I know you probably haven’t been watching, since the show is airing exclusively on DirecTV, but Friday Night Lights has gone to a new level of fantastic this season. The show’s third season has easily become the best so far and we’re just five episodes in. Since you probably haven’t been able to keep up with the show, I’m going to let you know what’s going on since you last checked on on the gang in Dillon, Texas. Beware, if you plan on watching these episodes at some point in the future, spoilers will follow.
Season two left off (due to the WGA strike) while the Panthers will still in the playoffs, and star running back Brian “Smash” Williams was suspended and had lost his ride to college. As we find out to start this year, Dillon lost in the playoffs when Smash returned, and in the game they lost, the star running back torn up his knee and subsequently lost his shot at a college scholarship. He starts the third season off working at a fast food joint in town and sulking about his lost career, as coach Taylor holds private workouts with him before school every morning in hopes of a walk-on tryout somewhere.
In the wake of the loss people began questioning Taylor’s offensive strategy and the talent – or lack thereof – possessed by quarterback Matt Saracen. Saracen also finds himself besieged on another front by new freshman phenom quarterback, J.D. McCoy. McCoy and his stereotypically overzealous parents have moved to Dillon specifically so he can play for coach Taylor and the Panthers. J.D. has won all kinds of state-wide notoriety for his ability and brings all the talent in the world to his spot as Saracen’s backup.
Taylor also feels pressure from the town and local boosters to switch to the spread offense, since Smash is no longer around to carry the ball and they have to rely on local poon-hound and Dillon High School fullback, Tim Riggins to carry the load now. Speaking of Riggins, the season opens with him in a loving relationship with everyone’s favorite Dillon resident and Derek Jeter’s current hole, Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly). While her father buddy objects to the union because he doesn’t want his daughter catching any of the 47 venereal diseases currently inhabiting Riggins’ body, the relationship seems to be stable.
Speaking of Buddy Garrity, he has bumped heads with Dillon High School’s new principal, none other than Tami Taylor. He raised money for a JumboTron at the football field, but Principal Taylor attempted to appropriate the funds to get new supplies for the school. Naturally, since this is Texas, she was rebuffed in her efforts.
The other member of the Taylor clan, daughter Julie, is clearly wanting to get back together with Saracen and rekindle their incredibly boring relationship.
As the season has progressed we’ve seen that Saracen’s life really sucks. The team is currently 3-1, and the one loss was after a Saracen scramble to the goal line fell just short on the game’s final play. Everyone is pushing for McCoy to start, and coach Taylor finally caved during the last episode, benching his senior starter who led the team to a state title game. On top of all that, Saracen is taking care of his annoying grandmother while his father is in Iraq, and at one point goes to find his mother so she can sign a paper making him an emancipated minor. That encounter leads his mom to move to Dillon to help him, but right as they begin to work out their issues, Saracen finds out he’s been benched. He even tried to quit the team but Taylor wouldn’t let him, meaning that Taylor has to watch everyday with Saracen as a reminder that he sold out his soul to try and win with the flashy freshman.
Back to Smash and his injury. Taylor convinces the running back that his knee is fine and to stop thinking he no longer has his gift. Taylor arranges a tryout with Texas A&M, and Smash dazzles, earning a spot as a walk-on. I really like the way they’ve moved Smash off the show, not by just forgetting he ever existed, but by actually writing a storyline that worked within the plot and puts him in a position where he could come back from time to time.
Crippled former star quarterback Jason Street has also made an appearance this year. He’s still living with his fellow quad-rugby playing friend Herc, and the waitress he knocked up at the end of last season has had the couple’s baby. Erin (Street’s baby-mama), is frazzled with the couple’s lack of money and decided to take the baby and move “back East” with her family, despite Street’s best efforts to earn some extra cash by flipping houses – something he knows nothing about.
I figure I should also mention that local blonde goddess, Tyra Collette, has decided rather than let local bumbling idiot, Landry Clarke, down easily, she should just start banging a pill-popping, rodeo-competing, cowboy instead. So the scenes between Saracen and Landry have been especially awkward in recent episodes.
That’s about as much as a wrap up as I can give right now. But let me say this: This season’s drama has actually felt real. The dilemmas the characters are facing are more realistic and rooted in the real world. At times in the past the show has had storylines that felt like an after school special, but this season has none of that. It’s easily the best season so far, and I really hope it stays that way. The real hope I have is that people start watching this damn show because it’s so freaking good and the morons at NBC have allowed it to be marginalized and not put it in good time slots before relegating it to DirecTV. I swear if they kill this show and Life (which you should also be watching – every Wednesday nights at 9 p.m.) they should all lose their jobs.