple cameras and allowed the actors room with the dialogue. Adding the excellent acting (anytime Mrs. Coach cries) this show seems real.

Bad things happen in real life. Funny, witty people like Landry can changes their lives in a second. The incident with the rapist at the market COULD have happened. While I agree the one-liner Landry was great, Jesse Plemons IS showing he can be as awesome being dramatic.

So, did I magically change your mind Alan?

Chris Littmann said...

alastair -- Sounds like your problem is with Julie, not the show as a whole. And my question is this: When have teenage girls ever been known to be subtle and not blurt out their thoughts and feelings?

Anonymous said...

From a female perspective, not to mention a story-telling perspective, it's very disappointing to see Tyra finally "discovering" Landry only after he's killed for her. It felt like they were trying to show something more subtle than 'He's murdered for me and now I have to put out for him' but that's sure how it came across in the aggregate; Tyra's agency is pretty much blown to bits, and the lovely quirky romance I was hoping to see between Tyra and Landry is now fouled by the sense that she's sleeping with him because she feels backed into an emotional corner -- she's got to "reward" him or put out to ensure his continuing to keep the secret. Bleah.

dark tyler said...

Wow, now that he has joined the team after killing to protect her, Landry probably is man enough for Tyra.

Let's stop talking about the murder for a bit. As many have pointed out, focusing on this makes us not pay enough attention to the rest of the show, which right now really seems like a self-serious OC season 2. What the hell happened here? Almost everything that happens on the show right now seems to be a mere mechanism designed to bring certain characters together. What is this?

Jason Katims, oh ye great showrunner of FNL Season 1. You defend the indefensible with the sole excuse that it will bring two characters together. So. What? Did I flip over to ABC and didn't notice? Am I watching Grey's Anatomy all of a sudden? Where did the heart of this show go? Seriously, if all I wanted was relationship drama I'd catch OC reruns.

Cover your eyes, you know it's coming:

They should have canceled it. Not perhaps. Not wait and see. No nothing. Because no brilliant actings justify replacing the social commentary aspect of the show for soap opera. They should have canceled it.

Matt said...

Last night's numbers were, to put it mildly, disastrous. Only 5.4 M viewers, and last place in the demographic. Part of that might have been curiosity about Women's Murder Club, which did 10M+, but especially given that Deal or No Deal did 10M+, not a good sign.

Anonymous said...

Nearly completely tangentially: I see that the set designers, or whoever, used the very common fake-girlie-magazine name of "Playpen" for Matt's stash, and I'm thinking that in regards to modern sensibilities and fears, that's a very, very, very bad name for a porn magazine.

Chris Littmann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Here's a link.

Interesting spec of them trying to give it a shot after "Heroes," which seems unlikely to me.

Linda said...

Man, if there's anybody whose opinion about TV I trust more than Alan, it's Scott Tobias, so now I'm REALLY confused.

I don't know. One of my pals texted me after Landry's very well-acted speech about being "manly" and said, "That would have been a great moment, if it weren't about a murder." Which is basically how I feel about it. Yes, they're terrific young actors. Their relationship and chemistry are fascinating, as they were before.

Nevertheless, the guy is really dead. That's a guy who was alive, and now he's dead, and they dumped him in a river, which is an unforgivable act, as far as I'm concerned. You don't kill someone and dump his body in the river because he threatens someone you have a crush on.

The irony is that while Landry told Tyra that this WASN'T manly, while he tried to tell her that it WASN'T brave, the show's message is obviously that it was. Look what happened to him. He kills for her; he gets sex he's been after for a year, and in fact, the show admits that this is WHY they had him kill the guy. They had him kill the guy to present a logical reason for Tyra to have sex with him.

That's extremely offensive to me, quite honestly. The idea that what really makes a woman hot for you is committing violence on her behalf is something I expect from far inferior dramas. Wouldn't it have been infinitely more interesting if he did this and believed she would be grateful, but she was just creeped out and uncomfortable, given that perhaps a woman who's just been exposed to violence isn't really looking for a guy who's just proved that he's capable of violence?

We don't all think explosive violence is sexy. We really don't. And we're not all primarily looking for protectors. Not all tough women are waiting for somebody to allow them to release the inner marshmallow.

