Friday Night Lights 5.01 – Aaanndd the Tear Ducts Start Gearing Up

It is August in Dillon. Slammin Sammy is on the radio previewing this weekend’s first game, the Whataburger Football Classic. Luke and Vince are jogging with Tinker enjoying a burger in his car alongside them. Julie is getting ready to go off to college and Tami wishes they could drive her up there, but Julie says she’ll be fine going on her own.

Mrs. Coach is starting her new job at East Dillon, back to being a guidance counselor. She makes a splash at the faculty meeting by being her usual self, wanting to help the kids as much as she can. Some of the faculty could care less.

Billy visits Tim in prison. He shows him a picture of their family trip earlier in the year. He also tells Tim about wanting to coach for the Lions. Tim is pretty emo about the situation and Billy reminds him how grateful he is for what Tim did for him. He says he wants to turn his life around, for real this time. Tim, three months away from being released, tells Billy he doesn’t have to visit as often as he does. Neither does Becky.

Vince and Jess are a happy couple. Big Mary is off taking care of their new franchises, leaving Jess and her aunt to take care of the boys. They sneak off into the house to fool around.

Becky’s mom is off on a casino boat making good money. Her father is about to leave on his big rig again, but this time, leaving his new wife and baby with Becky at home. Not a great set up for Becky.

Landry and Crucifictorious are rehearsing for their last show together before Landry heads off to college. Landry even went to Kinko’s to print out fliers for “The Last Waltz.” It’ll be their biggest show ever.

Billy goes to see Coach about the job. He tells Coach he wants to be around him to help turn his life around. Coach is “a molder of men.” Later, Buddy brings Coach to Carroll Park to take a look at Hastings Ruckle. He’s a 6’2” white boy that can jump (which is great since he’s a basketball player), and he could certainly help the Lions out. They talk to him, but he’s pretty cynical about football. He’s new to Texas.

“Cause then I’d have to deal with a bunch of roided-up toolbags trying to hit me. I know football is stupid.”

Coach exclaims, “Football is stupid!?!? What’s stupid about football?”
Hastings replies, “It celebrates the worst instincts of American culture. Agression, violence…”
No, no, Coach says, football celebrates “teamwork and character if executed properly,” thank you very much.

But Hastings doesn’t like the equipment either… pads, helmets… and cups.

Back at home, Mrs. Coach tells Coach about all these arrest reports in the students’ files. Coach says she should take it slow and follow the rules in dealing with the kids. But she asks about him following rules and wanting to steal a basketball player for the team.

Julie comes out for breakfast and they have the usual mother-daughter banter, to which Coach says “I’m going to miss this.”

At practice, Billy introduces himself as the new DB and special teams coach. He recites a quote from one of his heroes… and being the defensive all-star he is, of course his hero is one of the all time greats, Ronnie Lott (go Niners!).

“If you can believe it, your mind can achieve it.”

They start and Coach calls Vince and Luke aside to ask them to get Hastings to try out of the team. Vince calls him a hippie, but they’ll try since they want to win.

Jess and Vince are at the BBQ and she tells him about her brother Andre’s been acting up lately. Vince brings up a party they’re having over at Luke’s tonight (since his parents are out of town) and asks Jess to help them convince Hastings to try out. Jess’ aunt gives her the go ahead.

Tami has collected the files of all the most at risk kids at East Dillon and plans on calling their families in for meetings to see what’s up. Principal Levi doesn’t think that’s a good idea, but Tami convinces him to let her handle it.

Landry goes to visit Gramma Saracen. She says Matt calls every Wednesday after Inside Edition. Landry says he misses that guy.

Landry’s making the rounds, saying his goodbyes before he heads off to Rice.

“I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to my lady!”

“You come on over here, I’m gonna hug your neck,” Gramma Saracen says as she stands up, “I’m gonna hug your neck boy!”

They hug.
“You’re a good boy,” she says.
Landry gives Gramma Saracen’s new nurse some helpful advice. “Just a heads up, you need to keep both your eyes on this one. She likes to wander off and go to the dance hall at night. She likes to cut a rug! I’m warning you!”

Before Landry leaves, Gramma Saracen tells him to keep doing his music, that Crucifictorious stuff. She says she asked Nurse Heather to put the music on her “MP Player.” She is referring to her blood pressure monitor on the side table which she picks up to show Landry. “So I can listen to it anytime I want to.”

Becky is feeding her half-sister, but the baby won’t have any of it. Her father’s wife comes out, smoking and drinking and kicks Becky out of the dining room.

Across town, the party is going strong. A plastered Luke is doing his drunken best to convince Hastings but he’s still skeptical. Luke brings him over to meet Maribel, his new pig whom Tinker is crawling around trying to kiss.

Vince can’t believe it and sends Jess in to use her “girl charm” on Hastings. Well, it seems to work. Hastings and Jess’ faces get very, very close. She gives him her no nonsense spiel with a dimpled smile and leaves him with a smile on his own face. Uh oh!

At the Taylors, Mrs. Coach brings out a cobbler for dessert and says how hard it’s been to get the at risk students in for a meeting, it’s like she’s asking them to do a colonoscopy.

“Football is a lot more fun than a physical examination of the colon.”
“Well, I guess that depends on the game doesn’t it?”

Julie asks to pass on dessert since tonight is Landry’s Final Waltz. Coach and Mrs. Coach would rather she stay so they can spend more time together, but they reluctantly let her go.

Crucifictorious performs to a not-so-full house and afterwards Landry and Julie go out to the Alamo Freeze for a drink. They reminisce about life in Dillon, life with each other… with Matt. Landry says he expected his last night in Dillon to be epic. Julie knows just how to make it epic and takes him to the Landing Strip where Landry gets hammered and is treated to a personal dance.

