Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Friday Night Lights: Lyla Garrity is her father's daughter

1.5: Git'er Done
(spoilers, as usual)

Finally, some football. For a show ostensibly about high school football, there isn't a whole lot of game footage -- or practice footage, for that matter. I appreciate that, and I appreciate that when the Panthers do finally play, we don't have to slog through 20 minutes of football. The entire game gets compressed down into less than 5 minutes, and most scenes are sideline scenes or locker room scenes. It's all about the people, and not about the game -- and somehow that combination has me sitting on the edge of my seat, willing Matt Saracen to pull an impossible win from himself and his teammates.

It's a credit to this show that I both want the Panthers to win, desperately, and that I do not know whether or not they will. And when they pull off the win, I am just as happy as I would be if one of my real-life teams had won (not that that has happened any time in the recent past -- but I will always savor being at game seven of 2001 World Series, when the DBacks finally put the Yankees to rest.)

But the win comes too early in the episode, so you know we are not going to end on a high note. And just as Coach Taylor is enjoying all the congratulating back-slaps and high-fives, he's getting hauled on the carpet for a recruiting violation. Since this is the very subject he broached with Buddy Garrity when first approached about bringing Voodoo on board, Taylor has a reason to be pissed about this. And it won't just be Taylor that will be dinged if Voodoo is found ineligible: the Panthers would be stripped of their hard-fought win.

Speaking of Voodoo, his show-boating was predictable, but his "This is an arranged marriage" speech was awesome: the truth that no one wanted to articulate, but everyone acknowledged. I enjoyed Voodoo's downfall (even though it was bad for the Panthers), and I loved, loved, loved Taylor kicking his ass out of the locker room and off the team. Of course, it's likely that Voodoo himself (or his agent) called up the authorities on Taylor as payback... but that will take a few episodes to come out, if it ever does.

OK, that gets the football out of the way. What about everything else? I still love Tami, I adore the way Saracen was an idiot around Julie, and then beat himself up for it, and I think it's wholly consistent that Jason would decide to not waste the six months in self-pity that his obnoxious roommate did, and throw himself whole-heartedly into rehab.

What didn't work so well for me was Tyra's fling with the oil development guy. First off, ODG came off like a rapist/serial killer with his "Do you want to go for a drive?" shtick. I wanted to slap Tyra for saying yes. And I wanted to slap her again for falling for him, when obviously he was just passing through. I understand Tyra wanting to find a way out of Dillon, but ODG is not going to do it, and I thought she was smart enough to understand that. We can just chalk her disappointment up to one more example of the perils of casual sex. He doesn't love her, and in fact has someone to go home to -- and Tyra should have stuck to her "I'm not going to sleep with you" guns.

Speaking of people who shouldn't be sleeping together, we come finally to Lyla and Tim. Poor Riggins, he really loves the girl, and he'd like to have a real relationship with her -- his expressions were so tortured when Lyla was putting him in his sex-toy-only place. But I have no contempt for Riggins (OK, maybe a little, but he's pathetic, and what young man will resist a gorgeous girl throwing herself at him?), because at least Riggins is honest with himself about what he is doing. He knows he shouldn't be in love with his best friend's girl, and he shouldn't be sleeping with her, either, but he loves her! This is probably the only chance with her he'll ever get! I don't necessarily agree with this twisted logic, but I can see Riggins clinging to it.

Lyla, on the other hand, is going straight to hell, and not just for sleeping with Riggins and lying to everyone -- Jason, her parents, anyone in her general vicinity -- about everything. Two scenes in particular stand out: with Tami, she's still clinging to the old story which she has already abandoned in her heart, but can't yet admit to having done so in public. I started out thinking that it was pathetic that she would attach herself so thoroughly to Jason at such a young age, but in Lyla's eyes, she is Hillary Clinton to Jason's Bill. She would wield some serious power and influence being attached to a star quarterback, and she knows it. Combined that with the pious/faithful girlfriend thing she has been rocking for years, and you can see why she can't easily give it up.

Earlier, I decried her falling into Riggins' arms as a betrayal of her character, but that's because I was as snowed as everyone else by Lyla's front. The reality is, she does what she wants, she takes what she wants, because she knows how to do it and she knows there will be no repercussions. In this, she is her father's daughter; Buddy will do what it takes to get the Panthers that championship. The second scene that cemented my opinion of Lyla was her berating Riggins, and dumping all of the blame for their situation on him: He is the one that is sleeping with his best friend's girl, nevermind that she is sleeping with her boyfriend's best friend! It was all on Riggins, and she could stand there and deliver that speech, believing every word of it, because she is Lyla Garrity, and she can do whatever she wants in Dillon, TX.

It's always so exciting when a very pretty girl is revealed to be rotten to the core. Contrast Lyla and Julie, who is genuine and funny and a pain in the ass in the way that all 15-year-old girls should be. Lyla would never do a web search on open high school coaching jobs for her dad, because they own Dillon. Julie's just a witness to the stresses her parents are under and not-so-subtley trying to help them out and get herself out of the pressure cooker, too. (I told DH he needs to remember that "Daughters are supposed to be a comfort to their fathers," line. I'm sure it will come in handy later.)

I had a tv-themed conversation today, and I professed that FNL is a better show than Battlestar Galactic. I haven't said too much (anything?) about BSG here, but I adore it; it's gritty and real in the way that my late lamented Farscape was, but scifi will always be easier to do that reality, at least in some ways. In BSG, they can make up the rules as they go along, more or less, from fashion to interior design to slang -- everything. FNL is constrained by being in the now, and in Texas. Yes, it's a fictional town, but FNL is exceptionally grounded. The dialog, sets, costuming, the camera work, even the cars they drive -- it's authentic. All the tiny things add up, like the way that all the girls have that Texas look -- the long hair and the fresh faces. The way the landscaping is more brown than green; the way that rain came down in torrents during the wind sprints. The producers and writers of this show get it, and that comes through perfectly.

It's a pleasure to care about these characters and learn more about them from week to week. Here's hoping that Saracen gets to keep that "W".

1 comment:

Curtis Edmonds said...

What's wrong with football action? The only thing wrong with FNL is that there isn't nearly enough football action. There needs to be more football. I cannot stress this enough. The whole premise of the show is that the entire town lives and dies for Friday nights, well, let them show us some of the game. Good gosh almighty Joe Friday, would that be so hard? Just take all the scenes that show Tyra with the ODG -- which were just there for the prurient interest and did nothing to move the story along -- and cut them, and show more football. And more Voodoo.