Like many of the reviewers on this website (or at least I'm assuming), I read all sorts of reviews to get an idea of what other people think about a show or an episode. I was reading the review of this episode on AVClub last night and saw that the guy reviewing it saw the focus on the Jumbotron as a by-the-books type of Friday Night Lights story thread. I agreed with just about the entire review but I disagreed with this.
Maybe it's because we spent almost all of Season 2 focusing on things that were larger-than-life in comparison to Season 1, but these smaller scale issues that Tami is going through in the show is much more enjoyable to watch than watching Landry and Tyra cover up a crime or watching Street and Riggins go to Mexico for an experimental surgery. I think the reason I disagree is not only because Connie Britton does such a good job in the scenes with Brad Leland, the Mayor and Kyle Chandler but because it's nice to get some small-scale stuff that would actually happen in a small town.
Smash's story continues, and while I'm disappointed to see that he's not going to be on the show anymore (based on hisdisappearancefrom the opening credits), Coach Taylor's attempt to get him in college and help his knee and his wounded psyche heal are amazing to watch. It never feels melodramatic or lame; instead, it's all of these actors at the top of their game, having fun and making sure Season 3 kicks off as strong as possible.
Even the story threads that I normally don't enjoy as much, such as Riggins and Lila's romantic life, is fun to watch, if only because the writing allows the characters to shine brighter than they have in awhile. I love that Riggins is getting a chance to act more like a gentleman than ever and that Lila is over her whole Christian act. It made scenes like near the end, where Riggins is sitting next to Tyra with no pants on, much more enjoyable.
Also, how great is it to have Matt Saracen getting some good material to work with? Zach Gilford plays that character perfectly, as a polite man who lets his frustrations build up until they come out in the form of passive-aggression. This time, he's forced to deal with his grandmother again after her dementia worsens. Not only do we get some scenes with him and his real mother (who will likely be back soon) but we get to see him and Julie interacting again. I understand it's easy to want to shake things up, but splitting up Matt and Julie felt like a lame way of shaking things up until they got back together (because it's always felt obvious that they would get back together).
I also like the whole "Tyra taking control of her life" thing. Tami and Tyra have a strong connection, so when we see Tyra winning the Student Council election by resorting to dressing in sleazy outfits and claiming she'll help people get laid on prom, Tyra is excited that she's getting closer to potentially attending college while Tami is disappointed in her antics.
What I like most about Season 3 right now is how the show has simultaneously learned to slow down and also include everything that's needed to make the scenes flow. Last season was unbalanced to say the least. Right now, it feels like the show is taking the time to build up the new characters (the McCoy family) while reminding us of why we love all of the old ones.
another excellent episode of Friday Night Lights here.