Friday Night Lights: “The Giving Tree”

Money comes and goes, yeah? These kids of ours, that’s a one-time deal.

“The Giving Tree” is one of Shel Silverstein’s finest works, and while Landry’s right that his relationship with Tyra superficially resembles it, the story is about parents and children. The give us life, nurture and support us. They feed us, clothe us, give us shelter and succor. They keep us warm and dry and safe. They teach us to play and teach us to become men and women. In the end, we survive our parents. We are their lives’ work and when they finish, when we finally say our goodbyes, it is with love and debt for all they’ve done.

Some parents are better at it than others, of course. Tami, calmly, quietly, with open heart and open mind listening to Julie and giving her good advice. Eric reminding Matt that women are to be respected. JD’s mother, trying her best to diffuse Joe’s worst.

Some are worse, even when they mean well. Buddy didn’t see himself as stealing from Lyla. Buddy saw a sure thing and believed he’d be able to return the money he borrowed without harm. Always a little blind to his own failings, Buddy blames everyone else for his problems until Lyla finally calls him out. But Buddy’s a decent man. He sees how he screwed up and finally opens up and apologizes, taking the blame. Lyla’s Vandy dreams are over, but I hear San Antonio State has an excellent _____ program. She’ll be fine.

Then of course there are the monsters. They aren’t giving trees, supporting and protecting their children, but bloodsuckers. Joe McCoy is trying to live vicariously through JD and has taken away his childhood in the process. He’s not done yet.

The kids are alright. Assuming this isn’t another fakeout by the writers, Tyra’s finally on the right path out of town instead of the fleabitten road she was traveling with Cash. Buckling down, begging Landry for help, and working to catch up, she also *hears* Landry when he tells her all she does it take. In typical Tyra fashion, she’s able to use her wiles to get a gig for Crucifictorious. She finally gives back to Landry, and in the process finally *sees* him as the guy we all know he’s going to be.

Tim does the unthinkable and calms Buddy. No anger, no posturing, just calm. He tells Buddy to leave but makes it clear it’s just for now, just so Lyla can cool down. Tim looked and behaved like a man at his door, for the first time since we began this journey over two years ago. Where he learned that…I don’t know, but it was a sight to behold.

Matt and Julie are still alive and not locked in dungeons, so that’s a good sign. This is less about their growth than about Eric and Tami accepting it. Two years ago ((Presumably when Julie was the exact same age since Lyla’s a sixth-year senior.)) Tami and Julie screamed, slammed, and attacked with sarcasm over her sexual awakening. Now Tami’s ready enough for a teary-eyed but calm conversation about how to behave like a woman. And Coach, well, he’s ready to clean the hell outta that grill, but manages to bark out the imperative to Matt that he respect women.

While all this is going on, there is football to be played. Three games remain till state, ((Which means semis, right?)) but the team’s up against some refs who have it in for Coach. Dillon’s appeal to get a different officiating squad fails, so they have to face a dirty team and refs who will give them no quarter.

Late in the fourth and down by three, Coach throws a tantrum over a late hit on JD. If you watch a lot of basketball, you’ll recognize this tantrum as the intentional ejection. Realizing that the ref’s problem was more with him than the Panthers, and knowing the team was playing tighter than usual because of the refs, Coach did the only sensible thing and got himself kicked off the field. He retired to a dive bar where the game was on the TV and called Wade on the sidelines; unfortunately, Wade couldn’t hear him over the crowd noise. Fortunately, JD connected with Riggins on a screen pass – an insanely tough throw rolling left – and Tim bulled his way into the endzone with seconds to spare. ((I love TV and movies. So many last-second victories. If only high school football were really that exciting.))

Wade’s final-minute coaching heroics will obviously lead to tension in the weeks ahead, so that ought to be fun. ((Not.)) But for now, Dillon’s one game closer.

Other thoughts:

  • Early on, I Tweeted this: “I quit high school fooball after one year because it interfered with sex and nap time after school. I shoulda played for Dillon.” Matt and Julie are cuddling post-coitally at 5:30 on a weekday? Landry’s tutoring Tyra and having band practice? The gang’s headed to the Alamo Freeze? When do the Panthers practice? Ever?
  • Oh Minka, it’s a good thing you’re pretty, because you can’t act worth a damn. During the arraignment, I suspect Lyla should have had an expression of disappointment on her face. Minka went with her one and only one expression: sanctimonious bitch.
  • Landry at Tyra’s: it’s amazing how quickly he realized he was slipping right back into his old, bad ways. Some really nice non-verbal stuff from Jesse Plemmons here while Tyra’s mom is trying to get him to fix the broken pilot light.
  • Usually I find the direction on FNL unobtrusive. It’s rarely inspiring camera work, but the handhelds and cuts don’t get in the way. Tonight, when Landry was giving his impassioned speech to Tyra about “The Giving Tree”, I wish they’d just stuck with the single reaction shot of Tyra. Too many cuts. They really took me out of the scene.
  • Crucifictorious went from being a speedcore/punk/whatever the hell they were trying to be into a tight little three-piece? That’s impressive. Especially as Landry had shown no ability whatsoever before.

What did everyone else think?