Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Friday Night Lights: "The Giving Tree"

Illustration for article titled Friday Night Lights: "The Giving Tree"
Illustration for article titled Friday Night Lights: "The Giving Tree"

[Note to DirecTV viewers: Sorry this is late!]

More than usual, this was an episode about children and parents so let's first get the stuff that's not about that, specifically the sub-plot that gives the episode its title. Tyra's back in town and in attempting to make amends with Landry she somehow makes things worse. There's a great scene where, while helping Tyra study, Landry finds himself in a tug-of-war between mother and daughter as both snipe at each while sweet talking him. With a look on his face that makes clear he finally realizes just how much he's being taken advantage of, Jesse Plemons says everything without a word, and lets Tyra know what he's figured out later in fairly unsparing terms. The show probably could have left it there, but I'm glad it didn't. Tyra scores Landry's band a gig almost just to prove him wrong without realizing, until the end, that her frustration with his newfound backbone has started to develop into respect, and maybe a genuine attraction. As unbelievable as some of the turns taken by Tyra's character this season have been, I believed every bit of that moment. And, hey, Crucifictorious is actually getting pretty good. Who'd have thought?

On to football and the ugliest game we've seen to date: While it's no surprise that the Panthers won–it's pretty much a given that their season won't end this far out from the end of the show's season–Coach's ejection came as a surprise. The slightly-too-exposition-happy announcers foreshadowed some blowback from Aikman's performance under pressure, but will Coach's phone call to the field get him in trouble? Or is that legal? I'm not football-literate enough to know, honestly.

So, on the parental relations front, who screwed up the most this week? Definitely not Coach and Tami, who did the best they could in dealing with the discovery that Julie and Matt had started sleeping together. Whatever you think of the series this season–I've liked it and thought it really found its footing again this week–the scene between Connie Britton and Aimee Teegarden this week was one for the vaults. Britton sounded all the right notes–fear, disappointment, respectful resignation–without letting go of her role as a mother. And I'd argue that Coach handled his subsequent talk with Matt as well as could be expected, too. He's a man speaking to a man who probably doesn't need a reminder about respecting women but gets one anyway. (That said, I think he might have killed their sex life for a bit. That was some pretty intimidating grill cleaning.) This whole sub-plot felt close to perfectly executed, funny and true to the characters without losing the gravity of the situation.

Could the McCoys be the worst parents of the week? If it were just Joe, maybe. He's probably not wrong about Madison (or "Mercedes," as he dubs her dismissively). But he goes about it all wrong, demanding when he should be requesting and trying to hit the emergency brakes when a gentle course-correction is called for. Fortunately for J.D., the "young, wholesome, milk-drinking quarterback," his mother has decided to run interference. Did anyone else think she had it in her? And will she be able to stick with it?

Sadly, it's Buddy who performs the most notable screw ups this week and it looks like it's not going to be an easy fix. Losing $70,000 on a "sure thing" is one thing. Betting the college fund on it puts him in a new league. (Never mind getting arrested, and at the Landing Strip no less.) And while Buddy's financial irresponsibility came seemingly out of nowhere, everything here felt real, particularly his "one-time deal" exchange with Coach and the scenes with Lyla, where he almost, sort of, maybe realized that he couldn't just be a big kid anymore, particularly when it forced his daughter to grow up too fast. Whatever the proper role is between parents and children, they're not supposed to trade places.

Grade: A-

Stray Observations:

- Wow. $30,000 worth in damage. It's almost impressive.

- Who does Crucifictorious sound like now?

- So, this Jay Leno-in-primetime news can't be good for Friday Night Lights, can it? Only the DirecTV deal saved it this year and the disappearance of the 10pm time slot put the squeeze on that much tighter. Here's hoping… But it might be best to enjoy your stay in Dillon while you can this year.