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.
- Smash is now the visual leader for the protest. When a reporter asks if he wants Mac fired, he says “that would be a good start.” He also confirms they will play if Mac is fired.
- Tami tells Julie she’s concerned about her friendship with Tyra. Julie says her parents are being prejudiced.
- Jason and Tami talk about his future and discuss taking the GED.
- Landry has Matt make Julie a mix CD as an apology. Tyra calls him out on it.
- One of the players protesting is worried about not getting a college scholarship if he doesn’t play. Smash tells them all to stand their ground.
- Mac accuses Eric of having a secret meeting. Eric says it was just the defense. Mac says he “did the song and dance” of an apology. Eric says it didn’t look like he believed his own apology. Mac says he’s not scared until Eric says his termination paperwork is sitting on his desk.
- Buddy stops by. He tries to console Mac. But then he tells Eric that they can’t win without their protesting players and the booster club voted to fire Mac. Eric reminds Buddy has been friends with Mac for decades and that Mac is a Panther.
- Eric comes to Tami with a counselor emergency, even though she is with a student. He’s looking for unbiased advice to deal with his situation. Tami says as a guidance counselor, what Mac said is a firable offense. Tami says as his wife, she knows Eric cares more about the team than Mac. But at the end of the day, it’s about you and if he doesn’t do anything, Eric is condoning what was said.
- Smash feels conflicted and is questioning if he should’ve walked off at all.
- Mac comes to the Taylor’s house late at night. He explains his upbringing and his father’s influence on him. Eric reminds him that he was the one who integrated the football team in the first place. He confesses he’s still trying to get over Eric getting the job instead of him (remember that from the earlier episodes?). Mac turns in his resignation letter to Eric and leaves.
- Eric says he knows what’s easy and he knows what’s right. He calls a press conference to address it, saying Mac is staying on as coach and then walks out.
- Tim and Smash run into one another in the hallway. Tim admits they need Smash as a player and a leader. Tim admits he’s not a leader. It wasn’t much but it seemed like a positive interaction between the two.
- Tyra makes a stop at the Landing Strip to get money from her sister before going to the movie. Julie seems a bit uncomfortable.
- Smash’s mom Corrina comes to talk to Smash. She tells him all the Mac stuff is over. Smash says he feels like he has to see it to the end and be a leader. Corrina reminds him of his bright future and doesn’t want to see that wasted trying to make a point to a bunch of fools about racism in small-town Texas. ‘You know how you get back at Mac? You get back on the team, play like the star that you are, and get recruited from an A-list university and get your degree.” As I’ve said before, she is one of the best characters on the show. She is sensible and practical and has no problem putting anyone in their place when needed, especially her son. She sets him straight while also building him up.
- Matt goes to meet Julie at the Landing Strip to talk to her and give her a make-up gift. Landry is having quite the experience watching the dancers. He gets caught by an undercover cop and he, Matt, Julie, and Tyra all get arrested. Everyone but Julie get bailed out. Eric and Tami wait outside to let Julie squirm a bit. As you can imagine, a fight breaks out when they all get home.
- The next day, the school sees the football team off as they board the bus. Smash and the 15 other players show up to board as well. Mac starts to talk to Smash, maybe it was going to be an honest apology and maybe another half-hearted one. We won’t know. Smash tells Mac “Listen, I’m here, but that don’t change a thing. I know who you are.” For once, Mac stays silent.
- The opposing crowd is hurling food and drinks at Dillon as they walk onto the bus and the police on hand do nothing.
- However, the police have no problem tracking the bus down and pulling them over. Coach Taylor and Mac get out to talk to them and the officer informs them they have witnesses saying Smash Williams threw the first punch and they want to bring him in for aggravated assault. (Can you say racist back-water town???)
- Mac tells the cop unless they have a warrant they can’t get on the bus. He responds saying he will get a warrant and Mac says that’s fine, we got all night while staring him down. The cops take a minute and come to their senses before saying “we’ll get you next year coach.” (again, they are going to arrest a kid for beating their team in football? Get rid of the whole town)
- Once they get back to Dillon Smash asks Mac what happened. In a redeeming interaction between the two of them, Mac says “They made a mistake, just like I did.” Smash doesn’t respond but he realizes how Mac protected him.
- Julie finds Matt and tells him how worried she was for him during the fight. He gives her the present and she loves it. He asks Julie to officially be his girlfriend.
Coach Taylor’s speeches.
- After the fight: “This is not who we are and this is not who we represent. I don’t teach that crap. You all are gonna take responsibility for your actions, I guarantee it. We have been declared winners but that is no reason to celebrate so wipe those smiles off your faces.”
- The coaches look at the depth chart minus 16 players, many of them starters. Coach Taylor says they will dip into JV. They only have 3 days to prepare them before their game.
- The JV players aren’t doing one. Coach Taylor and Riggins lay into them. Coach Taylor assigns Riggins to mentor the JV kids this week.
- In one of my favorite moments of the series, Riggins quizzes the JV kids in the lunch line. When they can’t answer, he gives the response “Too late, play’s over. You waited too to make a decision now we lost the game because of you. Now we’re not going to state and the whole town of Dillon hates you. You’re never gonna get laid your entire life. Fact... Put your lunch away, you’re not eating. Neither are you for that matter. Put it away.”
- During the pregame, the announcers say the Cardinals have a reputation for getting things done any way they can, alluding that they play dirty. They talk trash during pregame handshakes.
- The Cardinals bench hits Smash on the sidelines, hit him after the tackle, before the pass, and any other change they get. No flags, of course.
- It’s a close game and things are getting out of hand in a hurry. Smash scores a TD and gets a blindside late hit with no call. He continues taunting and threatening Smash, saying he will break him in half next time and then makes a statement with some racial undertones. Again, no ref comes to break them up. Riggins, who protects his teammates above all else, lays a blindside hit on that player and punches him on the ground. To the surprise of no one, the ref finally remembers they have flags and throws one while the benches clear. It’s an all-out melee.
- The athletic board calls the game and declares Dillon the winner. The other coach goes beserk.
- We all know refs can miss some obvious calls, but some of these were ridiculous. There’s no way they would’ve missed the late hit after the TD.
Quote of the episode.
“This is not who we are. This is not what we represent. I don’t teach that crap. These coaches don’t teach that crap. Y’all are going to take responsibility for your actions, I guarantee 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