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06 April 2007 @ 01:26 pm
Friday Night Lights 1.21  
What Friday Night Lights does so well is set up conflicts in which both parties are sympathetic to the audience because we understand why, given their personal journeys, they take the approach they do, even if it appears irrational to the other party. This episode involved a lot of such conflict between key characters, beginning with Coach Taylor and his family.

Coach's decision to take the job in Austin has a huge impact on both Julie and his wife. Since she's still underage, the degree to which Julie's wishes should determine the fate of the family is arguable. But as soon as Tami herself started expressing doubts and regret about moving to Austin, the situation escalated to a whole new level. Because there are three people in the family, and keeping them together geographically may cause splits at an emotional level, which is what we're already seeing. Coach made a decision without Tami, against her express wishes. He did so because he was put on the spot. Tami puts a proposal to Coach in a consultative fashion, deliberately asks him not to make an instant decision, and he dismisses it. Imo, he owes her more respect than that, so I sympathise with her drawing a line herself, making a decision without him: that she won't leave Austin.

Many things played into her reaching this place, but without a doubt one of them was what happened with Tyra. It's one of life's little ironies that terrible events can have positive consequences, and I thought it was wonderful that despite how uncomfortable it made her feel temporarily, it quickly made Tyra more appreciative of Tami. They've grown close through this, which will make Tami's encouragement of Tyra's studies all the more likely to succeed. Tami is a mother figure to the kids of this town in the way that Coach is a father figure. Abandonning them is going to be hard for both of them, even if Coach hasn't faced that yet.

I love Tyra so much! She is both so vulnerable and so strong, and she's both a bitch and a warm-hearted girl. All these qualities were in evidence in this episode. While her immediate reaction was to deny/ignore what happened to her, she was also able to acknowledge that it probably was a good thing that she ended up telling the police. It made her feel shit (and I thought the photo-session showed succinctly how/why assault victims feel objectified as victims--it's necessary but highly unpleasant when you're already feeling bruised and vulnerable and are struggling to regain your sense of self), but the fact that she responded to Tami and apologised to Landry later shows she is able to see past those immediate feelings, which is a very good sign for her emotional and mental health.

I found the scene between Landry and Matt very moving. Landry was so vulnerable and frightened and he lashes out (mirroring Tyra's later lash-out at him) and attacks Matt. Matt has no idea what it's really all about. Yes, he jokes about Landry and Tyra, but he's not really bad-hearted about it--and he has no way of knowing the severity of what has just happened. Matt says he must tell someone because Matt's that kind of guy (and I love that he is), but for Landry this has serious consequences. He's breaking his word and he risks being reviled by the girl he likes. And it could have been much, much worse. All I can say, is thank god Tami was there, and thank god Landry had the sense to go to her, not the police straight off. Because I think Tyra's fears are partially justifiable. Without the appropriate support and counselling, reporting an assault can be a very scarring experience. And Tyra has no other support, as we heard when Landry confronted her about why she hadn't talked to anyone. But Tami provided enough emotional security to make Tyra be able to face doing so.

I'm very fond of Tim and Tyra as friends, so I was really pleased to see Tim suggest hanging out with Tyra, although I also totally think he would have gone for the comfort-sex if he could have! I love Tyra for seeing through it (yes, you are transparent, Tim!) and Landry for calling Tim's Texas-forever thing 'cute but pathetic'. Landry's speech was perfectly pitched to both hurt Tyra (she knows all this!) and to ultimately connect with her--because the type of guy he described, one who appreciates who she really is, is exactly what she would love to find but fears she never will, her looks only making that less likely because guys find it hard to see beyond that. Like Tyra herself, I haven't really paid much attention to Landry until now. He was 'Matt's amusing friend' and that's about it. But I liked the character growth in him in this episode and he suddenly feels like a far weightier character.

