During the offseason, we are continuing our weekly series discussing thoughts on arguably the best football TV show ever in Friday Night Lights. If you haven’t seen it, there is no better time to start. If you have seen it, there’s no better time to rewatch it. And if you’re like me, and watch an episode or season every year in preparation for college football, you’re right on track. Regardless of which category you fit into, it’s on Hulu, and you can follow along each week (on a Friday, of course) as a different episode from season one will be discussed, from the heartbreaking cliffhanger of the pilot to the final nail-biting game.
Random thoughts in live-tweet form.
- Great foreshadowing with the writing when Riggins says “how are those hands of yours seven” and he says “feeling good” as he gets under center to receive the snap. The scene sets up as a normal play but he’s really referring to the ensuing catch.
- In the post-game interviews, one reporter brings up race and hazing at another school. Mac says that isn’t an issue at Dillon, as they focus on football. The two reporters push him, citing Dillon being one of the last Texas high schools to be integrated and their lack of black QBs. The reporter asks why Smash isn’t the QB, since he played the position on JV. Mac, flustered and under pressure, he tries to highlight their running ability and fearless nature suit them better for running back. However, it comes across saying that they aren’t suited for quarterback. The report asks if white players are inherently smart, and Mac says “if you want to put it that way you could”, right as Coach Taylor comes to pull him out of the interview. And just like that, the scene is set.
- The radio show goes off on Mac, calling for him to be fired. The black players on the team at first don’t take offense to it. Smash’s mom says they have bigger things to worry about as they go house hunting.
- Julia and Tyra skipped class and Tami isn’t happy with either of them. Their punishment is for them to play in the powderpuff game. Matt, and Tim come to coach.
- Julie gets upset that Matt takes Tyra with the first pick. Or his second. She doesn’t like being picked as his third choice.
- Jason comes back to school and gets a pretty normal welcome.
- Eric calls Mac out of class. He informs him he needs to issue a public apology or else risk being fired. Mac doesn’t see the need and doubles down on what he said, saying “what’s done is done and no apology is going to change that.”
- Matt confides in Landry about his regret of picking Julie third.
- Most of the team is at the diner hearing Mac’s attempt at an apology. He uses the classic “I’m sorry IF anyone was offended” type of language. The black players are upset that he didn’t apologize and some of the white players don’t see the need for outrage. Smash tries to mediate but to no avail.
- Tyra is upset Tim picked Lyla. Lyla tries to make piece by saying her dad said Tyra’s mom is doing really well at work.
- Waverly tries to help Smash see why he should be upset and his role as a team leader. Smash is trying not to cause tension since he just got back from his suspension for his off-the-field issues. She tells him to take off the blinders.
- Jason struggles to dissect the frogs in class. He’s determined but the teacher tries to cut him a break, saying “if you just want to observe, it’s all anyone expects.” Jason is as determined as ever to be a normal high schooler.
- Herc takes Jason out to relearn how to drive. Jason asks Herc if everyone was weird when he tried to get back to normal life. Herc tells him it’s no longer his normal life.
- Matt talks to Smash at work, trying to bridge the gap and say he doesn’t agree with what Mac said. Smash says they are cool and he isn’t sweating it.
- Eric asks Julie not to break their trust and not take their trust away from them. Julie says she’s exhausted and annoyed that Matt has been drilling her about quarterback stuff all day. Eric’s tone completely changes and wants to talk to her about being the quarterback.
- Tim comes to talk to Smash and it goes a bit different than his talk with Matt. Tim’s approach is “Smash tell your boys to calm down so we can refocus on the game”, and Smash calls him out on his antics and questions why he isn’t talking to “his boys”. This brings their dislike of one another back to the surface.
- Tami goes to pick up her mom at work at night. She finds her in Buddy’s office and her mom tells her she has to work late. Buddy walks in with food and praises how good her mom is doing.
- Eric is running drills with Julie, making sure she knows her calls and reads as a QB.
- Herc invites Jason to the national quad rugby team training camp in Austin. Jason is thrilled at the opportunity.
- Smash’s mom is at the bank, who take back their loan. She references race as a factor, Smash gets upset and demands to speak to a supervisor. His mom tells him to keep his calm and not do what everyone expects a young black man to do.
- Lyla confides in Jason, asking if she is a spoiled snob. He doesn’t deny it and quickly shares his big news. She is taken aback, as it runs contrary to the plans they made earlier. Jason says he doesn’t want to continue school and instead wants to get his GED.
- Tami’s forum comes to pass. She tries to control things, but it spirals out of her control as people speak their minds, people get defensive, and things get heated.
- Smash goes to Mac to try to clear the air. Mac continues to be defensive, telling Smash “how he perceives people is none of his business and he needs to save his dialogue for his momma.” Mac doesn’t let Smash talk, says he’s been here for 27 years and won’t be integrated by a teenager, says if there is anymore whining Smash or others will be benched before leaving the room. In short, he handles it as terribly as possible.
- Tami shares with Eric how awful the forum went and how hard it is to make change around there. Eric encourages her and renews her passion.
- Smash reflects on his role and what he should do with the position he’s been put in. He attends (and maybe organizes) a meeting with the black players on the team about how to act, with Waverly’s help.
- At practice the next day, Matt tries to talk to Smash to bridge the gap, but he says he’s not in the mood to talk.
- As the team begins practice, Mac leads them in warmups. He blows his whistle to start the jogging and all the black players stay where they are in protest, take off their helmets, and walk out of practice, led by Smash.
Coach Taylor’s speeches.
- Coach Taylor’s post-game win speech emphasizes their underdog mentality, how they won together as a team, and how proud he is of them. The team is as unified as ever (again, foreshadowing)
- The episode opens mid-game in the playoffs. Coach Taylor calls for a trick play in a big moment. Slot right 28 gunsling. The team gets pumped up and Riggins taunts the defense. Sarcen pitches to Riggins who reverses to Smash who throws to a wide open Saracen in the endzone. It’s basically the “Philly Special” made famous by the Eagles in the Super Bowl a few years ago, although teams like Boise State have been running it for years in the college circuit.
- The Panthers win their first game easily, 30-10.
- I liked watching the differences between how Tim and Matt coach. Tim is more like a drill sergeant and he has the personality to accomplish that. Matt is more timid and it shows, especially since Julie is mad at him. Tyra tries to take over. Julie sits out in protest and Matt appeals to her to play QB, to which she begrudgingly agrees.
- At practice during drills, some of the black players respond to Mac in a slave/master dynamic type of language as a form of response. In school, Tami tells Eric she broke up a fight in the hallway over it. Tami wants to organize a forum to give people a way to use their voice.
- More mirroring: Matt’s team before the game “we are all winners”. Tim’s team “we will not accept a loss.”
- Tyra is channeling all of her anger at Lyla and her dad on the field. She tackles Lyla and then tells her she has a problem with how Buddy is too close with her mom.
- Coach Taylor is really into the game, telling Landry (the ref) that he’s blind after a call.
- With the game on the line, Julie suggests a play she practiced with her dad, which impresses Matt. Julie runs in for the TD, sealing the victory. Tim and Lyla aren’t happy.
Quote of the episode.
“You know you’re an example to aspire to, don’t you?... Because you’re always there, you never shy away from difficult subjects and they know they can trust you. That’s a rarity. You’re my wife and I’m damn proud of you.” - Coach Taylor
Clear eyes. Full heart. Can’t Lose. official counter: 15
Texas Forever official counter: 4
Riggins quitting the team official counter: 1
Coach Taylor calling Landry ‘Lance’ official counter: 2
Jason’s job aspirations: quad-rugby player