Julie reminds him to save some money for a cab and gets up to leave. Landry steps away from his enjoyment to give Julie a hug and tell her how awesome she is. They say goodbye.

“You stay golden Julie Taylor.”

Julie gets home and finds Coach on the couch watching game tape. He tells her to follow him to the garage. Coach wants one last ping pong match and they play into the night.

It’s game day and Hastings’ basketball coach is trying to stop him from joining the football team. The team already on the bus begin chanting his name and he likes it so he gets on the bus.

The Lions arrive at the stadium for the Whataburger Kickoff Classic against the reigning state champs, the Croft Cowboys.

The Cowboys get out to a huge early lead with the Lions having no way to stop them. On Offense, the Lions have nothing either with Vince not being able to connect to anyone. So finally, he takes the ball himself and runs in for their first touchdown.

Still down three touchdowns in the 2nd quarter, the Lions manage to intercept the star QB of the Cowboys. The QB takes off to stop the Lions from scoring six, but Luke makes a huge block that ends up taking their QB out of the game. And gives them another touchdown to bring the score up to 14-28.

At halftime, Jess’ little brother Andre acts up when they go to buy popcorn. She asks him what the problem is. He says, “You’re not my mom! That’s the problem!” Well…

Second half and the 2nd string QB for the Cowboys is ineffective, throwing a pick for another Lions score. 25 seconds left in the game and still down a TD. Vince is throwing too high and Hastings tells Coach he can catch those balls.

Coach puts him in the game. Hastings is lost at first but all he has to do is run and jump and catch. (He hasn’t even had one practice right?) Which he does and scores the touchdown. They go for two, he asks Vince what to do and he says to do exactly what he just did. Vince lobs the ball to Luke. Final score: 29-28. The East Dillon Lions have arrived.

Next day (or probably Monday), Counselor Mrs. Coach sits alone in her office, most of the at-risk families being no shows. Principal Levi tells her not to be discouraged and frustrated.

But someone who is discouraged and frustrated, Becky. She can’t take the drunk, smoking woman in her home anymore so she remembers Tim telling her to treat his family as her own and she goes to ask if she can stay with Billy and Mindy. Billy welcomes her in.

Also discouraged and frustrated, Jess. Her brother doesn’t listen to her and then he throws an ice cream sandwich at her. Vince goes to talk to him outside. Vince relates to Andre since his father has been in jail for five years. At least Andre’s dad is out working to give them a better life, Vince says. He asks Andre to give Jess a break and for him to step up now that he’s the man of the house with his father away.

At the Taylors, Julie’s car is all packed up. It’s time.

Mrs. Coach tells Julie she loves her. Julie says the same.

“I’m going to miss you.”

Julie goes to her father. They hug and he hands her an envelope for emergencies.
She says bye to Gracie Belle and gets in the car.

Julie looks at her parents, Coach and Mrs. Coach look at her. “All right,” Coach says. “Bye guys,” Julie replies and drives off.

“Wow,” Coach sighs and they hug.

Episode Thoughts
The final season of Friday Night Lights. Do we really want to even see it? Don’t we want to postpone the inevitable.

But seriously, it’s going to be a bittersweet next 13 weeks.

It was a solid premiere, though it definitely paled in comparison to last season’s stellar opening. The episode set up this final season very well.

First, the negatives. It was a little jarring seeing the show have to explain away the absent characters, namely the parental units of Becky and Jess. Both felt too contrived and plot driven. In Becky’s case, getting her into Casa Riggins. In Jess’ case, a way to prop up Vince’s probable season-long arc. Even if it was a case of unavailable actors, I’d much rather they were just always off screen. The writers could’ve come up with something else.

And with all that exposition, no explanation as to why Gramma Saracen’s got a nurse now.

The only new (important) character so far, Hastings Ruckle, is alright. Not as good a first impression as either Luke or Vince though. And the sparkle in his eye for Jess feels all too familiar. That and I feel like FNL might as well have cast Travis Fimmel though Grey Damon has time to show what he’s got.

The best parts of the episode though were, not so surprisingly, scenes featuring the Taylors, Landry, and the Riggins bros.

First, the Riggins bros. Tim seems to be simply riding it out in prison. Though we might have to wait until he gets out to see what effect his sacrifice has done to him.

I absolutely loved Landry and Gramma Saracen’s scene. Just incredibly sincere and touching, but fun at the same time. Louanne Stephens has been Guest Actress Emmy worthy for four seasons already. Come on Academy! Anyway, it was great to see her be genuinely proud of him after all that ribbing she’s done with him over the years.

Landry wanted an epic night in Dillon. I’m cringing already before saying this, but, can any night get more epic than murdering some guy and dumping the body? I’d say that was epicly stupid. [/endofrememberingaseasonthatdoesn’texist]

And the Taylors. While it is very likely we will see Julie long before Christmas, the scenes of Coach and Mrs. Coach getting emotional over their original baby girl heading off to college were just excellent examples of how awesome this family is and how awesome Coach and Mrs. Coach really are. Just an honest, down to earth, true to life portrayal of an American family. Performed beautifully by three great actors.

So while the episode itself was just alright, it is definitely just a small taste of things to come in what will be an incredibly emotional season. I can feel it.

One thought on “Friday Night Lights 5.01 – Aaanndd the Tear Ducts Start Gearing Up

  1. What college is Julie attending? Boston College? Landry is going to Rice.

    Dying that this show is going off the air. Underrated cast, plot(s), complexity, directing etc. NBC did a good job with show. REALLY gonna miss it!

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