Friday Night Lights – Season 2, Episode 1 – Last Days of Summer

Regular readers of my blog know how much I love this show. I had to stop doing reviews last year because I ran out of ways to say how great this show was without sounding too repetitive and boring even myself. Well, I figure after the summer hiatus I’d start from scratch and I’m not sure yet if the trend of rave reviews is going to continue.

The season opens 8 months after the big Panthers win and the opening scene kicks off with some beefcake and cheesecake which I assume is there to bring new viewers into the fold. If it works, then I’m all for it. As we rejoin our favourite Dilloners, Tyra and Landry have solidified their friendship (can you say Fried Green Tomatoes), Matt and Julie have hit the rocks with Julie flirting with a musician, Smash and Riggins are Smash and Riggins, Lyla has found religion while her mother is dating a health food store owner and her father is living on the couch at the dealership. football team, Landry is trying out, Jason is a coach for the Panthers and Coach Taylor’s replacement isn’t exactly impressed with Riggins or Buddy for that matter.

As for the Coach and Tami, he’s still at TMU and she’s very, very pregnant. The show wastes no time sending Tami into labour and before the first commercial break they have a new daughter. Now, here’s where I repeat myself for the umpteenth time. They remain the greatest married couple currently on the air. Every scene with them, together or alone demonstrates how ridiculous it was that they were ignored by the Emmys. They remain the emotional core of the show whether he’s fighting with Julie, she’s breaking down from the pressure of being effectively a single mom or he’s having one of the finest and most real feeling father-daughter chats ever.

But then we get to the moment that’s been buzzed about since the premiere got released online a few weeks ago. Landry and Tyra kill the man who tried to rape her and then dispose of the body. Alan Sepinwall describes the problem with this better than I ever could:

Once you know that the show is willing to go to this place, it changes how you look at the entire series. As I wrote in the column, the key to the show is how Katims, Berg and company have created this grand illusion that Dillon is a real place, that Coach, Mrs. Coach, Smash and the rest are real people, and that gives the storylines emotional weight that goes beyond any one individual script or performance. The murder/corpse-disposal plot, above and beyond what it does to Tyra and Landry — and believe me, we’ll get back to that — loudly shouts that, this season, “Friday Night Lights” is more than capable of being Just Another TV Show, and if it doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of Connie Britton or Kyle Chandler or Brad Leland yet, it makes me less eager to see where everything’s going.

My wife and I were equally disappointed that a show that has done such a great job of making the situations and characters real (even in this first episode of the season) has taken a turn straight out of every typical over the top night-time soap from Dallas to Melrose Place. What makes it worse is they’ve taken two of the most talented actors and interesting characters on the show and painted them into a corner that they can’t get out of. Best case (and I mean that only in a relative sense) no one ever finds out and the two of them just deal with it on their own while the worst case would be a trial that lasts multiple episodes as they try to prove that it was self-defense. In both situations I think the show is going to lose.

All that being said, I’m going to remain optimistic that something will happen to make this plotline make sense in the greater canvas of the show or at least hope that the rest of the show remains as excellent as always and pretend these scenes are occurring in a parallel universe.

Avi’s Episode Rating: A (without the ending), B (with my cautious optimism intact)

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13 Responses to Friday Night Lights – Season 2, Episode 1 – Last Days of Summer

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