Welcome back to Panther Nation all you friends of the yellow and blue. This week, we had an eventful installment as our Panthers played the Laribee Lions, Tim Riggins received interest from none other than the Oklahoma Sooners, Tami took on the town in her bid to reallocate the Jumbotron funds, Tyra Collette was elected senior class President, and Matt Saracen paid his estranged mother a visit. If you were a bit apprehensive after last week’s episode, rest assured that the Texa high school football gods heard your prayers and made it up to you this week.
The battle between boosters and Tami raged on this week, as Buddy and company were not pleased that their earmarked money was redistributed to academics against their wishes. Tami was interviewed for the town newspaper regarding this decision, but her comments wer taken out of context to imply tension between her and her football coach husband. She pleaded her case admirably, stating that the football program was renowned for good reason, and that she wanted some funds to be devoted to academics so they could attain a similar level of excellence. Though there were no active disagreements between Coach Taylor and his wife, he was very hesitant to voice his opinion on the decision.
Buddy turned to using all of his small town clout to address the situation. He had the mayor meet him in the principal’s office to convince Tami to build the scoreboard. Tami was hoping Mayor Rodell would be a little more understanding, but she sided with Buddy. Her focus was on the prominence, nationally, of having a Jumbotron in her town’s stadium. After this meeting Tami refused to back down, she insisted the law was on her side. When she finally got her husband’s opinion, he put it very benignly that he respects her decision, but does not think this is the battle she should be fighting during the first part of her tenure as principal. She felt a message must be sent early to the boosters that the school is a community and should take as much pride in their academics as their football program. Buddy, the superintendent, the mayor, and the boosters disagreed with her and a city council meeting was scheduled to resolve the situation; in the meantime the funds would be frozen.
The table was set for an epic showdown between might and right. Both sides had valid points, academics being a priority and the right of private donations to be earmarked. This was an interesting take on the argument of greater good and private ownership. We will wait and see what happens, but I think a compromise will be reached in which the scoreboard gets built but the revenue generated by it goes to academics.
The school elections were held this week too, with Tyra Collette trying to pad her college applications by running against a more experienced candidate. Her campaign got off to a rough start, as one of her posters was vandalized and she was having trouble being taken seriously by the vice principal. Understanding this bias, Tyra began campaigning using her sister’s stripper friends to gain attention. This was deemed inappropriate by the vice principal, and she was immediately suspended, forfeiting her candidacy. Tami stepped in at that point, reinstated her, and promised the vice principal that she would take care of the situation.
During the election assembly, Tyra continued to run on her sexuality. Tami began doubt her faith in Tyra and her decision to reinstate her into the race. Tami saw great potential in Tyra in years past, but began to question whether she could distance herself from her environment. When Tyra won the election she conversed with Tami expecting congratulations. Instead she was dressed down because of her behavior. She was ordered back to class, to think about her responsibilities and reevaluate her actions. This was a good move on Tami’s part, because she should not tolerate a class president who races without integrity. The entire election may have been a brief commentary on the way our country’s elections are run, which has no place in this show. It should stick to the social interactions of a small town instead of weighing in on national events. An election may not have been necessary, but Tami’s response to Tyra’s behavior was correct.
Our quarterback Matt Saracen faced down a crisis this week too. His grandmother ceased taking her medications, and it was determined that she finally reached the inevitable point of not being able to take care of herself. She claimed that the medicine dried out her face, and was adamant that there was no way she would resume taking her pills. Matt was faced with two possibilities, he could become her guardian, or he could send her to a home to be cared for. It would be difficult for him to become her guardian because his father would have to sign paperwork, an unlikely event given that he was serving in Iraq. After a tender moment between Matt and his grandmother in which they both confess their love and reliance on one another, he decided to do whatever it took to become her guardian.
Doing whatever it took proved to be emotionally difficult, as he had to visit his estranged mother. He uncomfortably met with her on her porch, refusing to enter her house. After a brief catch-up conversation and explanation of his situation, he finally got her signature to emancipate him. With a few pen strokes, he became an notarized adult, keeping his grandmother in his house, under his care.
