Friday Night Lights, Season 5

Bring Back Crucifictorius!
Talking television.
Jan. 5 2011 10:33 PM

Friday Night Lights, Season 5


Madison Burge as Becky Sproles, Matt Lauria as Luke Cafferty.
Madison Burge as Becky Sproles and Matt Lauria as Luke Cafferty in Friday Night Lights.

Let us please linger for a moment on one of the funniest moments in FNL history: Billy's riff on his courtship of Mindy and Luke's awkward, salivary response.

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David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.

Billy: "I got a lap dance from every girl in the place except her … she was begging me to go into the Champagne Room with her."

Luke: "Mrs. Riggins works at the Landing Strip?"

I, too, was dazzled by Cress Williams' performance as Ornette this week, though it did give me pause about the way FNL has treated black men over the years. We've been given a series of vivid and largely admirable black women (Jess, Jess' aunt, Smash's mom, Vince's mom) and black boys (Vince, Smash, Tinker). But there's been a surprising shortage of admirable black men. Virgil Merriweather had a good run last season, but now he has deserted his family to expand his business. (This is pure conjecture, but I'm guessing that Virgil's departure was some kind of unexpected contract issue. The excuse that he's in Dallas franchising his barbecue shack is really feeble.) Levi is an ornery, undermining colleague. Ornette is menacing. Vince's old running buddies—especially Emily's old pal "The Devil Wears Cornrows"—were entirely evil. Tinker's dad is nowhere to be seen, the various East Dillon boosters basically function as sidekicks for Buddy, and Eric's lone black assistant coach is so irrelevant that I will bet 20 bucks neither of you knows his name.


What do you think Hastings did to get a juvie rap sheet? And will we ever find out? The exposure clearly rattled him, but FNL didn't delve deeply. This seems to be the pattern. In general, Season Five's new characters are a little thin, except for Ornette. Hastings, Buddy Jr., and Epppyckkkk were all introduced with a lot of fanfare but haven't earned our interest.

It's a little bit surprising that Eric and Tami haven't dropped a dime on Derek. But it is more surprising that they should have to. After all, Derek's wife screeched to an entire dormful of teenagers that her husband was screwing one of his students: Surely that news would wildfire through campus, and surely it would get Derek keelhauled by a dean or two. These days, no university lets untenured faculty members prey on tuition-paying coeds. It's bad for your U.S. News and World Report ranking.

Thanks for the gloating offer, Emily. I gloat; therefore, I am! Still, I don't share your (or the show's) indignation with the Lions' performance this week. Except for Vince's showboating, rub-it-in last-second touchdown pass, every play appeared to be fine aggressive football. Luke's hits on the quarterback and receiver were devastating but clean. If you think those hits were ugly, then you have a problem with football, not with the East Dillon Lions. (And even though celebrating the violence was tacky, that is what football players do. They hit hard, and they love it.)

I, too, enjoyed the old-home-week visit with Jason Street. I hope it's prelude to a series of nostalgic Season 5 farewell cameos—a parade for Smash! An art show for Matt Saracen! A cheerleading session for Lyla! A sold-out club gig for Landry and Crucifictorius! And five minutes—even one minute—of Tyra doing anything she wants!

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