“Friday Night Lights” already came to a close on DirecTV and on DVD. But the final episodes of the Dillon, Tex., drama are now airing on NBC. And that means it’s time to bid the final-for-real farewells by assessing each installment shortly after it airs on the Peacock network every Friday at 8 p.m. EST. Why? Because “Clear eyes. Full hearts. Must blog.” Or, um, something like that.
The name of this week’s episode, “Fracture,” may immediately call to mind the hairline fracture Buddy Garrity Jr. suffered while doing Billy Riggins’s motivational Samoan war dance. (I don’t care what Buddy Sr. says — that’s inspired coachig right there.)
But it also suggests other fractures in our “Friday Night Lights” family: in the trust between Vince and Coach Taylor, in the intimacy between Luke and Becky, in wussy T.A. Derek Bishop’s tail light, which got smashed to bits by an angry Eric Taylor.
In fact, if we learned only one thing from this week’s episode, surely it was this: Eric Taylor has a pair of Lil’ Scoot tricycle handlebars. And he is not afraid to use them.
(Continue reading, and watch the complete episode online, after the jump.)
Vince and Coach Taylor
If Vince Howard’s britches looked a little tighter this week, that’s because he was starting to get too big for them. All this college recruitment stuff is inflating the QB’s ego; his girlfriend Jess doesn’t like it and neither do his teammates, who felt dissed by his me-me-me approach to a TV interview.
More evidence that the Lions are not top priority: Vince skipped practice to take an “unofficial” tour of Oklahoma Tech, an “unofficial” tour that made going to college look like taking a Royal Caribbean cruise. (Climbing a rock wall and lounging by the pool? This is way more than a university!)
When Coach Eric Taylor asked Vince why he missed practice, his response was distressing: the kid not only lied, but he blamed his absence on his mother resuming her problem with drugs. The old “my mom is still on crack” excuse? For shame, Vince. For shame. Eric caught him in the lie and confronted him with undeniable evidence that Vince actually was visiting Oklahoma Tech. (It was on the Internet, which never lies ever), forcing Vince to hem and haw a bit and point out that his father (unlike Coach) is looking out for his best interests right now.
As if the situation wasn’t awkward enough, Coach Taylor told Ornette Howard that he’ll bench his son if he misses another practice, at which point Vince’s dad informed Eric that he knows he’s been offered a job at Shane State. Implication: your “look out for the team” shtick is a load of horse puckey. Eric remained calm and, in that manly twang of his, said, “Mr. Howard, I mean what I say.” But his eyes clearly conveyed, “Mr. Howard, don’t make me break out my Lil’ Scoot tricycle handlebars. Because I will.” (More on that later.)
Luke and Becky
Things are getting pretty hot and heavy between Becky and Luke, hotter and heavier than Becky is comfortable with. In a key scene that gave this FNL episode a higher rating on the cry-o-meter than the show has scored in several weeks (see below), Becky confessed to Mindy and her Landing Strip friends that she cringes every time Luke touches her because she keeps thinking about the last time they had sex, and the unwanted pregnancy that followed.
Naturally, any girl in Becky’s situation would probably be plagued by similar feelings of guilt and regret. But not every TV show would have the intelligence and insight to explore it. Throughout its run — particularly in the Becky/Luke storyline and the Julie/Matt relationship — “Friday Night Lights” has done a commendable job of depicting teen sex with honesty, poignance and nuance. Is there a special achievement Emmy Award for that sort of thing? Sadly, no.(Kudos also to actress Madison Burge, who played Becky in the aforementioned scene with just the right touch of adolescent vulnerability and confusion.)
I’d also like to give a shout-out to Mindy and the Landing Strip crew, who managed to be simultaneously maternal and colosally inappropriate. Their behavior at Becky’s beauty pageant made the Hoover family in “Little Miss Sunshine” look positively refined.
Tami and Epyck
As expected, Epyck is continuing to pick fights and Tami Taylor is continuing to try to mentor her. Like Vince Howard, Epyck also lied to a Taylor this week, attempting to convince Tami that her foster mother barely feeds her and raises her in a less than caring environment. After a visit to the home, Tami could clearly see that’s not the case. But her attention to Epyck’s troubles — both real and concocted — seems to be making a difference to the girl.
FNL fans, how are we feeling about this plotline? Do we care about Epyck? I do mildly, but appreciate this part of the narrative more because I love watching Tami Taylor in ultra-caring educator mode.
Julie and Derek
And that brings us to the ongoing saga involving WTA (the wussy T.A.) whose nickname has officially changed this week to Idiot McGee due to his completely maddening behavior.
Julie was perfectly content helping her parents build a tricycle for Gracie Belle when who should knock at the door? Idiot McGee, who thinks it’s a good idea to show up at the Taylors unannounced. It is not, which becomes clear when Eric shoots out the front door with those girly trike handlebars held menacingly in one hand, and proceeds to tap on Idiot’s car, then smash his tail light as he makes a hasty retreat.
Now, when most adulterers are chased away from their underage mistress’s houses by fathers wielding Lil’ Scoot tricycle parts, they tend to take it as a sign not to come back. Not Idiot McGee, who visits Tami at East Dillon to explain that he’s quit his job, then has lunch with Julie to say that he’s going to a cabin in Tennesse to work on his dissertation and that she should go back to school. But he also implies that she should really come to that cabin in Tennesse so they can resume the inappropriate relationship that will make him feel like the in-control, mature stud that clearly Idiot McGee is not.
Nevertheless, this encounter appears to have knocked something resembling sense back into Julie Taylor, because she decides to return to school, getting behind the wheel of that Chevy Aveo for the third time this season to finally begin — for real and for good — the adventure known as freshman year.
Except ... she calls Derek as she’s driving, and he confesses via phone that he doesn’t really care if she returns to Burleson, he just wants her back. (And that’s why he’s now been dubbed Idiot McGee, Lord of the Insensitive Jerkwads.) With that, Julie — Oh no! Hide your stone mailboxes! — makes a sudden U-turn. In the next scene, she’s arrived at her destination. She’s knocking on a door. It opens and it’s — SARACEN! Matthew Saracen, greatest grandson of all time and love of Julie Taylor’s life! Apparently, in lieu of finding her own Chicago, Julie has opted, for now, to borrow Matt’s instead.
Such a cliffhanger ending. While we ponder the possibilities of a Saracen-tastic episode next week, let’s assess “Fracture” by the numbers and vote for the week’s best quote.
The Final Season Cry-o-meter Rating for “Fracture,” on a scale of 1 to 10: 6. Becky’s crying and the arrival of Saracen bumped up the tearjerking drama a few notches.
The Tim Riggins Hotness Scale Rating for “Fracture,” on a scale of 1 to 10: Another 0. But Riggins is almost ready to return. Almost.
Julie Taylor Irritation Spectrum Rating for “Fracture” on a scale of 1 to 10: This is a tough one, because at this stage it’s unclear what’s motivating her to seek out Saracen. Does she realize, in a healthy way, that she needs her better half to get her head back on straight? Or is she just seeking male attention instead of focusing on trying to be a responsible and independent woman? Either way, she’s less irritating than she was last week, so let’s downgrade her to 8 for now.