Unknown said...

man, you are ruining the show for yourself.

step back and relax.

the plot line is not that outrageous. take a look around and examine all the other plot lines and drama that has unfolded onto one team and one town.

it's a great show and you are ruining it for yourself.

i'm going to have to stop reading your entries on the show

Colin Fast said...

In all the discussion about Landry and Tyra, aren't we missing an important issue here: why is "The Swede" called "The Swede" when he neither appears nor sounds Swedish?

Admiral Neck said...

The show writers may have introduced this worrying murder plotline as a way to further the Tyra/Landry romance, but if you'll excuse me for treating these fictional characters as real people, Landry didn't kill Tyra in order to win her affections. In that scene fear and fight-or-flight responses kicked in, and the murder was done in the heat of passion.

Landry isn't a murderer, which is one of the reasons why the fans are worried by this plotline, but as the story continues, and we see his tortured response to it, it become more apparent that he hasn't changed and become a mercenary fool. He's the same guy who made a terrible terrible mistake. We may not like the showrunners putting him in that position, and it might seem like a stretch (but who among us knows how we would react if we killed someone in the heat of passion), but at least he didn't do it intentionally to impress Tyra. That would be an even bigger betrayal of a well written character, not to mention a screw-you to the audience that would be pretty much automatically show-killing.

As for the final scene, Tyra's horror and PTS (I think it's fair to say both of them would be suffering terrible after effects from the attack) are torturing her, and the only person she can talk to is Landry. Seeing him agonised over it would probably have made her come out with all of the "You're the best person" comments, in order to calm him down, and the kiss? How many times have teenage characters in this show done the stupid thing and impulsively kissed each other? Riggins and Lila, Julie and The Swede, Street and Suzy... Kids do stupid things. Tyra doesn't know what she's doing. I really doubt she's thinking, "oooh, hot murderer!" She's confused, as is Landry. Who wouldn't be?

Admiral Neck said...

Wow, I just wrote that Landry didn't kill Tyra to impress her. I guess I just came up with the worst possible Friday Night Lights plot ever. Let's hope that one doesn't get written in.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised by this episode. While others felt that it confirmed the hole this show had written itself into, I was pleasantly surprised to see 'possibilities'. I can't judge for myself whether this is blind optimism, but rather than the muder overwhelming the story, it seemed to play a back seat to the other parts of the story. This to me was a good revelation. I was quite concerned that nothing else in the show could compete with the murder plot line, and this clearly isn't the case.

As Admiral Neck points out, as much as I initially did not want to see Landry put in the situation he is now in, the only thing that remains indefensible at this point is the fact that they dumped the body rather than going to the police. The murder itself, and all of the resulting effects of it in episode 2 were wonderfully acted and in line with the characters we've known for a full season.

I never wanted to see the characters in this situation, (much like I'm not really interested in Street going to Mexico) but so long as the characters are being written in ways that I would expect them to react in these situations (which didn't happen when they dumped the body) then I can feel that the season is thankfully "back on track".

Anonymous said...

Disclaimer: I will sound like an apologist, but I don't think there's any choice in the matter if one is trying to make a case for this season's direction.

Disclaimer for the disclaimer: I'm not really makinh a case for the direction this season is taking as much as I'm poiting out that even this first season of this series had some problems that were later put out of our minds.


Friday Night Lights was for me a near perfect season of television. I can't recall any episodes that stood out in my mind as duds, or any drastic errors - but if I think a little deeper, I do remember Tyra and here "party planning" buisness, and dating the "oil dude" for an episode. Those sub plots were pretty empty (thankfully), but they were (to me) mistakes in the season. However, the excellence of the rest of the show more than adequately wiped those scenes from any real memories I had of the overall season.

I know, a murder is pretty drastic compared to party planning, but this is tv, not real life - and it's possible this will be a blip on the radar by seasons end.

Anonymous said...

