Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Friday Night Lights 4.06: "Stay"

“See, I don’t know if you know this, but I’m kind of a moment-to-moment kind of guy. So three days? I can work with that.”

“Stay” was a rather emotionally painful episode of “Friday Night Lights,” as many episodes tend to be. FNL is really “eat your vegetables” television. It’s not light and fluffy and easy to digest, but it’s good because it makes you feel and think. This episode suffered a bit from once again trying to juggle too many stories, but all the stories were at least tied together by one common theme. That was whether or not various characters should stay in Dillon or seek bigger and better things. Even though we haven’t seen much in the way of football games this season, football is very much still a presence looming over everything. I wish it was dealt with a little more directly, actually, although this episode had more football material than most. I really find the original concept of how football owns this small town to be fascinating.

This week’s Lions game is against McNulty, a school that is undefeated this season. The Panthers aren’t expected to beat McNulty let alone the Lions. Slammin’ Sammy is running his mouth about it on the radio as always. Luke is running to work off the stress, and Vince’s friends are giving him crap about it at the barbershop. To make things even worse, the game is going to be televised, so a wider audience will be able to see the Lions’ humiliation. Coach wants to keep the interaction with the press low key, but the assistant coach kind of blows that plan out of the water when, at a press conference, he guarantees victory. That can’t possibly end well.

Most of the plots going on in this episode that go with the “Stay” theme, however, aren’t football related. First off, Julie has tickets to the Austin Independent Music Festival. Which sounds pretty darn awesome to me, considering I’m a major indie snob. Matt’s a little reluctant at first, which makes sense, considering he’s more of a country music, meat-and-potatoes kind of guy (albeit a very endearing one), but when Julie explains that she got the tickets to get him away from Dillon and the aftermath of his father’s death for a little while, he agrees to go. There’s just one snag. Tami says there is absolutely no way Julie is taking several days off school to go to a music festival with her boyfriend. Coach has no choice but to agree, although I think he’d probably agree anyway.

Elsewhere, Lyla and Tim are spending some quality time together following their reunion at the funeral of Matt’s dad. It turns out that Lyla didn’t just come home for the funeral (which would have made no sense, as I mentioned in my post about “The Son"). She was home on fall break. Anyway, she shows up at Tim’s trailer, which obviously must result in a night of hot sex. Lyla mentions that she’ll only be home in Texas for three days before she has to go back to school, but Tim is okay with that. The mood is broken the next morning, however, when Becky knocks on the door. It’s quite awkward given Becky’s massive crush on Tim. When Becky sees that Tim has a woman with him in the trailer, she runs off and cries. Poor, naïve Becky. She’s actually pretty annoying because she’s so naïve. Really Becky? You’re pinning all your hopes for the future on Tim Riggins? Sure he’s ridiculously hot, but I don’t exactly see him having much in the way of prospects.

Matt and Julie end up going to Austin despite Tami forbidding it. Only Matt doesn’t realize that she’s forbidden it. Sweet gullible, Matt. There’s a scene where they are just adorable in their hotel room, dancing to an oldies song on the radio. Matt wants to dance because the music is “pretty.” Juxtaposed with that is Tami back in Dillon being really, really pissed that her daughter ran off to Austin. She first finds out about it from her secretary at the school, and she spends much of the episode leaving Julie countless voice mails and threatening to drive to Austin and find them. What I kind of loved about the voice mails was how proper Texas mom they were. The words were polite, but the tone was anything but.

There’s a little non-theme related drama that the writers manage to slip in, too. Landry tries to talk to Jess about their kiss, and he just gets a slap for his trouble. Probably because he babbled on too long and started talking about Tyra. Vince goes to the barbecue restaurant and harasses Jess until Jess’ dad tells Vince he’s going to have to take his food to go. There’s also the obligatory Lions/Panthers confrontation at Sears, where the assistant coach has let a few of the Lions watch game tape on the flat screen TVs. It was a product placement disguised as plot development, but that was okay because the product placement wasn’t as intrusive as other examples, like the obviously shoehorned in conversations about the Ford in “White Collar.” FNL has always done a decent job with product placement, dating all the way back to the Dillon Applebee’s in Season 1. Anyway, to make things even more complicated for Vince, his mom wants to come to the football game. I’m sure this is her being all supportive just to set Vince up for a big letdown. The Lions end up not winning the game, but they do much better than anyone expected. They score the first touchdown, and they lose by a respectable margin.

Back to the “Stay” theme related plots, Tim brought Billy along to help him at Lions practice, and afterwards, they go out to dinner with Mindy and Lyla. Lyla gets a firsthand view of what life is like as a Riggins woman. Later, she and Becky have a conversation about college. It turns out Lyla had been homesick while at school. She’s conflicted about whether she belongs at college or in Dillon, although it’s pretty clear that her ultimate decision will not be to stay in Dillon. This scene felt very real to me. I experienced those feelings of homesickness and conflict between home and school when I was a college freshman myself. Knowing that Lyla is pretty decided on leaving makes it especially sad when Tim starts telling her about his plans for their life together. He says that Riggins Rigs will need an office manager once they get off the ground. Lyla doesn’t come out and say it, but it’s obvious that’s not the life she wants.

While in Austin, the whole “Matt doesn’t want to stay in Dillon and Julie is holding him back” argument came up again. Both Matt and Julie tried to sweep it under the rug, but it just wouldn’t go away. When Julie gets home, she completely breaks down, because she knows that Matt is probably leaving. Tami is pissed at first but melts as soon as she sees how upset Julie is. At the end of the episode, Julie and Tim are left picking up the pieces after their loved ones leave. Tim does so by drinking and trying to get Becky to not talk to him for once. Julie is comforted by Tami. Meanwhile, the final image of the episode is Matt driving away from Dillon fast as he can, looking like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders.

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