Friday Night Lights: “Tami Knows Best”

23 January 2009
by R.A. Porter

Was it just me, or did anyone else get chills when the team came out to run with Smash? FNL does epic moments better than any show in recent memory, but we haven’t had one of them since the first season.

Last week was a workman-like return to competence, but it was tentative and had lost a few steps. Like Smash, it needed a little help to regain its confidence and regain its footing. After the disappointment of its sophomore year, I think the little show we love is back.

Each narrative thread was firing tonight, even as the writers moved more pieces around the board to set up for some big payoffs in the weeks ahead. Jumbotron-Gate looks to pit Tami against, well, everyone in Dillon, though I have this feeling we’ll see her get an unexpected ally in Joe McCoy. He’s had no success pushing at coach directly and even less pushing through Buddy. If he’s as smart as I suspect, he’ll try charming Mrs. Coach by backing her reallocation of funds – or ponying up for them himself – in order to boost JD’s chances of getting playing time. And as Tami is being smacked around from all quarters, she might just fall for it.

It’s good to see Julie finished with her short-lived rebellious stage and playing coy with Matt Saracen again. I love watching those two and their very awkward, very real teenage courtship. Zach Gilford does “aw shucks dirt kicking” about as well as any young actor out there, and every scene with Aimee Teegarden is loaded to the top with his young, short homage to Gary Cooper.1

Add to that yet another weight placed on his shoulders and an opportunity to play petulant with his estranged mother and Gilford had a hell of a night.

For most shows, an A- and B- of just those two stories would have sufficed, but FNL gave us three other killer threads tonight, not one of which felt short-changed.

  • Tyra’s overnight campaign for office and Tami’s extreme disappointment in her. With the murder plot of last year thankfully behind us, we can get back to the real meat of her character arc, the battle for Tyra’s soul between her mother and Tami.
  • Smash for six! We’re losing Gaius Charles soon,2 but he’s going out with a classic FNL storyline. His scenes, no joke, really did give me chills.
  • Raw pigeon. That is some tasty stuff. Perhaps Tim should have Googled the menu at the restaurant ahead of time. Tim’s whole demeanor at the restaurant, the way he was completely shut down, was pretty impressive coming from Taylor Kitsch. He’s always been good at tragically wounded, but struggled stretching beyond that; I thought he found a new gear in that scene.

What did everyone else think?

R.A. Porter is an aspiring television writer who currently toils away in the software mines. He can be found at Sketch War, Tumblr, and stalked on Twitter.
  1. Apparently, the humble boy-of-the-people bit is not an act. If you haven’t read it, take a look at his interview with Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN. []
  2. And losing Smash Momma, too! []

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posted by R.A. Porter in → Reviews

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