Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Night Lights "Laboring": Push

While Friday Night Lights has never been gumdrops and rainbows, this season has particularly proven to be an agonizing experience, and with the penultimate episode, "Laboring," it sure doesn't get any easier. It's not long into this episode before we're all torn up like the patchwork football field that the East Dillon Lions call home.

If there was a theme going no here (besides hopelessness), it might the painful process of of being born, getting pushed out into a new harsh reality. The Lions find themselves getting unfairly pushed out to play on West Dillon's field. Tami might get pushed out of a job by angry pro-life parents. Vince, still under Kenard's thumb, is being pushed to commit murder, in retaliation for Calvin. And, as direct reference to the title, Mindy's pushing out another Riggins boy (class of 2028!), a situation that is bringing a new reality for Billy, that of fatherhood.

Like a flower sprouting up in the concrete, the scenes with the Riggins boys were the light in this dark episode. Tim's not only now an uncle, but he also gets to see his brother demonstrate the potential to be the kind of father they never had. Tim recognizes this and offers to help out by going to the garage, where we get to see him drop the brooding and enjoy some momentary happiness. But since FNL discovered The Wire, it's inevitable that the momentary joy is shattered by the fuzz. The gig is up, and with Taylor Kitsch's scheduling conflicts for next season, the prospect of prison time is more than likely.

Speaking of David Simon-like despair, it's fitting that The Wire vet Michael B. Davis really shines in his scenes as Vince here. His resignment to Landry ("you're a good dude") of Jess almost felt like a suicide note, and if it weren't for Jess calling him on it, you get the feeling Vince might have gone through with Kenard's plan. But he doesn't, and the anguished cry after Kenard drives off (leaving a pistol-whip and admonishment as parting gifts) was gut-wrenching to say the least. Jess is there waiting to greet him, a moment cross-cut by Landry waiting for Jess. Guess who else is getting pushed out? Sorry LandryLance. Vince obviously isn't out of the woods yet, for as Kenard reminds him again, "I got you."

Finally, we turn to the Taylors, who usually serve as our guiding light in an FNL storm. Seeing them look so beaten, sitting there on the sofa, had to be as disheartening for Julie as it was for us. Like Eric in last season's finale, Tami has to make her case to the board to keep her job. Continuing in the the season three parallel, if Tami loses her job, can you imagine them offering her a job at East Dillon? Eric's been beaten down all season long -- that phone didn't stand a chance. The series has always played the underdog, both in story and as an NBC property, but with Luke out and the game being moved to the Panthers' home, the deck is really stacked against our new team, and against everyone we rooting for. By this point, we're hoping at least one of these stories ends up with a 'W.' I think we've been through enough labor pains to get at least some little bundle of joy at the end, right?

Speaking of endings, here are the bullet points:
  • Is it just me, or is Coach calling Landry "Lance" starting to losing its luster.
  • This is the second time we've seen someone rocking out to Montrose' "Rock Candy" in a garage. The pantsless svengali artist Richard was working to it when we first met him.
  • Elsewhere in music, the ominous "How Will You Meet Your End?" is the fourth song appearance from A.A. Bondy. Besides the usual lean on Texas' Explosions in the Sky, other repeat artists this week include Dan Auerbach, Heartless Bastards and Trevor Dandy, whose "Is There Any Love" seems to have been playing on repeat at Ray's BBQ all season long.
Playlist: Friday Night Lights - Episode 4.11
1. "Home" - Explosions In The Sky: The Panthers complain about the state of the Lions field
2. "Real Good" - Tiny Masters Of Today [download]: Billy calls Tim with news of Mindy going into labor
3. "How Will You Meet Your End?" - A. A. Bondy [download]: Tami turns off the radio
4. "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" - Ida Maria [download]: Billy storms back into Mindy's hospital room.
5. "Be So Happy" - Heartless Bastards [download]: Eric listens to the radio; Panthers discover the toothpicks on the field
6. "Is There Any Love" - Trevor Dandy Jess loans Landry her iPod with special playlist; Kenard plans retaliation with Vince
7. "Rock Candy" - Montrose [download]: The police come for Tim
8. "When The Night Comes" - Dan Auerbach [download]: Vince talks to Jess; Landry waits for Jess; Billy and Tim at the police station; Tami talks to Eric about statement

Previously: "Injury List" (Episode 4.11)

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