FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS Review – “Leave No One Behind” (S02E14)

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS - Zach Gilford as Matt Saracen in “Leave No One Behind”

Araya is back!

Goddamn it, it may walk like a soap opera and talk like a soap opera, what with all that cryin’ and heavy-hearted romance and lady-type feelings, but hell I just can’t quit you FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.

That would be like asking:

Landry to quit Tyra.

Riggins to quit beer.

Julie to quit being a spoiled brat.

Saracen to quit being an emotional piñata.

Buddy to quit giving characters from struggling plot lines jobs as car salesmen.

Lyla to quit fooling herself.

Smash to quit getting in trouble a couple times a season.

Coach Taylor to quit doing that squinty eyed “I am gonna kick your ass” glare.

Street to quit that wheelchair.

No sir. No way. They can’t do it and I can’t give you up. Yeah, your volleyball scenes are more fake than Kim Kardashian’s ass (Tyra couldn’t spell “athletic”), but who cares?

If I have to endure some Top-Gun-volleyball-scenes editing (the spike shots are never believable) so that I can watch her get all twisted because it turns out Landry can be of interest to the opposite sex, then it’s all worth it.

By the way, Landry is making a mistake by going back to Tyra. As soon as she is safe in the knowledge that she can still bend him round her little finger, she’ll become restless and dump him all over again.

With that challenge won it’s poof, be gone Landry, Tyra needs a guy that’s not into reading books.

And was it just me or was it difficult to watch Landry kiss Tyra right before he left for the big make-or-break-the-season game that Smash’s indiscretions put in jeopardy? I found myself shielding my eyes with my hands it was so awkward – sort of like when I watched that Tom Cruise Scientology video.

I don’t know, ever since we moved passed the murder plot line and Tyra’s initial infatuation with the novelty of having any man truly love her, I am beginning to find it hard to swallow that she still wants Landry. What does that say about me? That I am a shallow pig, with no sense of romance? Hmmm, note to self, look into this.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS - Gaius Charles as Brian “Smash” Williams in “Leave No One Behind”

Anyway, if I had to pick my favorite scenes this week (Smash with his momma ran a close second – Momma Smash should get an Emmy) they would all include Saracen and whatever he was doing. What is it about watching downward spirals that’s so damn compelling?

All I know is that I saw Saracen come to the end of his teenage ability to suffer the slings and arrows of encroaching adulthood and feelings of abandonment, and it provided me with some sort of emotional release. I was like: “Yeah boy, get mad at the world. Just get pissed off.”

Maybe I am always looking for the build up to some cathartic moment when I watch Friday Night Lights, and why not, it usually delivers.

In this week’s episode that moment comes when Coach Taylor (after rescuing his star QB from the hospital he is too drunk to take his grandma home from), grabs Saracen by the collar and throws him in his grandma’s tub so that he can turn the cold shower on his inebriated ass. That’s when Saracen, who spent the entire episode cutting school and drinking beer with Riggins, verbalizes everything that he’s acting out:

Coach Taylor (yelling): Do you know how many people depend on you to make good decisions? Huh, do you have any idea? Your grandmother, your friends, your teammates. You better start making them. You better stop being so damn selfish and stop being sorry for yourself

Saracen (also yelling): Shut up, just shut up. You don’t care about me. 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. What’s wrong with me?”

And scene.

Powerful, passionate shit. Maybe my all time favorite Friday Night Lights moment.

And I can’t help but think back on an earlier scene where Saracens, in a drunken moment of self-confession, admits to Riggins that he admires him for being even-keeled and unaffected by the vagaries of life. Truth be told he admits, he wants to be like Riggins, who he believes knows some secret way to avoid the pain that is very much a part of life.

Poor Saracen. If he only knew that deep down Riggins, who leads a life of quiet (and, at times, not so quiet) desperation is perhaps the most affected of all.