Friday Night Lights

Season 1 Episode 12

What to Do While You're Waiting

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Jan 10, 2007 on The 101

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

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  • If there were one word to sum up the various character plotlines on this week’s episode, it’d be “stinkbug.”

    If there were one word to sum up the various character plotlines on this week’s episode, it’d be “stinkbug.”

    If you saw the episode, you the context for this. If you missed it, it goes like this. After coming home from the Scarasen’s, Julie has a talk with her parents about the immense pressure Matt is under–school, football, job, talking care of his grandmother–and that she’s worried it’s going to crush him. At which point Eric points out that it won’t because he’s like a stinkbug, he can take a lot of pressure without breaking.

    Certainly everyone involved in plotlines this week was under pressure.

    Starting with Matt, which we’ve seen the past two weeks. All season Matt has had to juggle a ton of pressures, all of which he thought would be made better by his father coming home and being the man of the family again. Only when this dream does come true, we see that dad ain’t exactly wanting to be the man of the family again and maybe Matt doesn’t want to give that up. Last week and this week we saw Matt being the mature one–last week taking care of his grandmother when his father had no clue how and this week telling his dad to go back to the military and do what he does best and loves. And it was interesting to see how Matt was the one to pull strings to get his dad a job down at Buddy Garrity’s car lot. One thing that has been interesting this year is seeing how and when Matt uses his influence and status as the starting QB. Meanwhile, we’ve got Coach Taylor, who gets served papers by the Street family for the expenses related to Street’s injury. We see the pressure on both sides as Taylor wonders what will happen should the Street family win the case and the Street family faces the cold shoulder from the community for going up against the Panthers. The scenes of Eric going to the pharmacy to talk to Mr. Street and the crossing of paths of Street and Coach Taylor at the fairgrounds were superbly done. They could have easily been melodratmic or overplayed but instead they found the right balance–underplaying them and infusing them with the awkwardness the scenes needed. It’s the little moments like that Friday Night Lights gets so right and what makes it more than just a show about football.

    In the heavily advertised plot of the week, we had Tyra taking on her mother’s abusive boyfriend with a fireplace poker. In the end, Tyra forces her mom to choose between her or the boyfriend and the thing is, for a long time, we’re not sure who Tyra’s mom will choose. That’s another thing this show does so well–even when it follows a cliched plotline (which this one does), it can still manage to inject it with some suspense and surprises. Like Tyra, I figured the mom would choose the boyfriend since we saw how the character had acted up to that point. Unlike other shows I’ve watched this week, it was nice to actually see some character development get introduced and then stick.

    And you have to love how bad Regan’s timing is–trying to get back with Tyra during all of this. And her refusal and why she can’t. Again, it’s a cliche but the show sells it and makes it authentic in its own way. Could it be setting up a reunion down the road? Maybe. All of this is set against the backdrop of the town on edge about the playoffs. Should a team ahead of them lose, they can go. The team isn’t playing so all attention is focused on the game and endless speculation. I loved how this thread of tension ran through every plotline there, possibly heightening the tension in most situations. When the lower team pulls off a miracle upset and puts Dylon in a place to get to the playoffs, the sense of elation is palpatble. It also leads to one of the funniest moments in the show as we see Buddy Garrity on his knees at church thanking God for the win and praying for a state championship.

    In the end, it’s one pressure gone but each character still facing his or her own personal pressure. Will any of them crack under it? And will it affect the playoffs and the end of the season? Were this just a standard, teen driven drama I’d say Dylon wins it all and we get the happy ending. But this is Friday Night Lights and so you never know where it’s going to take you. In my book, that’s a good thing.
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