Friday Night Lights is a genuinely family-friendly program, meaning that it can appeal to viewers of all ages, and is never particularly provocative or controversial, so you’ll excuse me when I say: FUCK YES! We’re back! And there’s a lot of catching up to do. Between the writers’ strike and the constant threat of cancellation, season 2 ended abruptly and unsatisfactorily, leaving all the loose ends dangling. So, the Panthers made it to the playoffs, but Smash hurt his knee. And then he graduated. Tim Riggins has taken his place as tailback, but his beery lack of focus (classic Riggins!) is causing some trouble between him and Matt Saracen. What’s not causing trouble, apparently, is the fact that Tim Riggins has to be 35 years old at this point. In any case, the team is falling apart. But there’s a hot new freshman quarterback in from Dallas named JD McCoy. I bet he will stir things up! Meanwhile, Riggins and Lyla are secretly dating. Tyra and Landry broke up. Mrs. Taylor is the Dillon High Principal. And Buddy Garrity wants a Jumbotron. LET’S GET READY TO FOOOOTBALLLLLLLL.
Because of his injury, Smash has given up his dreams of going to college and is working full time at the Alamo Freeze, but Coach won’t give up on him. They’re running drills out on the field before school, trying to get that speed back up. “Why are you spending all this time on me, Coach, I graduated. I’m not your problem anymore.” Um, he’s spending all his time on you because HE’S COACH TAYLOR. He says it’s because he wants to get him into college so that he doesn’t have to see his ugly face anymore, because that is how you SHAPE MEN. Then he tells him not to forget to pick up those cones. Classic CT.
Tammy is finding out that it’s a lot harder to be Principal than she thought! The air conditioning is broken, and the school buses are over-crowded. Everyone needs something, and there simply isn’t the time or the money to get it all taken care of. The teachers or so fed up! And now here comes Buddy Garrity, talking about a Jumbotron from the boosters, when a Jumbotron is the last thing the school needs. They need books and pencils, Buddy Garrity! So Tammy re-allocates the money, because she is a strong-headed woman who knows what is the fair thing to do. She’s picking a fight with one of the most powerful men in Dillon. Tammy is really being put to the test, but I feel confident that she will rise above this. She is COACH TAYOR’S WIFE!
JD McCoy’s dad is pushing Coach Taylor hard to put his son in Friday night’s game (which will undoubtedly feature many lights). He tries to bribe him with fine whiskey and illegal Cuban cigars. Um, looks like someone doesn’t know Coach Taylor. What a joke! You can’t bribe him! He SHAPES BOYS INTO MEN. You think someone who does that can be bought like something in a Sharper Image catalog? THINK AGAIN, MR. MCCOY. He even tries to go after the players with the promise of delicious smoothies!
This Mr. McCoy is a real piece of work! But then, on Friday night, at the big game, when the Panthers are crushing it, 38-13, Coach decides in the final minutes to put JD McCoy in the game because there’s nothing to lose. McCoy makes a monster pass for a final-minutes touchdown. A radio announcer calls him “Jason Street reincarnate,” because of how Jason Street died (?). But despite the victory, you can just see the anguish on Matt Saracen’s face. :(. I trust Coach Taylor, and I know that he shapes all his boys into men, even the boys whose dads are acting like creeps, and I know that sometimes boys get shaped into men by being benched at the end of a game in which they performed tremendously, but even I’m having a tough time with this one.
After the victory party at Buddy Garrity’s Chevy dealership, something seems to be bothering Coach Taylor. Even the Dillon Panther highlight reel doesn’t seem to bring him any joy. He goes to Alamo Freeze and picks Smash up for a late night game of…racquetball? Where are they playing racquetball? At the high school? What high school as racquetball courts? DILLON HIGH, THAT’S WHICH HIGH SCHOOL. Coach gives one of his classic pep talks, telling Smash that if he wants to get into college and play football again, he, meaning Coach Taylor, won’t stop until they get him there. “Can I ask why this means so much to you?” Smash asks. “Because I need something good to happen.” It’s kind of a weird sentiment coming from a man with a newborn daughter who just won a football game. Kind of seems like a bunch of somethings good have happened. But don’t question it. He’s fucking Coach fucking Taylor!