For the first time ever, I was bored watching this show. That is not a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I shared your considerable disappointment in the Tyra-Landry subplot in the season opener. I was resigned to FNL's likely soon cancellation. Despite liking pretty much everything else in 2.1. Then I watched this week's ep and realized the show is still among my favorite ever. I can live with the contrived Latina live-in nurse just like I could live with every football game last year coming down to the last second and being "must win." And I can live with Jason Street going through 2-plus years of phys. therapy and rehab and getting into quad rugby in what was maybe two months of a football season. Another important thing to remember is that Texas HS football championships are in mid-December, so season one only covered about 3.5 months (I'm feeling slightly ridiculous for applying a real timeline to TV land), so the characters have had 9 months (or more than 2x what we saw) since we've seen them.

AlexR said...

To be perfectly honest, I don;t have a major issue with the controversial Landy-Tyra stroyline because of the insanely good acting and emotion on the part of Jessie Plemmons and Adrianne Palicki.

It's ironic that FNL showrunner may now be getting himself involved with "Bionic Woman" where the acting (save for Katee Sackhoff) is mostly atrocious while the acting on FNL (especially Chandler, Britton, Brad Leland, Plemmons, Palicki, Zack Gilford and Aimee Teegarden) is superb, top to bottom.

I agree, Katims should stick with keeping FNL great and get off that Bionic sinking ship. I will watch 1-2 more episodes of "Bionic" rooting for it to improve (because I generally support genre shows and NBC), but FNL on its worst day, is better than Bionic.

Anonymous said...

I think Linda's made the best point on the Landry/Tyra situation, and it seems to be overlooked. For a show that is often so refreshingly real and is lauded for how it handles consequences of storylines and actions, this "murder for sex" story is just awful. The acting is phenomenal, but it's not... right.

Admiral Neck said...

I really strongly believe that the sex (if any occurred; we don't know yet) between Tyra and Landry is a consequence of a terrible act done in the heat of passion, not the reason why an intentional murder was committed. The writers may have introduced the murder plotline to get Tyra and Landry together, but Landry the character did not kill the rapist to woo Tyra the character.

Though we might be mad at the showrunners for creating an environment where two characters sleep together after killing someone, they have not made Landry's motivation such that he killed for love, or Tyra's motivation that she's attracted to Landry because he's a big strong killing machine. Yes, the reasons behind the introduction of the murder plot are dubious and mechanical and wrong-headed, but they're not advocating killing people just to impress a woman, and I don't think they're saying, "Women sure like those murderers."

The showrunners are on the wrong path right now, but they've not yet taken leave of their senses and started espousing repellent values. To go from their usual sensitive value system and understanding of what makes people tick to some horribly thoughtless potboiler melodramatic motivation in the space of a season hiatus is doubtful.

K J Gillenwater said...

Yay, Kat! I am with you. I am just fine with what they are doing on the show.

What was limiting for Landry was to be the constant clown of every episode. He always had the funny line, and I think he deserved more than that. I knew teenage boys just like him...clueless about girls, always making the witty comment, and guess what, eventually they get sick and tired of playing that role.

It was refreshing to have Landry 'grow up' and be forthright about his feelings for Tyra, and I don't think that would have happened as quickly or easily if they'd left him to just do his 'Landry' thing all season long.

I am very curious to see what happens next week. No way can Tyra explain to anyone why she is with she won't. It will be this clandestine thing up until a certain point, I am sure.

Loved the stuff with Connie. So true to life. This is what it feels like to be a mom with a newborn, everyone...confusing, scary, life-altering. Yes, she's been there before, but she was much, much younger, and I'm guessing her spouse was around to help her out.

I love me some Riggins. I'm a little peeved that they want to stick him with Lyla who is the weakest actress on there. But maybe she can fix this boy and make him realize he's a worthy human being.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so count me on board with Kat and Kristin (and anyone else who really likes this season so far).

I don't want discussion to be dominated every week by talk of the killing and cover-up ...

Then don't do it, Alan! We. Get. It. You don't like the storyline. Come on let's move on. There's so much more to talk about in those 8 paragraphs you spent explaining again why you hate the storyline. It's far-fetched but I don't think ill-planned. Give the writers of the show you love so much the benefit of the doubt, would ya?

