Friday Night Lights: Leave No One Behind

Posted by: Sarah Miller  //  February 7, 2008 @ 3:09am

Filed under: TV Recaps/Reviews 

This week, things are not so rosy for everybody in Dillon, Texas. Smash Williams is out, possibly for good; the Panthers might become the first high school team in history to win the Texas state championship and then not make the playoffs the next year; and Julie continues to feel abandoned by her mother. Worst of all, Matt Saracen, everybody's favorite QB one, decides to make Tim Riggins his new role model. But let's save the best for last; here's what happened with everybody else:

I think I forgot to mention in my recap last week Tyra's jealousy issues over Landry (aka Lance). I apologize, there was a lot going on, and I think in my excitement over Tim Riggins' love proclamation and frustration with the ongoing Smash Williams saga it got left out. Anyway, last week we met Jean, a cute little metalhead who is, as Matt puts it "God's gift to Landry." The only problem for Landry is that Jean is not Tyra. And also Tyra gets jealous. Ok so now you're caught up. This week, as Landry and Jean start to date, Tyra swoops in and tells Landry that actually she was just confused before and now she's ready to date him. Now she's ready?!?! Murdering someone to protect her wasn't enough, but now that he's starting to date a sophomore she has finally figured everything out. <insert eyeroll here> Anyway, Landry falls for it and dumps Jean to be with Tyra. We'll see how long it lasts.

Over at the Taylors', Tami is really getting into her volleyball coaching job. Unfortunately it is at the expense of her hang time with Julie. Tami has Tyra over to the house to talk about the volleyball team and Landry, and Julie is pretty much ignored. Coach, in a rare moment of sensitivity, notices that Julie is not exactly happy that her mom is suddenly best friends with Tyra. He tries to talk to Tami about it, but she doesn't really understand, which is fair, considering her daughter has been snotty and rude to her for months. When Tami ends up throwing an impromptu party for all the girls on her volleyball team, Julie comes home and takes one look at her mom and the volleyball gals and storms to her room, complete with an angst-ridden door slam. Tami comes to talk to her and tell her that she just needs to grow up and deal with the fact that her mom also happens to be a volleyball coach. (Side note: The whole time they were talking Julie was playing with this glass vase thing that I totally thought she was going to throw, but she didn't.) But Julie says that she's not actually all that upset about volleyball, but that her Mom promised to take her to the DMV to take her road test and never showed up. Zing! And for the first time, I actually feel some sympathy for Jules (but not too much, because she broke Matt Saracen's heart). In the end, Tami rushes Julie to the DMV and sweet-talks the instructor into taking her after closing time. All is well and Julie drives off into the sunset.

Since hearing the news of his suspension, Smash has taken a humble new approach to life. As he puts it, he's "just trying to keep [his] head down and move through it." This probably would have been a useful attitude to have before he punched a guy out and then bragged about it on TV, but whatever. Smash does his best to keep being a team leader by suiting up for practice and trying to help Matt as best he can. Sadly, Smash's troubles are not over and he gets a letter from TMU revoking his scholarship due to his "questionable character." There is a touching moment between Smash and Mama Williams, when he tells her about the scholarship and asks her if she wants to say "I told you so," but Mama Williams just tells him that she loves him, and she believes in him. In the end, Smash comes by the locker room before the big game, to wish everybody luck and tell them to win so he can play with them in the playoffs. And to remind them: "YOU DA DILLON PANTHERS, BABY!" The team rushes out of the locker room, fired up and ready to go, and Smash is left all by himself, crying. Ironically, this might be the first time that Smash has shown real character.

And finally, as promised, things are not going well for Matt Saracen this week. Since the rapid departure of Granny-Nanny, he is left to care for Gramma Saracen all by himself again, and in addition to that, he now has to try to figure out a way to win the next three games all by himself, and he's heartbroken over Granny-Nanny ditching him to go back to Guatemala, and in the first few minutes of the episode, his car breaks down. Ouch. It all proves to be a little too much for poor Matty.