A lot of characters took an assertive stand in this episode, with positive consequences. I was so proud of Waverly for telling Smash what she needed so gracefully. She is obviously learning that she needs stability, but to ask for it from your partner at such a momentous time in his life is very difficult. She rightly assessed that she could ask him to respect her wishes but it would be a disaster if she demanded the same from him. But how beautiful that in drawing a line for herself, saying 'this is who I am and what I need right now, but you have to be you', it brought her closer to Smash. I'm a big believer in the idea that if one person makes a positive step towards healthy behaviour and self-assertion, others will respond in kind, and what a beautiful illustration of that: Smash bringing Waverly cake after the roast. She didn't expect him (she wasn't emotionally manipulating him in any way--that was clear), he could have gone off with the other girl (he was making a free choice of his own): omg, I LOVE them!

And go Lyla! I love that she's not taking any bullshit from anyone any more, least of all the men in her life. I have every sympathy for her walking out on her father's 'it'll be ok'/'everything will be the same' divorce chat. (Memo to parents: that sort of empty reassurance only works to lower you in the eyes of your children for they are not stupid.) And she's spot-on with Jason: he doesn't have the courage to tell her the truth. It's an interesting situation, because it means that Jason's self-image of himself as the 'wronged' party in the Tim debacle clashes with the reality here--that he too didn't have the courage to break up properly, but cheats and lies instead. I think he's struggling with what that means, and that shows in his hesitation with Susie, though he obviously likes her. Jason Street is not the 'good guy' any more.

I think he'll make an awesome Coach though. But again, we're set up for some interesting conflict, because Jason's all gung-ho and excited about getting to coach Saracen, while Saracen is pissed-off and sulky, knowing that Coach is about to leave him, taking his girlfriend with him. Pouring salt on the wounds, Jason has just stepped between Julie and Matt, not realising what a bad time it is to do so. Julie is oblivious to both Tyra's concerns and Matt's predicament and feels neglected by both... I predict some major fireworks, and I can't wait!

ETA: The deleted scenes (Tami & Tyra and Matt & Jason) are essential viewing! Thanks brandil!
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Current Location: home! yay! holiday!
Current Music: The Pixies--Where is my mind
 
 
 
brandil on April 6th, 2007 12:24 pm (UTC)
As always, every show you meta for, I read your posts, enjoy them either agree or disagree in my head and never comment. I'm SO sorry about that.

I'm not even really commenting now, just suggesting you watch the deleted scene from this week with Saracen and Street - it's heavy and painful and completely inspiring *g*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: FNL Matt and Juliebop_radar on April 7th, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)
Ohh, that sounds fabulous! Where can I obtain this scene? *goes off hunting*

Oh, and please feel free to return and comment any time! ;-) *waves invitingly at blank comments page* I know you have a different take on shows from me sometimes, but I'm always interested to hear your thoughts. I'm glad you enjoy reading anyway! (And I'm sure I've been guilty of reading your posts and not commenting too.)
brandil on April 7th, 2007 01:45 am (UTC)
I've since found a *better* scene with Tami and Tyra, go here http://www.nbc.com/Friday_Night_Lights/video/#mea=87577
The Street Saracen scene is #1 and the tami/tyra is at this link.

I really enjoy people's who's thoughts diverge from mine - that's what makes fandom IMO, not the persuading of people to your view *g*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: FNL Matt and Tyrabop_radar on April 7th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)
OMG, I am CRYING now! *weeps* That scene is incredible! Thank you so much! I love the way it shows how in the wake of this event Tyra's in danger of falling into unhealthy thinking patterns: blaming study for what happened, blaming herself. So realistic! Best portrayal of emotional reaction to assault ever.

that's what makes fandom IMO, not the persuading of people to your view *g*
Definitely! :-)
brandil on April 7th, 2007 12:24 pm (UTC)
It really, really is. It didn't feel like watching a bad drama, it felt like I was in the room and couldn't do anything but watch helplessly. AMAZING television.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: FNL Matt and Juliebop_radar on April 8th, 2007 12:42 am (UTC)
Yeah...! This show just blows me away time and time again.