Things I loved about the episode:

Landry still gets the best lines with his "That'll be beautiful for when you zip over to the Rite Aid" when Matt's grandmother got the tiara in the mail and "Do you think all humans are capable of evil?" to the rally girl.

Mrs. Coach telling coach to be indispensable as usual and him telling her that was a very wifely thing to say. They are a better married couple long-distance than most people are living together.

Matt FINALLY standing up for himself when Julie broke up with him and telling her "I know I didn't do anything. I know it's not me". Good for him. He's obviously had to grow up fast and be the man of the house and Julie's just too immature for him. I'm actually looking forward to him getting involved with the nurse. Hopefully, he'll finally gain not only support that he really needs but also some confidence.

Even Riggins got some good stuff this week when he helped Lyla with her drunk daddy. His "Good night, Champ" as he walked away was hilarious.

This remains one of the best shows on TV.

Anonymous said...

A step in the right direction, though still problematic. I admire the boldness of having a sympathetic major character admit to feeling no remorse over a murder, but it's a loser of a plotline, shipped in from a far lesser show. I'm not a Minka Kelly hater, and I thought her born-again arc could've been great, but apparently they'd rather use it cheaply and lazily while she makes moony eyes at Tim Riggins. I miss Billy! And I'm sick of every black athlete being spoiled and having an attitude problem. Please give Smash an interesting plotline, preferably involving his awesome mama. I'm hoping once the contrivances to bring Coach back to Dillon are over, the show will regain its footing.

Unknown said...

Re: Saracen

Alan - while I do agree with you that Julie's actions are perfectly normal for a hormonal, emotionally messed up 16 year old girl, it doesn't make me like her any better.

While I accept the reality of the situation between Matt & Julie, and that this is perfectly normal, it doesn't stop me from making angry watching what a royal bitch Julie is being and how horribly she's treating a fantastic guy like Saracen.

And I would also say to Julie if I was a fictional character in Dillon, Texas, why is it so bad to turn out like Eric & Tami Taylor? Great parents, great people - these are people she should emulate - not cheesy, flighty immature guys who are lifeguards and play in bands.

Personally, I would like to scream "GROW UP!!!" at Julie.

RandomRanter said...

I have this theory that the nurse isn't really a nurse and that's the thing that's got me not freaking out over a repeat of the themes from the MILF story.
I agree with the consensus that there have been some great moments for Landry that I wish something more subtle than murder (or even justifiable homecide) had produced.
And, I also (having watched "Murderball") thought a bit too quickly that increased motion would change Jason's rugby rating.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Buddy/Lyla/Riggins storyline was great TV and why I watch Friday Night Lights. I thought Landry's speech to Tyra about being a man was why I watch Friday Night Lights. The scene where Coach Taylor puts Antoine in his place in that diner was why I watch Friday Night Lights.

The rest of the show, top to bottom, is breaking my spirit. The pedophilic relationship between The Swede and Julie which I called last week. Jason Street once again looking to walk again after being creepy with Mrs. Coach. The set up of Matt and the nurse and Mrs. Coach and the teacher.

And to answer Alan's question, the storyline that would give us the scenes we enjoyed tonight featuring Landry and Lyla could EASILY, I MEAN EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING, have just come from him joining the football team.

Landry gets his ass handed to him by Riggins. Jokingly, Tyra says to be a man. Cue the speech. Cue her coming over at the end of the episode, no tears, just realizing what a great person he is for joining the team to impress her.

Voila. No murder necessary. We still get to introduce Landry's dad. It's beautiful.

And as far as the Julie storyline goes, to paraphrase the old saying about not having anything nice to say, if you don't have a good storyline for the characters, don't give them any at all (see: Smash).

Watching this season of Friday Night Lights is like continuing to date someone after they've cheated on you and you found out. You stick around because the old times were so good, but you know they're just going to break your heart again, but you do it any way because you're addicted.

Why do I get the feeling that by the end of this season or maybe sooner, there's going to be a lot of broken hearts?

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else concerned with the lack of Smash Williams in these two episodes? The actor gave one of the best performances on the show last season, so why is his character being sidelined so far this season?

Anonymous said...


VORP for murderball? Awesome.

VORC? no one has left yet, but i'm sure it can be used on other series.

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