Spoiler warning: This is a recap for Friday Night Lights Season 5, airing now on DirecTV. If you’re waiting to watch until next year on NBC, please read no further!
There are no remnants of any of the lightheartedness from last week’s episode in this week’s intense display about choices and consequences.
First, we have Vince, who’s being put on the spot about the $5000 he “borrowed” to help put his mom in rehab last season. When he can’t produce the cash quickly enough, Kennard puts the pressure on Vince by assaulting Jess and threatening to burn her dad’s restaurant to the ground. Vince won’t stand for anyone putting their hands on his girl, and without being able to turn to the police, and knowing that not even Coach can help him, he ends up going to the last person he wants involved: his dad. His dad takes care of it, but in his own way by doing a little assault and threatening himself to settle his son’s debt. Since his dad is on probation, this could have some serious ramifications, but for now, Vince seems to be safe.
The one who seems to be in even deeper this week is Julie. Boomeranged back home from college after her affair with her TA was exposed, she’s feeling lost and humiliated. Julie can’t face going back, so much so that she crashes her car purposefully to have to stay in Dillon. She ultimately breaks down and tells Tami about what happened, and Tami naturally tells Eric. Both are dumbfounded by the choices their daughter has been making, particularly as they start to realize how she’s been lying to them. Tami, of course, is doing her best to be understanding and supportive. Eric can hardly communicate with Julie, but his distress is obvious. So obvious he skips out on a practice early and is late to a game for the first time.
This plot line has been struggling all season. It’s not on the level of Landry’s murder in season two, but it’s still melodramatic beyond Friday Night Lights typical realism standards. And I will admit Julie has never really been my favorite, but regressing and not taking any responsibility for her part in the affair is not exactly helping her stay sympathetic. She could have easily had a more cursory storyline this season and come back at the end with all the former Panthers.
The only good this storyline brought to this episode was showing off the strengths of Eric and Tami, who are always impeccable at keeping the family drama real and heartbreaking. Eric’s weakness has always been his girls, and this is no exception. He struggles to take control of Julie by forcing her to face her problems and go back to school, but it’s clear that he’s no longer in control of his daughter. The simple scene where Eric was watching little Gracie Belle as Julie apologizes for disappointing him was so poignant, and Kyle Chandler was great in showing his pain without saying a single word.
The more functional family was across town at the Riggins household. The ghost of Tim is back again as he calls from jail, and Billy breaks down watching his recruitment tapes. Becky is similarly lost without Tim, and begs to talk to him on the phone. But Mindy, the ever-growing mother figure, does her best to show Becky reality and get her together with Luke instead. Perhaps suggesting they should get it on like bunnies wasn’t the most mature statement, but Mindy and Billy are becoming the surrogate Coach and Mrs. Coach, setting up for them to take over if Eric “Kingmaker” Taylor should ever bust back out of Dillon.
Billy has now taken Luke under his wing, trying to help him bounce back and get a scholarship after the upset that TMU doesn’t want him. He starts sky-high with words of playing with heart and loving the game again. But when he allows Luke to drunkenly call the recruiter, it was clear he’s not quite ready to step into Coach’s shoes. But in the absence of Eric for the pre-game speech, Billy nails it. He’ll get there.
Thoughts? Theories on rhinestones as a fashion statement? Leave it in the comments. And tune in next week for Jason Street’s return!