Sunday, June 19, 2011

Friday Night Lights-"Eyes Wide Open"

Matt Saracen is forced into leadership on "Friday Night Lights"
Credit: NBC

I continue my look back at the football drama Friday Night Lights with the episode "Eyes Wide Open". My thoughts are after the jump.

In this episode, the town is still reeling from the paralyzation of Jason Street. The episode did a fantastic job of portraying exactly what the town was going through and the impact of this on the town. It didn't shy away from anything and gave us a realistic portrayal of the impact of the paralyzation. This town is centered around football, and something like that would have a huge impact, and the episode did a great job showing that. It continued what was set up in the pilot in a very strong fashion.

Jason Street is dealing with the extent of his injuries that he suffered during the pilot. In this episode, he finds out the full extent of his injuries and that he will never walk again. This is a very difficult thing for a teenager to handle, and I thought that Street handled the information very well for a person of his age. He doesn't like the idea and he clearly struggles with the information, but the sense of acceptance that he has is something that is surprising. He handles the information a lot better then everyone around him. Lyla just can't accept Jason's injury is permanent. This is going to be a problem for future episodes. If she can't accept the injury, what will happen to their relationship?

The injury to Jason Street also leaves the Dillion Panthers without a leader. The team is needs to do well and people are questioning whether they can do that without him. The team needs a leader to step in, and the obvious choice for that position would be the now first-string QB Matt Saracen. The only problem with this is that Saracen is not ready to be thrust into the spotlight. At the beginning of the episode, he's not what this town expects from a QB. People don't know if he can do what's asked of him. I don't even think that Matt thinks he can do what's asked of him. He knows that he's struggling to know the plays but he's giving it all of his effort.

I don't think that he had any confidence whatsoever that he could lead the team until Coach Taylor took him out onto the football field and taught him to avoid the distractions. This was the most inspirational scene of the episode. There was something powerful about how the music rose with Saracen's voice getting louder. It was a fantastic scene that was brilliantly put together. My one minor quip about it was that I wish that they had ended the episode with that scene. It's not that I didn't like the cliffhanger with the kickoff, it's that this scene would have made a more inspirational ending.

There's another character who is trying to put himself in the position of team leader and that's Smash Williams. I don't particularly like this character because there's nothing humanizing about him. He's just an egotistical jackass who wants to take control of the team. Sure he's a talented football player, but that ego is out of this world. At least the show is using him correctly in giving him a rivalry with Tim Riggins. This story took some very interesting turns in this episode with them getting in a fight and then Smash getting with Tyra. I don't know if this is a long term arc, but it's interesting right now.

Some other thoughts:

  • Mrs. Coach now has a job. That should be an interesting story position for Tami and the relationship between Eric and Tami.
  • I love an opening credits sequence that captures a show perfectly, and this series' credits do a great job of capturing the show.
  • The scene with Coach and Street in the hospital was fantastic. The coach-player dynamic that the two of them have is great. They clearly care for each other and that works perfectly in this scene.
  • Taylor Kitsch has done a great job showing how Riggins was affected by the injury.
  • Speaking of Riggins, was that some chemistry I saw between Riggins and Lyla? 
  • Tyra doesn't do much beyond dumping Riggins and getting caught sleeping with Smash. 
Overall, this was a strong continuation of the ideas that were set up in the pilot. I really like how they didn't shy away from anything and the showed the impact of Street's injury on the community in a very realistic way.

What did everyone else think?

Wednesday: FNL returns to its normal night as I review the third episode "Wind Sprints"

For more information about the Old TV Watch Project and an archive of previous FNL reviews, please go to the home of the project right here.

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