“Friday Night Lights,” Season Five, Episode Two: STATE

Written by Television, TV Reviews

“Friday Night Lights,” Season Five, Episode Two, comes back with spirit, State, and rally girls.

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!

“I traded my pig for you.”—Luke Cafferty

Alright, now we’re talking. This episode brought back what was sorely missed after leaving the Panthers behind—spirit. The whole school’s wearing red. People are now cheering at the games. After their kickoff of the season with an epic win, the Lions are roaring. And most importantly: now there are rally girls.

Rally girls are the football team’s support system. Girls from the school are each assigned to a football player to ensure that he has all that he needs to get the W on Friday night. This ranges from baked goods to porn to panties, and are not without their own drama attached. Rally girls and their players spend all season together, so it’s no wonder that getting the right match is important. Luke wanted Becky to be his rally girl, obviously not over their little interlude last season, so much so that he trades his prized pig Mirabelle for her company this season.

But more dramatically, after Vince does the noble thing and gives his rally girl jersey to his girlfriend, Jess, she tries to make a stance. Claiming, and rightfully so, that the practice is demeaning, she says it’s not for her, and gives her blessing for Vince to get his own rally girl. Except when Marah, the lucky pick, gets a little too aggressive in marking her new territory, it doesn’t sit so well. Jess loves the game, loves the culture. She supports Vince and the team. She’s a woman who loves football. Unfortunately, she’s also someone who gets into a cat fight in the bathroom.

Tami certainly knows what it’s like to feel like the outsider. After crashing and burning with even more ideas like afternoon volunteer tutoring, and sky high dreams of getting the troubled girl, Epic, to go to class, Tami accepts not even happy hour can smooth over her conflicts. But, she seems to have made some headway: colleague Lauren has offered to help, and Epic showed up for a meeting.

Outsiders were clearly a theme this week (no secret as the episode was titled “On The Outside Looking In”) and we got a few glimpses into Julie’s less than stellar experience with college. She’s been sex-iled, can’t find a study group, and isn’t connecting with her classes. But, Julie does seem to be realizing the benefit of having a slew of football knowledge when she one-ups the cute history TA. I love a good student/teacher storyline, and although this isn’t the first time Julie has tread the territory, it will be nice to see her horizons broaden.

Vince seems to be the only character this week who feels like he’s right where he belongs. As the quarterback, he’s experiencing the glory, and the perks, of leading a winning team. And most importantly, he’s already getting strong interest from colleges trying to recruit him.

Luke, on the other hand, can’t quite find the limelight. Overshadowed by Vince, and wrongfully accused of an illegal hit in the last game, he can’t catch a break. Now suspended, and certainly not happy about it, Luke seems to be a wild card. He has a good heart, but he’s impulsive and erratic, a combination not so promising when on a team.

Eric, however, was as even-keeled as ever in this episode. While the other coaches, and the whole town for that matter, were wrapped up in hopes of State and their non-existent ranking, Eric was unfazed. And when one of his players was accused of an illegal hit two days after a game, he remained strong for his team. But when Eric went to Mac Macgill to voice his private concerns on the fairness of the league, cracks appeared. He’s the outsider now, and they’re not letting him back in. Of course, he’s not going down without a fight.

What had been strangely absent so far this season were Coach’s empowered locker room speeches. The feeling that these kids can do anything, can beat all odds, and have the time of their life doing it, wasn’t there. But when Coach wrote the word “STATE” on that whiteboard, I got chills. Somehow, this show has gotten so deeply under our skin that it doesn’t even take dialogue or any exchange for that feeling to come through. Now, Friday Night Lights is really back.

Thoughts? Sound it off in the comments!