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Friday Night Lights Fodder

Friday Night Lights: Landry Clarke 2.0

Previously, in football- drama-town, Texas: Landry and Tyra killed her stalker and covered it up. Fans didn't like that so much. And yeah, a few other things happened--a Taylor baby popped out, Julie and Matt are on the rocks, Buddy Garrity's on a downward spiral--but seriously. Landry and Tyra killed a man. Sort of overshadows whether Tim and Lyla are getting back together, you know?

Season two, episode two: Bad Ideas
Watch the episode here.

The upshot to the whole murder plot (which continues as Landry first worries that his engraved watch got lost with the body, and then has problems with his guilt throughout the episode), is that he and Tyra are getting much more screen time. But while actor Jesse Plemons clearly is stronger than second banana, funny sidekick status, it felt weird to have Landry mixing jokes with reflections on the killing. Gallows humor much?

There's no question that this weird storyline is pushing the unlikely duo together, with the strongest scene coming as tough girl Tyra lectures Landry to "be a man"--and get over wrestling with his guilt--which prompts him to tell her off. According to Landry, being a stone-cold killer isn't his idea of a man, so he feels sad for Tyra if that's how she defines one; yet while Landry's tormented over bashing the brains of her stalker, he'd do it all again because he's in love with her--and she must know that by now.

Well, Landry may have lost his innocence, but by the looks of a tearful Tyra appearing in his bedroom at episode's end...he may be losing something else, too...

Like sleep! I think it was a school night.

(Oh, and Landry made the football team somehow too, despite spending more time on the turf than lined up in a three-point stance. Honestly, the guy is the worst fictional high school football player I may have ever seen. So...wha? Maybe they need fodder for blowouts. Still, an onlooking Poppa Police Officer Clarke is proud of his son. Something tells me that might change...)

(And what's Poppa Clarke--not officially affiliated with the team--doing on the sidelines? Didn't Coach McGregor close practice last week?)

The single life
Yes, there was more to this episode than Landry...I just can't get over his storyline. But did you notice that every character struggled through this episode?

Trying to care for a baby, Mrs. coach is falling apart without her husband around. Trying to deal with Dillon High's many student problems, Glen--a science teacher-turned-fill-in guidance counselor--is suffering without Tami around, so he takes some work over to her house. And maybe not the world's greatest decision; before long, she post-partum wigs out and, frankly, he's a little scared of her. Yet by the end of the episode, it's Glen who's picking her up at the hospital, after Tami's poor decision to walk the baby in the 105 degree heat culminated in a fever for little Grace. Nice guy; he seems like a giant, older version of goofy, well-meaning Matt Saracen. Not to mention, totally calls Mrs. coach on the poor decision to have Taylor up in Austin while she raises the baby apart from him.

Also embarking on time apart are Matt and Julie, although it's not his choice. Rather, Julie's going through an angsty, 16-year-old girl phase--with her emotions complicated by the sleazy "Swede," a total Wooderson-wannabe who keeps hitting on Julie--and tells Matt that she's changing and it's all her and nothing he did. Poor Matt. Actor Zach Gilford plays this well; guy looks like he got sucker punched as he stomps away. About the only good thing for Matt--and probably, for anyone this episode--is that he finally gets a live-in nurse for his unstable grandma. It seems pricey, but maybe the government picks it up? Anyway, if nurse "Carlotta" was supposed to come off as well-meaning yet somewhat annoying, well producers, you totally nailed it.

Finally, we see a glimpse into coach's life up at TMU. As a rookie on the college level, he feels very outside-looking-in, and Mrs. coach's advice--"make yourself indispensable"--is proving hard to follow. Taylor's first task this ep isn't teaching a quarterback or drawing up a game plan. No, he has to escort a spoiled player to an eligibility hearing (the player took free tickets to a Justin Timberlake conference) while TMU's head coach makes it clear they can run practice without Taylor. But what looks to be rote babysitting turns into an opportunity for coach. Taylor lectures the heck out of the spoiled "Antwan"--the guy makes Smash look humble--and then articulately pleads the player's case in front of the review board, winning Antwan only a three-game suspension. The lecture and minimal suspension draw the attention of TMU's head coach, who tells Taylor, "I bet you were a great high school football coach." Neither coach nor I are sure that's a compliment.

Odds that the impromptu lecture for Antwan has consequences for Taylor next episode? I'm just thinking, yelling at future NFL choices might not be in a rookie coach's best interest. Medium-to-high.

Buddy: The crumbling of an icon
Meanwhile, the show continues to humanize car salesman and #1 Panther fan Buddy Garrity. Last season, he was one of the town's leading personalities...until he got caught cheating on his wife. This year, Buddy's suffering all the consequences: He has limited visitation rights with his kids, while his yet-to-be-divorced wife has a new boyfriend; the new coach kicked him out of practice, so he can't watch the beloved Panthers except on Friday nights; and the other boosters have stripped his car dealership of the annual season kick-off banquet, which prompts Buddy to drink himself into an embarrassing stupor at said banquet, now held at rival Lester's house.

There's also some Tim and Lyla scenes, but, meh. She's trying hard to be a Christian, but clearly still carrying a torch for the oft-depraved fullback. He's trying hard to...what, exactly? Flirt with other girls in front of her? Unclear exactly what his motives are, although he does help carry a drunken Buddy back to his rented room.

A brief scene also has Jason reveal that he's gaining feeling in his hands, and after a chance encounter with Murderball star Mark Zupan, it looks like he's headed to Mexico for experimental stem-cell surgery in hopes of walking again.

Oh, and Smash rapped.

Posted by DD on October 14, 2007 2:16 AM
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Nice article but the actor's name is actually Jesse Plemons, not Clemons.

-- Posted by: Sue at October 14, 2007 8:18 PM

Oof. Good catch, Sue. (And I promise, I knew that--when we pick pictures at TV Fodder, that nice headshot you see above is labeled "Jesse Plemons.")

Still, no good excuse. Should be fixed above.

-- Posted by: DD at October 14, 2007 9:32 PM

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