Friday Night Lights, Season 5

I Made Tea While They Led Epyck Away in Handcuffs
Talking television.
Jan. 12 2011 10:52 PM

Friday Night Lights, Season 5

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Michael B. Jordan as Vince Howard. Click image to expand.
Michael B. Jordan as Vince Howard

This was a desultory placeholder episode that just inched several plots forward in the obvious ways. Jess broke up with Vince, and then Coach benched him for a game. Julie skulked around Matt's place instead of her parents, until he forced her to get back in the car and drive south. Becky (saint) insinuated herself into dinner with Luke's evangelical parents, while Becky (sinner) earned some good waitressing tips from the drunken louts at the Landing Strip. The only big drama came from Epyck, who, also in saint/sinner mode, first won over Gracie Bell with the old starfish princess routine and then later smashed Tami's head into a wall when another teacher accused her of stealing. But as we've said many times, Epyck drama does not move us. She hasn't earned enough of our love for us to be devastated by her fall. I got up to make myself tea while she was being led away in handcuffs.  

I felt a palpable relief in seeing Vince come back to his senses at the episode's end, after the Lions won without him, restraining his father from jumping onto the field after the game and doing God knows what to Coach. ("For me, for me," Vince said, barring Ornette but stopping short of anger or violence.) I'll miss the old Ornette and his animal hatred for Coach. But the boy has suffered long enough. Also, for once his mom's excessive gentlenesss did not seem irritating or out of place. She struck just the right tone with Vince: "I think maybe you don't have to take his advice all the time."

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One question about the Vince subplot. Just as with Smash in Season 1, the writers have made the black hotshot an arrogant jerk who tears the team apart. Is this brave and true to life or mildly racist? In Season 1, we had the counterbalance of Tim as the white-trash thug who justified Smash's hatred, but this season there is only sweet Luke, so the fault is all with Vince and his gangster father.

And how about our Matty? Quite a life he's made for himself, with that sub-Art Basel loot on the high loft walls, the friends at the trendy bar, and the bagels for breakfast. Pretty soon he'll be sporting some square-toed Skechers and a fedora and peddling his portfolio all over Brooklyn. I have to admit, I did wonder if Julie was right, and she doesn't fit into his life anymore. He's too cool for her now. She is the Tim of this season, always moping, always lost. Matty, meanwhile, looks like a boy with a bright future in indie movies.

Finally, it's clear that the writers have their best time writing Billy's and Mindy's lines. A "pee stick in the mouth"? That's Louis C.K.-level funny.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

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