Oh, I said bitch.

Friday Night Lights – Leave No One Behind
Julie deals with jealousy yet again, this time over her mom's bond with Tyra. Landry has a new love interest, Smash seeks guidance from Coach Taylor, and Matt loses perspective on what really matters.

As the ep opens, Saracen is left to care for his grandmother after Carlotta’s departure. He has a run of bad luck – his car breaks down, Smash is benched for the rest of the season – and he flies off the handle at the slightest provocation. In art class [finally, a second reference to Matt being arty], he is sullen and rude, and calls the teacher a bitch under his breath. When she asks what he said, Matt replies, “Oh, I said bitch.” I chuckled at that one. Anyway, he skips class and practice, and stops caring about everything.

While this turn in Saracen’s character certainly didn’t come out of nowhere, it seemed to come just a little bit late. Frankly I expected this to happen in the season opener. That being said, it was fantastically well done. While looking at motorcycles, Matt runs into Riggins, who “always skips Wednesdays” and takes him drinking. Matt gets drunk and rants about Carlotta. The scenes involving Tim Riggins always have the best lines, and this was no exception: Matt calling Carlotta “the breakup fairy,” Riggins asking "So you want a funnel, or...?" after Matt downs a beer, Riggins telling Chris “you look great, you have great hair,” and Matt calling “Shalom”! when he sees Lyla and Chris. AND, we learn that Riggins consistently goes to the restaurant at which Lyla and Chris eat lunch daily. Though little time was spent on this, he’s obviously hoping to drive a wedge between them.

Riggins takes drunk Matt to practice, where he keeping fucking up. Mac asks Eric if he can smell the alcohol on Matt, and Eric tightly replies, “No. I don’t.” Much like the Street of first season, Saracen is Eric’s “meal ticket,” especially with Smash on the bench. And speaking of Smash, he is horrified that Matt has chosen Riggins as his new role model. There has been a lot of animosity between Matt and Smash this season, but this simple line made me realize that perhaps Smash wants Matt to look up to him. I don’t know, maybe I’m reading too much into it, but Smash is a big-time senior football star with a huge ego [and is also a big brother], and it must bug him that little sophomore Matty Saracen doesn’t come to him instead.

Another day, Riggins and Matt are drinking at the Landing Strip when Matt gets a call that his grandmother is in the hospital. Since Matt is wasted, the hospital calls Eric, and when they get home Eric throws Matt into the tub [literally] and starts yelling at him. And finally, finally, Matt Saracen breaks down, screaming, “You left me for a better job. Your daughter left me for a better guy. Carlotta left me for Guatemala. My dad left me for a damn war. Everybody leaves me. Is there something wrong with me?"

In Taylor family land, Julie is preparing to take her driving test, to which Tami will accompany her. Jules is increasingly jealous of her mother’s devotion to the volleyball team, and especially of her growing bond with Tyra. She feels neglected. After the VB team wins a game, Tami invites the girls back to her house to celebrate, completely forgetting about Julie’s test. This storyline had some real potential – Julie actually having a reason to be a brat for once – but unfortunately it was wrapped up by the ep’s close. Tami takes Julie to the DMV and begs the guy closing down the office to let Jules take the test. And he relents. The one good thing about this scene, for me, was when Tami tried to use her connection to the Panthers to convince the guy and he replied, "I hate football."

In angsty relationship land, Jean approaches Tyra to find out if she’s competition for Landry’s affection, but Tyra assures Jean they are just friends. [And via some wonderful camera work, we see that little Jean only comes up to Tyra’s boobs. Awesome.] However, when Tyra sees Landry and Jean together, she broods. Tyra asks her mother and Tami for advice, which has an interesting outcome in that neither woman seems to believe that Tyra could actually like Landry. Tami says that she had a similar problem in high school and she finally decided it wasn’t fair to the boy, and Tyra’s mom says that she has always liked the chase more than the finale. Tyra interrupts Landry and Jean’s date and, with no stammering or attempted evasion, tells Landry that she likes him and wants to give their relationship a shot. However, Landry says that it is nice to be with someone who isn’t embarrassed of him, and turns her down. Naturally this can’t last, and the next day Landry breaks up with Jean, arrives on Tyra’s doorstep, and kisses her.

In dethroned prince land, Smash is feeling the wrath of the team for getting benched. After his scholarship from TMU is revoked for “questionable character,” he goes to Eric for guidance and has a nice moment with his mother. At the end of the ep, he appears in the locker room before a game to put on a happy face, wish his team luck, and give them an enthusiastic pep talk. Once they all run out, though, there is a nice long shot of Smash standing alone in the locker room, where he breaks down in tears.

I never much liked Smash until recent eps, and although I enjoy this storyline I admit it is a bit ridiculous. First, in reality high school athletes have done truly terrible things with few consequences. This story might make you want to punch someone yourself. Second, with Smash as such a hot commodity, would this one [relatively] benign incident – in which he punched a kid for making racist comments – really be his undoing? My friends Pants and I were talking about Smash last week, and I made an offhand comment about how I hoped they didn't use the punching incident as a reason to keep him in Dillon. Now I'm extra wary.

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