'Friday Night Lights' recap: Kyle Chandler needs an Emmy

Gaius_lIf Friday Night Lights was a big ol’ ratings hit, Kyle Chandler would be Fed-Ex’ing this week’s episode to the Emmy committee for the showcase he had and the performance he gave with that opportunity. Really, has his Coach Eric ever shown so many sides of himself, been as angry and wise and abashed and funny and thick-headed and forgiving and flummoxed as he was here? I don’t believe so. For an edition of FNL whose plot arcs were really built around Gaius Charles’ Smash and Taylor Kitsch’s Tim Riggins, Chandler’s Eric really stole the show.

But let’s take Smash and Riggins first. Smash has been courted by colleges for some time now, and this was his “verbal commitment” week—we were pretty sure from the git-go that he was going to make his decision during this hour, and it was done with the show’s typically dramatic complexity. Gaius Charles has played out this football courtship beautifully—you can read in the expressions on his face all the pride, confusion, and excitement Smash is feeling. The episode gave Smash’s mom, Corinna (Liz Mikel) some really nice moments, as she fought through her fears and hopes for her son, and I really enjoyed the scene between her and Connie Britton’s Tami—one mother consoling another.

As for Riggins, well, it was another great week for Taylor Kitsch, who not only lived up to the forgiving Coach’s word for him—“honorable”—but also did some great Riggins Things such as making that nice zinger to neighbor Jackie about how, now that she’d gone through him and his brother, she might want to complete the “Riggins trifecta” and put the moves on his father. Thank goodness that brat Julie (well-played, Miss Aimee Teegarden!) cleared up last week’s mess and got Tim back in the Coach’s good graces, but I worry about this new stealing-money-from-the-meth-dealer plot. Are we fated to spend FNL’s remaining weeks with another brush-with-the-law mess so soon after Landry dumped that body?

OK, back to Coach Eric Taylor.

The show did an excellent job of piling one problem after another ontohis shoulders: his annoyance and eventual blow-up at annoyingsister-in-law Shelley (bye, bye, Jessalyn Gilsig! Loved the way thewriters worked in your love for The Office!); Eric’s doh!reaction when Julie told him the Riggins-redeeming truth about herdrunken night; his eloquent apology to Tim; his delicately firmheart-to-heart and expression of disappointment with Julie (“Damn,Julie—damn”); his quiet acceptance of Tami’s annoyance withhim. Eric is one of the most complex men in prime time. I just have tolodge one teeny-weeny complaint with the writers for undercutting thesatisfying revenge Eric could have taken against the mad-weasel-coachof the Larabee Lions by having this guy utter the corniest line everheard on Friday Night Lights—that his cancer-stricken wife has three months to live “and I don’t have a game-plan for that.” Bummer.

Oh, well. Still a wonderful hour.

For the record, missing in action this week: Jason Street (again!),Lyla, and Landry and Tyra (but I liked catching that glimpse ofLandry’s dad in the stadium stands). Let’s hope before the pre-strikeepisodes peter out, they all get some more screen time.

So what did you think about the way all these subplots unfolded?


Comments (76 total) Add your comment
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  • Ana Maria

    …Good morning…how I love FNL; I’m so glad that Tim’s brother is in the picture again, I think their relationsip is so sweet and heartbreaking…and does anyone know if Meth Man will be hurting them? I’d hate for that to happen…

  • Forgive me FNL

    I have been a backslider. I have doubted. I have strayed. But I now realize why you are the best show on television. Real, complex, smart characters. Storylines that are believable and compelling. And an ensemble cast that is pitch perfect. Forgive me FNL – I promise never to forsake Eric, Tim, Smash, Tami, Julie and the Panthers ever again.

  • LP

    I love this show too, but never would have watched it if EW had not convinced me it was worth checking out. I devoted 2 weeks this summer to Season 1 on NBC.com and have now added it to my TIVO Season Pass. So why not try this…Move the summary/critique from Pop Watch where reading that this is a great show is a shot in the dark to TV Watch where perhaps some other lost soul may get convinced to check it out.

