Friday Night Lights, Season 5

This Episode Was About Lies
Talking television.
Jan. 6 2011 10:53 AM

Friday Night Lights, Season 5

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Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor. Click image to expand.
Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor in Friday Night Lights

David, that's quite an attack you've launched on Coach. Sheesh. Didn't Smash end up flourishing on his college team? Also, I am not sure we can pin Tim Riggins' college failure on Eric, since according to the FNL code Tim can only really exist in Dillon. Plus, remember his glee when he threw his course books out the truck window? I had a much more conventional reading of Eric's brush off of Oklahoma Tech and of Vince: Because he feels betrayed that Vince chose Ornette over him as recruiting adviser, he's doing a terrible job explaining why this school is about to screw Vince over.

Missed connections drive me crazy onscreen, so I was tormented by Eric's summary, "That offer is worth nothing." Umm, why? If Vince is supposed to listen—and surely you are right, it will turn out that the Oklahoma Tech people are as corrupt as those girls in bikinis were cute—then it's up to Eric to make the case. Part of showing Vince how to be an adult is to treat him like one, and adults change their minds because of arguments, not high-handed assertions. The best that can be said for Eric here is that he was still addled by breaking Derek's tail light with the handle bars of Gracie Belle's tricycle. I did love the fake smile with which Eric approached Ornette. The mistakes Vince's dad is making are more complex and interesting to me than Coach's. He is both putting Vince first, as a father should, and also using him to prove his worth and show up the Man, which is the role he has cast Eric in. The problem with the second part is that it antagonizes the person who still holds the key to Vince's future. By the end of Eric and Ornette's scene, I felt like it would be a pleasure for Coach to bench his star Q.B. Eric is sick of Vince—on top of the Ornette dynamic, it was low for Vince to cover his ass for missing practice with a lie about the return of his mother's drug habit. And Coach is also sick of his squabbling players and even his assistant coaches. Maybe this time, taking the college job will seem like a relief rather than a sell out.

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Hanna, I want to know what you make of the Derek denouement. He told Tami that he'd resigned and come to persuade Julie to go back to school "to make things right." Tami said, "You can't." Then she told Julie to end the relationship and go back because "this is an opportunity for you to do the right thing." It seems to me that Derek actually could make this right, and did. That is, until he told Julie that he'd really shown up to woo her back to him, not school. What did you guys make of that shot when she turned her car around? Paul, my husband, was sure she wouldn't take Derek up on the offer he dangled by leaving her his address in Tennessee. I was sure she had. Which made the sight of Matt Saracen's lopsided grin all the sweeter. If Julie wants to start school over again in Chicago, I'll help raise the money for her tuition. I am completely with you, David, on chucking Huckleberry and Tragic Epyck for more screen time for Matt and Tim and any other old cast member FNL can catch us up on. Buddy Jr. I have a soft spot for, because he brings out his father's foibles so beautifully—his frustration with his son's injury resonated for me. Also, give me more Philosopher Mindy. The beauty pageant lady is wrong: Becky should be grateful for her new big sisterhood.

One more observation: This episode was about lies. Vince's to Coach, Epyck's to Mrs. Coach, Julie's at the end to both of them. It seems to me that rather than strictly condemning all the lies, the show created a moral hierarchy for them, in which Vince's was bad, Epyck's was not so bad, and Julie's will maybe turn out to be worthwhile in the end. I like the nuance.

Emily

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

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