Saturday, August 21, 2010

Friday Night Lights, episode 1.4: "Who's Your Daddy?"

One of the themes spanning the Friday Night Lights multimedia empire is the crushing weight of tradition. There’s a lot of tradition in the book and film; cross-town rivalries and resentments, inter-family football traditions, and traditions handed down from one generation of football players to the next (these latter two are explicit in the film). Very rarely are these traditions presented with much sentimentality; they’re more often outright burdens. Coach Taylor’s disgusted reaction to seeing his locker room trashed and vandalized by longtime Panther rivals the Arnett Mead Tigers sums is a pretty good encapsulation of how any of the Friday Night Lights generally views its football-related traditions.

Tami learns the hard way that obligations to football tradition don’t stop with the players and coach. On short notice, she’s having to plan and host a party at their house for the players, their parents (though neither Smash’s mom nor Grandma Saracen appear to be there), the boosters and what seems like a huge number of other people. Though she is willing to look happy for Eric’s sake she also tells him its one of the parts of being a Panther coach’s wife that she hates.

Both Saracen and Jason Street have new competitors. Jason’s roommate in his rehab center, Herc, is loud and offensive, but his antagonism ultimately makes him a more effective rehab coach than Phil the physical therapist’s handholding. Saracen is bonding with his team and the coach (and, to Eric’s chagrin, Julie) but he’s self-destructing at practice. Meanwhile, Voodoo Tatum, who's been alienating everyone except Buddy Garrity, proves his prowess and confidence on the field.

It’s a bye week for Dillon, which means Coach has an extra week to make up his mind on which quarterback to start against Arnett Mead. He obviously dislikes Tatum (for the kid's arrogance and possibly because he feels guilty about how Voodoo was recruited) and wants to start Saracen, he likes him and the kid so desperately wants a father figure to impress, but Saracen is giving him no reason to buck the pressure from everyone else to start Voodoo.

Other thoughts
  • The relationship between Eric and Buddy is still pretty antagonistic at this point.
  • Matt, Tami and Jason try to be calm and reserved but are all pushed to emotional breaking points by the pressure on them this week
  • Tyra isn’t much more than a sketch of a character right now, but the scene where she visits Jason in rehab surprised me. She tells him how sorry she is that a good person like him had something so bad happen, something she repeats in the third season when she’s working on her college application essay.
Trivia and historic moments
  • The first overt reference to Grandma Saracen’s dementia; first mention of Julie’s friend Lois; and the first appearance of Reyes in an episode (he was introduced in a Wind Sprints deleted scene).
  • Last year, Voodoo won state in Louisiana, and broke five records.
Notable Music (Replaced on the DVD)
  • Explosions in the Sky, "Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean"
  • Explosions in the Sky, "Look Into the Air"
Deleted Scenes on the DVD
  • Riggins working out with Voodoo, who refuses to spot him when he needs help. Smash comes over for the spot.
  • Smash and Riggins invite Saracen on their retaliation mission against Arnett Mead
  • Tyra and Tim have an awkward meeting in the hallway for the first time since breaking up
  • Tami going to bed while Eric watches game tapes
  • A doctor tells Matt his grandmother’s dementia will be sporadic and unpredictable: “You’re just going to have to keep an eye on her”
  • Eric meets with the Arnett Mead coach to talk about being a united front on the rivaliry and vandalism issues; the coach coach accuses Eric of having stolen Voodoo from his district
  • Jason's parents visit him in rehab in rehab and argue about what to tell him. They mention “there’s going to be a lawsuit” and ask if Coach Taylor ever ran him through tackling drills. When Jason protests his mom breaks down, sobbing that there's no other way to pay for everything.


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