Friday Night Lights: “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”


In Mo Ryan’s recap/preview of FNL’s third season she pointed out how much this season has replayed the greatest hits of season one. ((And fortunately did NOT put any dead bodies in the trunks of cars.)) That’s certainly true, but is to be expected to a certain extent in a show about teenagers. After all, while it feels horribly unique and unprecedented when you’re living through it, age and perspective show us that the teenage experience is common across the generations.

Fathers and sons fight. Daughters grow into women. Our parents and grandparents grow smaller and feebler before our eyes.

But while I’m all for some repetition of themes and motifs, tonight actually irritated me. Tell me if any of this sounds familiar to you:

  • QB1 has a public fight with his father, talks with Coach in the Taylor backyard about it.
  • The boosters do something morally questionable and Coach goes along quietly.
  • Matt has to deal with Grandma’s deteriorating mental health.
  • A game is won in the final seconds.
  • Lyla whines. ((I’m kidding, of course. She does that EVERY episode.))
  • Tyra’s mom tells her she’s going to achieve all her dreams – college, a great life, everything.

I tricked you there, didn’t I? I mean, all the rest, sure, we’ve seen those before. But since when has Tyra’s mother ever thought Tyra should even *want* to do more? WTF?

This was a servicable episode, but it wasn’t particularly organic. The writers clearly have plans for the characters and moved them around the board tonight to get them positioned for the endgame. A show that shines when things are still was bogged down with bookkeeping and plot manipulation and I was sad to see it.

Only Matt’s story was emotionally gripping for me tonight and that’s just because Zach Gilford and Louanne Stephens grabbed their scenes and wouldn’t let go. I’ll miss the easy chemistry Matt and his Grandma have, both in lighthearted material and in the scenes that rip my heart out like tonight’s slippers breakdown. I have always felt like a voyeur into a real home whenever we get a scene in the Saracen house. That’s not true – for me, anyway – anywhere else in Dillon. Not even the Taylor’s bedroom.

On other fronts…

  • Tyra improved her SAT scores only a fraction, but still no one thinks to suggest a year at a junior college would open a lot of doors for her.
  • Mindy throws down one hell of a tea party. Kudos to Landry for his cuke-slicing.
  • Joe McCoy really is a cardboard cutout of a villain. D.W. Moffett and Jeremy Sumpter have been criminally underutilized this season.
  • I keep waiting for Riggins to do something stupid, but apparently that’s all behind him now.
  • I keep waiting for Lyla to do something stupid, then I remember she sleeps in Riggins’ bed, so I can stop waiting.
  • No mention of Wade taking over the team last week. That either means it’s been permanently dropped…or he’s being setup to be Eric’s primary rival for a potential season four when Dillon is partitioned.

As you no doubt have guessed, I liked this episode a lot less than the average for the season. It was obviously much better than any of the dross from last year, but the needs of plot got in the way of the character moments I care about. I hope the writers have put everyone where they need them for the final two episodes so we can get back to the meat of FNL. Let every storyline be as real as Matt’s.

What did everyone else think? Am I just being too negative tonight?