This week’s Friday Night Lights split down the middle for me: some very good stuff, some pretty lame stuff. I’ll get the lame out of the way first.
• There was the moment we all saw coming weeks ago: Matt’s smooch with caregiver Carlotta (Daniella Alonso). Plus a scene where she teaches white-boy to dance by having him put his hands on her hips to feel the Latina rhythm. This was so corny I can’t even muster true annoyance about stereotypes.
• The Julie subplot. New teacher in town—why, it’s John from Cincinnati! No, I know, it was Noah from a Milwaukee newspaper, but for the 99% of you who didn’t watch the HBO series I’m referring to, actor Austin Nichols played the title role in John From Cincinnati. Anyway, Julie (Aimee Teegarden) suddenly developed a case of motor-mouth this week—hasn’t she spent the preceding month being moodily monosyllabic?—and gushed about her life to a complete, if cute, stranger/authority figure, and it was groaningly obvious that she was going to have an insta-crush on the guy. The only thing that will make this subplot worthwhile is the fierce tongue-lashing her mom (the reliably superb Connie Britton) is going to give this guy to stay away from her daughter.
• Now, this next point is not so much about lameness, but rather about having writers and producers who should trust their characters more. It’s great that Smash (the glowing Gaius Charles) is getting a lot more screen-time, but I thought the pressure his mother (the marvelously controlled Liz Mikel) put on him to seriously consider the black college recruiter’s pitch was unworthy of this fine woman. She’s obviously intelligent enough to understand why Smash isn’t interested in going to a school with a losing football team. Why couldn’t those scenes have been more subtly written (like, oh, the entire last season of Friday Night Lights!), to allow her to express both disappointment and understanding, and for Smash to be more than just a Porsche-lusting stubborn kid?
Okay, those are my reservations. Now, here’s what I liked about the episode.
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