  • Jennie

    “Damn, Julie—damn”. This short monster of a line sums up the reason I look forward to Friday. Great recap.

  • KJ

    Billy’s back! Yay! Now if Jason would come back, that would be a great day. Coach T was amazing this episode (and every episode). For me, this episode highlights why this show is absolutely amazing. I only wish the rest of the TV world was watching…

  • Mrs. Taylor

    PLEASE move the recap to the main page/recaps section and don’t bury it under PopWatch anymore!! I think many people would start watching if they could see quickly and easily how much there is to love about it (and after seeing EW’s love for it). Once again, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are phenomenal. Let’s dish on next week’s previews—who was Matt Saracen kissing…Lyla?!?!

  • dave-o

    i think tim’s brother will end up paying the price for their sins. tim and his bro are both dysfunctional apart, but somehow make things work together. i thought it was a nice touch that tami was wearing the red sexy shirt in the final scene when her sister previously declared that she couldn’t. the scene between tami and smash’s mom was excellent. both of those ladies are top notch. was that rick barnes (the texas basketball coach) pretending to be a football coach for TMU?

  • maureen

    I’m not afraid to admit both myself and my husband got a little teary eyed when Smash brought his mother flowers and she said how proud she was of him. Whenever I read about the shows low ratings, all I think of is Jay Leno’s Jaywalking and how dumb most people in America are.

  • DM

    I LOVE this show. Best show on TV. At least once in every episode, without fail I get a lump in my throat watching this incredibly written and acted show. Last night’s came when Coach Talyor was talking to his daughter and said “Damn, Julie. Damn” During this writers strike NBC needs to rerun the first season instead of all this reality garbage they are putting on the air. If they want cheap programming there’s nothing cheaper then a show that’s already been completed

  • DM

    I LOVE this show. Best show on TV. At least once in every episode, without fail I get a lump in my throat watching this incredibly written and acted show. Last night’s came when Coach Talyor was talking to his daughter and said “Damn, Julie. Damn” During this writers strike NBC needs to rerun the first season instead of all this reality garbage they are putting on the air. If they want cheap programming there’s nothing cheaper then a show that’s already been completed

  • monica

    Just when I started liking Riggins again, he HAD to rob a crazy meth-head. But I sense that once again Coach is going to save him, since he was introduced to that crazy meth-head. During the part where the Larabee coach tackled Riggins, I was in utter shock at how psychotic he was behaving. And I kept yelling at the screen for him to just to spit it out: “WHY ARE YOU SUCH A JERK?” And because he took so long to answer, I had no pity when he responded with his lame “my wife is dying” excuse. However, I suppose that cleans up that feud. I also wanted to punch Julie who went to go get permission from Riggins not to tell her dad–it just shows how immature she really is. Good thing she’s got a conscience, otherwise he’d still be screwed. Next week, I think I saw him trying to date Lila. I think this attempt alone–since she’s so out of his league, morality-wise–would merit an Emmy. I seem to love playboy characters who suddenly put aside their egos for the girl of their dreams.

  • Michael

    Yes, yes, I know FNL isn’t primarily about football, but how about some clarification of who won the game. When the Larabee coach tackled Riggins the refs said something to the effect that “this game is over”. But if the game is over at that point, before Riggins actually scored, then Larabee won because they were still leading by five points. Anybody have an answer, or am I the only one who cares?

  • Crystal

    Just adding another:
    “Damn Kyle Chandler….Damn”
    I miss Jason! Very happy to see Billy and Tim together.

  • To Michael

    I think the “game is over” meant it was a forfeit, Dillon wins.

  • Kevin

    What does this mean?
    bobo5ank Sat, Jan 12, 2008 at 11:01 AM EST
    He is handsome. He posted her personal ad on a celebrities dating site called “M arry Millionaire. com”. I just visited his profile page. Seems he is quite popular there.

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