Matt and Julie were also seen around town this week. Only able to confide in her, he explained his situation regarding his family. Already touched by his tenderness two years ago, she provided a friendly ear of support during his moment of need. The two of them flirted easily with each other, and the possibility of renewing their relationship was left on the table after she showed him her future car and offered him rides to school. The two of them are good for each other, and enough time has passed since last year that she is a little more grounded.
Emerging tailback Tim Riggins had an eventful week as well. Lyla seemed serious with her feelings for him, against the wishes of her father, Buddy Garrity. He felt that Tim would bring her down, while she felt that she could bring him up. She invited Tim to a dinner with the McCoy family and Buddy at a local country club in order to bring them closer to one another. While shopping for his outfit, he and Lyla admitted their apprehension regarding the dinner, and that the reason for going was their mutually deep feelings for each other.
The dinner proved to be a catastrophe for Riggins. Buddy threatened him beforehand that he didn’t like him and his daughter seeing each other, that Mr. McCoy was a very important associate to him, and that Riggins must not do anything that could remotely jeopardize that arrangement. During dinner, he was unresponsive to their questions, on account of his being nervous in such a stuffy environment and for the words he had with Buddy earlier. In a telling moment of his discomfort, he glanced at the menu and ordered the first thing he saw, squab. Squab turned out to be raw pigeon, unbeknownst to Tim, and he made sure to tell the waiter to have it cooked rare. This was greeted with uncomfortable looks from around the table as it became clearer that he did not belong in their company.
On the ride home, he and Lyla argued about his dinner behavior. He apparently did not know what was expected of him and began to think that Lyla was trying to change him into something he was not. She did not understand what was wrong with trying to change him into someone who didn’t order “rare squab.” The time came for Riggins to evaluate his situation. He hadn’t wanted to respond to the letter from Oklahoma because he didn’t consider himself college worthy, but Lyla made him write back. Thinking her efforts were wasted, and that he would be better off alone, they decided to break up. This was exactly the direction the relationship should have headed since last year. All was well in Panther country after this announcement, but smiles quickly faded to tears when Lyla brought him a hamburger to make up for the argument and her judgments.
After beating Laribee 49-0, Coach Taylor continued to mentor and train Smash Williams. Brian appeared to be making a full physical recovery, improving regularly. The coach was encouraged and began making phone calls to colleges that were previously interested in him. Though each call was rebuffed on account of the timing, he was determined to set Smash up with a tryout. This determination was one sided however, as a full physical recovery is not the same as a full football recovery. When training with Riggins, Smash became disheartened after a hit from Tim sent him to the ground. He threw a tantrum and walked off the field.
Confronting Smash on their seemingly disparate efforts to continue, Coach Taylor asked him why he was not giving the effort required to play football in college. Williams finally admitted that he was not psychologically able to train the way he once did because he was not needed to. The team needed him to be great, so greatness was possible and even necessary. He was once fearless, but having been injured, he didn’t have the same instinct and mentality that once made him great. When one thought the mentor would understand, and be sympathetic, Coach showed his inspirational qualities by admonishing him for weakness. A full padded practice was scheduled for Smash to see that his knee had healed.
At the practice, Smash made cuts and took hits with the rest of his previous team. He looked like the Smash of old. Running play after play, spinning, getting tackled, and getting up immediately indicated that perhaps Smash’s instinct had returned. Unfortunately, during a run toward the end zone, he was hit in his injured knee. He was slow to get up after rolling a few yards, and the air left the field. After a few moments of suspense, he got up and shouted, “That’s six!” And with that, the Smash was back.
This was a great episode of Friday Night Lights, and provided what we have come to expect from Dillon, Texas. Some questions from the off-season were answered, such as what Grandma Saracen has been doing, and the status of Riggins and Lyla was more certain. There was still no word from Herc and Street, but they will surely be heard from in the next few weeks. The Landry and Tyra front has seemed friendly enough, but breakups don’t usually stay amicable, especially when it involves someone like Landry. That might be a plot twist in future episodes. Things are starting to gear up otherwise, so look forward to a resolution regarding the Jumbotron and perhaps seeing more of Saracen and Julie together. See you next week, Panther fans!
Recap by Leon Phelps