Sunday, September 19, 2010

Friday Night Lights 4.08: "Toilet Bowl"

“We’re not scrappers anymore. We’re Lions. And this is our time. This is your time.”

The name of this episode brought me back to the classic Season 1 episode of “Friday Night Lights” called “Mud Bowl.” “Mud Bowl” was a truly epic episode on so many levels, and I don’t think “Toilet Bowl” quite measured up. It didn’t really have either the heart or the intense drama. Don’t get me wrong, any episode of “Friday Night Lights” is better than most anything else on TV, but this particular episode just didn’t measure up to the best of Season 1. All the usual plots are still brewing, although now we’re focusing a little more on Julie trying to move on with her life, and a bit on one particular football game, the aforementioned “Toilet Bowl.” There are a bunch of other stories swirling around in the mix that was this episode, too, of course.

East Dillon has a game this Friday against another bottom of the barrel team, so Slammin’ Sammy and his listeners have dubbed the game the “Toilet Bowl.” Coach is doing his best to help his players overcome all that, though, framing the situation as an opportunity to actually get a W on their record as opposed to a game between two losers. He wants his boys to believe it’s their time to actually have some success because they’ve put in so much hard work. It doesn’t help that at one point, the team arrives to practice to find out that someone has put an actual toilet on the field. To make matters worse, Luke is playing hurt. His injury from the ranch wasn’t career ending, but it looks nasty and painful. Luke tries to hide his pain for a while, but after taking one too many hits at practice, he can’t take it anymore. He goes to Tim for advice on how to score more painkillers, because he’s gone through three week’s worth in one. Tim directs Luke to a doctor who will give him the meds if Luke answers four questions correctly. As I’ve been saying about a lot of this season’s plots, this can’t end well.

There’s more going on in the Taylor household than just getting ready for a big football game. In fact, the episode opens with the Taylor house in complete chaos. Julie has a college admissions interview up at Boston College, and Tami is going with her. Julie isn’t really especially thrilled at the prospect. She accuses Tami of projecting her own former dreams of going to Boston College on to her daughter. Tami patiently cuts through all of that, though, because she’s awesome. Although there is one moment that doesn’t really help Tami’s case. She and Julie are sitting in on a literature class, and Tami only slightly reluctantly answers one of the teacher’s questions. Julie is, understandably, mortified.

Most of the time, though, Tami just keeps telling Julie over and over that she’ll support whatever Julie wants to do college-wise. Boston College may have been her top choice school, but it doesn’t have to be Julie’s. Gradually, the real reasons Julie is upset start to surface. First of all, she feels like the whole college interview process is fake. I felt like saying, “Hey Jules, if you think the college interview process is bad, try interviewing for a job!” There are whole books on what to say and what not to say to land a job. I mean, you can’t lie about credentials, obviously, but there are things employers want to hear, and things they don’t want to hear, and with so many applicants for every job these days, you have to hit the points perfectly. Our Jules is in for a rude awakening. Anyway, Julie finally gets together, and when asked in the interview what makes her unique, she talks about her hometown, and how although she’s always wanted to escape it, she’s going to miss it when she’s gone.

Julie isn’t the only one interviewing in this episode. Tim is in his usual buzzed state when he gets a call from Mindy. Her toilet is backed up, and Billy isn’t home to take care of it. Becky has to drive Tim over to Billy and Mindy’s house in Tim’s truck, which is really quite hilarious, because Becky has never driven stick before. Anyway, Mindy reveals that she suspects Billy might be having an affair. He constantly says he has to work late. Tim assures Mindy that his brother wouldn’t do such a thing, but he also has to check out the situation himself. It turns out that Billy is using Riggins Rigs to do some chop shop business for Vince’s friend he talked to in the last episode. At first, Tim is disgusted. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with Riggins Rigs anymore. With the help of Becky, he tries to interview for a job at Sears (there they go with that product placement again).

Tim really needs the money from a decent job to buy his dream land. He visits the Realtor selling the land, and she gives him a reality check about the price. When he doesn’t get the job at Sears, Tim gets desperate. First he takes Becky to see the land, and she kisses him again, which is just plain squicky. Tim puts a stop to it again, but not as quickly as he did the last time. Tim then makes a decision that will probably directly lead to how Taylor Kitsch is written off the show. He tells Billy that he wants in on the chop shop. The last image of the episode is the Riggins boys taking a vehicle apart, one of their State rings glinting in the light. It’s little moments like that which make even middling episodes of “Friday Night Lights” stand out.

We can’t get through an episode of “Friday Night Lights” these days without some Landry/Jess/Vince drama. Landry asks Jess out yet again, and this time she accepts. Soon afterwards, she and her brothers are at the grocery store when they run into Vince and his mom. Vince is great with the kids, and when Vince’s mom asks Jess to dinner, Jess accepts that invitation as well. Jess ends up postponing the date with Landry so she can go to the dinner at Vince’s house. Vince’s mom is a serious Jess/Vince shipper. She starts babbling on and on about how great Jess is, and she prompts Vince to say that he thinks Jess is “gorgeous.” The date with Landry doesn’t go quite as well. Jess brings her brothers along, for one thing. Then, as Landry’s dropping the crew off at their house, Jess’ little brothers start teasing about if Landry and Jess are going to kiss, and how Vince is going to kick Landry’s butt.

Time to wrap up this post with some football. Buddy is on a mission to make the Lions a success, and he manages to sell a Spanish language radio station on broadcasting Lions games. At that Friday’s game, Buddy gets to play broadcaster, and he’s actually quite good at it. Anyway, the Lions actually have a chance at this game. They have an early lead, and Landry kicks an impressive field goal to make the lead even wider. Then things start to go south. Vince does not have a good game at all. Luke manages to play through the pain, though, and Vince does eventually get a few plays together, and the Lions actually manage to win their first game of the season.

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