My vacation last week meant that I didn't say anything about the incredibly good Friday Night Lights episode that aired while I was out. Since I had to re-watch that last night with my parents before watching the new episode, I'll recap them both now.
So Matt's dad was killed by an IED in Iraq and the town of Dillon has rallied to be there for he and Grandma in an incredibly touching way. Coach asks the Lions to attend the service. Julie and Landry try to distract Matt from the sadness with movies. Lyla comes home from college to attend the funeral. Buddy reminds Matt that no matter what kind of father he was, he was an American hero. Tami takes care of the funeral arrangements when it is clear that the funeral director is trying gouge Matt and Matt can't really deal ("With all due respect, does that boy look like he can afford to pay $9,000 to bury his father?"). Landry, Tim and Billy take Matt out drinking for distraction and to help him blow off steam. When they fail to distract him from his many emotions, they provide him with moral support when he goes to see his dad's body. After he has a meltdown over dinner at the Taylor's, Coach walks him home, which sounds less important than it actually is.
By the time we reach the end of the episode and Matt is dealing with his grief by shoveling dirt into the open grave while Julie stands by him and cries, there was not a dry eye in my house.
Elsewhere in Dillon, Becky's dad fails to attend her pageant but Tim shows up and that naturally increases her affection for him so after she is named second runner up, she kisses him and he tells her to keep her hands, lips and tongue to herself in the future. In a fit of teenage heartbreak she heads out for beer and candy which she's unable to buy (the beer at least) because she lacks ID. Fortunately for her, Luke happens to be at the store cleaning himself up after a paintball fight with "JD McDick" so he flirts with her a little and buys her the beer with his fake ID, and she accompanies him to the car wash...and to make out, if she's smart.
Speaking of the McDicks, did I mention they had the nerve to show up at the Saracen abode to "pay their respects" and got the door slammed in their faces for their troubles? It was awesome. Anyway, McDick Jr. was named co-player of the game along with Vince and both boys have to speak to the pop warner kids at the pancake breakfast. So Junior's talk is all "I'm awesome, ask anyone" while Vince's is more in the vein of "I'm in it for the money and the chicks."
In sporting news, the Lions lost their game, but through some great teamwork (particularly by Vince and Luke) and good plays, they managed to score two touchdowns and lose in a far less soul-crushing way than they had previously.
Trying to alleviate her own guilt over Matt's misery - he hates his towny life which he only has because he stayed in Dillon to be with her, is how she sees it - Julie buys them tickets to a music festival in Austin which her parents forbid her from attending. If you know Julie at all, you know that she goes anyway, pisses Tami off, and doesn't tell Matt that she is there against her parent's wishes.
Tami's motherly freak-out is top-to-bottom fantastic. It continues to be television's biggest travesty that Connie Britton has never even been nominated for an Emmy for her work on this show and though I'm sure that travesty will continue, I do not lie when I say that she was beyond Emmy-worthy in this episode. Anyway, she corners Landry at school to grill him for information on Julie's whereabouts and he tips Matt off to Julie's fugitive status. That sparks a fight between the young lovers where he tells her that her parents are the very last people he would ever want to disappoint and she tells him that she had to do this because she can't stand him being miserable in Dillon just for her any more. Matt asks if Julie would rather he not stay and Julie insists that she wants him to stay because she loves him too much to be without him, but they both know that this is one of those times that loving each other isn't enough to make the current situation work. So Julie comes home, distraught because while they didn't say it, both she and Matt know he's leaving. So Tami is braced for the ass-beating that she has intended to inflict on her daughter, but Julie tells her that Matt is going to leave and because Tami is nothing if not the most awesome mother in the world, she puts the fight on hold to comfort her heart-broken daughter.
And make no mistake, Matt does leave. Seemingly without a word even to Grandma, he leaves Dillon behind him for a fresh start somewhere else.
Saracen isn't the only one leaving a trail of broken hearts in Dillon and disappearing into the horizon. Lyla's return rekindles the flames between she and Riggins and sparks the dreamer within our little Timmy. He spends his time with her gazing lovingly into her eyes and trying to convince her to stay in Dillon with him and have a great life running Riggin's Rigs, confessing that the only thing he wants is her. Just as Matt and Julie had to come to terms with the love they have for each other not being enough to fix what was broken, Lyla understands that Tim's love alone isn't enough to fill her life. She leaves and breaks Tim's heart.
Becky, having shot Luke down because she's completely delusional about her relationship with Tim, attempts to comfort Tim by babbling endlessly until Tim asks her nicely to shut up and she obliges.
Landry decides that enough time has passed since his television-melting kiss with Jess that they should talk about it. So he lays it on the line that he likes her and he really enjoyed their kiss and he'd like to date her but at the same time, a part of his heart and mind still belong to his first love, Tyra, and he's not sure what to do about that. Jess, a woman of very few words but several completely baffling actions, slaps him in the face.
The Lions are playing their toughest competitor yet - a team that many think could be the Panthers main competition for state - and the game will be televised. Coach is trying to keep some order and prepare the boys to play hard against a really tough team but at the same time keep expectations realistic. The preparation is accomplished when he has the team scrimmage against the Riggins brothers who basically run roughshod over the entire Lions offense. Unfortunately Coach isn't able to control the expectations portion quite as well when that insane assistant coach of his guarantees a Lions victory in a TV interview. I was just about to send Jason Katims a letter demanding they fire that guy when Vince and Luke were hanging out in the Sears electronics department watching game tape - because that's the only DVD player they had access to use to watch it together - and Jr. McDick and his chromosomally challenged minions happened by to be offensive and demeaning. That's when Assistant Coach Nutbar jumped in and kicked their asses out of the store in the most deliciously menacing way I've seen in ages.
In the end, the Lions came ever-so-close to tying the game at 14, even without an actual quarterback, when Vince was sacked in the backfield on first and goal with no time left on the clock. It sounds heartbreaking, but Coach was absolutely right when he said they had nothing to be ashamed of. They came closer than any other team to beating this opponent and were the first team to score against them in 4 games. That's something to be proud of when you're as extreme an underdog as the Lions.
Farewell Lyla and Matt, you will be missed. You'll live on in our hearts and DVD collections forever.