Thursday, April 7, 2011

Friday Night Lights 4.11: "Injury List"

“Dear Lord, please let me get some more drugs before Friday.”

“Injury List” wasn’t an especially coherent episode of “Friday Night Lights.” I didn’t really feel a theme tying everything together other than the fact that things go from bad to worse for almost every character. You know how all the things that have been set up earlier in the season have made me say “this can’t end well.” Well, those dominoes are starting to fall with a vengeance. And it’s driving Coach to drink, which is not something I ever thought I’d see. It’s not a big deal that he likes to have a beer, it’s more that he’s using it as a way to avoid his home life. I assume the Taylors will work out their issues sooner rather than later, given that they have a record of being the healthiest portrayal of a marriage on TV, but seeing them even a little out of synch is kind of painful.

The episode opens with Coach giving an interview on Buddy’s new radio show. Everyone, including Buddy and the callers, just wants to talk about the game against the Panthers that is coming up in two weeks. This does not make Coach happy at all. He insists he only wants to talk about this week’s game because he wants his players to be able to focus on one game at a time. There’s a little something personal to his request, too, though. We seem him drive past Hermann Field (where the Panther’s play) after the radio show. He stops on the side of the road and just looks. Clearly playing against his old team is bringing up a lot of feelings for Coach. I miss the Panthers, too, even if they became pretty evil after Coach left.

Luke wants to be able to play in this Friday’s game, but his hip injury from the farming accident isn’t cooperating. He tries to get his prescription filled, but the pharmacist refuses because it hasn’t been very long since the last time he got it filled. I was wondering if the writers had let this plot fall by the wayside, but I really should have had more faith. Later at Lions practice, we see Luke popping the last of his pain pills. That evening, his mom reminds him to say his prayers, and he sarcastically prays for more drugs when she leaves the room. He makes the really stupid decision to go to Carroll Park to score some more oxycontin, but nobody there will sell to him. At practice the next day, Tinker calls Luke on seeing him trying to buy drugs at Carroll Park, but Luke insists there’s nothing wrong.

Everyone finally sees how wrong things really are on Friday night’s game. Luke keeps running out of bounds before he can get tackled, and he begs Vince to run a play to the right instead of the left (so he won’t fall on his bruise). Tinker backs Luke up, because he’s figured out Luke is hurt. Coach won’t stand for his players disobeying him, though, so Luke only gets one play of relief before he has to start going left again. Luke gets tackled, and this time, he has quite a lot of trouble getting up. The trainer looks at his hip and says his season is over. Coach is furious that Luke kept this from him, because now he won’t be able to play against the Panthers next week.

Luke has also been dealing with trouble in his personal life, too. His mom stops by Becky’s house because she wants to meet the girl her son got pregnant and “understand” her choice to have an abortion. Becky tells Luke the conversation went well, but next thing we know, Tami’s getting called into the school district office to explain why she advised a girl to have an abortion. Mrs. Cafferty (Luke’s mom) wants her fired. Tami explains that she just laid out all the options and listened- she didn’t advocate one option over another. It’s too late, though, the matter is going before the whole school board. There’s one woman on the board who is especially upset by this, and she makes quite a fuss at the hearing. It’s ridiculous, really. When Tami tries to explain what really happened, this woman starts going all “are you calling me a liar?” on her. Nevertheless, the school board votes to let Tami keep her job, and Mrs. Cafferty vents her frustration to a very upset Luke (he’s upset that his mom is causing such a fuss). This isn’t over by a long shot, though. Tami gets a troubling late night phone call from the local newspaper asking her to comment on the incident.

Becky has plenty of problems to deal with in this episode besides the abortion. Tim has put a cash deposit down on his land (I have no idea why that raised no red flags), and he takes Becky and her mom out to celebrate. It’s obvious that simply because he’s being nice (and okay, he’s kind of ridiculously hot), Becky’s mom is wanting to start something romantic up with him again. Late that night, she tops by Tim’s trailer, and he turns her down. The next night while Becky’s mom is at work, Becky asks Tim to watch a movie with her because she doesn’t want to be alone. She’s in her nightgown and bathrobe, and I already can tell that this can’t end well. They watch Thelma and Louise in the master bedroom, and Becky falls asleep (still fully clothed). This is how her mom finds them when she gets home. Even though nothing actually happened, Becky’s mom is furious. She’s convinced Tim and Becky must be sleeping together and that’s why Tim rejected her own advances. And so Tim gets himself thrown out of someone’s house for a misunderstanding about a teenage girl for the second time of the series (the first was with Julie in season 2 in case you’ve blocked that whole season from your memory…and I wouldn’t blame you). At the end of the episode, there’s a sweet scene where Becky stops by Riggins Rigs to thank Tim for sticking by her and remind him that he’s a good person.

Vince is the last character in this episode to have really serious issues. He’s back to running with his old crew to pay for his mom’s rehab, and they’re asking him to do some not very nice things, to say the least. He hesitates in beating somebody up, which puts him on a sort of probation with the other thugs. The next time he is called to help the crew collect a debt, they leave him to drive the getaway car because they don’t trust him to follow through with the other part of the job. His friend Calvin, who usually drives the getaway car, ends up going with the group to do the collecting instead, and he is fatally shot. Vince ends up sobbing on Jessica’s shoulder about the whole thing by the end of the episode. Jess visited Vince’s mom at one point in this episode, too, which was some of Jurnee Smolett’s better work in this series. I’m thinking she’s not going to be with Landry much longer. She can’t resist the bad boy with a heart of gold.

Speaking of Jess and Landry, they’re having some trouble fitting into each other’s worlds. Jess has dinner with Landry’s family, and it’s awkward as all get-out. There’s talk of how busy Jess’ mom must have been to give Jess so many siblings and talk about how Jess must like President Obama. Julie is also experiencing relationship issues. Just as she’s trying to sign up to work for Habitat like Ryan, Matt starts trying to pull her back into her old life. He’s in Chicago, and he keeps a picture of Julie in his apartment. I was so glad to see Matt again! Matt calls Julie several times in this episode, wanting to explain himself and let her know he misses her. She doesn’t really talk to him the first time, but the second time, she lets him speak. That doesn’t go over very well either, Julie is very deeply hurt that Matt left her, and I think she’s going to need some time to heal.

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