Matt begins his teenage rebellion by mouthing off to the art teacher, who keeps pushing him to critique a drawing of a vase with flowers in it when he really doesn't want to. He calls the teacher a bitch, twice, and decides he's had enough of school for one day. He also skips out on football practice, and even though Landry/Lance tells Coach that Matt is "sick," Coach is unimpressed. The next day, Matt ditches school again, this time to go shopping for a motorcycle. As Matt is sitting on a shiny red motorbike, thinking about "grabbin' the world by the horns and lightin' it on fire," Tim Riggins pulls up. He is not in school either, because he always skips Wednesdays. So Matt and Tim Riggins drive off to have a beer together.

At the bar, Matt tells Tim just how much he admires him; how he wishes he could be more like him, always on an even keel, nothing bothering him. At that same exact moment, Lyla walks in with her new Christian boyfriend with the bad haircut. Oh Matt, Tim does care, and things do bother him. Tim goes over to meet Chris, and tell him that he has great hair, and he invites Chris and Lyla to share a pitcher with him and Matt (who cheerfully raises a glass to them and yells "Shalom!" across the room). Chris and Lyla decline Tim's invitation, so Tim flees for the exit, and practice, and drags Matt with him.

The Matt Saracen Downward Spiral continues at football practice, where he drunkenly tells his players to stop smiling because football is a serious game. Then there are a series of missed plays and made up calls, and Matt grabs the butt of a guy who is not the center, and finally Coach pulls him out of practice and tells him to get it together.

The next morning, a very hungover Matt is sitting in the cafeteria with Landry, trying to help him decide whether or not he should take Jean to see Jaws or the Wrath of Khan for their first date. Landry is not very helpful with the whole hangover situation, because he keeps talking about his own problems, pausing only to tell Matt to drink something and express his concern that he doesn't want to see him become an "at-risk youth" (by the way, I had the misfortune of being in the middle of taking a drink of water when he said that, and I laughed so hard I spit it out). Smash Williams comes to sit with Matt and do his best to help him through his hangover/time of great depression and angst, but Matt doesn't want to talk to him.

The thing is, Matt Saracen does not pull off being a bad boy very well. Calling a teacher a bitch and sitting on a motorcycle doesn't suit him, and he seems uncomfortable even as he tries to act out. Let's face it, the guy has had a pretty rough life, and bore it all pretty stoically up to this point, so it does seem natural for him to want a more carefree existence. But as hard as he may try not to, he does care, and he is responsible, and he has people who depend on him. The real breaking point comes for him not when he walks out of school, but when Coach finally calls him out.

There is a very uncomfortable scene in a strip club where Tim Riggins tries to buy Matt a lap dance, and that's all I'm going to say about that. In the middle of all this, Matt gets a phone call from the hospital saying that Gramma Saracen has fallen and she can't get up, and he has to get one of the strippers to drive him to the hospital to get her. Due to the fact that Matt is drunk, and therefore is not really in any state to take Gramma home, the hospital calls Coach Taylor to the rescue.

Coach drives everybody home and puts Gramma Saracen to bed, and when he comes out to deal with Matt, it is a scary thing to behold. Matt sullenly tells Coach that he doesn't need any Dad/Coach talk and that Coach can just leave. But Coach drags Matt by the scruff of the neck and throws him in the shower and turns it on. Let me tell you, I would not want to get on the bad side of Coach Eric Taylor. Coach yells at Matt that there are lots of people counting on him to make good decisions, and for the first time in the whole episode, Matt lets out some real emotion and yells right back at Coach: "You left me for a better job! Your daughter left me for a better guy! Carlotta left me for Guatemala! My Dad left me for a damn war! Everybody leaves me! What is wrong with me!?!"

And for once, Coach doesn't have a lot to say. But he tells Matt that there is nothing wrong with him, which is what Matt needs to hear. Props to Zach Gilford and Kyle Chandler, there is some good acting going on here. It's a really powerful honest moment between the two of them, and it doesn't make everything alright for Matt, but getting what's really bothering him out in the open, and more importantly, admitting it to Coach Taylor is a step in the right direction.

That's all for this week folks, tune in next week when Tim Riggins gets his own radio show!!

Tags: Friday Night Lights, Matt Saracen

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Original Comments Posted (1)

Ariana says...

Heh, "fired up," excellent turn of phrase.

And... seriously, about the radio show??? I didn't get to see any "next times"!

Feb 8, 2008 3:09am

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